Text: 1 Timothy 2:9-15
Title: The Conduct of Women in the Church
Truth: God’s design for women in the church is for them to dress modestly, to
do good works, and to submissively participate in the church meetings.
Date/Location: June 3, 2012 at FBC
Introduction
We have said that these instructions sit in the 1 Timothy context of church
conduct, that is, how believers are to conduct themselves “in church.”
This does not mean “in the church building” but “in assembly with other
believers.”
What does the Bible mean when it says “in like manner also”? Since women
are given instructions that do not include prayer, I take it that the like
manner does not have to do with women also praying. It could be Paul is
saying that they should likewise conduct themselves with holiness. As the
men are instructed to lift up holy hands in prayer, so the women are
instructed in holiness in their conduct in the church as well. But the best
interpretation of “likewise” is this: Verse 8: I desire therefore that the
men pray…9 likewise also [I desire] that the women adorn themselves…”
I. The Modest Apparel of Women in the Church, v. 9
By apparel, I am referring to clothing and other external adornment. The
word “adorn” suggests putting on something. It is what the apostle
“desires” for women to do, just like he desires for men to pray.
A. Modesty – never out of style
1. The clothing a woman should wear to church is called appropriate or
proper. It is respectable or decent as some translations put it. The
thought includes modesty and good judgment and moderation and
self-control. The idea is to dress appropriately for the occasion.
Have a regard for decency in apparel: a modest neckline on a dress,
for example, is how one online dictionary illustrates the word
modest.
Such a quality is harder to define in writing than it is to know it
when you see it. What is certain is that church worship is a holy
occasion, not a sexual occasion.
2. Application: Do not dress to show off your body. Too low on top, too
high on the leg, or too tight are all inappropriate. Ask yourself, “Is
this unquestionably modest?” If your husband says no, don’t do it.
All Scripture is from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.
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One metric I heard is that clothing should be loose, layered, and long.
It should not be revealing or enticing. You and your body belong to
your husband (or future husband). Don’t share it with others.
B. Not Fancy, drawing attention to yourself
1. The Bible forbids braided hair (an elaborate hairstyle; perhaps like Jan
Crouch of TBN), gold, pearls, and costly clothing.
2. Your apparel doesn’t have to be from garage sale gallery or Value
World (it could be) but it should not be showy, fancy, or expensive.
Money spent like that on clothing is wasted when it could be used
for something else. But more important, adorning yourself in that
way shows a desire for drawing attention to self, a lack of humility,
and an improper sense of decency about worship.
3. Application: A humble, not attention getting, appearance.
C. It is no use to say that men just need to get their minds out of the gutters.
God has commanded modesty. I believe that a woman’s modesty is
helpful to men, but that’s not the main point. The main point is an issue
of obedience to God! This is how women conduct themselves in a holy
manner.
D. Is there any Bible text that gives me warrant to extend these instructions
for women beyond the context of the local church? Certainly we do not
expect a woman to dress this way 100% of the time, for example, in the
privacy of her own home with her husband. But between the bedroom
and the church, what other contexts are included?
Let us examine some parallel passages about the conduct of women and
see what we find.
1 Timothy 3:11 – reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all
things.
1 Timothy 5:9-10 – implies that wives now should be faithful to their
husbands, full of good deeds, hospitable, helping the needy, etc.
Titus 2:3-5 – older women are to be reverent, not slanderers, not
slaves to drink, teaching good things; younger women to love
their husbands and children; self-controlled, pure, workers at
home, good, obedient to their own husbands.
1 Peter 3:1-6 – submissive to husband (see also Col. 3:18, Eph. 5:22,
24), purity, reverence that will win an unbeliever over; no
emphasis on outward adornment such as braided hair, jewelry,
and fine clothes. (And if finances don’t allow you to have those
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things, be thankful to God and make sure you don’t want it
anyway!) Cultivate an inner gentle and quiet spirit. Here is an
indication that even in the home (not just the church) the
woman is to maintain purity and de-emphasize the outward
appearance.
