Learning Together

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)

Before we get into our passage this morning, I want to make a few personal comments. As most of you know, we had two new Shooks born last week. Addelyn and Hayden surprised us and were born about two months earlier than their due date. We were surprised, but of course God was not, and this was His perfect plan for them and for their family. We are so thankful for God’s care and continued provision for them. It is incredible, this day and time we live in. God has been so gracious to give us, as a people, the technology and knowledge to care for these babies. He has also given people – doctors, nurses, hospital staff – who can apply the technology and knowledge for the good of these little girls. It is amazing to watch and to consider. These are gifts from God, this is God’s grace at work. God is good to use people of all kinds in our lives, using the hands of others to do His work. Thank you all so much for your prayers, and for your continued prayers. They will remain in the hospital for many weeks, so please pray for them, for Stephanie, Brandon, and Mason, for wisdom as they manage this time in their lives and for energy needed to care for themselves and each other. Please pray too for the many others who will reach out to help them.

In addition to this rich blessing of Addelyn and Hayden’s birth and seeing God’s hand at work through them, we also experienced His providential and gracious care as Colton had surgery this week to repair a nasty collarbone break due to a bicycle accident. The accident required an emergency room visit, he was pretty banged up, and his injuries included a concussion with amnesia. Having raised five very active boys, we are not strangers to the emergency room, but this amnesia thing, this was new to us. Fortunately, the amnesia part is mostly gone and the surgery was successful, putting a steel plate and seven screws in place to stabilize the bone. Again, a picture of God’s grace and provision. 

As challenges come our way, and they do, we get this front row seat, watching God at work in our lives and the lives of others. Many times He heals and we are repaired, and for that we can and should thank Him. Other times we suffer not for a short while but for a long while, and yet He carries us through it. No matter how God chooses to provide for us, He is still God, He still loves His children and He is still all wise in what He does. Trusting Him is our duty and should be our joy.

Something else that’s happened in our church family this week, that’s very significant, is that Nathan Clay has come to be a part of our church family as the Clays have adopted him and he’s here for the first time with us from India. That was a long-term challenge, bringing him here. But it is a true blessing, not just for them but for our whole church family. And isn’t adoption such a beautiful picture of what God has done for us? Every time we see Nathan, we should be reminded of God’s gracious hand in adopting us into His family.

No matter how God chooses to provide for us, whether we have short-term challenges or long-term challenges, He is still God and He still loves His children deeply. So we are left to trust Him. We will suffer here, and even if it is for a lifetime, it is still temporary, we will not suffer in heaven, we will not suffer on the new earth, our time of suffering is short and our time for tremendous peace and joy, perfect peace and joy will be eternal. Again, thanks so much for your prayers and continued prayers for our family!

We have a few verses left in chapter 2 of 1 Timothy that are dealing specifically with women. Verse 11 is a verse that puts down many cultural biases that have degraded women throughout history. It is a verse that speaks of equality, spiritual equality of women, and even of the worth of women as heirs with Christ in the kingdom of God. This verse in this paragraph is, in my opinion, not focused on enough, but I want us to look at it and consider it carefully today. The remaining verses then have to do with the role of women in the church. Spiritual equality does not mean that men and women share the same roles in life or in the church. There are distinctions laid out in the Bible regarding roles. 

If you have been a part of our biblical counseling training on Wednesday nights then you have just learned about roles in marriage. Husbands’ roles and wives’ roles, they differ for sure, but they are equal in importance in the family as God has designed it. One is not inferior to the other, they both carry great weight, great responsibility. 

So next week, Lord willing, we will talk about roles more, distinct roles in the church regarding male and female, but for today let’s look at verse 11 and see what God has for us in it.

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. (1 Timothy 2:11)

The first part of the verse is significant. We may not tend to focus on the first part and instead jump to the second part and then the verses that follow. We may do that at times, read of biblical prohibitions and focus on them and miss over other great truths of how God is taking care of us, providing us with all that we need for our spiritual good and growth. The first part is that. It is encouraging. The first part is part of a command to let the women learn. That is important! As we had discussed over the last couple of weeks, part of the key to understanding these words rightly is to understand that Paul is talking in context of the church. He is talking specifically about church life, about worship in the church. And so he is saying, in the church, in the worship service of the church, let the women learn. The second part says, “quietly with all submissiveness.” That part speaks to what the attitude of the women should be.

Why do I say that the first part is a really big deal, “Let a woman learn?” It is a big deal for many reasons. The first reason this is significant is because of cultural challenges in the church in the first century, and really cultural challenges that have plagued many societies throughout history. The women are to learn, or you could say “be discipled” – again it is not written as a suggestion but as a command. Now for us this may seem like an obvious point. That is that the women should learn in church or be discipled. I hope we all understand that as men and women we are fully equal spiritually. The commands and instructions in the Bible regarding spiritual growth do not distinguish between male and female.

