The Agora
Godliness with Contentment - 1 Timothy

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III. Sisters: Modesty And Silence (2:9-15)

These verses (comparable to 1Pe 3:1-6) concern the position of sisters. Two points are strongly emphasized. First, modesty and reserve in dress and deportment, with inner rather than surface ornamentation. Secondly, silence in the ecclesial meetings.

Men and women are very different in many ways. The modern world, in its godless ignorance, forgets this divinely attested fact. And the distinctions seem to become more and more obscure each day. Each sex has its own special weakness and its own special strength. Each has its own place and function in the Body of Christ.

To the extent a sister departs from either of these divine requirements, she cheapens herself and lessens her true spiritual usefulness in the Body. It is always wisdom to make sure we are well over on the safe side of any command -- conforming to its spiritual purpose and value.

These are not merely arbitrary and restrictive commands. Rather they are to make sisters more fitted and more suited to the fulfillment of their own very real and very necessary part in the welfare and activity of the Body.

As mentioned previously, some of Ephesus were "rich in this world" (1Ti 6:17). Some were certainly quite well educated in this world's wisdom. For them, the lures of high 'fashion' and women's 'rights' were not so completely thrust aside as they might have been. Paul is speaking through the young Timothy to such as these. And he is speaking in the ecclesial world of today, adrift in an age full of the same notions that plagued the ecclesia in Ephesus.

A. 2:9-15: Sisters: Modesty And Silence

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.

The phrase in like manner also is a reference back to v 8: Men may pray publicly, but this is an activity closed to women -- as are many other activities in the ecclesias. But Paul is quick to show Timothy here, that women are not without their own peculiar sphere of responsibility. "In like manner" they must willingly fulfill their station.

These two verses, then, must refer to the obligations of the sister in the meetings, as the public prayers of the men were offered in the meetings. But who can doubt that Paul intends these characteristics he describes, modesty and self-restraint, to be manifested at all times everywhere?

The words "I will" or "I desire" should be inserted before the phrase that women adorn themselves in modest apparel in accordance with the phrasing of v 8. The word modest is translated as "becoming" in the Diaglott. Other versions render this as seemly, suitable, proper, or orderly. Apparel includes more than dress. It may be translated as 'deportment' or 'bearing'. Actions are very much a part of this "apparel"! This reminds us of so many Biblical passages showing clothing as a symbol of our walk, our life in the Truth: Job 29:14; Psa 132:9; 1Pe 5:5; Isa 11:5; and Rev 19:7,8.

By shamefacedness Paul means that modesty which is firmly rooted in the character, not the modesty of a showy affectation. The word shamefacedness is an awkward translation, however, because it lays stress upon the word "shame", and it implies an embarrassed and frightened diffidence in no way intended by the original. Rather the Greek (which appears here and Heb 12:28) indicates 'reverence'.

Sobriety or "propriety" (NIV), denotes soundness of mind and judgement. It is an habitual, inner self-government, which puts a constant rein upon the natural desires and passions. Sobriety puts into action what the "shamefacedness" recognizes to be proper.

With the qualities of modesty and self-restraint the sister must adorn herself so as to be pleasing in God's sight. "The LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man look-eth on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" (1Sa 16:7). God sees the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Heb 4:12), and our "adornments" must be those characteristics in which He finds delight. These verses are especially for the woman, but the ultimate application is for any with ears to hear:

"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1Pe 3:3,4).
Paul is commending the virtue of self-restraint, or refusal to conform to the foolish fashions of a vain and changing world. Perhaps this point is driven home firmly when we consider the counter-examples of Scripture: The harlot of the Apocalypse, with her wanton ways, her brazen attitude, her rich clothing (Rev 17:4), the scarlet "attire of an harlot" (Prov 7:10) and the garments of violence (Psa 73:6). Isa 3:16-24 presents the same type of grotesque picture: The daughters of Zion, the very members of the ecclesia in Isaiah's time, were haughty, wanton, and flirtatious with every imaginable type of 'fashionable' nonsense and tastelessness. Does not such a perverted, hideous picture indeed emphasize by contrast the virtues of modesty and sobriety?

