God Ordained Order in the Church

8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:8-15)

This morning we will finish up 1 Timothy 2 by concluding as Paul does with this discussion – really commands – regarding women in the church. We have talked about men in the church some, now women in the church, and in the next chapter we move to leadership in the church.

Church life is important, and we should not be surprised that God would give us some specific direction regarding how it should operate and who should be involved in certain areas. Our aim should be to line up with His revealed will the best we can as we look at our church here and how it functions.

The church is not just some club or business, or some individual’s pet project. It is not a man-made institution. It is formed by God as He saves His people and it is His to be used for His glory, and not for any person’s glory. He grows it as He wills and He provides its makeup as He wills. There should be great comfort for us in these truths. This means we don’t have to wring our hands and be anxious over numbers or buildings or anything else; our duty is to, the best we can, implement His plan with who He brings here to this local body. And what we will see this morning is part of His plan for His church.

In these final verses of chapter 2 Paul talks about teaching in the church, authority in the church, he talks about order of creation, about being deceived, and he ends with a very interesting promise given to women in particular. My aim is to be clear, careful, and accurate with these verses.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet (1 Timothy 2:12)

So the first instruction we have is regarding teaching. This is teaching in the gathering, the main gathering of the church. Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach.” This, though it is very clear, it does require some understanding of other passages. This statement is not a blanket statement about women and teaching of any kind in any place. This does not mean that women can never teach. How do we know? We know because the Bible speaks of women teaching in other contexts.

For instance in 2 Timothy 1:5. This is where Paul speaks of the important role that Timothy’s mother and grandmother played in his early life. It says, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” Also, Titus 2:4-5 says, “and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Here women are encouraged to teach, to specifically teach younger women to love their husbands and children.

So it is not as though women should never teach, and certainly there is no blanket prohibition from teaching spiritual things. Paul is simply here talking about the formal meeting of the church. In this setting, this is not the place for women to teach. Some of you have, I’m sure, visited churches where women have done the preaching. Biblically, I believe this is wrong. And I think Paul agrees.

Paul adds that women are also not to exercise authority over a man. This, again, may sound out of step with our culture, and it is out of step with our culture. But this is what the Bible says. On Christian radio, in books, on the internet, we can hear all kinds of questions like, “Why not let a women teach and exercise authority in the church? Why not let women fill roles of pastors and elders and be the spiritual leaders in the church? Isn’t it the fair thing to let them serve in these ways?” And with those questions asked, we hear all sorts of responses. But the correct response is simply to go to God’s Word and let it speak for itself. We don’t have to make all of our personal arguments and convince people to believe things such as this with our wise words. We can simply lay out the text and say clearly that this is what we believe because God says this is how it should be. We aren’t demeaning women or lifting up men, we aren’t being mean or arrogant, we are instead simply submitting to what God has said, to the best of our ability and understanding from His Word. People will disagree, but that is okay if we are standing securely on God’s Word.

The whole idea of authority in human relationships is really interesting. God places people in authority over others. Kids, your dad and mom are in authority over you by God’s plan. You may look at them and their decisions at times and think, “Wow…that can’t be the best decision!” I mean you may think that. You may be wrong or maybe you are right. But whether you are right or wrong or whether your parents were making the best decision at the time, they are still in authority over you. It’s the same with a husband and wife, a church member and an elder, a boss and an employee. God does not put people in authority because they always make the best decisions or even because they are smarter. My point is that women are not kept from being in authority because they are not capable necessarily. It is, however, God’s chosen order. It is in a quiet spirit and manner than a woman then should be taught in the meeting of the church.

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:13-14)

He takes his case all the way back to the creation of man and woman. Adam was created chronologically before Eve. We know this from the Genesis account of creation. This chronology of creation then indicates something of authority. The chronology was no mistake, it meant something, and Paul is showing us at least part of what God intended it to mean.

