1 Timothy 2 Commentary
1 Timothy 2 Exposition
Chapter Titles for 1 Timothy
- Paul’s philosophy of ministry
- Pray for others; godly women
- Overseers, deacons, and conduct in the church
- Departure from the faith; train for godliness
- Respectfully challenge; widows; elders
- Slaves and masters, godliness, money
Argument of Chapter two, Pray for leaders; godly women
Paul, in chapter 2, instructs Timothy about three topics. First, that the men pray in the church assembly for people and kings so we may live a godly and dignified life which pleases God (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Second, believers, through godly and dignified lives, present a witness to Christ Jesus, the mediator between God and man, so that people can be saved (1 Timothy 2:4-8). The third topic is how women are to act in the church assembly and the home. If men are the leaders and teachers in church, what do the women do? Paul writes that women are to adorn themselves with godliness, quietly receive instruction, and fulfill the role of wife and mother (1 Timothy 2:9-15).
Exposition and Commentary
Chapter 2, Pray for leaders; godly women
- 1 Timothy 2:1-3. Paul first instructs Timothy that the men (2:8) should pray, especially when the church is assembled, for all people (generic man, ανθρωπος anthropos), kings, and those in authority so that believers are free to live in a way that furthers the message of salvation through Christ Jesus.
- 1 Timothy 2:1. Paul urges Timothy to teach prayer. This prayer is for all men (1.1), for kings, and others in authority (1:2). Paul urges this. Urge is the word παρακαλέω parakaleo, to encourage, urge, exhort. This is important to Paul. Doctrines include Prayer.
- Note the four words for prayer: entreaties (δέησις deesis, an urgent request), prayers (προσευχή, proseuche a general word for prayer to God), petitions (ἔντευξις enteuxis, another general word for prayer and also a formal request to a high official), thanksgivings (εὐχαριστία eucharistia, an expression of gratitude and giving thanks).
- Paul takes the idea of talking with God and adds four similar dimensions to prayer so we have a more full understanding of prayer: it is urgent, talking to God, a formal request to an authority, and expression of gratitude. How is our prayer life? Often our prayers are quick without much thought and gratitude. Note that we are to pray for all men—all mankind. Purpose hina plus pres act subjunctive. So we may lead a tranquil and quiet life.
- 1 Timothy 2:2. Kings and those in authority refer to political leaders starting with the king, and then those in places of authority . Today this includes Presidents and Prime Ministers and those under them. It also seems to include those in other places of authority and leadership in life such as business, military, and education, In the United States the US Constitution is the highest authority and so we prayer for those who are to govern according to the Constitution. God has granted authority to political rulers. Proper prayer for them has a purpose: that they will rule or govern right and according to biblical revelation so that believers may live in all godliness (εὐσέβεια eusebeia awesome respect to God, reverence, piety) and dignity (σεμνότης semnotes, behavior that is above ordinary and worthy of respect, dignity, seriousness). This kind of behavior influences people “to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (2:4).
- Godliness is a summary word for the normal inner and outer behavior of the new in Christ person (2 Peter 1.3). Godliness a specific kind of life that is based upon correct biblical teaching. Godliness reflects 1. God’s character (inner virtue and fruit of the Spirit) 2. God’s will (Bible doctrine or what he thinks), and 3. God’s power (the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the Word), and 4. therefore honors God. Doctrines include Godliness, Divine Institutions, Divine Principles for Society, Authority.
- Biblical revelation includes principles for civilizations and governments. This prayer then has a purpose for believers: that believers may live without interference and please God—“a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” Paul wanted all kinds of prayer for all people.
- Divine institutions are the most basic practices or customs (institutions) that God (divine) set up for the human race (believer and unbeliever) in order to protect them, preserve them, and allow them to enjoy blessings on earth. The four divine institutions are volition or liberty (Gen 2.16-17; Jn 7.17); marriage (Gen 2.18-25; Col 3.18-19); family—the basic social group (Gen 4.1-2; Eph 6.1-4); and nationalism—the larger unit with a cohesive and distinct culture (Gen 10.32-11.9; Acts 17.26-27).