How closely should a sister conform to the fashions of the world, as to dress, make-up, and so forth? Perhaps a few words would be appropriate here. We have already noted the apostle's commands to restraint and modesty. And we have referred to several counter-examples which Scripture puts before our eyes (esp Isa 3).

One point we must always remember is this: Men and women are born, make changes while they live, grow old, and die: and others come to take their places. This world's fashions come and go, and the only thing certain about them is that nothing will remain the same for long. But the Almighty God of heaven never changes. In this is sufficient reason to shun (as much as is reasonable) the passing fancies of a godless world. If we follow the world's standard we are constantly changing. But if we accept God's standard we have a steadfast, immovable rock on which to stand.

By scrupulously and slavishly following the fashions of this world, we are showing our misplaced dependence upon it. We are showing that we regard the favor of the world as of greater value than the favor of God. We think more of the world's fellowship than we do of God's fellowship.

Furthermore, stylish dress, elaborate hair-styles and make-up, which imitate the changing fashions of today, give the impression to others of a similarity of fashion in thought and behavior to those we imitate. This is something which a believing sister should never imply. As much as is practicable we must endeavor to show our separateness from the world. (The tendency to go too far in the other extreme must of course be avoided in this as in other matters. Else we may become hopelessly Pharisaic, endlessly scrutinizing the outward appearance of others to the detriment of our own inner selves). Extreme 'modest' dress may bring undue attention as well as undeserved identification with other groups who by their 'modesty' brings as much attention to themselves as immodest dress. The sister of Christ should be modest, neat, tasteful, moral, moderate -- not suggestive or skimpy in her clothes, not excessive in her spending, not elaborate and time-consuming in her hairdos. The overall key is for the sister to be modest, not seductive in apparel and deportment.

Our 'clothing' should follow the example of the Israelites, to whom God spoke the following:

"Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make the fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them: and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God" (Num 15:38-40).

The ribbands of blue upon the hems of the Jew's garments were to draw their attention to the heavens, from whence their God had revealed Himself to them. It was to remind them of their peculiar duty to the one true and living God who had called and separated them to His obedience.

How do the fashions of today compare to this God-given instruction? Sad to say, the hems upon the skirts of today's 'fashionable' only draw attention to the lusts of the flesh; never to the commands of God. May our clothing be a reminder of our unchanging obedience to God, not of our slavery to a changing world! If the world's blind masses follow a fleshly god of tinsel and glamour and worship the naked human body and refuse to be persuaded otherwise let them alone. Let our young sisters remain as far from such unholy enticement as common sense allows. They have an infinitely higher calling. God has called them to peace and holiness. Young sisters, trust to the characteristics of the spirit, to encourage the companionship of like-minded young brothers.

The phrase broided hair only occurs this one time in the New Testament. It is translated as "wreaths" (Diaglott) for the hair -- and simply as "elaborate hair arrangements" (Amplified Bible). Can the emphasis of natural appearance to men above spiritual appearance to God ever be right? Common-sense and simplicity should be the guiding principles in our attitude to all non-essentials.

The pearl of great price cannot be bought by us. It adorns the inner and outer man.

But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

In the assemblies, the men pray, but in the assemblies and elsewhere, women may show their works rather than words. Good works are always more than a satisfactory substitute for good words.

The statement that righteous women are "adorned" with good works is the literal interpretation of many beautiful passages -- passages concerning the preparation of the spotless bride of Christ:

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints" (Rev 19:7,8).
All the saints are the collective bride of Christ. Each of us is a member of the multitudinous woman to be joined with Christ in the marriage which His Father has prepared. At the judgement only those who have truly kept themselves as "chaste virgins" (2Co 11:2) and who have carefully prepared their wedding garments will be allowed to participate in this glorious feast.

"Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?" (Jer 2:32). We must not forget those spiritual garments which will insure the approval of the Bridegroom:

Gown of wrought gold
Faith by works (1Pe 1:9)
Psa 45:13, 14
Gown of needlework
Painstaking labor
Psa 45:13, 14
Girdle or sash
Constant readiness and careful walk (Luke 12:35, 36; 1Pe 1:13)
Isa 61:10
Ornaments and jewels
Wisdom (Job 28:18, 19; Prov 3:13, 15) and modesty (1Pe 3:3, 4)
Isa 61:10
Preparation (Exo 12:11: Eph 6:15), as for a march or military operation (Isa 5:27)

Headdress and veil
Humility, modesty, and deference -- in the woman (1Co 11)

Having all these characteristics, the women (and the men as well) are indeed "clothed with good works" and they are ready to stand before their Master.

