This message was presented on February 9, 2014 as part of the series on 1 Timothy.
Some members of a certain church denomination were discussing whether or not the church should ordain women as pastors. During this discussion, a man jumped to his feet and said, “We should ordain women as pastors because they are just as bright as men.” A few people said, “Here, here.” Another commented, “We have women doctors and women lawyers, so why should we not also have women pastors?” A few more said, “Here, here.” Another yelled, “Women are equal to men and therefore they should be pastors.”
But how many people do you hear declaring, “God made man and God made woman. He gave them each special roles in this world. The only way we can understand the right conclusion is to start from what He says concerning these roles.” The problem is, too many want to have their own opinion without referring to God’s authoritative Word.
How do you know when something is culturally relevant or not? When something was written in Paul’s day, does it apply to us today?
- Was Paul saying women are more easily deceived?
- How is it that women are saved through childbearing?
We’ll answer these and more this morning. First, let’s review these three principles regarding Scripture:
1) If you take a text out of the context, you have a pretext (an excuse). If you take this passage by itself, you’ll distort how to treat women and their role.
2) Pauline letters are prescriptive, not merely descriptive.
3) You interpret out of the text, not read into the text. Interpreting out of the text is called exegesis and reading into the text is called eisegesis.
Over the last two messages, we looked at the first part of this passage on worship.
1) Disciple men to worship in dependence on Jesus (2:8)
We saw that Paul directed men to pray everywhere, lifting holy hands. That meant a life free from sin and wickedness, not holding onto anything from the world, being open to God’s commands and wanting God to lead. And Paul said, prayer must be without anger or doubting. You cannot worship or pray holding onto anger, frustration, resentment, bitterness, blaming or revenge. Nor can you worship or pray doubting God and His will, or you’ll be like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the sea.
What does that take, men? First, it takes courage to shrug off what other people think of our worship and prayer. Secondly, it takes humility before God, because He is more interested in humility and brokenness, than even sacrifice. Thirdly, it takes an intensity or focus in prayer on God’s Word and Will. God didn’t stutter or stammer about His Word. We need to focus and move with a purpose. Fourthly, it takes perseverance to get up out of the mud and blood and keep moving with God’s plan when you are in the arena of life. Women are looking for men, who will live that way.
2) Disciple women to approach Jesus properly (2:9-10)
Women, Paul directed you to worship in purity and dress modestly without attracting attention to yourselves. He dealt with the same problems we have today, only with different styles and fashions. Often, women dress to attract attention to the body or self, which in his day included braided hair, gold, pearls and costly clothes. Paul exhorted to be known for works of blessing instead.
3) Disciple women to worship Jesus in submissive silence (2:11)
Here we saw Paul calling men and women to understand that we do not learn while talking, and cautions against disrupting God’s order. Paul also warned in 1 Tim. 5:13, “And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.” Women are to learn in silence, which did not mean absolute silence. The exhortation is to not meddle or cause disruption, as Eve did when she disrupted the order in the Garden.
4) Disciple women to worship Jesus in Divine order (2:12-15)
a) Jesus gave women limited authority (2:12)
We saw Paul did not permit a woman to “teach or have authority over a man.” The grammar used says that she is not to be in the on-going position of teaching or having authority over a man. In many cases, there are a lot of women who would be much better at teaching or leading, but that is not what God directed. Experience is never the basis for doing something. It only matters what God said in His Word, and we are instructed to follow Him! This does not mean a woman can’t give a message (for example, a woman visiting missionary), or give a testimony, or give a prayer, or even be a chairman of a committee formed for a specific purpose, but she is not to be in the regularly assigned position. Why?
b) Jesus established the order of authority (2:13-15)
i) Creation: God formed Adam first (2:13)
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (1 Tim. 2:13 NKJ)
This is not about male superiority; this is God’s choice of order. This is about God. It’s about His sovereignty. The order designates the roles, explained in all of Scripture. The husband is the head. This does not imply His priority, value of character or worthiness to serve. The leader was formed first, then the follower. (Note in Gen. 2:15-18 Adam’s responsibility, 2:19-20 Adam’s provision & protection, 2:21-22 and now God brings the woman). So how would Satan get to Adam? God created the order for His glory for the good of the family. Satan defied the order by going first to the woman. He spoke to her as the spokesman, leader, and defender. Eve willingly usurped that role; Adam was passive. At that moment, both Adam and Eve slipped from their innocence by not crying out to God. They fell from their roles into a destructive, independent, and sinful pattern. Because the woman took up the role of headship, she fell into deception and transgression. Because Adam did not lead, he transgressed rather than depend on God.
