SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul (the author) urges his apprentice, Timothy, to pray for everyone. In verse 2, Paul focuses on praying for those in authority.
- In verses 8-10, Paul gives Timothy one thing he wants men and women to each focus on. Perhaps because men may have a tendency to become angry and disrupt peace if they don’t get their way, he wants them not to fight, but instead to pray when in disagreement. And perhaps because women may have a tendency to focus on appearance, he wants them to dress modestly and focus on good deeds.
- The remainder of the chapter is focused on women’s roles in church leadership. Paul says women should: learn in quietness and submission; not have authority over a man, (he references Genesis 3) and be saved though child bearing if they remain faithful (possibly in reference to Genesis 3:15 and the fact that Jesus had a mother). It has been long debated whether this was intended specifically just for the specific culture Timothy was dealing with, or is a more universal stance. On one hand, Paul used “the fall” (when Adam and Eve sinned and first brought it into the human race in Genesis 3) as a justification for why women shouldn’t be in authority over men. This gives his teaching a universal flavor. On the other hand Paul says, “I do not permit…” instead of saying something like, “God says so,” which gives his teaching a more personal flavor.
- Paul doesn’t qualify the command to pray for those in authority, so whether we agree with leaders or not, we should pray for them. Paul says we should pray for our leaders so that “we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
- One thing that is certain about what Paul writes here about men and women is that he is speaking about authority, not value. Nowhere in this passage (or anywhere in the Bible) do we find that women are inferior to men or worth less in God’s eyes. In fact, in his other letters he wrote, Paul says that in a sense there is no longer male or female because Jesus has removed the barriers that separate people and make some feel like they're better than others (see Galatians 3:27-29 and Ephesians 2:11-22).
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- How do you think you should pray for your boss, pastor, mayor, governor, congressman, or president?
- Christians disagree on whether and how verses 11-15 apply today. What can Jesus’ followers do to ensure that small differences don’t create divisions? What do you think God wants it to look like when Jesus’ followers disagree on minor points of theology?