Exposition of I Timothy 2:8-15 (c)

In I Timothy 2:11-15, Paul proceeds to give authoritative instruction in the name of Christ, according to the Scriptures, as to how women are to conduct themselves in the church after the fashion becoming women professing godliness.

That we may have the text clearly before our mind we shall here quote it. It follows: “But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression: but she shall be saved through her childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.” Verses 11-15.

The Word of God here touches upon the very heart of the proper spiritual-ethical attitude of women toward men in the church as this is particularized in their attitude towards their own husbands. Paul is here not speaking of women in general, but of women “professing godliness.” He anticipates in a general way the “office” of Christ in the church. He will have more to say about this in Chapter 3. He is interested that men and women know how to “behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

However, in these verses the apostle writes that these offices, particularly the office of the teaching and ruling ministry, are not for women.

It may not be superfluous to point out at this juncture that Paul does not say all that can be said about the subject of the proper relationship of husbands and wives in the Lord. What he writes so beautifully concerning the duty and calling of a Christian “husband” toward his wife in Ephesians 5:25 is here left unsaid, although it is implied. We cannot here enter upon a discussion of that facet of the question without digressing too far from the case in point.

After studying the Scriptures for more than a quarter century, and observing life in God’s church, it is my settled conviction, that the Scriptures always imply that every man is by nature in his relationship to his own wife either tyrannical or he is her slave, and that every woman by nature a veritable rebel. The very opposite of this is, what both have become by grace, to wit, the husband loves his wife as a man of understanding, and the wife is to reverence her husband in the Lord. That is the new relationship in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

If one doubts this expressed opinion, which I have here stated very considerately and advisedly, let him drop in at the divorce courts of our land, or take notice of the writings of the “authorities” (?) who give marriage-counsel in the world where men and women do not profess godliness!

Also here we shall have to go to the law and the prophets or there is no dawn!

However, Paul is here addressing himself to the matter of the place which women have in the church; the church considered in the meeting of the congregation in their official assemblies or in the home-life of the members. Paul does not here speak of the relationship of the authority which both fathers and mothers have over their children. He speaks of the matter of whether the authority in the church is placed by Christ upon the shoulders of men or of the women.

Since both men and women, professing godliness, are one in Christ, have the same faith, hope and love, enjoy the same benefits in Christ, the question is not one of inequality in as far as the office of all believers is concerned. Both are Christians, and as such prophets, priests and kings in the anointing of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

So the question narrows down to the place of the women in the church as to the teaching and rulingministry of Christ.

On this point Paul is very adamant and to the point. In clear and unmistakable language he says that he does not “permit” women to teach. Women are not to be the minister of the gospel, nor are they to rule. They are not permitted to hold the office of the bishop, that is of the elder, be he the teaching or the ruling elder.

And then Paul says unequivocally that women are not to be teachers; they are to “learn.” They must learn the grace in Christ in the church and in the home. For the moment they assume to be teachers in the church they also assume to rule in the church, to stand in the office of the teaching and ruling elders! To attempt that is simply the equivalent of “to have dominion over a man!” The term in the Greek for having “dominion over” is worthy of special notice. It is the word in Greek from which our English word “authentic” is derived. It means: to be the proper author of. Thus an authentic author is the real writer of a book. He has not practiced plagiarism. An authentic document is one which was executed before an appointed officer, having power assigned to him to do so. However, when one assumes power which is not given him from God, or from Christ in the Church, such assumption of power is wanton usurpation of the same. Such are mere autocrats, self-appointed rulers, making themselves absolute masters, who forget that the real ruler is one who knows that he shall have to give account! A woman ruling in the church is such an autocrat!

Paul says “I do not permit” such to rule!

A domineering, autocratic woman in the church is a pathetic sight; it is a trampling under foot of the ordinances of God in the church. I have known such domineering autocrats as the very quiet (?) powers behind the throne! The affairs of the church are then not in good hands. Such women are not true daughters of Sarah, who call their husband “lord” from their hearts. I once met such a woman. She was a cripple, though a veritable autocrat. When I reminded her of this ordinance of Christ she retorted: “What if one’s husband doesn’t know anything? Can he then teach men?!” I replied, that if such were the case she knew so much better than her husband what the Bible teaches concerning the proper attitude of women professing godliness, and that she had better fall in line with all godly women!

