A Letter for Our Day - Part 2 The First Epistle of Paul, the Apostle to Timothy

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

     Paul follows this up with telling Timothy to “Fight the Good Fight”. He urges him to wage the good warfare and protect the gospel of Christ, according to the previous prophecies discussed. Paul had taught Timothy, and he felt sure of his ability to minister and defend the Word, especially against those teaching false doctrines, such as the Talmud during this time. As we discussed before, this is another warning back then that we can apply today to our lives when we see “new” religions and churches pop up = that we should always test everything to the Word, and see how it stacks up.

     Going into the second chapter of Paul’s letter, he begins to talk of how we must pray for all men, especially through intercession (praying to God for other people). God also commands Paul to teach here that we are to pray for our leaders and people in authority, so that they might come away from any sinful ways and follow the Word. God desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. It is very, very important to God that all men be saved through Christ, and know the truth that is the Word. Then he mentions a much debated statement, but powerful nonetheless - 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

     I firmly believe this applies to the path to God and salvation, and how to get there, and also specifically to our prayer. This in 1 Timothy is not the first mention of such a command. I have touched on this in one of my first articles, titled Prayer. Here are a few Scriptures you can reference for this command: Hebrews 9:15, John 14:6, and Hebrews 8:6

     I think it is a very simple command from God and needs no debate. Follow the teachings of Jesus and Him alone, proclaim Him as your Lord and Savior, and pray only to Him as well. I know there are other religions that encourage prayer to saints and Mother Mary, among others, and I won’t get into much of a debate on that subject here, but we do know what the Word says, and it says more than once that Jesus is the only way to the Father, and that Jesus is the Mediator between God and men. I take the Word as The Truth, and if I am to follow it as God commands, then to me that means you should only pray through Christ Jesus, accept Him as Lord and Savior, and seek to live my life by His Word every day.

     This first part of Paul’s letter then moves on to discussing men and women in church. It is much discussed and debated as well, but let’s look at what the Word says.

1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

     Lifting hands up when you pray is an amazing experience. We are giving recognition to where the answers to prayers come from. We humble ourselves to God in this manner, and accept His answer. To receive answers to our prayers, we can’t have hatred in our life toward anyone. Simply put, we must forgive others to be forgiven ourselves.

1 Timothy 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array

     In the first century, women often wore gold and pearls, among other expensive jewelry, in their hair and on their person, to call attention to themselves and their wealth or beauty. This was such a problem then, that it drew attention away from the Lord in church and abound. This was not to say women should not dress beautifully, rather, the intention of doing so at this time was to flaunt their wealth and it caused envy from other women, creating a big distraction from worshiping the Lord. Church is a place to go and worship God, not to flaunt personal wealth or fleshly possessions, nor to draw attention to yourself, and this applies to everyone honestly, but in this specific passage, it was discussing women in church during this time period. Apparently, it was a big deal and something to consider today as well in how we present ourselves in church.

1 Timothy 2:10 But, (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

     This verse can apply to all again, but in this instance could be understood as advising women to dress themselves in a manner which is proper for women who profess, by their good works, reverence for God, and for those women, proper attire should conform to Christian testimony and behavior. This verse likens to the one right before it above, and says essentially the same message - don’t purposely dress in a flauntingly manner at church in such a way that it causes a distraction from worshiping the Lord. You dress for the occassion, and all should dress in a manner presentable and humble before the Lord.  You don't need to be rich or poor to do this.

1 Timothy 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

1 Timothy 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

1 Timothy 2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve." "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

1 Timothy 2:15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

     A seemingly touchy subject, can we all agree? During this time, neither Judaism nor Greek culture held women in high regard. Some women likely reacted to the cultural denigration suffered and took advantage of opportunities in the church by seeking a dominant role. After all, look at our world today. How quickly do we react to any sort of oppression, and then seek a position of higher power as a counter?

     So, how should we view this as Christians? Taking it at face value, many would interpret the fact that Jesus appointed only male apostles as an absolute prohibition of a role in ministry for women, and taken at face value, it would seem the natural order decreed by God, that women should forever be subservient to men. However, I think this is a case where we must observe the entire Word of God to find the answer. Matthew 27:55-56 (KJV) 55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children.

     In my interpretation, the NT prohibitions are practical advice to preserve the sanctity of the Church and to avoid confusion and scandals therein. Remember, the Lord is not the author of confusion, rather peace, love and understanding. 1 Corinthians 14–16. ... When we encounter conflicting opinions about gospel truths, it is good to remember that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace”

     For example, the New Testament passively accepts slavery, though very few people today would argue that we should return to those methods, and how most all remember it today strictly goes against commands in the Word. It is important here that we understand slavery mentioned in the Bible is not necessarily the same as what we might associate our thoughts with in regards to slavery in our recent times. Slavery referenced in the Bible, in nearly every mention in the OT, was regarding debt owed, where an individual could pay off a debt owed to someone through labor and serving them, for a maximum of 6 years. The stealing and selling of human beings is a capital offense according to Old Testament law. Early Christians had to work out their dealings with one another under Roman law, and they lacked the political power to change it. The Christian community was a counter-cultural motion, in which social distinctions were almost erased completely. Jesus is the Lord, and masters and slaves were expected to treat each other as beloved brothers and sisters and equal members under Christ.

     So, what does that have to do with women in church? I think, in the same way, although the NT passively accepts the oppression of women, it does not imply that women can’t be leaders in today’s society. Some of the greatest leaders and prophets of Israel were women, so I would think God did not intend to exclude women from ministry or political leadership positions.

     We are all equal under Christ. Paul’s proclamation of this and Jesus’ willingness to defy convention and accept women into His circle of disciples should be guiding principles, rather than the customs of the Roman Empire in the 1st century. Women took on roles as allowed back then, so they should be allowed, as anyone else, to serve the Church in whatever positions they are qualified to fill. Thankfully, we see this in our society today, and in our churches. The message is clear that we are all equal under Christ and to serve our Lord God with a good, clean heart and spirit, free of flaunting fleshly possessions or powers.

     I thank you for joining me today, and look out for part 3 coming soon: A Letter for Our Day - Part 3 The First Epistle of Paul, the Apostle to Timothy