Know Your Place!

TRUE OR FALSE: Paul was a Jew.
TRUE OR FALSE: Paul was a Roman citizen.

If you answered TRUE to both of these, you are smarter than me! God has a way of keeping us humble and he certainly doesn’t want us to start thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to. So on Wednesday night when I taught our group of ladies that Paul was NOT a Jew, God was quick to correct me through them! Scripture points to the fact that Paul was a Jew (Acts 22:3) and a Roman citizen (Acts 22:29). And one of our ladies emphasized to us that because God took a man who was both a Jew and a Roman citizen to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles, both Jews and Gentiles were able to understand his message more clearly. He could relate to both sides of the aisle in this circumstance. God’s plan is so far-reaching, even when we don’t understand it.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love studying the Bible with these women on Wednesday nights? If you ever have the opportunity to join us, I encourage you to come! You will be so blessed and challenged!

If you haven’t read last week’s blog over 1 Timothy 1, now would be a good time to back up and read it. But to put it in a nutshell for you, Paul wrote the letter, 1 Timothy, after he left Timothy in Ephesus and continued on his missionary journey. Paul wanted him to correct the people that were teaching false doctrine. Not only were some teachers teaching idol worship and pagan rituals, but many were teaching that following the Old Testament law was still a requirement for salvation. Jews and Gentiles alike were confused by the false teachers. Paul’s message was that Christ came to the world to save sinners and that he was the foremost. Having been a persecutor of Christians before his salvation experience, he had become an example of God’s power and patience.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 is a call to depend upon God by praying for others. Paul’s message was that Timothy should be praying fervently for the spread of the gospel. Paul wanted the good news to spread to the Gentiles. He knew that prayer was the fuel for his journey and he wanted Timothy to know that too. In the same way, those of us who follow Christ today should also be praying diligently that the gospel would spread to all nations.

Paul also encouraged Timothy to pray for authorities in government. Paul knew that when a government operates well, it is a significant ally to the gospel. Governmental leaders and policies have a direct bearing on our freedom to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (not for our own comfort and enjoyment, but for God’s glory!) Proverbs 21:1 says “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases”. Living a holy, godly life is pleasing to God. God wants all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the ruth. But does God save everyone? No, he doesn’t. God’s plan is for the evangelization of all nations and peoples, but he will never force someone into a relationship with him. He has given us the freedom to choose whether or not to follow him. Sovereign will vs free will is one of the great mysteries of the Bible. God certainly has a plan for us, but he will never force himself on us.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 is a call to depend upon God by confessing who Christ is. If we want to see the spread of the gospel in our lifetimes, we must first gain a solid understanding of who Jesus really is and why he came. Verse 5 says there is ONE God and ONE Mediator between God and man: Jesus. Some people discard truth for sincerity in the name of tolerance, believing that there is a god, but he can be found many different ways. (John 1:1, 14) Jesus is not one among many. He is the one and only! 

Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all men. Are you ready for a Greek lesson? Here ya go: The Greek word, antilytron, meaning loosing or freeing, was often used in reference to buying a slave’s freedom. Do you know who the slaves are in this analogy? YOU. ME. WE are the slaves, Jesus is the ransomJesus was the substitute spotless lamb that replaced all of the sacrifices offered in the OT. And not only was he the perfect sacrifice, he came at the perfect time. Galatians 4:4 says “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

1 Timothy 2:7 is a call to depend upon God by remembering who we are. Paul told Timothy of his conversion experience on the road to Damascus. God radically changed his life by knocking him to the ground, taking away his sight and telling him exactly where to go. In Acts 26:17-18, Paul tells of his encounter with God and his specific calling to take the gospel to the Gentiles. His message to Timothy was this: Have confidence in your callingPaul knew people would challenge the message of the Gospel – Jesus being the sole means to salvation and that salvation was for all people, Jews as well as Gentiles. He knew that Timothy would need to be confident in knowing that he was called to spread the gospel there in Ephesus. We need to have confidence in our calling as well if we want God to use us in the spread of the Gospel message.

