Read 1 Timothy 2
Instructions on Worship
1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Today’s reading can be slightly confusing without context. Paul sent Timothy to the church he planted in Ephesus to help correct some false doctrine that was being taught (1 Tim 1:3). The city of Ephesus had a large temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis, and it’s safe to say the people were obsessed with worshipping her (Acts 18:28). Her temple was run by women who asserted their authority over men in negative ways. The city was diverse ethnically, philosophically, and religiously. The Greek and Roman influences of the city valued pluralistic thought. New believers were easily influenced and confused by these overwhelming, competing ideas. As a result, some Christians began to act like the pagans surrounding them in Ephesus.
So, when Paul gives instruction here, he reminds these believers what it means to be a Christian. Christ followers are to stand out in a world gone mad, not fit in. Paul says that the goal for Christians in Ephesus is to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” because God’s main desire is for “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (v. 3-4). If a Christian’s main purpose is to show people Jesus so that they come to faith in Him, then living godly, peaceful, and holy lives is the best way to do it.
What did this mean for the Christ followers in Ephesus? It meant they needed to act opposite of the culture. The pagan men around them fought and tore each other apart, so Paul encouraged the Christian men to use their hands to worship and pray instead. The pagan women in Ephesus were immodest, flashy, and over-asserted themselves in a flaunting manner, so Paul encouraged the Christian women to live humble, quiet, modest lives full of good deeds and worship. Believers couldn’t show people Jesus if they were living like the pagans around them. They had to look different. They had to act like Jesus.
The Christian call is to be in the world, not of the world; to be a part of culture, but not completely influenced by it. The world in Ephesus isn’t drastically different from the world we live in today. Our culture celebrates pluralistic thought where “your truth” is all that matters. Many believers are easily confused by the many diverse thoughts surrounding religion, doctrine, ideologies, sexuality, and gender. Jesus followers who are swept away by the overwhelming secular influence in culture today begin to act just like the non-believers around them. After all, it’s easier to fit in than it is to stand out.
The exhortation from Paul to Timothy is the same to us today. We are to live peaceful, quiet, godly, and holy lives so that, instead of being influenced by the culture around us, we can influence it for Jesus.
- This chapter reminds us to pray for those in authority over us. How often do you spend time praying for those in leadership roles above you?
- Do you find yourself struggling to live in the world but not be of it? In what ways is this difficult for you?
- Who are you currently influencing for Jesus? Who is in your sphere of influence that you have yet to have a gospel conversation with?
Father, Thank you for Your Word and our ability to learn from it each day. I pray for those in authority over me today. I pray that they will seek, love, and follow you for all of their days. I ask you for humility, too. I’m sorry for the times I have tried to make everything about me. Please help me humbly follow you today through my words and actions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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