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

This is translated "in quietness with all submission" by the Diaglott and most other versions. The learning in subjection does not appear to be limited to learning in the ecclesia. A similar command is found in 1Co14:34, 35:

"Let your women keep silence in the ecclesias: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the ecclesia".
This is in no way a punishment upon women, nor is it a proof that they are inferior to men, because in Christ there is no real difference between male and female -- "For ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).

The relative position of men and women is only another of the ways by which God illustrates a lesson for our instruction. Women are to submit cheerfully to their husbands "as unto the Lord", for the husband stands in the same position to his wife as Christ does to the ecclesia (Eph 5:22-24). (Note also that the husband must be careful not to abuse the privilege of this dominant position -- Eph 5:25,28. It is not a privilege he earned or deserves; he was given it by God). In this matter, the natural is but a vague representation of the glorious spiritual ideal -- the complete and loving submission of our own will to the will of our Lord:

"Yet not I live, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal 2:20).
Another act by which a woman demonstrates her modest subjection to her husband (and to God) is in covering her head when the occasion requires it (1Co11:3-16).

These verses (1Ti 2:11 and 1Co14:34, 35) are fraught with difficulty. The broad picture is obvious and without quibble, but problems have arisen and still persist in applying the principle to everyday ecclesial life. We may safely insist that the sisters refrain from speaking at all in the memorial meetings and those for the public proclamation of the Truth. Furthermore, we may insist that, at all times, the sisters not assume the leadership of a Bible discussion (v 12). To go beyond this and to legislate sisters' complete silence at every other ecclesial function as well leads us to the question: Just what constitutes the "ecclesia"? For example, might not a single couple -- husband and wife -- constitute in some cases the whole or proper "ecclesia" -- thus requiring by the strictest possible construction the sister's absolute silence even in the sole presence of her brother-husband? Let it also be realized that the word for "silence" used in 1Ti 2:11 is almost identical to the "peaceable" of v 2 and the "quiet" of 1Pe 3:4 -- where in each case a content and obedient and humble manner of life (not absolute muteness) is intended. (In this connection, no one would think of citing Hab 2:20 -- "The LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him" -- so as to enforce an animal dumbness upon all men). Thus Paul's commandment to Timothy concerning the sisters may be obeyed, to the benefit of the ecclesia, without going to the extreme of a crotchet in the matter.

The quotation of 1Co14:34, 35 is more explicit: "It is not permitted them to speak". Yet one is still faced with the problem of defining the "ecclesia". What are the prerequisites of an 'official' ecclesial meeting? We understand that some latitude may be allowed to each ecclesia or family group, based upon such factors as the relative number of brothers and sisters, the degree of isolation, and the consciences of those most directly involved.

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

The words suffer not are better translated as "do not permit" (Diag. and others).

The words to teach are from the common Greek word for 'teach'. The women are certainly not to teach in the public meetings, but this does not preclude their teaching of children or outsiders in certain circumstances: Both Aquila and his wife Priscilla, took Apollos and "expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18:26). And the older women are even commanded to instruct the younger women in their proper behavior (Tit 2:4,5). But for a sister to presume to teach brethren in an assembly is an entirely different matter. Not that a woman cannot be as wise in God's word as a man; this is not the point. These verses serve to confine the woman's sphere of influence to its rightful place -- the home and family -- where great good may be accomplished quietly (see also 1Ti 5:10,14).

