PAUL’S WORDS TO TIMOTHY EXPLAINED.
327. We should translate and punctuate 1 Timothy 2:8-15 as follows:
Verse 8. I desire that the men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting, and the women likewise [or “in like manner”]
Verse 9. [I desire women] to array themselves in a befitted catastola, with reverence and restraint, not with braids, or gold, or pearls, or costly garments.
Verse 10. But as becomes women proclaiming godliness, with good deeds.
Verse 11. Let a woman learn, quietly, in all subjection [to God].
Verse 12. Now I permit a woman neither to teach nor exercise authority over a man, but let her be in quietness.
Verse 13. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
Verse 14. And Adam was not deceived [when he sinned]; but the woman, having [first] been thoroughly deceived, became [involved] in the transgression [of Adam],
Verse 15. And she will be saved by the Child-bearing [i.e., the bearing of Jesus Christ], if they abide in faith, and love and sanctification with self-restraint.
We should remember that St. Paul himself must, in such perilous times, be cautious how he writes. He could hardly say, in unambiguous language all that he could wish to express, without imperiling Timothy and his church.
328. Now for the explanation: Bloomfield says: “Here almost all modern expositors take the sense to be, ‘And in like manner I wish women to adorn themselves,’ etc. But there is no correspondence such as is expressed by ‘in like manner.’ Now as it is likely that the Apostle would address something to the women as well as to the men, on the subject of prayer, I agree with the ancient and a few modern expositors (as Grotius), that we must repeat not only ‘I desire,’ from the preceding, but also ‘pray.’ Grotius indeed repeats the whole sentence.” Conybeare and Howson say, “After ‘women’ we must supply ‘pray’ (as Chrysostom does), or something equivalent (to take part in worship, etc.), from the preceding context.” Prof. Ramsay (Expositor, Sept. 1909) says: “The necessary and inevitable sense of the word [“likewise”] is that the whole body of women is to be understood as affected by what has been said about men.” In other words, Paul wishes that the women too would “pray everywhere,” etc. Wrongly punctuated, as it is in our Bible, it teaches that women are to dress likewise to men praying with uplifted hands. Strange costume that!
329. “Lifting up holy hands,” was the customary attitude in public prayer, seeming to express a helpless appeal to God. A century later, Tertullian writes, “For Emperors we supplicate the true, the living, the eternal God, in whose power they are . . . with hands extended because harmless: with head uncovered because not ashamed; without a prompter because from the heart we ask long life and every blessing for them . . . Then, while we stand praying before God, let the ungulae [instruments of torture] tear us, the crosses bear our weight, let the flames envelop us, the sword divide our throats, the beasts spring upon us; the very posture of a praying Christian is a preparation for every punishment.”¾”without wrath and doubting,” because in such times, only grace could restrain wrath against their cruel tormentors; only strong faith could preserve from doubt as to God’s goodness.
330. Verse 9. “To array themselves in a befitting catastola, with reverence and self-restraint.” Under the conditions of peril to women, it was very appropriate for the Apostle to impress the need of a very unobtrusive costume for the women who took part in public meetings. Indeed it were well if the Christian women of our own day would obey the Scriptural injunctions regarding plain and unobtrusive dressing; women sin greatly in this regard. The catastola is mentioned in Scripture only here and in the Greek O. T. version at Isaiah 61:3. It was a loose garment that reached to the feet, and was worn with a girdle. The word may be used as an equivalent for “garment,” yet it seems more likely that the Apostle should have used this rare term (rare in Scripture), rather in its specific application. A spirit of “reverence and self-restraint” would ever prevent a woman from becoming a mere tool of fashion. The word ”reverence” (aidos) translated “shamefacedness,” is used in only one other place in the N. T.,¾Hebrews 12:28. It was not necessary for the translators to concoct an “unmeaning corruption,” as Dean Alford calls “shamefacedness,” in order to describe what the word means, because it applied to women. The Revisers changed it to “shamefastness,”¾an obsolete word without meaning to the average mind; excepting that both words convey the sense that women should always be ashamed of themselves. There was no such “travail in birth” to bring out a sense for the word when the word applied to men also, even when before God, “a consuming fire.”
331. Verse 10. “But as becometh women proclaiming godliness, with good deeds.” The reference may be to Dorcas (Acts 9:36). We must study that phrase rendered “professing godliness.” It conveys an idea to modern thought such as “professing conversion,” “religion,” or “sanctification.” But the N. T. word for what we call Christian profession is “confession,”¾see Matthew 10:32, 1 Timothy 6:13. It is the Greek word, homologeo, or exhomologeo. But here we have a totally different word, epaggelomai. Two “g”s coming together are pronounced “ng” in Greek. This is a word from which we get “angel, messenger.” The first letters, ep, are for the Greek preposition epi, “to.” The verb means, “I bring a message to.” The verb is often used as meaning “I promise,” but though in the reflexive form, it takes a direct object after it, something is promised to somebody. But the word can hardly be separated from the idea of a “message;” and it is also far-fetched to imagine it means to “promise to be godly,”¾rather, it means to “promise godliness” to someone else.
332. The only other passage in the N. T. where the word is translated “profess” is in this same Epistle (6:21), “which some professing have erred concerning the faith.” Read the connection. It means that the “babblers” themselves “promised” these things to others,¾that is, proclaimed them. Prof. Ramsay, in the Expositor (July 1909), says of this very word in 6:21, that it “regularly implies that the person mentioned came before the public with promises, in order to gain supporters; it is applied to candidates for municipal favor and votes in the Greek cities, who publicly announced what they intended to do for the general benefit, if they gained popular support.”
333. If this be the meaning “regularly implied” by the word, then why not here, where it relates to women? These women preachers would seek “to gain supporters,”¾not, however, for themselves, but standard-bearers of the Cross; and they “promise godliness” in place of a sin-burdened heart, to those who will accept the offer of salvation. In such a time of peril, women might not be safe teaching and controlling the work of men, for this would involve a certain freedom of manner between the sexes. But there would be much less danger of scandal in women praying and speaking in the generally small meetings in private homes of the Christians, in which case all could testify as to what was said. Indeed it is difficult to imagine that when men assembled in the home of some woman, who was their hostess, that they required their hostess to veil herself and lapse into silence before they began the meeting. The practical difficulty would be to get hostesses to open their homes to men on such insulting terms. We must not think of great churches and cathedrals as existing when Paul wrote these words.
(To be continued).Lesson 44 Home