James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;1 timothy 2:1-3:16
CONCERNING PUBLIC PRAYER
Chapter 2 is taken up with regulations concerning public prayer. First, he directs that intercessory prayer he made for all men (1 Timothy 2:1-7). What class of men is especially singled out (1 Timothy 2:2)? What selfish motive on the part of the church should induce such intercessory prayer? And yet what higher motive is suggested (1 Timothy 2:4)? What does this verse suggest as to the object of such intercession so far as those in authority are concerned? On what ground may such intercession be made (1 Timothy 2:5-6)? It seems evident that intercession was not being made in this church at Ephesus. Perhaps persecution at the hands of the authorities had caused it to be less earnestly conducted, or perhaps a party spirit had something to do with it; at all events the church needed to be stirred up to it, and Timothy to get them doing it. This was part of the good warfare he was to war.
Second, he refers to the way men should pray (1 Timothy 2:8). “Everywhere” may refer to every place the worshippers were in the habit of assembling in Ephesus. There may have been several bodies of believers there meeting in different places. The fact that men without distinction of ministerial functions were to pray is significant. Not only were the deacons, or elders, or presbyters, or bishops, to pray, but the “men” were to pray. There is no priesthood in the church except the common priesthood of believers. But how were they to pray? “Lifting up” the hands was a Jewish custom in prayer and seems to have been adopted in the church.
But what kind of hands were the men to hold up? “Holy hands” are those not stained with sin (Psalm 25:4; Psalm 26:6; Jam 4:8). If we regard iniquity in our hearts God will not hear us. “Without wrath and doubting” might read without wrath and disputing or contention. No religious disputes, no outbreaks in daily life could be permitted where prayer was to be engaged in.
All expositors are agreed that “I will” of 1 Timothy 1:8 should be carried over to 1 Timothy 2:9. The latter then would read, “In like manner, I will that the women adorn themselves,” etc. What, in this case, would be the force of the expression “in like manner”? Is it meant that he would have the men pray in every place, and the women “in like manner” be silent? Or would he have the men lifting up holy hands, and the women “in like manner” adorning themselves? So unlikely is either of these that many expositors supply the word “pray” in 1 Timothy 2:9 to complete the sense. The two verses would then harmonize like this: “I will therefore that men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands, and in like manner, I will that women pray in modest apparel,” etc., to the end of 1 Timothy 2:10. Compare with 1 Corinthians 11:5.
At 1 Timothy 2:11 there is a translation, and the apostle passes on to something new. What is that new thing about women he now takes up? Not her relation to public prayer, but her relation to her husband, especially in the matter of public teaching in the church. The command to silence here suggests 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, where the context shows that there were various forms of disorder and confusion in the church assemblies, especially the making remarks and asking questions about the words of others, from which women, who seem to have been the chief offenders, were enjoined.
But what about teaching? “I suffer not a woman to teach.” To teach and to govern are the special functions of the presbyter or elder. The teacher and pastor, named in the divine gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:11), are considered by some to be the same; and the pastor is generally regarded as identical with the bishop. Now there is no instance in the New Testament of a woman’s being set over a church as bishop, or teacher or ruler. What then if we say it is to this, to which Paul here refers?
The reason why woman is placed in subjection to man as stated by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:13-14 is sufficiently plain, but there is a mystery about 1 Timothy 2:15. Certainly it does not mean that the mere act of child-bearing saves a woman, which would contradict the primary truth of the Gospel that we are saved by faith and not works. As a matter of fact, moreover, the word for child-bearing here includes more than the act of giving birth, and means the proper nurture and training of children. The apostle’s meaning is, that women are to be kept in the path of safety, not by taking to themselves the office of the man (taking part in the assemblies of the church), but by the performance of the peculiar functions which God has assigned to their sex.
Chapter 3 is a charge to Timothy concerning the selection and the duties of church officials. First, he treats of bishops or overseers (1 Timothy 3:1-7). It is to be remembered that the word “bishop” here is the same as “presbyter” or “elder” elsewhere, and does not mean a higher and distinct order of the ministry. See Titus 1:5, compared with 1 Timothy 3:7 of the same chapter. Secondly, he treats of deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13). Then he brings these directions to a close by a solemn statement of their object and glorious import (1 Timothy 3:14-16).
1. What probably explains the occasion for these instructions about prayer for rulers?
2. What illustrates the common priesthood of believers?
3. How might the difficulties in 1 Timothy 2:9-15 be explained?
4. What about 1 Timothy 2:15 especially?
5. Does the proposed definition satisfy you?
6. What is the particular theme of chapter 3?
7. How many orders of the ministry are here taught?