1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-3)

There is no mention of male or female here. The criteria for spiritual growth is that one has tasted that the Lord is good. He is writing to believers.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (Ephesians 4:15)

Who is to grow? All who profess Christ are to grow. 

One of my favorite passages regarding the equality of men and women as children of God through Christ comes from 1 Peter 3. Verses 1-7 are talking primarily about differing roles for men and women in marriage. Its thrust is not about the equality in the Spirit of Christ that I have been talking about, but in how our God-given roles are different. For the woman there is in the first six verses reminders of her need to submit and to have a gentle and quiet spirit, of how her beauty is to be found in her inner self rather than only in outward appearance. And then in verse 7 we see instruction for the men. That is men are to know their wives, treat them with great honor. Here is how verse 7 reads: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

As God is giving men instruction He includes this very important phrase, speaking of wives,
“since they are heirs with you of the grace of life.” It is like, just in case a husband somehow thinks he is superior or somehow deserving of his wife’s respect and honor and submission, God says, “Wait, remember this: she, your wife, is also an heir of the grace of life.” She is God’s child, she belongs to God. Husbands need to treat their wives with honor because, if she is a believer, she is a child of God first. And if she’s not a believer she’s still His creation. She belongs to Him. She is equal then, spiritually, a child of God, and so as God’s child we have been, as husbands, entrusted by God to care for her well until He takes her home.

Now, we know these things, we have the Bible to help us understand these things. But in this church where Timothy was pastoring there was, in his time, a long history of treating women as inferior – inferior spiritually and in every other way. First-century Judaism did not treat women as spiritually equal. They, the women, were not encouraged to learn or be discipled. Most rabbis even refused to teach women and some likened it to throwing pearls to swine. Even in Greek society it was not much better. William Barclay wrote this, speaking of this time period and women: “The respectable Greek woman led a very confined life. She lived in her own quarters into which no one but her husband came. She did not even appear at meals. She never at any time appeared on the street alone; she never went to any public assembly.”

In this kind of environment it is easy to see that women were not regularly engaged in the learning process, especially in public settings. Paul is dramatically altering this way of thinking by stating clearly, “let a woman learn.” Let the women be a part of the learning that takes place in the church. They are not second-class citizens. 

Now it is interesting, I think, that while the Jewish teachers of the day seemed to have this wrong view of women and of them learning, they did not get that from the Old Testament teaching. Whatever biases they had against women came from somewhere else, maybe their own personal biases. God did not change from the Old Testament to the New. We know, for instance, that the Mosaic Law was given to both men and women. In Deuteronomy 1:1 it says, “These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel.” Both men and women, mothers and fathers were to instruct their children in the ways of God, not just the men. 

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:4-7

Also, Proverbs 6:20 speaks of fathers and mothers regarding children…

My son, keep your father’s commandment,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching (Proverbs 6:20)

Even the single greatest spiritual vow from the Old Testament, the Nazarite vow, was open to men and women…

Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, when either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazarite…” (Numbers 6:2)

There is spiritual equality between man and woman, they are equally loved by God, used by God, and heirs with Christ. This does not however mean that their roles are identical. It just means that one is not more important in the eyes of God over the other.

The last half of verse 11 tells how they should learn: “quietly with all submissiveness.” She is to be a learner, to be content as a learner in worship in the church. To really understand this well, we need to be aware of the contrast that we see in verse 12. We aren’t going to go into detail in verse 12 today, we will save that for next time, but for now let’s just notice that verse 12 mentions teaching. Here is what it says: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” The quietness then is in contrast to teaching. The women are to be, again, content with learning, and not to teach in the formal meeting of the church. This quietness is to be in a spirit of submission, which means to voluntarily put oneself under. She is to voluntarily place herself in this position of a quiet learner in worship. Paul will give reasons for this as we will see next time, but for today we can see that the Lord has appointed that men lead and teach in the formal meeting of the church. 

The point that I want us to see today is that God values women, and God values women in the church, and one way that He shows us that is by this command that women be taught the things of God for their growth in godliness. I don’t want us to miss that.

And as God values women, so should men, all men, honor them. There is no place for male chauvinism in the church. There is no place for degrading women in the church. There is no place for objectifying women in Christianity. Other religions do that, many in society do that, we are not to follow their lead, we are to honor women as sisters in Christ. This means that as men we should not tempt them to sin or lead them to sin, or treat them in a way that would communicate we are in any way superior. Paul illustrates this well elsewhere…

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:27-29)

Next week we will look more carefully at the role of teaching and authority in the church.

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. (1 Timothy 2:11)