Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #254 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 1 Timothy 2 today and our focus is on Who Does Paul Think He is By Telling Women to Be Quiet and Dress Modestly? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
2nd Timothy 2 contains one of the three or four most controversial Scriptures in the entire Bible and today we are going to discuss them reusing some material from last year’s Bible Reading podcast.
As you might have noticed, I sometimes steer clear of controversy on this show. There is a reason for that, and it is not that I want to avoid controversy. The main reason I avoid it is because biblical controversy is best handled in a local church setting, in the midst of relationships and leadership and pastoring. Where questions and discussion can happen face to face and unfold via relationship. A podcast just doesn’t allow that to happen. I don’t avoid every controversial passage, but do dance around a few that I’d much rather cover in our local church context. That said, we’re not going to steer so broadly around controversy today. We’re going to turn the bow of this ship into the storm. Please understand, I am not going to answer every possible objection and issue some might have with 1 Timothy 2, but I do want to give at least the beginnings of an answer. Batten down the hatches!
Why is 1 Timothy 2 so controversial? Because Paul gives commands to women in this passage – telling them to dress modestly and to be quiet. Who does Paul think he is to tell women how to dress and to be quiet? Does this represent sexism? I don’t think so, and a big reason I don’t think so is because of my understanding of authority. I consider myself UNDER the authority of God’s Word, so when I read passages like today, where Paul tells MEN what to do – I know I must submit to those commands. In 1st Timothy 2, Paul does indeed tell women to dress in Kosmios/κόσμιος apparel, to use the Greek term. This is a difficult word to translate well, because it only appears twice in the Bible. The other time it appears is in 1 Timothy 3:
An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy.
1 Timothy 3:2
The same word that is translated as ‘modest’ in 1 Timothy 2 is translated as ‘respectable’ in 1 Timothy 3. So, Paul in one passage tells women to dress in this way, and in the second passage tells church leaders to behave and have this kind of character. Sensible/modest/appropriate. In telling leaders to be sensible, modest and appropriate in their actions and telling females to dress sensibly/modestly/respectably does not seem to be sexist to me. That’s what the Word of God is for. It is to tell us how God wants us to live, how to please Him. Sometimes that manifests itself in how we dress, sometimes in how we behave. God is pleased by respectable behavior and respectable dress. We are followers of God, and we follow Him via His Word:
Ok, I hear you saying – I guess some of that makes sense, but what about this WOMEN MUST BE SILENT business. That just sounds ridiculous, sexist, and old-fashioned. I can appreciate where you are coming from, but I don’t think that ‘sexism’ is the right conclusion, and I think I can come pretty close to proving that.
First of all, let me say that I believe the translators of the KJV somehow missed it when they translated the Greek word ‘ἡσυχία hēsychía‘ as ‘silence.’ I think the translators of the CSB got the sense of the word much better by using the word ‘quiet.’ I do not believe that Paul is here forbidding women to speak in the least. First of all, etymologically, it comes from a root word that means to ‘be settled.’ For instance, consider a passage that uses the same word:
12 Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and provide for themselves.
2 Thessalonians 3:12
Is 2 Thessalonians 3:12 – directed at men and women – a command to be silent and to work without uttering a single word? It certainly doesn’t appear that way. ‘Silent’ doesn’t make any sense whatsoever in that passage. Quiet does. Being settled does. Since Paul is writing to Timothy about pastoring, and since he is about to introduce the topic of elders/pastors, I believe the context in 1 Timothy 2 is about how women should act during a church gathering when they are being taught. I note here that the same word is used of the men in Acts 22:
“Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense before you.” 2 When they heard that he was addressing them in Aramaic, they became even quieter
In other words, the men were listening and being quiet – which seems somewhat appropriate for some church services. So – is Paul telling women to dress modestly, be quiet and submit somehow sexist? It all depends on how you frame it. Framed in a biblical way, those commands make sense and are lovely and beneficial for all. Similarly, Paul commands men to work in a quiet/sensible matter, to submit to all governing authorities, to sacrifice for their wives, to be gentle to them and never harsh, to not ever be bitter with her, and to love/take care of her in the same way the husband takes care of himself.
In today’s passage, Paul commands men to pray without arguing or being angry. Is this a slam on men in general? I don’t read it as that. Is it possible that the Corinthian men were having an issue with anger and arguing, and Paul was correcting that? That seems very possible, but nobody reads these commands in our chapter as an indictment on men in general, but potentially a corrective on the Corinthian men. In the same way, perhaps there were issues with the Corinthian women being disruptive and dressing in ways that weren’t respectable? Regardless, it seems to be unnecessary to read Paul’s commands to the men to not be angry or argue in prayer as indicating that ALL MEN have anger and arguing issues, and it seems to be unnecessary to read Paul’s commands to the women as somehow denigrating to the character of women. I WANT to know what pleases God, and it apparently pleases God for men to not be angry or argumentative and for women to listen quietly in church and dress respectably.
When I read the Bible, I see many commands from God. Some of those commands are written to women. Some to men. Some to children. Some – many – to pastors/shepherds/leaders. Some to followers. Some to moms. Some to fathers. Some to bosses, some to workers. This is what is meant by the Lordship of Christ. This is what is meant by ‘following Him.’ If you don’t want to be told how to live life and what to do, you are going to struggle with the Bible and following Jesus completely.
If you think you can pick some verses and commands to really love and follow and then rule the others as archaic and dated, then God isn’t Lord –you are. You are the arbiter of your behavior in that scenario. This sort of approach doesn’t work as workers in the workplace, we can’t pick and chose what policies to follow – nor as law-abiding citizens under traffic laws, etc., or as students in school, nor soldiers in the military, and it sure doesn’t work under the authority of the King of Kings. Is He good? Do you trust Him? Is He really working all things for the good of those who know Him and are called according to His purposes? He is – so follow Him and trust His ways and commands. A deeper exploration of these issues can be found here: Does God Want Women to Be Silent in Church?
Bible Memory verses for the month of September: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
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