- Divine principles for civilizations refers to God’s (divine) rules (establishment) that apply within each divine institution to all the areas of society and to all people. These include authority, liberty, morality, justice, internal and external security, ownership of private property, the right to accumulate wealth, and proper taxation, responsibility, and helpfulness to your neighbor. Divine establishment for civilizations is the subject of many Scriptures (Matt 22.21; Rom 13.1-10; 1 Tim 2.1-3; 1 Pet 2.13-17; Prov 3.27-35; Prov 13.22; Prov 20.18; and Prov 24.21-22 are a few examples).
- 1 Timothy 2:3. This kind of prayer and a godly life (verses 1-2) are good and acceptable to God. It pleases him. God, here, is God the Father. He is called “our savior” because he initiated the plan of salvation. Doctrines include God, Christology.
- 1 Timothy 2:4-8. This message of salvation, which governs Paul’s apostolic ministry to the Gentiles, is that Christ Jesus, the Savior, is the mediator between God and mankind, and since God desires all men (people ανθρωπος anthropos) to be saved—to believe in him—and then to know God’s truth, men (male ανηρ aner) are to pray.
- 1 Timothy 2:4. God’s desired will is everlasting salvation and knowledge of God’s truth for all people. The word desire (θέλω present active indicative, thelo, wish, desire, want) expresses what God would like to happen, but he allows mankind to say no to him. The reason or explanation why salvation and knowledge of the truth are desired is based upon three specific doctrines mentioned in verses 5-6: there is one God, there is one mediator, and Jesus the mediator gave himself for all. Doctrines include Christology, God’s will, mediator, reconciliation, salvation (kinds, tenses, unity), spiritual gifts, knowledge of God’s word.
- Salvation is everlasting life. This is a central topic of the Bible. John’s gospel is especially clear on this topic.
- Knowledge of the truth can refer to knowledge of Bible doctrine in general, but here in context verses 5-6 refer to there is one God, there is one mediator, and Jesus the mediator gave himself for all. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). This is where knowledge of the truth begins. Proverbs says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (1:7) and wisdom (9:10).
- 1 Timothy 2:5-6 amplify verses 3-4. “For (γάρ gar pointing to reason or an explanation) there is” in verse 5 explains why “God… desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” of verses 3-4. Doctrines include God, Mediator, Sin Barrier, Redemption, Reconciliation, Unlimited Atonement, Fullness of time.
- The specific biblical truth in context—there is one God, there is one mediator, and the one mediator gave himself as the ransom for all— explain why it is important to pray (1-2) but more to the point, explain why salvation and knowledge of the biblical truth (3-4) are so important. Without prayer these authorities may not hear of salvation and biblical truth, and without these three truths there is no salvation and no truth to know.
- 1 Timothy 2:5-6. A mediator μεσίτης mesites is one qualified to act as the go between or middle man to reach a common agreement or remove a disagreement. Jesus mediated between God and sinful man. In this case there was no compromise. A mediator must have something in common or acceptable to both parties. Jesus was God and man; he was sinless; he was willing. He was the “ransom” (ἀντίλυτρον antilutron). Ransom has the idea of an exchange. Christ as mediator exchanged himself for us and our sin. He redeemed us. He was the ransom for all—all mankind which is unlimited atonement. Jesus Christ died for all mankind, not just a select group. Paul then adds “at the proper time.” He was made known in history at the right time, the time of the incarnation. Jesus was revealed at the incarnation at the right time. God prepared this time in history (see Galatians 4). Doctrine of Mediator.