In 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 we see another example of how God intends the order of creation to indicate something else. It says, “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” Here he is reminding us of the truth that the woman came from man and not the other way around. So when Paul says that Adam was formed first and then Eve, he is saying this is significant in this matter of who is to have authority over whom. Eve in marriage was created to be Adam’s helper and Adam in marriage was to be her leader. This, then, as this order of creation shows, also flows into the church from a leadership/authority perspective.

He goes on to say, “and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” On just a quick reading we may come away and think Eve was somehow the bad one here and Adam gets a pass. Paul speaks of Eve bluntly, saying she was deceived and was a transgressor. And that Adam was not deceived. We have to be careful here. What this means is that Eve was fooled in this instance. Eve really was deceived by the serpent. Eve, as a representative of all women, broke God’s law due to Satan’s deception. In describing Adam, Adam was not deceived. A better way to translate this may be to say she was utterly deceived, she was duped.

So what is Paul saying here? I don’t think he is saying that all women are gullible or naive or somehow unable to think soundly. That can’t be it. God gives women all sorts of commands and roles to fill and all of them require sound thinking and clear responses. Even that women teach children and other women. This is not a put down of all women as easily fooled. Another thing is, I don’t think Paul is commending Adam here in any way. He is not commending Adam and disparaging Eve. Paul in other places has made clear that Adam was guilty. We see this in many places, one being Romans 5:12 – “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”

Adam was guilty and so was Eve. Eve was fooled, while Adam’s sin was very willful and with knowledge. Adam listened to Eve and he sinned with his eyes wide open. What happened here was a reversal of roles. And this reversal of roles has been a problem ever since. I think this may be the point. “Men, including those in Ephesus, are more susceptible to mistake and error and sin when they carelessly surrender leadership to the woman.” God created men to lead in the home and in the church, and when men turn that over to women, there may be this careless surrender or following of the woman without discernment, discretion, or with a will to stand and say no. When Eve stepped out from under the authority of her husband she became vulnerable and fell. When Adam violated his leadership role and followed Eve, the perversion of God’s order was complete. Roles as God has given them are important and not to be trifled with by His people in the home nor in the church. She was duped and he foolishly followed, and the world has never been the same.

Paul concludes with a promise in verse 15: “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” This has always been a puzzling verse to me. The word “saved” here can mean to persevere or to be delivered from. The idea of childbearing here can be seen as her role, that is as her primary role as a wife and mother. We can see this as a reminder that a woman’s deepest satisfaction should come from her role that God has given her, not as the leader in the home or in the church, but with a special and high calling as a wife and mother. She can joyfully embrace who God created her to be and not be stuck in some pursuit of a role that God does not intend for her. She has a tremendous role. And in this she can continue in faith and love and holiness and self-control. She can live happily and in a way that is pleasing to God, living in these important attributes right where God has placed her.

It is a part of our fallenness that leads us to go after things or positions that are not for us. We are called to love and trust Christ while living His way, for His glory, satisfied in Him for all of our days.

Before I close I do want to say a quick word to those of you ladies who may not be married or that do not have children. I have said that that being a wife and mother is a high and important calling, and it is. But what about those who are single who may never marry nor have children? Let me say, God has not abandoned you nor has He relegated you to a second class. God often states His will in the Bible, but we know that many times there are exceptions, and this could be one for you. Being single or unable to have children can also be a blessed place too. Being single or unmarried does not leave you out from worship or service or giving your all to your Savior. Many will go unmarried and many childless. This simply means God has other plans for you in how you show love to Him.

In fact, in 1 Corinthians 7:8 Paul urges singleness: “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” Why is this? For service to God, for a focus on God, for a greater single-mindedness to God. This too is a blessed place to be if God chooses it for you. So don’t despair when motherhood and marriage is lifted high, it should be, but it is not the only place where joy and peace and contentment will be found. Here is the key. Love and trust God and He will provide for you and protect you in a way that is the very best for you.

8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:8-15)