1 Timothy 2

Order Concerning Priesthood
1 Timothy 2
1 Timothy 2. In this chapter, Paul begins to unfold the order of the house of God, and this lays the basis for what Timothy was to charge the Ephesians. He begins with the subject of priesthood, which is the highest of the three spheres of Christian activity. In the Millennium, the house of God on earth (the temple) will be called “a house of prayer for all people” (Isa. 56:7). The house of God today, though not a physical house, ought still to be a house of prayer; “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). Priesthood is an integral component of Christian behavior in the house of God, whether it be prayer, praise, worship, or the moral character we bear before the world.

Three Spheres of Christian Activity. What God has asked the believer to do (i.e. Christian activity) can be largely divided into three spheres: office, gift, and priesthood. When all of these spheres are maintained in their proper order, the result is the God is glorified and His people are blessed. There is a danger of confusing the various spheres of activity, and this can lead to serious trouble.

We need to exercise all of these to bear a proper testimony of a Savior God in the house of God. So, in ch.2 we have priesthood, in ch.3 we have office, and in ch.4 we have gift. Priesthood is the highest of the three spheres, and so it is fitting that it comes first in our epistle. Read more…

Priestly Prayer (2:1-7)

¶ 1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made for all men; v.1 Prayer for all men. By saying “first of all, I exhort”, we learn that the first chapter is really an introduction, and the following chapters are the body of the epistle. The first exhortation pertains to prayer. Why is prayer so often our last resource? It should be our first activity, both in times of trouble and tranquility. Paul mentions four kinds of prayer; “supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings”.Prayers” generally refer to requests or petitions, which are when we ask God for something. A request is an expression of dependence and confidence. God wants us to turn to Him for our needs. “Supplications” are similar to requests, but they are more intense. To supplicate the Lord is to beg Him for something. We want to be careful not to beg the Lord for something that is not His will. “Intercessions” are for others; to intercede is to come before God on behalf of another, and they involve a certain openness of communication with God, as seen with Moses when he interceded for the children of Israel. “Thanksgivings” are the expression of appreciation for what the Lord has done for us, or given to us. Read more… The scope of prayer here is extremely broad; “for all men”. This means that we can pray for family and strangers, friends and enemies, believers and unbelievers, well and sick, rich and poor, etc. Wherever there is someone in need, or a subject of thanks, believers should be found in prayer over them. We can see that the basis for these exhortations is what we had in ch.1; i.e. grace as opposed to law. This is why he says “therefore”, based on what comes before. The Judaizers would not look upon “all men” as those who should be the subject of our prayers, but grace gives us hearts as broad as God’s!
2 for kings and all that are in dignity, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all piety and gravity; v.2 Prayer for those in authority, and the reason. We also should pray for those who are in authority over us. Again, it would be very unnatural for the Jew to pray for gentile kings, but grace broadens the heart. This would be especially difficult for those who were being persecuted by agents of the government. Notice it is not only kings, but “all that are in dignity”. This would include presidents, ministers of government, magistrates, judges, etc. Even if the person is undignified, they hold an office that is. We ought to pray for them, not get involved with them politically. Notice the object of the prayer; “that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all piety and gravity”. See for comparison, “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray unto Jehovah for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” (Jer. 29:7). As intelligent believers, our goal is not to reform the world by changing the governments, but rather that those in authority would allow us to lead in peace, without drawing unnecessary attention to ourselves. It isn’t that we should avoid persecution through compromise, but that we should seek to practice our faith as much as possible without interference from the government. There are many countries where it is illegal to practice Christianity. But no matter where we are, we can be thankful for the freedoms we do have, and prayerful for more liberty. The idea of praying for persecution because of some of its benefits is not according to what we have here. This verse also shows us that it is God’s mind that Christians be content with simple lives, not looking to have high positions of fame and influence in the world. But it isn’t just a tranquil or peaceful life that God desires for us; He wants us to live in “all godliness/piety” and “gravity”.

Godliness, sometimes translated piety, comes from the Greek word meaning "well devout", and it refers to a manner of living that is totally pleasing to God. It relates to holiness, and certainly includes it, but is broader. Godliness or "devoutness" involves our motives, our attitude, and our conduct in the sight of God. Christ is the perfect example for us in this (1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 5:7).