- 1 Timothy 2:7. Paul concludes this paragraph by emphasizing the reason for his ministry: “for this I was appointed” (γάρ gar pointing to reason or an explanation) refers to verse 4, “to be saved” and “to come to the knowledge of the truth”). He was appointed a preacher, apostle, and teacher. He was the apostle to Gentiles. A preacher and apostle are summed up in the teaching ministry. He teaches in the sphere of faith and truth. Faith and truth are Paul’s everyday business. He believes God and teaches truth. Doctrines include apostle, spiritual gifts, ministry, equipping the saints,
- He was a preacher–> Delivery (κῆρυξ kerux, a public messenger, envoy, one entrusted with a proclamation, one who heralds or proclaims a message; 2 Timothy 1:11, 2 Peter 2:5),
- an apostle–> Authority (ἀπόστολος apostolos, messenger, envoy, delegate, and in the NT one who is highly honored believers with a special function—one of the select authoritative men to provide the foundation for the church; Romans 1:1, Titus 1:1, and many others),
- and a teacher–> Content (διδάσκαλος didaskalos, one who communicates truth for understanding; Luke2:46, Ephesians 4:11, Hebrews 5:12, Matthew 10:24). Other passages also affirm these titles—Ephesians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and 2 Timothy 1:11.
- His ministry–> Target was primarily to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7; Romans 11:13; 15:16). Evangelism and then teaching God’s word to new believers was a central focus of his ministry as we see in many passages including 1 Corinthians 4:17, Colossians 1:28, and 2 Thessalonians 2:15. The biblical and practical order is communication of the good news of forgiveness and everlasting life through faith in Jesus Christ followed by the communication of the Scripture, God’s word, for spiritual growth, health, and service. Matthew 28:19-20 gives us the order.
- Faith and truth govern Paul’s life and ministry. The way he worked—manner. Wherever he goes and whatever he does, faith in God and God’s word govern him. Wherever he goes and whatever he does truth, God’s word, governs him. Paul lived by faith and the knowledge of God’s word.
- 1 Timothy 2:8. In view of what Paul has just written, beginning with his encouragement to pray, he singles out the men (ἀνήρ aner, man in contrast to woman) to pray in every place of church assembly. Paul wants this (βούλομαι boulomai, to wish, desire, plan; present indicative). The present tense seems to strengthen Paul’s interest in them praying regularly. That Paul is talking about church assembly is shown by 1 Timothy 3:15 and the purpose of this letter—he is writing Timothy so that he will know how to teach about leadership, the act of teaching, doctrine, organization, and godly living within the scope of the church assembly. Doctrines include Prayer, Relationships among believers, mental attitude sins, sins of the tongue.
- The men are to lead the congregations in prayer and when doing so they are to be spiritually clean, specifically without wrathful anger and arguments, which breaks fellowship with God and also disrupts the church.
- Lifting holy hands refer to godliness and right relationship with God and people, further clarified by “without wrath and dissension.” The word lifting is a present active participle of manner telling the way the men pray. Is this a command to pray with hands raised? This is not a command. Furthermore, it is figurative for a clean or holy life. Note that holy hands are further described as without or apart from wrath and dissension. Hands do not literally have wrath and dissension in them. Paul is encouraging prayer in church by men who are spiritually clean—clean from wrathful anger and from argument. Scripture that mentions lifting hands include Psalm 24:4 and James 4:8. Others are 1 Kings 8:22, 2 Chronicles 6:13, Ezra 9:5, Psalm 28:2, Psalm 141:2, and Proverbs 2:19.
- 1 Timothy 2:9-15. The women also have a vital role in the church and the home: they are to adorn themselves with godliness, quietly receive instruction, and fulfill the role of wife and mother. Furthermore, a woman finds her dignity and God’s fulfillment through motherhood if they continue in the Christian life.
- 1 Timothy 2:9-15 now pass from the responsibility of men in the church to the responsibility of women in the church. The men “adorn” themselves with public prayer, leadership, authority, and teaching. Women adorn themselves with godliness, quietly receive instruction, and do not take authority over men. The point is that good works—correct ministry—are much more important than good clothes in expressing a godly character.
