by Sam E. Stone
In the earliest days of the church, the apostles were the leaders (Acts 6:2). As their workload increased, they urged Christians to choose from among themselves people who could be placed in charge of specific duties. These workers were referred to as “servants” or “deacons” (Acts 6:1-6). The first deacons were appointed to distribute food to the widows.
As the apostles made missionary journeys, wherever they established a church, they would set apart and train local leaders to direct the activity after they moved on. These local leaders were called elders (Acts 14:23; 15; 20:17-21) and sometimes pastors or bishops. All three titles are used interchangeably in Scripture.
Paul instructed his young associates Timothy and Titus to train local leaders. The principles we study this month from 1 Timothy serve as a guide for all church leaders today. A congregation will not be greater than its leaders.
Instructions for the Church/1 Timothy 2:1-7
I urge, then, first of all. Prayer is of primary importance. The apostle Paul uses four different terms to include various aspects of prayer. While they overlap, each has a special nuance and emphasis: Requests. The King James Version says “supplications,” meaning petitions for particular needs. Prayers. A more general and inclusive term. Intercession. Pleading in the interest of others, taking their concerns to the Lord as well as our own (Genesis 18:24-32; Luke 22:31-34), Thanksgiving. Expressing gratitude for past blessings (compare 1 Thessalonians 5:18). For everyone. No name is inappropriate to have on your prayer list!
Prayer should include government leaders—all those in authority. Prayer should include those who are not in your political party, and for leaders of nations opposed to our own. When Paul wrote to Timothy, the wicked Nero was in power (see Romans 13:1-5). That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. God gave similar counsel to the Jews when they were in captivity (Jeremiah 29:7). The ultimate goal is for all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. This is why Jesus came and why Paul served.
Instructions for Men/1 Timothy 2:8
I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. Paul had a global ministry. This counsel is for all people everywhere. The custom of lifting hands when praying was common. No single correct posture for prayer is found in Scripture. Lifted hands are indicative of a pure heart (Job 17:9; Psalm 24:3, 4). Worshipers must first have their own sins forgiven (Psalm 26:6). Christians are to be exemplary citizens of a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). One’s heart must be open before the Lord, acknowledging sin (Psalm 66:18).
Instructions for Women/1 Timothy 2:9-15
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety. A woman’s action is included, not just her attire; her attitude as well as her apparel. Fancy clothes do not make a Christian woman. Instead she is known by good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. In addition to wearing proper clothes, she is known because of her work for others. The virtuous woman described by Solomon fits this description (Proverbs 31:12, 13). Donald Guthrie wrote, “A woman’s adornment, in short, lies not in what she herself puts on, but in the loving service she gives out.”
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. While women stand equal with men before God (Galatians 3:28), the apostle provides some guidelines that clarify both relationships and responsibilities. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. Bible students differ as to how this principle should be interpreted. David Lipscomb said, “The point guarded against here is woman’s assuming authority over man. It is not wrong for her to teach the Word of God, but wrong for her to teach in a way that assumes authority or superiority over man” (Titus 2:5). The apostle is evidently speaking of public teaching, since Timothy himself had been taught by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). Paul then adds, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” The Christian woman should seek to raise God-fearing children. She is to continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.