How Shall We Read 1 Timothy 2:8-15 (1)

1. If we say (and a few scholars do say) Paul didn’t write 1Timothy it lessens its value as a document for Evangelical believers. Evangelicals believe that Paul was a specially chosen and commissioned witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and they hold that he had foundational authority from God to speak/teach in His name (compare Ephesians 2:20-22). 1Timothy as not written by such a one then it does not have that voice of “authority” embedded in it even if we recognize it as a witness to teaching that was current in apostolic days. We should reject the non-Pauline authorship and believe Paul wrote it and that it carries his apostolic voice through Timothy to the congregation at Ephesus (see 1Timothy 3:15).

Paul Contradicting Himself?

2. If we hold that Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ wrote 1Timothy, Galatians & 1 Corinthians we should avoid isolating the teaching of one from the other two and much less should be use one text to contradict another. We’ll impress no one if we say Paul was correct in this verse but wrong in that one. If we do that it becomes clear who the “authority” figure is. (See how some do that with Romans 1:18-32. Paul is correct when against idolatry (1:18-23) but wrong when against homosexuality in it various forms (1:24-28) and then right in 1:29-31). He’s right in Galatians 5:18 but wrong in 5:19; he’s correct in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 but he is wrong in 6:9 and on it goes. These people forget that if you attack Paul you attack Moses, prophets, Peter, John and finally the Lord Jesus.

Paul a Man Without a Heart?

3. If we read carefully Paul’s writing and read what others wrote and thought about him (Luke, for example in Acts and the Thessalonians & Philippians in those letters)—if we do that and find him to be a man of great sensitivity and depth of warm feeling as well as inflexible in gospel matters then we won’t read what he wrote in some places as if he were hard or uncaring. It’s true we can’t read Galatians without knowing he was fierce when it came to heresy that threatened the gospel of Jesus Christ but then we can’t read about Christ cleansing the temple in John 2 or speaking Matthew 23 without realizing that He too was fierce under the right circumstances. But read with care 1Thessalonians 2:7-8, 17-20 and 3:1-8. Hear Paul saying to the Thessalonians who had stolen his heart (2:8), “We live, if you stand fast in the Lord.” And then there’s Romans 9:1-3. Allow him to be what the record shows him to be, a strong, courageous and self-denying person who would gently shake off loving hands that tried to keep him from harm (Acts 20:36-38; 21:10-14). “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart,” he said. “I am ready…to die at Jerusalem.” But as the record also shows he was one who could be afraid and yet get on with his mission and one who could feel loneliness and rejection and sore need of friendship and comfort (2 Timothy 1:15-18; 4:9-11 and Acts 18:9; 28:15). We should read 1Timothy 2:8-15 in light of that. When he is forced to defend himself in order to defend the truth of the gospel of God he mentions his kindness, his sorrow, his being dishonored, his poverty, his wide-open heart, the humiliations, the beatings, the cold, the shipwrecks and the clinging to debris through the night in the sea and his anguished worry about the little congregations he has established (2 Corinthians 6:4-11; 11:22-33). Allow him to be a Christian with such sensitivity and remember who it is that we’re reading when we read 1Timothy 2:8-15.

Paul a Rabbinic Type?

4. Bearing in mind that Paul’s most virulent opponents were Rabbinic types and remembering that his Master’s chief enemies were like that also and bearing in mind that Paul confronted the Jerusalem leaders that made circumcision essential to salvation in Christ and that he denounced Peter for hypocrisy in returning to Jewish isolationist policy—bearing all that in mind we should be slow in thinking that Paul was still of a rabbinic mind-set. We should pay special note to 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that shows his rabbinic days (but not his Old Testament days) were over.

Paul An Enslaver of Women?

5. Bear in mind that Paul was death on enslaving believers and that His Master in whose image Paul lived was his model for that. Remember too that Paul writes as if it was a battle cry, “Freedom is what we have—Christ has set us free! Stand then as free people and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again.” Galatians 5:1, TEV. So when Paul writes 1Timothy 2:8-15 we’re not to call it enslavement or humiliation or robbery. This child of God, this apostle of Jesus Christ, shed his blood that the truth of God and the glory of the People God calls to His side might remain with us. The man who wrote 1Timothy 2:8-15 enslaves no woman nor does he demean her by characterizing her as “a baby factory.” Trust God’s word that comes through him as indeed the word of God and not the word of man (1 Thessalonians 2:13 & 4:1-8). It liberates His People and does it so that His people might speak His truth to liberate the world!

Paul’s Reason for Leaving Timothy in Ephesus

6. We should read 1 Timothy 2:8-15 in light of the commission Paul gives to Timothy about Church Government with talk about deacons and elders and the registering of needy people: There is talk about the structure of congregational teachers also. The entire epistle is about “Church Order” and God’s word about His congregations and how they should present themselves before the world as congregational manifestations of the living Lord Jesus (see Romans 16:16 & 1Timothy 3:15).

“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine…This charge I commit to you, son Timothy.” 1Timothy 1:3

Note the similar charge to Titus “To Titus, a true son in our common faith…For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you…” Titus 1:5

We should allow 1 Timothy 2:8-15 to be a part of the teaching that focuses on the congregational structures that are needed and in Ephesus and Crete needed to be set in order rather than see it as “enslaving women.”

1 Timothy 2:8-15               PAUL DOWN ON WOMEN     CHURCH ORDER

This entry was posted in REFLECTIONS ON THIS AND THAT on by .

About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.

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