Paul also instructs that a woman is not to usurp authority over a man. Usurp signifies to grasp, to seize wrongfully. There are many more ways for a woman to be domineering than just by teaching the assembly. And all such usurpations are forbidden. In both ecclesial and family life the woman should concede the authority of final decisions to the man. This is the right way, as God intended it to be. The man is the head of the woman. (Here the Greek for "man" is aner which commonly [but not exclusively] signifies 'husband'. The reference in the immediate context, to Adam and Eve, would seem to indicate where the primary emphasis of this passage lies. However the passage cannot possible mean that single sisters can teach in the ecclesia because they do not have a husband). But again, men must be careful not to misuse their pre-eminence, because they did not really earn it. It was only given to them by God. To get even more to the point, the woman's relative position to the man is designed to teach the man submission also (for all are subject to Christ, as his collective Bride).

Husbands should always take into account the feelings of their wives. "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies... " (Eph 5:28). An enlightened love, which makes one willing to learn and change and cooperate can solve the most difficult marital problems.

The words in silence are from the same word as in v 11 -- similarly translated "quiet" in the Diaglott.

We might conclude our consideration of these two verses by quoting from Robert Roberts, from his diary of his voyage to Australia. He tells of a case of ecclesial discord in which he was called upon to mediate:

"There was no question of public speaking. All were agreed that the law of the Lord prohibited woman's voice from being heard in public assembly. The question was whether in the non-public working or management of things, woman's voice might be allowed a place.

The question seems an extraordinary one. The Lord's law is never directed to the prescription of impossibilities. You can no more suppress a wise woman's influence and wise woman's voice, than you can suppress the law of gravitation. You may prevent her delivering a public address: but you cannot prevent her giving good counsel, and you ought not. Though woman, by Divine law, is in subjection, she is not to be extinguished.

If the Scriptures appoint man as her head, they do not exclude her from partnership in all that concerns their mutual well being. They show us women:

1.         Laboring with Paul in the Gospel -- Phi 4:3;
2.         As official servants of an ecclesia with business in hand, which the ecclesia was called upon to promote -- Rom 16:1-3;
3.         Exercising the prophetic gift -- Acts 21:9;
4.         Prominently ministering to Christ himself -- Luke 8:2, 3; and
5.         Sometimes leaders in Israel, like Deborah -- Judges 4:4.

The denial of public speech to women is as far as we are justified in repressing them. I have seen tyrannical and unsympathetic men wrongly using Paul's authority to put down and quench godly women more qualified than themselves to exercise judgement and give counsel. Let women certainly be modest, but let her not be reduced to a cipher which God never intended. She is intended as a comrade and a help, which she greatly is, when enlightened and treated rightly.

We ought to be thankful when women turn up who are able to help with wise suggestion. To object to such on the score of 'ruling the ecclesia' is to evince either a shameful misconception of duty or an itch for headship which disqualifies for the true service of the ecclesia.

No man who wants to be head is fit to be head. The headship that comes from service is the only headship that is either useful or tolerable, or, in the long run, possible. Where the spirit of exalting each other, instead of exalting ourselves, prevails (as Christ commands), there is little danger of difficulties arising, and an easy settlement of them if they do arise."
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

See Gen 1:27 -- "Male and female created He them". But this general statement is explained in detail in Gen 2, where we are told that God first created Adam (v 7), who remained alone for a time (v 18), and then created Eve out of Adam's side (vv 21,22). Paul uses a similar argument again, this time in 1Co 11:8,9 to demonstrate the woman's submission to the man:

"For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man."
In passing we might well note how often Paul appeals to events in the early chapters of Genesis. Certainly he believed that account to be the inspired, genuine history of man -- not some abstract allegory. The modern 'science' that can question the literality of these accounts is most definitely a 'science falsely so called' (1Ti 6:20) and the "wisdom of this world" (1Co 1:20).

Formed is a peculiar word, found only twice in the New Testament: here and in Rom 9:20: "the thing formed", in reference to God as the master potter and man as His workmanship. From these verses we see the idea of man's creation as the forming of a vessel from the clay by God's own hand.

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

The Diaglott margin renders deceived as "thoroughly deceived" -- and Weymouth and Rotherham agree. There seems to be some difference among the available New Testament texts at this verse. But compare 2Co 11:3: "The serpent beguiled Eve." Eve allowed herself to be thoroughly deceived, to be swayed by her emotions. She was led away by "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1Jo 2:16), set in such a pleasing form by the subtle, amoral reasoning of the serpent. (Of course the lusts that led her away were not working in her as they are in us. They are now part of our physical make-up -- they are constantly pressuring us. Eve first exhibited these tendencies which caused her to fall to temptation, and they became an inherent factor in all her descendants, which motivates them inexorably to evil rather than good).

