Prayer for All People, 1-8
2:1 First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, 2:2 even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
Requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks – Milne distinguishes these as follows:
- ‘requests’ are personal prayers made on special occasions for particular needs such as one’s own guidance, help or comfort in a given situation.
- ‘prayers’ is the most general of the terms and refers to all kinds of requests that believers make, but perhaps mostly for general needs that arise. Both terms occur in Philippians 4:6 and 1 Timothy 5:5.
- ‘intercessions’ stands for prayers that are offered on behalf of other people and their known needs; the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ also make representation on behalf of believers (Romans 8:27, 34).
- ‘thanksgivings’ are prayers of gratitude to God for his many mercies and particular blessings received from above. These two are to be offered on behalf of all sorts of people. Thanksgiving is always required of God’s people (1 Thess. 5:18). (Bulleting added)
‘Some years ago I attended public worship in a certain church. The pastor was absent on holiday, and a lay elder led the pastoral prayer. He prayed that the pastor might enjoy a good vacation (which was fine), and that two lady members of the congregation might be healed (which was also fine; we should pray for the sick). But that was all. The intercession can hardly have lasted thirty seconds. I came away saddened, sensing that this church worshipped a little village god of their own devising. There was no recognition of the needs of the world, and no attempt to embrace the world in prayer.’ (Stott)
First of all, then – This links with what he has just said about the gospel and its defence.
All people – This is emphatic, and in contrast to the exclusivist tendencies of the false teachers.
‘”Philip James Spener had a son of eminent talents, but he was perverse and extremely vicious. All means of love and persuasion were without success. The father could only pray, which he continued to do, that the Lord might yet be pleased to save his son at any time and in any way. The son fell sick, and while lying on his bed in great distress of mind, nearly past the power of speech or motion, he suddenly started up, clasped his hands, and exclaimed, ‘My father’s prayers, like mountains, surround me!’ Soon after his anxiety ceased, a sweet peace spread over his face, his malady came to a crisis, and the son was saved in body and soul. He became another man. Spener lived to see his son a respectable man, in public office, and happily married. Such was the change of his life after his conversion.”‘ (Spurgeon)
For kings and all those in authority – ‘This was a remarkable instruction, since at that time no Christian ruler existed anywhere in the world…The reigning emperor was Nero, whose vanity, cruelty and hostility to the Christian faith were widely known.’ (Stott)
Holiness – better, ‘good conduct’. Paul’s concern is that Christians might be allowed by the (pagan) authorities to witness faithfully and openly to the gospel, for the benefit of all (mentioned in v1.
Paul is saying then, that prayer should be offered to enable the ‘full observance of religion and high standards of morality.’ (NEB)
It is to be noted that the pax romana was a major factor in the early spread of Christianity.
‘The ultimate object of our prayers for national leaders, then, is that in the context of the peace they preserve, religion and morality can flourish, and evangelism go forward without interruption.’ (Stott)
That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness – ‘Godliness’ translates ‘eusebeia‘; which which roughly corresponds to our popular usage of ‘religion’ (Hendriksen: ‘piety’). Fee thinks that this a word use by the false teachers, which Paul is now using against them.
‘For many scholars, this sounds terribly bourgeois, even selfish. But, again, it probably reflects the activities of the false teachers, who are not only disrupting (“disquieting”) the church(es) but apparently are also bringing the gospel and the church into disrepute on the outside (see esp. 1 Tim 3:7; 5:14; 6:1; cf. Titus 2:5, 8; 3:1–3). The concern here, therefore, is not that Christians should have a life free from trouble or distress (which hardly fits the point of view of 2 Tim. 1:8 and 2 Tim 3:12) but that they should live in such a way that “no one will speak evil of the name of God and of our teaching” (1 Tim 6:1).’ (Fee)
Similarly, Hendriksen says that for Paul ‘freedom from disturbances, such as wars and persecutions, will facilitate the spread of the gospel of salvation in Christ to the glory of God.’
Paul had himself experienced such blessing, as when the Roman officials intervened on his behalf in Ephesus, Acts 19:23ff.
2:3 Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, 2:4 since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
He wants all people to be saved –
A knowledge of the truth – ‘Knowing the truth is equivalent to accepting the gospel message and emphasizes the cognitive element in the acceptance. Much of the teaching in the PE is directed not against the truth or falseness of the teaching of the opponents but against their improper conduct and the ungodly results of their teaching. This phrase rounds out Paul’s critique by showing that their teaching, as well as their behavior, is untruthful.’ (Mounce)
2:5 For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time.