II. The Good Works of Women in the Church, v. 10
A. The adornment of a godly person is their good works, not their clothing.
This is true of women in the church as well as men, but particularly here
Paul is speaking of women. What is fitting (appropriate) for a woman
professing godliness is not costly clothing, but good works.
The idea is to avoid “Wow, look at her!” and instead make it so that an
external observer can say “There is someone like Dorcas, with a
reputation for good works, who honors God” (Acts 9:36; see also 1
Tim. 5:10).
B. These women are ones who profess godliness. The women are promising
or laying claim to a godly, pious life.
Some of us profess salvation, but do we profess godliness? Do we just
make a pretense to be godly instead of a substantive profession?
C. Application: give more thought to what you will do than to what you will
wear. At the beginning of your day, think more about what good works
you will do that day.
III. The Submissive Demeanor of Women in the Church, v. 11-15
A. Observations
1. Notice the key words: learn, silence (2x), submission, teach, have
authority.
2. Notice the opposites: learn vs. teach; submission vs. authority.
B. The Woman is directed to learn in the assembly
1. The silence that Paul mentions is the silence of a learner. It is
opposite of taking authority in teaching. I do not believe it means
utter silence as soon as you drive onto church property or walk in the
doors.
2. The submission that Paul mentions is the submission of a learner, a
student who is under the teacher. An example of the opposite is that
Paul did not subject himself to false teachers (Galatians 2:5).
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3. Learning here means that the women are to learn something in
church. We have a problem when our women aren’t learning and
growing in the faith. We have the same problem when our young
people leave for college and have only been in “the kids services.”
They need MEAT, not milk!
Application: if you go away and haven’t learned something, then
something is wrong with you, the pastor, or both.
Application: our women need to be learning, not always serving in
the nursery or Kids 4 Truth or Sunday school. I have noticed a
sure sign of problems is when a woman wants to come to church
but be hidden away in some service ministry all the time. So, I
check into that every once in a while for scheduling purposes.
Some I have asked to be put off the nursery schedule because of
this. Don’t be offended if I were to do that. Instead, know that
I’m exercising my pastoral duty to make sure you are learning.
4. On the matter of silence, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 mentions the same
ideas of silence, submission, and learning in the context of the
disorderly use of spiritual gifts in the church.
Paul appeals to the Mosaic Law there. He thinks of the law as the
entire Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). The
command is not a 10-commandment type of verse where we
find a prohibition against women speaking at all (and certainly
not in the church since that didn’t exist back then!).
I believe Genesis 2:18 is one such text, which says that God made
the woman as a helper suitable to the man. There may be some
debate about precisely what helper means, but it does not mean
that God made the woman an authority over the man! She is not
permitted to take that place. Silence has to do with submission.
C. The Woman is prohibited from teaching or having authority over a man.
1. This is clear. A woman cannot be a pastor or a pseudo-pastor of a
pseudo-church. There are a lot of ‘churches’ that have no pastor
today. If they have a woman as a pastor, they really have no pastor.
2. This is an additional thought and clarification to the previous verse. If
a question should arise as to Paul’s meaning about learning in silence
with all submission, he responds by saying “That’s right, I’m being
very clear on this; in fact I’m being so clear that I also mean that a
woman is not permitted to teach a man or have authority over a
man.”
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3. The capability to teach does not trump obedience to this prohibition.
If a woman is capable of teaching, or more capable than some men,
that does not automatically exempt her from this command. In fact,
if she were to take up the post of teaching, she would automatically
become LESS effective, because her practice would be denying the
very easy-to-understand 12th verse of 1 Timothy 2. In other words, by
getting up to teach in opposition to this command, she shows that
she really does not understand what she is talking about, she
becomes a hypocrite, and any observer would be warranted to say
she is not doing God’s will! She has stepped outside of God’s plan for
the church and for herself.