The woman acted upon emotional impulse -- desire, without proper regard for God's word. She did not demonstrate a ready faith in God's promises. She fell to the deception of the serpent -- believing it spoke the truth. (This is quite a lesson for us: We are often ready to do something, knowing it is wrong, if we can only justify it by appealing to another's counsel).

Eve should have spoken with Adam before transgressing and Paul seems to bring this out. He tells the woman to look for spiritual judgment from her head, her husband, rather than doing something on her own. Eve should not have taken the step to "become as the Elohim". This usurpation resulted in sin and grievous punishment. She was then commanded to serve Adam. Paul shows forth this point. Man is for authority (not as a lord, but with love) and woman is for subjection.

This perhaps explains the problem of 1Co 11:10, "because of the angels". Because Eve sought to be equal in authority to the angels Paul says that a woman must cover her head, her glory, to demonstrate her subjection of a "lower" position to the angels. She is not yet equal to the Elohim. Not only this, but she also is subject to the authority of her husband.

Eve was first in the transgression, the first to be deceived, the first to fall into transgression. John Thomas speaks of these verses in 1 Timothy as Paul's appeal to 'the unhappy consequences of Eve's talkativeness and leadership in transgression' (Elpis Israel, p.122).

In Gen 3:13 Eve admits that the serpent deceived her; but in Gen 3:12 Adam states simply that:

"The woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."
Adam was enticed by Eve. This did not pardon him, for he was in knowledge, but the woman was first in the transgression. It is probable that Adam was further influenced by the fact that Eve seemed to be none the worse from her experience; she had certainly not died.

On this matter the following words may also apply:

'A man should never permit the words of a woman to intervene between him and the laws of God. This is a rock upon which myriads have made shipwreck of the faith. Adam sinned in consequence of listening to Eve's silvery discourse. No temptation has proved more irresistible to the flesh than the enticing words of woman's lips. "They drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, and sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; and her steps take hold on hell" (Prov 5:3-5). Adam was a striking illustration of this truth... ' (Elpis Israel, p. 123).
In this verse (v 14), Paul seems to be saying that men are often guided by clearer, cooler reasoning than women and that women are more prone to spur-of-the-moment, emotional decisions. But man must not feel that he is superior to the woman. Each sex merely has its own capabilities. Even by their natures, men are born to be leaders of the needs of their wives. Women are born to follow and to support their husbands in the Truth.

Perhaps Robert Roberts has expressed the difference best:

'There is congruity in all the ways of God when the relations established by His law are observed. Man is the head, but only for nurture and protection and honour of the woman. Woman is man's equal fellow-heir of the salvation that is offered in Christ, but not to usurp the position that belongs to a man both by natural constitution and divine appointment. Man is for strength, judgment, and achievement. Woman is for grace, sympathy and ministration. Between them, they form a beautiful unit -- "heirs together of the grace of life"' (Law of Moses, p. 220).
To go even further along this line, we should all -- brothers and sisters -- be subject in love to one another: Looking for Scriptural encouragement and counsel before making important decisions; showing regard for the experiences and preferences of others as far as is practical. In short, behaving as a true family should. We refer in this regard to such passages as James 3:14-18; 5:16; 1Co13:4-6; 12:25-27; Rom 14:1-4, 10, 13; 15:13; Gal6:l-2; and many others.

Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

A correct understanding of one little word opens up the depth of the phrase notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing. The word in is the Greek dia -- which means more precisely "through". This phrase is then very similar to that of 1Co3:15, where it is said that we are saved by (dia -- "through") fire (which symbolized trials -- 1Pe 1:7). Also, note Acts 14:22: "We must through (dia) much tribulation enter the kingdom of God". Trials and hardships are the paths over which we must all travel. They are the refining vats through which we must each pass so that our faith may be purified. God does not enjoy seeing us suffer but by His chastening He is helping and teaching us to walk in the right ways and He is molding our characters.

