40 Days of study

A human being lives, but he is given life.

1 Timothy 2:8-10

(1 Timothy 2:8-10)

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 

My Thoughts:

There is no doubt that 1 Timothy 2 is among the most controversial passages of Paul’s writings even though it is short, only 15 verses, it is packed with controversy from beginning to end. In our verses today it appears as if Paul calls men to pray and women to shut up while dressed in sackcloth and ashes.

The thing is, we need to recognize why Paul is writing this letter. It was to give Timothy help in silencing false teachers, teachers who had apparently been leading the congregation down the wrong path. So, with that in mind the text isn’t as harsh as it might seem at first. The context of the chapter is about worshiping; and how we act and dress during the service. But let’s get started.

 (1 Timothy 2:8)

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;

Paul starts by talking to the men in the church, He says that he wants the men everywhere to pray. Now, this lifting up your hands in prayer was the normal prayer posture among both Christians and Jews in the first century, but I do not believe that Paul is concerned with our posture as much as hearts.

Apparently many of the men in the congregation were bickering and fighting among each other, and then putting on happy face at church and praying as if nothing were wrong. This is nothing more than “pure hypocrisy”, because inwardly they were filled with anger at each other, but outwardly they were pretending that nothing was wrong. This was a clear violation of Jesus’ teaching in his Sermon on the Mount,

He said that we should leave our offering at the altar and resolve our issues with our Christian brothers or sisters, before presenting an offering to God

(Matt 5:23-24)

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

This thing is, our uplifted hands aren’t holy in worship if our hearts are filled with anger and unresolved resentment.

But then in (v. 9) Paul addresses the women. “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,”

Did you see how Paul started this verse? He said “In like manner” Now some of your translations left that out, but phrase “In like manner” is so important when Paul says “In like manner” he is referring back to his statement in (v. 8), where he says “I want men to pray”. So, by saying, “in like manner,” Paul is saying that he also wants the women to pray in worship, just as he wants the men to pray, but it seems that the issues that the women were struggling with in the worship service were different from the ones the men were struggling with.

Here it seem that Paul needs to remind the women to adorn themselves modestly, he says “that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,” Now the question we need to ask ourselves is why would Paul tell the Ephesian women to dress modesty?

Let’s look at how the Roman women dressed in the 1st century.

roman women 2

We see at first the women were wearing long Tunics and shawls, but at some point they started wearing styles like this.


They were adorning themselves with gold, pearls and dressing in much more reviling clothing.

And then the hair dues, well,

hiar styles

These hair dues would take hours to prepare.

So where did the women get their style from?

You see, the city of Ephesus was home to the ancient temple of the Greek goddess of love, and this temple employed hundreds of prostitutes. These prostitutes were infamous throughout the Roman world for their elaborate hairstyles, Clothing and decorative jewelry so much that, you could identify a prostitute from a distance just by the way she dressed.

So, it seems that some of the Ephesian women were mimicking the hairstyles and accessories of these prostitutes when they came to worship.

The women in church were wearing the same braided hair and gold and they were also dressing seductively, in Church. This jewelry and expensive clothing they had on where only reflecting their outward beauty but did nothing for their inward beauty.

As I studied this verse, I immediately thought about the kinds of fashions we see every year at the Academy Awards, Oscars or anywhere we see the rich and famous hang out. Each year we see women dressed in gowns that cost more money than you or I make in a year. And some of the dresses, are so revealing, they seem to defy the laws of gravity just by staying on.

So, I think Paul would say to us today, is “The church is not the place to dressing like we just came out of a bar”

Instead, we see in (v. 10) Paul tells us that Christian women and men should adorn themselves with good works that are consistent with their claim to being Christian. 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”

The principle is here is for Christians not just “women” but for “men as well” to dress modestly when they participate in public worship. Now this verse says nothing about how a woman dresses for her husband privately and really it’s not even talking about how a woman dresses in the workplace or the community, although we might apply the principle to those other circumstances as well.

So, what we see here in these three verses is that the “men and women” where facing two very different kinds of issues, both issues are similar because they deal with the alignment of what’s inside with what’s outside.

The men were masking inner sin, with outward virtue. They were being hypocritical, pretending to be outwardly sincere, while bubbling with an inner anger, towards each other.

Now the women, they were masking inner virtue with outward sin. Now this is not to say that the women were more inwardly virtuous than the men in the church were, but it’s merely to point out that their issues were different from what the men had. You see, instead of allowing their inner devotion to Jesus to be sufficient, they felt the need to mimic the fashions of the “temple prostitutes” they called attention to themselves, instead of letting their service of Jesus speak for them. We do not know when, but at some point the women in Ephesus lost sight of what is important and that is Christ.

Now, I don’t think this passage is forbidding women dressing nice or even enhancing their beauty. I have never found a bible verse that tells women to neglect their appearance, or conceal their beauty. The question here is how they should adorn themselves in church.

Ellen White statement:

Our dress is to be inexpensive,–not with “gold, or pearls, or costly array.” Money is a trust from God. It is not ours to expend for the gratification of pride or ambition. In the hands of God’s children it is food for the hungry and clothing for the naked. It is a defense to the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, or preaching the gospel to the poor. You could bring happiness to many hearts by using wisely the money that is now spent for show. Consider the life of Christ. Study His character, and be partakers with Him in His self-denial.

In the professed Christian world enough is expended for jewels and needlessly expensive dress to feed all the hungry and to clothe the naked. Fashion and display absorb the means that might comfort the poor and the suffering. They rob the world of the gospel of the Saviour’s love.   {Messages to Young People 351.3}

Last thoughts:

The principle here is modesty,

Modesty is simply not dressing in a way that calls attention to yourself, whether seductively or lavishly and letting Jesus be the one that comes out.

(1 Peter 3:3-4)

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

In this world we see very little difference between the so called Christians and the Non-Christians especially in the way we dress.

So, the lesson here is:  We need to worry less about our outward appearance and allow Jesus to change us.

About bobh6

I am Seventh-day Adventist pastor in the Texas Panhandle

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This entry was posted on February 14, 2013 by in Uncategorized.

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February 2013
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