The Sexes in the Christian, Assembly
1 Timothy 2:8-15
I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

I. THE PART OF THE MEN - TO LEAD IN PRAYER. "I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing." The mind of the apostle, as here expressed, is that in every place where men and women assemble for Divine worship, the duty of conducting the public devotions shall devolve upon the men. They, and not the women, as appears from the following contrast, are to be the mouth of the congregation in prayer offered to God. This assignment of leading in prayer to them is mentioned along with the appropriate bodily posture, viz. the lifting up of the hands (as toward heaven) in the way of invoking the Divine blessing upon the congregation. With this is connected the inward qualification - lifting up holy hands, i.e. that do things that accord with their being engaged in so sacred a service. It is not the place that is to hallow the hands, but it is the hands that are to be holy, to be in keeping with the place. The orderliness implied in the men having their proper place would tend to prevent the use of unholy perturbation of feeling, and the breaking forth of unseemly disputing, such as would unfit the congregation for engaging in prayer. "He that prays to God," says Jeremy Taylor, in 'The Return of Prayers,' "with an angry, that is, with a troubled and discomposed spirit, is like him that retires into a battle to meditate, and sets up his closet in the out-quarters of an army, and chooses a frontier garrison to be wise in. Anger is a perfect alienation of the mind from prayer, and therefore is contrary to that attention which presents our prayers in a right line to God. For so have I seen a lark rising from its bed of grass, and soaring upwards, and singing as he rises, and hopes to get to heaven, and rise above the clouds; but the poor bird was beaten back with the loud sighings of an eastern wind, and his motion made irregular and inconsistent, descending more at every breath of the tempest than it could recover by the libration and frequent weighing of his wings, till the little creature was forced to sit down and pant, and stay till the storm was over; and then it made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing, as if it had learned music and motion from an angel."


1. To be becomingly dressed. "In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness, and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works." It is with regard to dress that the apostle charges the women. They are not forbidden to adorn themselves. In nature God has a regard to adornment; the flowers are painted chiefly in the way of appealing to the sense of the beautiful. So the apostle regards it as particularly appropriate to the women that they are to adorn themselves; but they are to adorn themselves in modest apparel. There seems to be a wider reference than modest, and a twofold reference. It is apparel that is suitable to women as such. This certainly excludes dress that shocks the womanly feeling of modesty. But it also includes dress that is tasteful. Apart from what is expensive, good taste may be displayed in dress, as in the proper blending of colors. There is no religion in negligence as to dress. A woman should never be above attending to what is clean and whole and neat in dress; and especially should she attend to this in appearing in the house of God. It is apparel that is suitable to women in respect of their circumstances. Age, rank, means, demands of religion, come in as modifying conditions. A brightness of color that is in place in youth, is out of place in age. The servant is not to dress as her mistress. She who dresses upon a small income is not to be as she who dresses upon a large income. There is not to be dressing as though this world were a paradise, and not, as it really is, full of human want. With outward deportment as to dress, are connected the inward feelings. There is shamefastness, as the word originally was in the Authorized Version. This feeling given to the woman should make her shrink from all impropriety in dress. There is also sobriety, or the feeling that keeps the love for dress within the bounds of reason and religion. The apostle descends to particulars. Women are not to adorn themselves with braided hair and gold, or pearls, or costly raiment. It cannot be meant that these things are absolutely forbidden. Long hair is an ornament to a woman, and it is natural that it should be braided. Gold is an excellent substance, and can be wrought into most beautiful forms. It is God who has given the luster to pearls. Ideas of what is beautiful can be carried to a great extent in garments, as in the garments prescribed for the Jewish high priest. It can only be meant that they are to be duly subordinated by women. They are not to make ends of them, as women of the world do. They are not to vie with one another in the use of them. They are not to be used in the way of gratifying personal vanity, or in the way of ostentation and drawing attention upon them. They are not to be used as though they were essential, being only on the outside, and an uncertain possession which cannot be carried beyond the world. They are only to be sought in connection with, and in due subordination to, inward virtues. This is the thought to which the apostle carries us forward. There is that which becomes a woman professing godliness, i.e. professing to be regulated by the will of God in dress as in all matters. And the will of God will be considered in connection with the state of the world. It is such a world that Christ needed to come into it to save it. Moreover, it is such a world that Christ's servants need to do much saving work in it. And a true Christian woman will not set her heart on what is showy or genuinely beautiful in dress or ornament, but will set her heart on what is more valuable. She will seek to be adorned with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price. She will seek to be adorned, as the idea is here, with a kindly, benevolent disposition, such as finds its medium in good works. She will consider that the time and money unnecessarily spent upon the braiding of the hair, and gold, or pearls, or costly raiment, is so much taken from her power of performing good works. It must be said that the position of a true Christian woman has its difficulties. Fashion which exercises such a sway is not the expression of pure Christian sentiments. It is to a large extent the expression of worldliness, or the striving after externals. The true Christian woman, then, has it as her task, on the one hand, not to go altogether against fashion so as to be singular and to call attention to her, which would offend her feeling of modesty; on the other hand, to attain to simplicity and inexpensiveness in dress, so as to leave her free for discharging her Christian function as a doer of good works.

2. To be a learner, and not a teacher. "Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness." The woman is to be receptive with regard to public teachings. She is to be a learner, not breaking the silence even to the extent of asking a question. For the language here is partly to be explained by what is said in 1 Corinthians 14:35, "And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home." The position of the apostle, that a woman is not to be a teacher in the house of God, is very implicit: "I permit not woman to teach." Whatever her qualifications - and some women are better qualified to teach than some men - the apostolic enactment is against her teaching. This enactment is grounded in what is natural. It would be reversing the natural order of superiority for men to sit under a woman as their teacher. It would also be giving woman a publicity from which every one who is unsophisticated and retains her native modesty must shrink. Her natural unfitness set forth in two facts.

(1) Eve was created after Adam. "For Adam was first formed, then Eve." The apostle regards this fact as emblematic of a headship originally given to the man, which carries with it his exclusive right to be a teacher in the house of God.

(2) The woman was first in the transgression. "And Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression." We are not to understand that, for introducing sin into the world, she was thrown into a subordination which did not originally belong to her. But rather the way in which, acting for herself without regard to her husband, she was worked upon by the tempter was emblematic of a natural disposition which unfits her for taking a public position. Promise annexed. "But she shall be saved through the child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety." So eminent an interpreter as Ellicott interprets this of the child-bearing by pre-eminence - woman giving birth to the Messiah - but without good reason. The apostle has been excluding woman from activity in Church life in connection with which there is publicity; here he points to her proper destiny as activity in family life. There is reference to the form in which the curse fell upon the woman; in connection with this is there promise of blessing. There is not excluded from the promise the lower salvation. A mother, laying hold upon this promise, can hope in her danger to be preserved alive, with due submission, as is right in the sphere of temporal blessing, to the disposing of God. There is special reference to the higher salvation. "She shall be saved," shall find the path of her highest well being, "if they" (there is a change to the class of Christian mothers, or more generally of Christian women, one depending to a certain extent on all) - "if they continue in faith," i.e. toward Christ, "and love," i.e. especially toward the needy, "and sanctification," i.e. attention to the rules of personal purity, with such sobriety as shall keep them to their proper sphere. - R.F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

WEB: I desire therefore that the men in every place pray, lifting up holy hands without anger and doubting.

The Conduct of Public Prayer by Men
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