He adds “gravity”, which is the idea of dignity, or carrying oneself in a manner worthy of respect. These two words cover the behavior suitable to believers, as priests in the house of God. The primary thing is godliness, a life pleasing to God, and the secondary thing is gravity, an orderly and dignified life before men. This is the purpose of praying for those in authority, that we might live a life that is (1) pleasing to God, and (2) a good testimony before men.
3 for this is good and acceptable before our Saviour God, 4 who desires that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. vv.3-4 The Two-fold Desire of our Savior-God. A heart of love, and the unrestricted prayers that flow from such a heart, is “good and acceptable” to God. The key word in this passage (vv.1-7) is “all”. As priests in the house of God, we must understand and appreciate God’s heart of grace, that it is toward “all men”. There are two things that God wants: for all men (1) to “be saved”, and (2) to “come to the knowledge of the truth”. In other words, God desires first that men would believe on His Son, thereby being saved from hell and saved for heaven, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and given the assurance of their security in Christ. But this is not all. He doesn’t want to leave new converts as spiritual babies, but would rather they grow and mature. And for this to happen, they need to “come to the knowledge of the truth”. The truth would now doubt refer to New Testament doctrine. Christ Himself is “the truth” (John 14:6), and “the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21). It is important that we keep both of these things before us: the gospel and doctrine. It is hard to say here what “the truth” entails. Would be confined to the doctrines relating to salvation? Would it include the doctrine of the church? In either case, we can apply it to the whole Christian revelation. There is a twofold error when it comes to the gospel and the doctrine, that of emphasizing one to the neglect of the other. There are those who neglect doctrine on the pretense that only the gospel matters, and issues of the church and doctrine are below the noble interests of the believer. On the other hand, there are those who focus only on the high doctrine of the church, such as we have in Ephesians and Colossians, and neglect the gospel in a pretense of over-spirituality. In either case, being one-sided is not living up to the standards of “our Savior God”.1 Again, as we saw in ch.1, God is mentioned as “God our Savior”, not as “God our Father” as in other epistles. When God is presented in this way, He assumes a character in relation to all mankind; as a God of mercy and grace, reaching out as a deliverer for all mankind. 
5 For God is one, and the mediator of God and men one, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself a ransom for all, the testimony to be rendered in its own times; vv.5-6 The Oneness of God in Salvation. Continuing the theme of oneness, Paul further supports his point that we should pray “for all men” because God’s heart is toward all men. He reasons from the fact that “God is one”, and the mediator between God and men is “one”; i.e. “the man Christ Jesus”.2 Although there are three Persons of the Godhead, there is still only one God. It speaks of a unity of mind and purpose. Further, God doesn’t have one mediator for Jews and another for Gentiles. The distinction between Jew and Gentile is gone regarding the gospel. There is one mediator for all, and this should teach us that God loves all men, and we can pray for all men. The subject of Christ as a mediator is a precious one. All the way back in the book of Job we find that man has needed a mediator. Job felt that God was simply too far away from him, too different, for man to know God. Job longed for some kind of mediator, that could relate to God and man. “For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:32-33). Better than Job could have wished, Christ Jesus became our Mediator. He did more than lay His hand upon God and man; He fully is both God and man; “the man Christ Jesus”. We, who were far from God, can know God now because the Son became man! If He were not God, He could not be a Savior. But if He were not a man, He could not save us (Heb. 2:9). Christ Jesus has made God accessible to man, and though He is in heaven, still maintains His manhood as well as His Divinity, and thus functions as our sympathetic High Priest. This has been called “the distinctive truth of Christianity”.3 But for God to be a Savior God, and for Christ to be a mediator, there needed to be a ransom. So, Christ Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all”. A ransom is a price paid that another may go free. It supposes that “all men” were in bondage to sin and Satan. The work of Christ on the cross, offering Himself up to God, has paid the ransom price that we might be free. Notice the scope of the ransom; “for all”. Compare this with Matt. 20:28 where we find that “the Son of man … [gave] his life a ransom for many.” Here it is the aspect of propitiation, and the ransom is for all men. In Matthew it is the aspect of substitution, and the ransom is for many; i.e. those who believe the gospel. This ransom for all men would be followed by a “testimony to be rendered in its own times”. The fact that Christ has died for all is carried forth as a testimony in the gospel, which goes out to all men, offering salvation by grace through faith. In the Old Testament no such testimony was rendered; God’s heart was not yet disclosed, and the means of saving all mankind was still unknown. “In its own times” refers to whenever the gospel is preached after the cross. It is a testimony or statement that declares the character of God as a Savior God, Christ Jesus given as a ransom, and good news for “whosoever will”.
7 to which “I” have been appointed a herald and apostle, (I speak the truth, I do not lie,) a teacher of the nations in faith and truth. v.7 Paul’s ministry to the nations. It was to this testimony that Paul was appointed for service; to make known the grace of God to all men. Elsewhere he calls it “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:2), although in Timothy it is the gospel that is in focus. A “herald” is one who proclaims coming blessing ahead of time. Certainly, the preaching of the apostle Paul was a herald of the vast numbers of “the nations” that would be saved during the last 2000 years. I wonder if possibly the preaching of Paul was also a herald of the blessing of Gentiles in the Millennium as well. Although they will not have as blessed a place as those saved in the Church period, still their blessing is on the ground of grace, through the one Mediator, by a Savior-God. The fact that God had appointed Paul to this work was no mere invention of his own; it was truly given him by God.