4. The gift of teaching, if she has some capabilities in that way, is to be
used in teaching other younger women and children. Children up to
age 12 are certainly included in those she can teach. We might
consider older children, but if you have a woman teaching older
teens, this seems to be over the edge. Those young men need a man
to teach them and to transition them to adult ministry.
5. The need does not trump obedience to this prohibition. If there is a
shortage of men qualified to teach the Bible or to evangelize or plant
churches, the solution is NOT for women to step in. Matthew 9:38!
6. The Bible does not suggest here that a woman can teach men as long
as she doesn’t have a ‘take authority’ attitude. Nor does it mean that
she is prohibited from taking ‘abusive authority’ over a man. This
verse means simply she cannot have authority over a man.
The NIV2011 translation offers the possibility that the woman might
be able to teach without ‘assuming authority.’ It also footnotes
that the man could be rather her husband. The old NIV similarly
points to Ephesians 5:22. But this verse is not about the
husband/wife relationship. It is about the teacher/learner in the
church. As a result, the NIV2011 is not a good translation here.
D. Why Such Submission?
Key thought: the Bible orders submission on grounds that are NOT
cultural. You cannot just easily dismiss them. The reasons are:
1. Creation – Order of creation: man first, then woman. God’s plan was
for man to be the head in the home and in authority positions in
other places. This is true in the church.
2. Deception – Order of the fall: woman first, then the man.
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Note that this does not point out Adam as a positive figure. True, he
was not deceived—but he sinned KNOWINGLY. The woman
sinned under a kind of spell of deception. It’s not an excuse
because she should not have been deceived, but should have
followed what she knew of the instructions her husband passed
on to her.
The Bible certainly does not suggest that men cannot be deceived,
for they can. It does not suggest that women never knowingly
sin, because they do.
Does this say something in general about a woman’s character? Or
is it just a single incident that happened back then? It could be
simply a historical remark, but the preceding verses about
silence/submission/learning, and the next phrase also seem to
indicate that historical event has some ongoing consequences.
Women can be vulnerable to deception, emotionalism, and
gullibility.
E. The remedy for the seemingly second-place standing of women.
1. None of this teaches that men don’t need women! 1 Corinthians
11:11 and its context make that clear. Note that many women
helped the Lord during his earthly ministry (Luke 8:2-3). Acts 8:12
records that men and women were baptized under Philip’s ministry
in Samaria. Men and women are saved and part of the body of
Christ. But there is this problem of women being created second and
falling into sin first. What to do about that?
2. Verse 15 gives an answer. It is a difficult verse to interpret because of
the idea of ‘saved’ and the ‘she’ and ‘they’ being mixed. However, it
seems to lessen the blow of the second-place standing of women.
3. The women we are talking about in verse 15 are women today—not
just Eve back in Genesis. The ‘she’ and ‘they’ are two different ways
of speaking of a generic person.
4. What kind of salvation is this?
If we think it means physically saved through labor and delivery,
this doesn’t seem right because many godly women die in the
process of having a baby. Childbearing carries with it the danger
of the curse, with pain being multiplied, and maternal and infant
mortality a very real possibility.
If we think it means spiritually saved, then we run into a problem of
salvation by a work. Salvation is not obtained by anything other
than repentant faith in Jesus Christ.
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I can learn here, but I take it that saved means delivered, and the
fate the woman being delivered from is the permanent secondclass status or stigma of the fall and the creation order.
Childbearing refers to more than just labor and delivery, but to
child-rearing. If they take on this role, thus showing their
submission in the God-ordained order of things, and do so with
faith, love, holiness, and propriety (see verse 9), then they will be
delivered from the cloud over their head.
Women can influence the church and, eventually, the pulpit—
through the raising of godly children, some of whom will be men
of God teaching the word of God; others will be deacons; others
will be faithful Christian men; others will be godly women who
support the church in their work and prayer; others will be godly
mothers raising the next generation of children.
Conclusion
What can you as a woman do in the ministry of the church? Take up these
instructions as your mantle and run with them!
MAP
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Text: 1 Timothy 2:9-15 Title: The Conduct of Women in the Church