This chapter takes a turn at verse 8. Paul was very concerned about keeping order in the church. The rest of the chapter is a call to order in the church. 1 Timothy 2:8 details some important instructions for men. The Greek word here for “men” is aner (ah-nair), which referred specifically to males, not the general term used for mankind. Paul said that men everywhere should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. Keep in mind that lifting the hands emphasizes holiness, not physical posture. As usual, God was more concerned with the heart than he was with outside appearances. If anger and quarreling exist between men in the church, there is a spirit of disunity, which prevents the spread of the gospel.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 was a call to order with instructions for women.  Paul told Timothy to instruct the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety. Braided hair, gold, pearls and costly attire were disrupting and interfering with worship in Ephesus. Many wealthy women were flaunting their attire and jewelry before the poor. Men were being distracted by the visual stimuli. Rather than letting their beauty come from the outside, women were to adorn themselves in good works, which is proper for women who profess godliness. Paul wanted the women to know that  good works won’t save you, but they do call attention to God and promote worship.

The last area Paul addressed in his call to order was spiritual leadership. This topic can get a little touchy – I want to present to you several ways of interpreting this passage. Pray through it, research it, ask God to give you eyes to see and understand the truth here in this passage.

Paul tells Timothy that women are to learn in quietness and full submission. Quietness here means peaceableness. Women are to be peaceable. It seems that some of the women in the church at Ephesus were causing quite a stir. Full submission means that women should be willing to surrender questions of spiritual authority to men. Paul also writes that women may not teach or have authority over a man. They must remain silent. Some believe this was purely cultural and there is no application for today. I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that there are NO errors in it. There is always application today! We have to look at the context here. This is specifically about spiritual leadership in the church, not in other situations. It doesn’t mean that women can’t be CEOs or president of the United States. Paul was writing specifically about women in the church. (There are other places in Scripture that address women and men in the home. This is about the church!) 1 Thessalonians 4:11, another of Paul’s letters says to women, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” This is the kind of “silence” Paul was requiring of women in the church. Women are to restin the sovereign teaching and will of God. 

Verse 13 addresses the order in creation that shows the role structure God intends. Adam was formed first, then Eve. This shows a hierarchy from the very start, even before sin entered the picture. One of our ladies put it this way: If a woman and a man are standing in the rain, the man holds the umbrella over the woman. That doesn’t mean the man is better or the woman is less, but the man is the leader that can be God’s instrument to shield and protect the woman! The difference between life before and after the fall is that these structures and positions of authority changed from joyful harmony to festering conflict. 

Eve was deceived by the serpent in the garden. Adam’s sin was intentional. He took the fruit from Eve. It is highly possible that this reference to Eve’s deception is a link in understanding Paul’s concerns—women in the Ephesian church were usurping the authority of the church leaders. Perhaps they were also being carried along by the deceptions of the false teachers.

Are you ready for verse 15? This verse can get a little bit confusing. I was rocking right along in my study of 1 Timothy 2 until I came to this verse and it STUMPED me for a while. “Yet she will be saved through childbearing- if they continue with faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” Let me make one thing very clear. This does not refer to earning justification and salvation through childbearing. 

One possible explanation: The unity in the church at Ephesus would increase by women embracing the submissive role that God has given them, which is exemplified in bearing and nurturing children. Remember, women in the church at Ephesus had started to focus on their attire, had become loud and a bit “catty” with each other and were distracting the men from worship. Paul may have been saying here that if the women would focus on their children, which is their primary calling in this life (remember the first command in the garden to “Be fruitful and multiply?”), then unity in the church would increase and through their obedience to their calling they would be working out their salvation (Phil 2:12). 

Another possible explanation: “Saved” is used in the sense of progressively coming to experience all the aspects of salvation. As we embrace our God-given roles as men and women, we will be working out our salvation. (Phil 2:12) Paul didn’t mean that childbearing would be a salvation experience, but that it would be a part of growing in the faith as they experienced their purpose of childbearing.

Another possible explanation (and my personal favorite!): The “she” in this verse might refer specifically to Eve. “She” would find salvation in childbearing because salvation himself would come from her lineage…JESUS. 

Agree? Disagree? It’s ok. Our Bible study time is a great time to talk, share, discuss and learn.

To Sum It Up:
God desires order, peace, and holiness in our lives, in our worship, and in our relationships within the church and our communities. This reflects the order, constancy, and righteous character of God. When we live this way, God is revealed and people will embrace him as Savior.[1]

In other words, order in the church is important. It’s important for men to take their place and have confidence in the calling of God on their lives. It’s equally important for women to take their place and have confidence in the calling of God on their lives. When everyone is focusing on fulfilling the roles to which God has called them, His purpose can be fulfilled in spreading the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. When we know who God is, who Jesus is and who we are, and we are faithful to fill the roles he has for us, all will hear the good news of his salvation.

[1]Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, pp. 167–172). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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