- 1 Timothy 2:9. “Likewise” in this verse indicates that women also have a role in church and the Christian life. Their unique role is different than men. Women are to adorn themselves with respectable or orderly clothing, and along with modesty or self-respect and good judgment. The point Paul is making is that women should not dress in such a way that calls attention to themselves by what they wear instead of their character and inner life. They are not to flaunt their elaborate dress. Prostitutes did these things to attract attention. Elaborate dress could also cause pride, favoritism, and even a sense of superiority in church. James warned of this in James 2:1-3.
- On the positive side. Women is the accusative plural of gune γυνή , referring to female. Women acts as the subject of the present active infinitive of adorn, kosmeo κοσμέω, to order, arrange, dress. Cosmetic is an English word that refers to superficial measures to make one look better. Her adornment should emphasize respectable clothing. Chapter 3, verse 2 has the same word “respectable” for the overseer. Modesty is αἰδώς aidos which has the thought of modesty, respect, regard for others. Discreetly is σωφροσύνη sophrosune and refers to reasonableness, moderation, good judgment.
- On the negative side. Not emphasizing the stylish hair, jewelry, or expensive clothes. This does not forbid any of these. It does forbid the emphasis on them.
- 1 Timothy 2:10. Women are to adorn themselves (2:9) by good works—Christian service (διʼ ἔργων ἀγαθῶν, di’ ergon agathon). Godliness describes the woman who emphasizes her inner spiritual character and demonstrates her life by good works, not by extravagant dress. Good works come from a healthy spiritual life. Good works come from what kind of character a person has, not from what that person wears. Respectful and modest clothing combined with good works put the attention on her godliness. Doctrines include inner beauty, good works, godliness, spiritual life definitions. Christian way of life.
- Good works. Christian service produces good works or divine good by serving God in God’s way (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:9-10; Titus 2:7). God’s way is to serve following the Bible instructions, by the Holy Spirit’s power, and when in fellowship with God. The opposite of Christian service is man working or serving apart from the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and fellowship with God resulting in human works or human good, which is man’s work done in the man’s way, or even God’s work done in man’s way. Human good can be moral, religious, and even legal good but still not receive credit from God (Bible Doctrine 1, page 65).
- Godliness, θεοσέβεια theosebeia, reverence to God, service or fear of God, found only in the NT here, and came to be a quasi technical term for the worship of the one true God (Moulten and Milligan). This word is almost equal to the word in verse 2 (εὐσέβεια eusebeia).
- 1 Timothy 2:11-12. The woman’s role in the church service: 1. quietly receive instruction 2. not teach or exercise authority over a man. This means that they have the role of active learners, not teachers or leaders in the church assembly. The woman is here addressed because she is the subject of this section in contrast to the man, and Paul is setting up the policy for the orderly church meeting. The women are to pay attention, to recognize the God given position of men teachers, and not cause disturbances. The instructions to the woman do not single her out as one who is a problem learner. By application the instructions apply to all people learning in a group.
- 1 Timothy 2:11 instructs about the woman learning. She actively listens and learns. She does not take authority away from the man. The emphasis in verse 11 is on attitude, not total silence.
- Learn (μανθάνω manthano, to gain knowledge, to learn; here in the present active imperative
- Quietly or without disturbance (ἡσυχία hesuchia with the preposition ἐν en indicates the manner of her instruction). She willingly listens and learns without causing distraction or disturbance. What kind of disturbances? They could include moving about, talking instead of listening, and even mental wandering.
- Entire submissiveness means that she is teachable. She does not disrupt by challenging the teacher. A woman is to be teachable. Here we can recall 1 Corinthians 14:29-35 where Paul instructs for an orderly assembly. The word in 1 Timothy 2:11 is ὑποταγή, hupotage subordination, subjection, under authority, with the preposition ἐν en indicates the manner of her instruction. This word stresses rank and authority, not superiority and inferiority.