Priestly Character (2:8-15)

The Character of Priests. The priesthood of the believer is carried out in many ways. First, we think of worship, and prayer. This is our “holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). But there is another aspect, and that is our “royal priesthood”, that we would “shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). It is in this second aspect, the royal priesthood, that testimony or character comes into play. As priests, every believer should be a reflection of the character of God in this world. As 1 Timothy 2 shows us, this display has a different character for men and women, nevertheless it is there. Notice that the priesthood of men is focused really on public prayer, while the priesthood of women is expanded to include other things.

Men (v.8)

¶ 8 I will therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up pious hands, without wrath or reasoning. v.8 Public Prayer. On the ground that Paul has already established, that Christians ought to pray for all men, he then gives an apostolic direction to the men (all male believers) to pray “in every place”; i.e. publicly. To see a man addressing God is a very powerful testimony. We are accustomed to seeing men doing their own will, acting independently according to their own plans. It is a powerful testimony to see a man who is walking in dependence on God, and who can be the mouthpiece for others in prayer. The ultimate example of this is the Lord Jesus Christ. Public prayer is reserved for Christian men, rather than women. This has to do with God’s order in creation; “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3). It isn’t that women aren’t to pray, as we find in 1 Tim. 5:5, widows worthy of honor are those who “continue in supplications and prayers night and day”. Whether it be Elisabeth, Mary, or Anna, there are many examples of women praying, and it comes with the highest commendation. Certainly, women are to pray directly to God. But here it is public prayer. This is something God intends men to do, and it has a great deal of importance. Men were designed by God to take the leadership role with women, but always in dependence on God. Prayer is most fundamental expression of our dependence on and confidence in God. It is therefore the place for all men – not a special class, nor those with gift, nor the elders only – to pray publicly. But there is a moral condition suited to public prayer, and this is insisted on by the apostle. “Lifting up pious hands” denotes dependence in our spirit (lifted hands), and holiness in our actions (holy hands). The figure of “lifted hands” is used elsewhere as an expression of dependence on God; see Heb. 12:12, James 4:8, Psa. 24:4, and Genesis 14:22. When someone cries to God with their hands raised toward heaven, they are in earnest. He adds “without wrath or reasoning”, as a guard to public prayer. To pray with “wrath” would be to have an angry spirit towards another while praying. This can manifest itself in praying “at” someone. We cannot be a mouthpiece for others if we express anger in public prayer. To pray with “reasoning” is to have our prayer mixed with human wisdom, rather than simple faith. An example of this would be praying with some ulterior motive, such as to impress others, or influence the thinking of others. Prayer must always be genuine; a communication from the soul to God.

Women (vv.9-15) 

