Text: 1 Timothy 2:1-15, Philippians 3:12-21
And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.
– 1 Timothy 2:9-10, MSG
When I open up a passage like this on a Friday morning, I can’t help but ask, “What does it mean?” It’s so packed with instruction—very hard-hitting instruction—I know all I want to do is make appropriate sense of Paul’s description of gospel life.
I understand this chapter can be tricky and uncomfortable. But, at She Reads Truth, we have one firm rule when it comes to approaching God’s holy Word: We do not champion the doctrine of man; we champion the Word of God. We pray. We read what Scripture says. We pray again. And we ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate what He has already inspired. We approach God’s Word without fear, but with reverence and thanksgiving!
To understand this passage in context, we have to go all the way back to Creation. When God created man and woman, He created them differently, one before the other. He designed Adam and Eve to live in holy harmony within their individual roles, each truly depending on the other.
We first see mankind’s rebellion to this original, holy design in the Fall, when Eve was tempted by the Evil One. Though the Bible is silent about Adam’s role in the encounter, his absence of leadership is not unnoticed. Each failed to be accountable to the other and both failed to remain in submission to God’s design. The disastrous results would be felt by every generation after them.
With disobedience came the Curse. God addresses Eve in Genesis 3:16: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” In this case, “your desire shall be for” meant Eve would desire to rule over Adam. You’ll see this language again in Genesis 4:7, only in this case, the Lord is speaking to Cain, Eve’s son: “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Sin’s “desire is for” Cain, meaning it wants power over Cain. God is telling Eve that her natural inclination will be to resist the leadership of her husband, and because Adam’s curse was to work hard, his inclination will be to throw his hands up and give up. This new friction is a direct result of the Fall. Yet, if we as God’s people desire to live in unity and rightness with one another and with God, we too must honor the roles for which God created us.
Paul understands this. He must specify the roles of covenant relationships separately in his letter because of the Fall. God’s design for mankind was flawless. (Do you believe it?) He designed man and woman to live in holy harmony in the Garden, and the moment Adam and Eve failed to fulfill the roles for which God created them (to live in submission to God and each other), sin entered in.
Sin continues to thrive in a world of men and women who reject who God created them to be. (I know. That’s an ouchy sentence to read. I mean, that is all of us in so many ways! Press on with us, though—we’re unpacking truth about God’s creation and we do not have to be afraid of that. We can delight to understand His design, and thank Him for it!)
Let’s look again at the second chapter of 1 Timothy and pay close attention to Paul’s language. Do you see the “First of all, then” in verse 1, and the “I desire then” in verse 8? Even here, the order of his instructions is intentional, and the very first, most important act he calls for is prayer. It’s not details or divisions he calls for—it’s unity! He’s exhorting them to lift one another to the Throne! Take a look at the Message translation of verses 8-10:
Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.
Christ is the main character of every passage in the Bible. See Him here as the Mediator on behalf of the Church, and hear Paul saying: Let Christ be your example! As He mediates for you, you mediate for those above you and below you! A mediator is someone who brings together two parties who are out of communication. What an honor to be that for others, just as Christ has been that for us!
Mediation is not about power or control, it is about worship and obedience. Likewise, the roles God designed for each of us—woman, man, overseer, deacon and layperson alike—are for the benefit of the whole covenant community. Holding up our brothers and sisters in prayer and bringing them before the Throne is the most important “something beautiful” we can do!
Friends, we honor God’s flawless design for His children when we love and uphold one another in godly living. Let’s lift up holy hands to God, praying again and again for each other! What a beautiful thing this can be!