- 1 Timothy 2:12 instructs that the man is the teacher and leader in the church assembly and the woman is the student and follower. The emphasis in this verse is on activity and orderliness. Paul says that women should not teach men in a church meeting (to teach is not permitted). Both words, teach and exercise authority, are present active infinitives telling what Paul does not permit. Exercise authority (αὐθεντέω authenteo) means to give orders, to dictate, to tell a man what to do, to assume a stance of independent authority. This is not Paul’s usual word for authority. The word Paul used is stronger and may refer to an Ephesus problem in which women tried to take the authority away from the men. Moulton and Milligan, page 92, say “The use in 1 Tim 2:12 comes quite naturally out of the word “master, autocrat.” The question may arise about women teaching at all. There is no statement in the NT that the teaching gift is not given to women. The conclusion seems to be that women can teach women in Bible classes and they can teach children. The restrictions refer to the church service where God through Paul restricted the leadership, authority, and teaching to men. See Acts 18:24-26 where Priscilla and Aquila explained the word of God accurately to Apollos.
- 1 Timothy 2:13-14. Why the particular role of women in the church service? Paul argues from two biblical doctrines: the order of creation and the fall in which Eve was deceived.
- 1 Timothy 2:13. God created Adam first. To Adam God gave the command to cultivate and keep the earth (Genesis 2:15). Included in the dominion mandate was the ability and right to name the beasts and birds (2:19-20). Next, God created woman (Eve). Eve was created out of Adam. She was dependent upon him.
- 1 Timothy 2:14. Satan indwelt a serpent and deceived Eve so she ate from the forbidden fruit and then gave the fruit to Adam. He was not deceived (ἀπατάω apataw, to deceive, to mislead). She was deceived (ἐξαπατάω exapataw, to deceive, to deceive thoroughly, aorist passive participle). Her role as follower was then confirmed (Genesis 3:16). Possibly the woman was more vulnerable and dependent on a leader because she was created out of Adam. Doctrines include creation, and the fall.
- 1 Timothy 2:15. Chapter 2 has emphasized that men lead in prayer, teaching, and authority. The women are identified with Eve who was created second and who was deceived. What then is the woman’s role in life? Her primary role is the care and rearing of her children. Her role as mother gives her the satisfaction and fulfillment that men can have through work and church leadership. She finds her dignity through childbearing.
- Interpretative options for verse 15 turn on who—singular—will be saved (Eve, any woman, husband and wife), what saved means (everlasting salvation, physical deliverance, spiritual deliverance and fulfillment in life for the woman and in context compared to fulfillment in life by the man by prayer, leadership, and so on), to what does child bearing refer (delivery of a baby, Mary bearing Jesus, motherhood—bearing and teaching children), and who—plural—abides or remains (woman, husband and wife, children).
- She shall be saved (future passive indicative 3 singular of ςωζω sozo. Who shall be saved? This is third person singular. It seems clear in context that this is the woman—any woman, not just Eve.
- What does saved mean? The verb is σῴζω sozo in the future passive indicative third singular. Sozo is used 106 times in 99 verses in the Greek text, NA27. The meanings by usage range—to make well, to heal from sickness, to preserve, to deliver from danger and physical death, to keep alive, to bring out safely, to keep in mind, to deliver from God’s judgment, in the passive to prosper and get on well (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker; Liddell and Scott; Moulton and Milligan). The context and use indicates saved in the sense of preserved in well being, prosper, and so fulfilled
- "Through childbearing." What does child bearing refer to? Though it is true that the bearing of Jesus brings about everlasting salvation, that does not seem to be Paul’s meaning here. Again, the context and word meaning indicate that it means to bear and teach children—motherhood— in the common sense. It refers to faithfulness in her God designed role as a mother and wife.
- "If she continues" (μενω meno present active subjuctive 3 plural with the third class conditional if). Singulars and plurals can be mixed and that seems to be the case here so that we have a shift from the generic singular (saved) to the generic plural (continue) referring to the women or woman in the context (See NET translator’s note 9 on 1 Timothy 2:15). Most say this refers to the woman or to the husband and wife. This refers to the woman—any believing woman who remains in faith, love, sanctification, and self control. She will be “saved” in the sense of spiritual health and fulfillment.