ii) Condition: The woman deceived, fell first (2:14)
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim. 2:14 NKJ)
Is the woman more easily deceived? Is she more gullible? Let’s look. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church (in which there was, of course, males and females!), he wrote, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”(2 Cor. 11:3 NKJ) Can men be deceived? Yes! But in the condition of the Garden, Eve was deceived and God continued the order based on that. Paul gave this as one of the reasons women should not teach or have ongoing authority. Satan attacked the character of God (His goodness) and His Word, which is God’s authority.
Are women more gullible? Are women weaker than men? Are they more easily frightened than men? Women are weaker than men in some ways, men are weaker in other ways. Women are smarter in some ways and men are smarter in other ways. The weaknesses of women should highlight the man’s strengths to lead. The weaknesses of men should highlight their desperate need of God and the prayers of women! When you add up the strengths and weaknesses of men and women, you’ll find out that the answer at the bottom of the column will be equal.
Remember, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have a different order and levels of authority and yet they are equal and there is absolutely no wrangling or complaining on the part of the Son or Holy Spirit against the Father.
We cannot help how we are born, whether male or female, American or German, or blind or autistic or other. Why was the man born blind in John 9? The disciples asked Jesus if it was because he sinned or his parents. Jesus responded saying neither; he was born blind so that God would be glorified! Women are made women to glorify the Lord!
Remember also that God held Adam responsible, not Eve. In Genesis 3:9, “…the Lord called Adam and said, “Where are you?” He didn’t call Eve. Furthermore, Adam passed the sin nature down to all men, who pass it down to their progeny. Paul wrote, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—“ (Rom. 5:12 NKJ)
iii) The Consequence: The woman in childbearing 2:15
Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (1 Tim. 2:15 NKJ)
Let me take this out of context and give you some of the wrong interpretations:
- 1) if you don’t have children, you’re not going to heaven.
- 2) if they don’t continue in faith, love, and holiness, they won’t go to heaven.
One of the key points here is the two letter word “if.” This word can actually be translated in four different ways and therefore can mean four completely different things. It is clear in the original language which interpretation this is. This is a Third Class Condition clause, which means “if – maybe you will and maybe you won’t.” For example, it is used in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Third Class Condition means, “If, maybe we will and maybe we won’t confess our sins, He will forgive us our sins…” In other words, if we don’t confess our sins, He won’t restore us to fellowship with Him. We will still be His children, but we are devastated by the lack of fellowship with God.
In 1 Timothy 2:15, it means “if,” maybe she will continue or maybe she won’t continue, but if she does she will be saved. Some will say, “If you persevere, you will be delivered from hell.” Is that what it says? Are you a Christian only if you continue? Now we have to look at the word “saved.”
What is the basic meaning of the word “death”? When I die, my body will go back to the ground and my soul will go to heaven. There is a separation, which is what death means. What is the basic meaning of “baptism”? The basic meaning of baptism is “identify.” We will baptize today and when I immerse the candidate, she is identified with the death and burial of Jesus. When I raise her up out of the water, she is identified with the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, which is walking in newness of life.
The basic meaning of the word “saved” is “deliver” or “deliverance.” The basic meaning does not refer to the point in which a person is transformed from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. In fact, notice what Paul wrote in 1 Tim. 4:16, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Tim. 4:16 NKJ) Paul wasn’t talking about the point of transformation from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. He was talking about spiritual growth and sanctification, how Timothy and his church would be delivered from the pull of the flesh and the world. Notice this passage,
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12-13 NKJ)
This passage is not talking about a person’s transformation from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Paul was saying that we need to persevere in spiritual growth, because the pulls, temptations and desires of the world, the flesh and the devil are so great. Let me give you several incorrect interpretations. This is not teaching:
- Being kept safe in childbirth. How many women feel safe in childbirth? Seems like that is a very vulnerable time.