With such autocrats is lacking a quiet and godly spirit of the hidden man of the heart!

Consider what would happen if the church had a consistory of women and the men stayed home to care for the children? Isn’t it too preposterous even to consider in the light of the creation ordinance?

Does the woman then not also have a God-ordained place in the Church? Indeed she does and what a place of honor and importance. Her place is that of Eve, the wife of Adam. The place that Eve had in God’s church and covenant is the place of godly women.

Consider for a moment the name “Eve.” This name was not given to her before the Fall in Paradise but it was given to her by Adam after the Fall. It was given to her after God had sought out the man and his wife, as they hid themselves, having an evil conscience. They were full of the fear of death and hell. Then God came and showed to them Christ, the Seed of the Woman, which would crush the head of the Serpent. Two “seeds” will come from the womb of Adam’s wife as she is “woman” (ishah in Hebrew), that is, taken from the man. But in view of the “promise” of God, the Protevangel, this same woman will also give birth to the Christ in the generations of the holy line, and she is to be the “mother of the living.” For the name “Eve” in the Hebrew is “Heva” from the verb “Hawah,” being, to live. She is the mother of the “living” in distinction from the mother of the “dead.” When Christ comes presently to judge the “living” and the “dead,” Eve will be the mother of the former, by faith in Christ. She will be saved through child-bearing! That is her place of glory in the church!

In faith she clings to this promise when she gives birth to her sons. When Cain is born she says: “A man.” However, she is mistaken. When Seth is born she says: “Appointed” of the Lord. She is correct. Thus she walks in love which energizes her faith, and she is a woman who sanctifies the fruit of her womb to the Lord in faith. Teaching these children in the home is her life’s task and bearing them for her husband, whose help-meet she is even in grace. And thus “Eve” is a sober woman, who does not let her passions and sin reign, but subdues all in behalf of the church, the living church of the living God. Eve—mother of the living!

And thus every woman professing godliness is to be an “Eve.” She is not simply to be a woman. That she is too, as we hope to point out later. However, the glory of the woman in the church is her motherhood. And when the church flourishes in faith and godliness the truth and reality of motherhood, being mother in God’s covenant, is the woman’s habitat and glory!

That is a walk of faith. To cling by faith to the promise of God: I am the God of thee and of thy seed. In that faith the women professing godliness will not seek to be ministers in the church, ruling over men and their own husbands, but they will walk in the love of God. And such will then be their “sanctification!” They will understand that the life of a Nun is not more holy than that of a mother. Her bearing children will be for her the working out of her salvation with fear and trembling.

She understands, of course, that a mother is not saved “because of” child-bearing. The ground of salvation is the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. However, there must be a mother; and many mothers for the birth of Christ, and of all who are His. Had there been no good mother to give birth to the undersigned, there would not have been the undersigned to be saved in the blood of Christ! My mother, as a member of all the church, was saved in the blood of Christ I believe. Poorsinner that she was! Yet she was saved through child-bearing, giving birth to no less than ten children! And what a patience and endurance this required, what sorrows and birth-travails this entailed! What patience of faith, love, sanctification and sobriety, to see her entire lot in the light of the great plan of God, the realization of His promise in all the “living!”

I do not in these lines desire to place a belated flower upon her grave. I merely desire to state the glory of a believing mother as portrayed here in the text. Blessed daughters of “Eve,” mother of the living!

Such mothers, who thus see their life’s task and office in the church will find plenty of time and opportunity to teach, and to help teach according to the utmost of her ability.

And when her task on earth is ended she will say: saved by grace! Saved to remain in faith, love, sanctification and sobriety. And yet saved thoughchild-bearing!

They have not lost anything by not attempting to be autocrats in the church. They will desire to be help-meets of their husbands.

For “Eve can, even as mother of the living, never go beyond the created limits of a “woman,” taken from the man.

The statutes of God for his created creature, the man and his wife, are not set aside on this side of the grave; they are maintained in the church, as the best means to the highest and eternal end!

—G.L.