- Summary of 1 Timothy 2:15. 1. Man sinned and as a result he was to work and toil. In his work he finds fulfillment and dignity. Paul might have written that man shall be saved (delivered) through his work. 2. Woman sinned and as a result she was to bear children. In her childbearing she finds her fulfillment and dignity—deliverance, salvation. Doctrines include the role of women in the home.
- For various views on this verse see NET Bible note on 1 Timothy 1:15. tn Or “But she will be preserved through childbearing,” or “But she will be saved in spite of childbearing.” This verse is notoriously difficult to interpret, though there is general agreement about one point: Verse 15 is intended to lessen the impact of vv. 13–14. There are several interpretive possibilities here, though the first three can be readily dismissed (cf. D. Moo,”1 Timothy 2:11–15: Meaning and Significance,” TJ 1 : 70–73). (1) Christian women will be saved, but only if they bear children. This view is entirely unlikely for it lays a condition on Christian women that goes beyond grace, is unsupported elsewhere in scripture, and is explicitly against Paul’s and Jesus’ teaching on both marriage and salvation (cf. Matt 19:12; 1 Cor 7:8–9, 26–27, 34–35; 1 Tim 5:3–10). (2) Despite the curse, Christian women will be kept safe when bearing children. This view also is unlikely, both because it has little to do with the context and because it is not true to life (especially life in the ancient world with its high infant mortality rate). (3) Despite the sin of Eve and the results to her progeny, she would be saved through the childbirth—that is, through the birth of the Messiah, as promised in the protevangelium (Gen 3:15). This view sees the singular “she” as referring first to Eve and then to all women (note the change from singular to plural in this verse). Further, it works well in the context. However, there are several problems with it: [a] The future tense (σωθήσηται, sōthēsētai) is unnatural if referring to the protevangelium or even to the historical fact of the Messiah’s birth; [b] that only women are singled out as recipients of salvation seems odd since the birth of the Messiah was necessary for the salvation of both women and men; [c] as ingenious as this view is, its very ingenuity is its downfall, for it is overly subtle; and [d] the term τεκνογονία (teknogonia) refers to the process of childbirth rather than the product. And since it is the person of the Messiah (the product of the birth) that saves us, the term is unlikely to be used in the sense given it by those who hold this view. There are three other views that have greater plausibility: (4) This may be a somewhat veiled reference to the curse of Gen 3:16 in order to clarify that though the woman led the man into transgression (v. 14b), she will be saved spiritually despite this physical reminder of her sin. The phrase is literally “through childbearing,” but this does not necessarily denote means or instrument here. Instead it may show attendant circumstance (probably with a concessive force): “with, though accompanied by” (cf. BDAG 224 s.v. δία A.3.c; Rom 2:27; 2 Cor 2:4; 1 Tim 4:14). (5) “It is not through active teaching and ruling activities that Christian women will be saved, but through faithfulness to their proper role, exemplified in motherhood” (Moo, 71). In this view τεκνογονία is seen as a synecdoche in which child-rearing and other activities of motherhood are involved. Thus, one evidence (though clearly not an essential evidence) of a woman’s salvation may be seen in her decision to function in this role. (6) The verse may point to some sort of proverbial expression now lost, in which “saved” means “delivered” and in which this deliverance was from some of the devastating effects of the role reversal that took place in Eden. The idea of childbearing, then, is a metonymy of part for the whole that encompasses the woman’s submission again to the leadership of the man, though it has no specific soteriological import (but it certainly would have to do with the outworking of redemption).
tn Translator’s Note—explains the rationale for the translation and gives alternative translations, interpretive options, and other technical information. ↑
TJ Trinity Journal ↑
BDAG A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3d e.d. ↑
s.v. under the word (from Latin sub verbo or sub voce) ↑
Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006). ↑