- Eve gave birth to her descendant Jesus. She did, but that is not what this text is teaching.
- Saved by childbirth of Jesus (He provides salvation). Jesus did provide us salvation, but that is not the intent of this passage.
- Being kept safe at home, instead being part of a corrupt society. That is a good point about bearing children, because then you will be kept (in part) from the evils of society, but this meaning misses something.
It is teaching that in the role of bearing children, women are delivered from the world, the flesh, the devil. What do I mean? How many women realize how much you need God through bearing and raising children? When you are dependent on God, then you are not tempted to be pulled by the world, the flesh, or the devil to be independent of the Lord. You are delivered from those to the Lordship of Jesus.
This does not imply that women are not honored if they don’t have children. Many women long to have children, but know the heartache of infertility. But in America, there is a trend of many women making their career their top priority. Why do women want to give up an eternal blessing for a temporary luxury? Why give up serving others for what is often a self-serving life? If you do not have children, then die to your desires and help women with children, raise them to godliness. You can help in Sunday School, Word of Life, in several of the women’s studies, or in helping young families get a break from raising their children or even just coming alongside and being a reinforcement to them.
The world wants you to think:
- “I can work and have children and have a day off and have the good life.” That’s what I heard in the State of the Union message.
- “I’ve done my part, let the young moms raise their own.” How many women would have liked to have had the support of others as they raised their children? Are you helping those who are coming up behind you?
- “Why are they having so many children?” The ladder of success, hobbies and pleasures only last for a few moments, but the rewards of children discipled to godliness last forever. Which do you want to invest in?
- “I’m tired and I just want to learn.” Women, you can be a “brain on a stick” from all of your Bible studies, but who is helping all the younger moms with their children? You can leave the greatest legacy in godly children if you help. It’s not just about what comes out of a birth canal, it’s also the role of nurturing children to godliness. It’s not just about your children, it’s about nurturing all the children!
Let’s understand: A woman will find her greatest satisfaction and meaning in life, not in seeking the male role, but in fulfilling God’s design for her as a wife and mother and helping other mothers learn Titus 2. In America, we aren’t doing well at this. I believe it is one of the reasons why 80% of the children leave church when they turn 18. And, rather than pursuing the role of teaching and authority over a man, the woman gets to serve God in bearing children who are discipled to godliness to tend and keep the creation God has provided.
What does God want? What does God want from marriage? We studied this in Malachi, “But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.” (Mal. 2:15 NKJ)
As men and women worship Jesus,
they will emphasize their roles over their equality!
- Men and women need each other in the spiritual warfare of life. Accept and pursue God’s roles for the sake of the kingdom.
- Men continue to have the role of provision and protection by the sweat of the brow and women have the role of raising children to godliness. It takes everyone to turn 80% of children leaving into 80% of children leading.
- Men and women are equal, but given different roles. How do you help women raise children and help teach women to follow Titus 2:4-5? Men, how do you help the church ensure that everyone understands their roles?
- The roles that women serve in are essential to the Body of Christ.
Remember this, and there is a lot of truth to it:
The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world!
[Also consider this definition of Biblical Feminity: At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships. (p. 46) Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood]
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) Have you ever served in a position of authority or under authority? What did you like about it or dislike?
2) Do you think there is contention when God’s order and authority is rejected? ___________ What are examples of what happens when God’s order and authority is rejected? (Consider these Gen. 4:7-8; 1 Sam. 15:18-23; Matt. 7:21-23; Acts 5:1-5)
3) What is the role that Deborah served in Judges 4:1-16? ________________ How was it that she seemed to have authority over Barak? What was the consequence to Barak for the role Deborah served? How does this make sense with 1 Tim. 2:11-15?
4) How important is raising children to godliness? ____________ Whose responsibility is it (cf. Eph. 6:4)? If parents are having trouble raising their children, what should they do? (Consider 1 Cor. 12:19-25; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; 3:1-7)
Making Application from the Message to Life:
5) How do you help women who struggle with a man’s authority?
6) How do you help men exercise godly authority?
7) How do you raise men to lead as Jesus led and stirred up His disciples to turn over their world?