9 In like manner also that the women in decent deportment and dress adorn themselves with modesty and discretion, not with plaited hair and gold, or pearls, or costly clothing, 10 but, what becomes women making profession of the fear of God, by good works. vv.9-10 Decent Apparel and Good Works. “In like manner”, just as the men have a public testimony, so “the women” also have a public testimony, and it is often far more powerful than the men’s. In this present evil age, the world-system has exploited feminine beauty for sinister purposes. It is the way of the worldly woman to draw attention to herself through the use of immodest or indecent clothing, as well as expensive jewelry, heavy cosmetics, and intricate hairstyles. The world calls this “beauty”, but it is not what is presented in this verse as true beauty. It is the enhancement of outward appearance for the acceptance, attention, or pleasure of others. The exhortation here is for women to be found “in decent deportment and dress”. What does this mean? It is neither possible nor healthy to try to pinpoint exactly what this means in practical terms for Christian women. To do so could easily lead to legality. Further, what is “decent” is different depending on time and culture. To be “decent” is to be respectable, or satisfactory. The word ‘kosmios’ is from the same root that we get our ‘cosmos’, which refers to the ordered universe, planets, stars, etc. It has the thought of “put-together” or “orderly”. Note: a woman does not need to follow the latest fashion trends to be dressed in an orderly way. In fact, often the latest fashion trends are anything but orderly! Note that “decent deportment” covers more than clothing; it covers the manners and behavior of a person as well. A woman might wear proper clothing and still carry herself in a way that is gaudy, flashy, egocentric, attention-seeking, odious, or domineering. However, very often (though not always) a woman’s spirit is reflected in her choice of apparel. It isn’t that women should make themselves unattractive, or try to be repulsive. Nor is it that they should have no adornment at all. They are to adorn themselves, but “adorn themselves with modesty and discretion”. This is the guard or filter that is to govern women’s apparel.
“Modesty” is the quality of being reserved, of not showing off what one has. It is coupled with not attracting attention to ourselves. We might first think of modesty in relation to sexual attraction. Sexual beauty is God’s gift to a woman, and God intends that beauty to be reserved for her husband, as her gift to him, and not for anyone else. Displaying this beauty in public is one form of immodesty. As soon as the human nature came into a fallen condition (Gen. 3), Adam and Eve knew that they were naked. They were ashamed to be so even with no other people around, and made an effort to cover themselves, albeit insufficiently. God then made them coats of skin, to sufficiently cover their nakedness. The first clothing was made by God Himself, not to keep people warm, but to cover nakedness. Nakedness is a form of immodesty, because it offers to the public eye that which God has intended only for within a marriage. It is no surprise, at least in Western culture that fashion trends have steadily moved toward less of the body covered and more sheer or tight-fitting clothes that reveal the feminine form. It can be a real challenge for the Christian woman to dress in a way that covers nakedness (i.e. modesty) and also suits her femininity. Although it is a different subject, we gather from scripture that our clothing should reflect a distinction between the genders (for the principle, see Deut. 22:5). Immodest clothing often suits femininity but does so because it exploits the feminine form. Nevertheless, with the Lord’s help, a Christian woman can meet this challenge, and find clothing that is modest, feminine, and appropriate in public. There are other aspects of modesty, in addition to covering nakedness, such as wearing expensive or exotic clothing or jewelry. Perhaps this is more in line with what is meant by v.9, which goes on to list what were then the symbols of wealth; “plaited hair and gold, or pearls, or costly clothing”. In the day Paul was writing there was a very small middle class, and a huge lower class. It would be common to have a wealthy Philemon in the same assembly as a poor Onesimus. How important it would be for the wealthy women not to flaunt their wealth before others. In many cultures today the same things are worn by women to display wealth or status. In other cultures, there are different things that serve the same purpose. These things are not what God desires the Christian woman to be adorned with.
“Discretion” is a beautiful quality that is becoming increasingly rare in the world today. It involves carefulness or discernment about behavior and appearance in different settings, i.e. practical wisdom for how to carry oneself, and to know what is appropriate. When it comes to “deportment and dress”, discretion is an important quality for the Christian woman to possess. Knowing how and when to act or speak, how to maintain self-control, what “ladylike” behavior is, what tone to use in conversation, what to wear in this or that situation, etc. all are wrapped up in this word “discretion”. Where the attitude is right, the Lord can give wisdom in these matters. Also, this is an area where older women can “admonish the young women… to be discreet, chaste, etc.” (Titus 2:4-5).
“Good works” are the true apparel of the Christian woman. The world judges people by how they appear, whether physically, or by their reputation in public opinion. They judge the book by its cover, and very often the contents are less than wholesome. But in Christianity the inside is more important than the outside (see 1 Peter 3:3-4). So, “what becomes women making profession of the fear of God” is not fancy clothes or jewelry, but “good works”. Whether it be acts of love, kindness, encouragement, and generosity, faithfulness in raising children, showing hospitality, labor in prayer, or labor in the gospel; these are the things God values, and they should characterize the Christian woman. A beautiful example of this in scripture is Dorcas, who was known especially for making clothes for other people; “And in Joppa there was a certain female disciple, by name Tabitha, which being interpreted means Dorcas. She was full of good works and alms-deeds which she did” (Acts 9:36).