Thus we see child-bearing for what it is -- a necessary trial for God's children. It was first a punishment placed upon the woman for her part in the first sin. The woman was to have sorrow and pain in childbirth, and her husband was to rule over her (Gen 3:16). But it is God's mercy and foresight that the very childbearing which serves to remind women of the part Eve played in the original transgression may be one of the trials through which they may enter the kingdom.

Let us now view this phrase in a slightly different way. In another sense, God made possible the reward of eternal life through that role of woman which was a punishment. In this verse the word childbearing is preceded by the definite Greek article: Paul seems to be speaking about a single, very special birth: "the childbearing". At the same time that Eve was receiving the punishment for her sin, she received the promise of a special man to be born, called "the seed of the woman", through whom the serpent or sin power would be fatally wounded (Gen 3:15).

This same promise is mentioned by Isaiah -- that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, who will be called "God with us" (Isa 7:14). And also in Jer 31:22 -- that a new thing shall happen: "a woman shall compass the man". These promises were all fulfilled in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, who was conceived not by the will of man, but by the Spirit of the Most High overshadowing Mary (Mat 1:21-25). This same Jesus, throughout his life, resisted sin in all ways and died a sacrificial death so that the way to life might be opened to all men and women. Thus the sisters can take courage to serve God in quietness and self-restraint now, comforted with the hope offered by the seed of the woman".

We may view this phrase in yet another aspect -- that of the spiritual rather than the natural bearing of fruit to God. Through this we are all saved. In Rom 7:4, Paul likens the ecclesia to a woman, as he so commonly does. Her former husband has died, which is a way of saying that we have become dead to the present world and its lusts and that we are no longer the servants of sin (Rom 6:17). With her first husband now dead, she is at liberty to be married to another, Christ who was raised from the dead. And this new alliance (which we now have with Christ) is for the purpose of bringing forth fruit unto God (Rom 7:4). With Christ's help, in our new relationship with him, we may produce "the fruit of the Spirit": love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal 5:22, 23). We may then be saved through this bringing forth of fruit -- this new walk in the Truth, this new life in Christ, with new desires and new goals. The "child" which each saint bears is himself: "a new man in Christ Jesus". We must be "born again" (John 3:5) -- not only by water at baptism, but by the Spirit-word (1Pe 1:23) to "newness of life" (Rom 6:4). By doing this we shall be saved.

This can also be rendered, "through her childbearing". She can be saved through her childbearing -- how? Paul has just stated that the sister is to be modest and in subjection -- So what can she do? She can bear children -- not just carry them for 280 days and then deliver them; but nurture them, thus fulfilling the quiet, unsung duties of motherhood and the house (5:10, 14). By presenting mature, developed servants of God in the form of the children she has so wisely and scripturally brought up.

Maternal characteristics are those of self-sacrifice, preservation of others, compassion, patience, duty; unyielding and demonstrative and forgiving -- loving. This is another aspect in which the sister is saved in her child bearing. Often, these characteristics go undeveloped until she becomes a mother and these characteristics are most desirable in a saint.

They refers to the women from Eve onwards. For faith see 1:5. Charity is the word agape -- the self-sacrificing love (1:5) born of the incorruptible word of God (1Pe 1:22, 23). Holiness with sobriety refers to sanctification and purity with self-restraint, a fight with oneself and a victory over one's lusts (v 9). In another of his Pastoral Letters Paul summarized these virtues very well:

"Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:12).


In this section (2:9-15) Paul has shown us that women have their own special duties, which are consistent with their own special inclinations. Although sisters may not usurp the authority of a man, and although they must also remain silent in the public meetings, there is nothing demeaning in this. They may do these things joyfully, showing through their subjection to their husbands their subjection to God also. And they may rejoice in the same hope as their husbands, the hope offered in God's Son Jesus, the man born to Mary, "the handmaid of the Lord" (Luke 1:38; Psa 116:16). May each of our sisters find her own means of service and expression of love -- as she prays to the Father: "Behold Thy handmaid".

Another note: It is very possible that the "faithful saying" which opens chapter 3 in the AV refers to these closing remarks of chapter 2.

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