AN ELEPHANT OR TWO
Christ, You live in Your people. I rest in Your presence now.
Read 1 Timothy 2:1–15
Instructions on Worship
2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectHave you ever allowed controversies in doctrines to get your focus off of the most important person—Jesus?
There are several elephants in the room right now. Will women really achieve heaven by having babies (15)? Should women not speak unless spoken to (11,12)?! And are hair straighteners out of the question for followers of Jesus (9)?
Ancient Ephesus was a very different place to most western cities today, and what might have been inappropriate then might not be now. Surely, we need to carefully consider how Paul’s particular applications both to men and to women in the church are conditioned by the particular situation and the ancient culture’s norms. And we can be confident that verse 15 is not a loophole in the whole “salvation by grace alone” thing! It would be time well spent to study these issues.
What is just as striking, however, is Paul’s utter focus on the mission of God (4,5) and on his role as an apostle (7). To Paul, the most important thing in the world is that every person will be saved through coming to a knowledge of Jesus the mediator. The difficult issues in this passage aside, maybe it’s helpful to consider whether we have such a heart for mission, whether godliness and holiness are what we’re seeking to build in our lives and communities (1,2), whether we’re more concerned about our appearance than acts of kindness (10) or even about our rights than love and holiness (15b).
Have you been focusing on appearances or rules and forgotten the all-important mandate to go and make disciples (Matt. 28:19)? Whom can you share the Gospel with this week?
Lord Jesus, give me Paul’s heart for Your mission.
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