11 Let a woman learn in quietness in all subjection; 12 but I do not suffer a woman to teach nor to exercise authority over man, but to be in quietness; 13 for Adam was formed first, then Eve: vv.11-13 Quietness and Subjection. Paul then addresses the issue of the woman’s role relative to men. A woman is to learn in quietness, and not to be found teaching or commanding a man. We find a similar thing in the context of the assembly meetings in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35; “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak… And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church”. Here it would be broader than just the assembly meetings; it applies to women when men are present, any time and any place. It is not a woman’s place to teach men, or to direct them. Notice in Acts 21:9-10 that God didn’t use one of Philip’s four daughters to prophecy to Paul, but instead brought Agabus (a man) down instead. However, Aquila and Priscilla together expounded the way of God to Apollos (Acts 18:26). It isn’t just quietness, but also “subjection”. A person can be quiet, but still have an attitude of rebellion. The spirit or attitude is often more important than the action itself. Speaking with apostolic authority, Paul says “I do not suffer a woman to teach nor to exercise authority over man”. The church today has strayed far from this principle, and we have female pastors, preachers, elders, and teachers. This may be common today, but it violates God’s order. God’s order is for the women to take a retiring place, and for the men to step forward and take the leadership responsibility. When the men fail to take the lead, it encourages women to be forward. When the women push themselves forward, it encourages the men to retire. These roles function perfectly together. But even when one side fails, it does not excuse the other from stepping out of their God-given role. To give added support to the apostolic command, Paul references the creation-order of man and woman; “for Adam was formed first, then Eve”. In this simple way, Paul shows that it is God’s mind for the man to take the lead, and the woman to follow. We find in v.14 what can happen when this order is violated. Note that this is not a matter of superiority, as if men are more important or superior to women, but rather a matter of order. Both are equally valuable, but God’s order must be maintained for His glory and our blessing. 
14 and Adam was not deceived; but the woman, having been deceived, was in transgression. 15 But she shall be preserved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with discretion. vv.14-15 Preservation and Childbearing. When God’s order with regard to the woman’s place is violated, Satan can then find a way in, as he did with Eve. In Genesis 3, we find that the crafty serpent spoke to Eve, not Adam. Satan tried to draw Eve, the “weaker vessel” (1 Pet. 3:7), out of her place. We have no reason to believe Adam was absent. He very well could have been standing by her side. Adam’s failure was in not taking the place of headship. He was not deceived. The serpent drew the woman out of her place, into being the spokesperson for the pair. This opened Eve up to deception. She was not strong enough on her own. In the act of eating, the woman acted in independence of her head, as well as in independence from God. But when we come to Adam, we have another thing completely; “transgression”. The commandment was given to Adam before Eve was formed, and she was deceived. But Adam disobeyed a known commandment; he “was not deceived”. It was willful disobedience. Just as the characteristic danger for the woman is to get ahead of the man, so it is the characteristic danger for the man to be entangled by his affections for the woman. The two dangers go together. Then Paul goes back to the curse given to the woman in Genesis 3:16; “To the woman he said, I will greatly increase thy travail and thy pregnancy; with pain thou shalt bear children”. Childbirth brings pain to women, and this was her curse. But Paul shows something wonderful in Christianity. For godly Christian couples (“if they continue in faith and love and holiness with discretion”), childbearing, which was the woman’s curse, actually works for the woman’s preservation! “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in [‘dia’, ‘through’, or ‘by means of’] childbearing”. This doesn’t mean she will be spared the pain of childbirth, but that she will be preserved from something far worse. For the Christian woman, motherhood is a preservation against getting out of her place, and opening herself up to deception by the Devil, which is precisely what happened to Eve. See 1 Tim. 5:14-15. The world looks at motherhood as a curse, a devastating setback to a young woman’s career, etc. But God looks at motherhood as a blessing, something to be held in honor, as a privilege, and a means of preserving godly Christian women in the path of faith.
  1. Such is the danger today as it was of old. Saints like other men are apt to be one-sided. It looks spiritual to choose the highest line and stand on the loftiest point, and fancy oneself to be safe in that heavenly elevation. On the other hand, it seems loving to steer clear of the church question so constantly abused to gratify ambition, if not spite and jealousy (and thus scattering saints instead of uniting them holily around the Lord’s name), and to devote all one’s energies, in the present broken state of Christendom, to the good news which wins souls to God from destruction. But this is to surrender the nearest circle of Christ’s affections and honour. The only course that is right, holy, and faithful, is to hold to all that is precious in His eyes — to love the church with all its consequences on the one hand, and on the other to go out to all mankind in the grace that would reflect the light of a Saviour God. As in Ephesians and Colossians the former truth is most prominent, so the latter is here. Let us seek to walk in both. – Kelly, W. The First Epistle to Timothy
  2. How false and scurrilous the teaching of the Catholic church and others to introduce Mary, the saints, or a class-priesthood as mediators between God and man. There is only ONE, the man Christ Jesus!
  3. Darby, J.N. The Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.