There is one God and one mediator between God and men – It is evident that the false teaching in Ephesus included some form of incipient gnosticism. The Gnostics believed (or came to believe) that there were many different ranks of angels and that these acted as mediators between a holy God and sinful men. Jesus Christ was relegated to the position of one of the angels. This verse refutes that position.
Spencer remarks on how Paul’s teaching that there is ‘one God and one mediator’ challenged pagan thinking:-
‘First, many would believe in a variety of gods for a variety of purposes and people. As Artemidorus explained, “What the gods signify for men, goddesses signify for women. Gods are more auspicious for men than goddesses; goddesses are more auspicious for women than gods” (Onir. 4.75). At Ephesus, many would place gods in a hierarchy with Artemis at the top. The temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Artemision) was also renowned as an asylum for the innocent yet simultaneously Artemis could be a slaughterer. Some would think she should be the mediator (1 Tim 2:5). Others would conclude she would not save all (v. 4). In addition, Ephesus had shrines sacred to Zeus, Cybele and Demeter (mother of the gods), Apollo (Artemis’ brother), Asclepius (god of healing), Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hygeia, Pan, Isis, Hecate, Marnas (river god), Leto (Artemis’ mother), Athena, Serapis, Eros, and deified emperors, such as Augustus. Paul, in contrast, asserts that there is only one God who can serve all needs, including salvation, for all people.’
Claire Smith comments that there is one God for all people:
‘There is not one god for Jews and another for Gentiles, or one saviour for the lowly and another for kings. There is one Saviour, one mediator, and one ransom—sufficient for all types of people and available to all.’ (God’s Good Design. Matthias Media. Kindle Edition.)
John Stott remarks on the essential logic of this passage:
‘Monotheism remains the essential basis for mission. The supreme reason why God “desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the [same] truth is that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…” The logic of this passage rests on the relation between “all men” and “one God”. Our warrant for seeking the allegiance of “all men” is that there is only “one God”, and only “one mediator” between him and them. Without the unity of God and the uniqueness of Christ there could be no Christian mission.’ (Stott, Our Guilty Silence, 23)
Elsewhere, Stott comments on the Christian conviction about the uniqueness of Christ and his salvation:
‘To claim that Jesus Christ is unique is not to say that there is no truth in other religions and ideologies. Of course there is. For we believe in God’s general revelation and common grace. The Logos of God is still “the true light” coming into the world and enlightening every man, Jn 1:9. All men know something of God’s glory from creation and something of God’s law from their own nature, as Paul argues in Romans 1 and 2. But how does this argument continue? Not that their knowledge of God saves them, but the very opposite! It condemns them because they suppress it. Indeed, “they are without excuse, for although they knew God they did not honour him as God…”
‘It is against this dark background of universal rebellion, guilt and judgment of mankind that the good news of Jesus Christ shines with such dazzling beauty. There is salvation in no other, for there is no other mediator between God and man but only Jesus Christ who died as a ransom for sinners, Acts 4:12; 1 Tim 2:5.
‘Firmly to reject all syncretism in this way and to assert the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ is not “doctrinal superiority” or imperialism, as it has been called. Conviction about revealed religion is not arrogance. Its proper name is “stewardship”, the humble and obedient stewardship of a church which knows it has been “put in trust with the Gospel”.’ (Authentic Christianity, 348)
Verses 5 & 6 link together three phases of Christ’s work of redemption:-
- Incarnate as a human being – ‘the man’
- Died as a ransom – ‘who gave himself as a ransom for all men’
- Exalted as our heavenly mediator – ‘one mediator between God and men’
A ransom for all men – ‘We are to understand this to mean a ransom available for all people, without exception.’ (Grudem, Systematic Theology)
Josephus describes the Roman general Crassus’ visit to the Temple in Jerusalem in 54-53 BC. He was intent on plundering the sanctuary, but a priest named Eliazar gave him a large gold bar as lytron anti panton, ‘a ransom for all’, that is as a substitute for the Temple treasures. (Stott, The Cross of Christ, 178)
2:7 For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle—I am telling the truth; I am not lying—and a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 2:8 So I want the men to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without anger or dispute.
Belleville: ‘It is likely that the women and men at Ephesus were at odds with one another. There were signs of friction. The men were praying in an angry tone of voice (1 Tim 2:8); the women were learning (and perhaps teaching) in a belligerent manner (1 Tim 2:11–12). Paul calls twice for peace and calm (hēsuchia, 1 Tim 2:11–12) and twice for moderation (sōphrosunēs); 1 Tim 2:9, 15).’
I want the men to pray in every place – Note the emphasis (for the moment) on what the men are to do. Paul will address the women shortly.
Note also the strength of language used. Usually Paul ‘urges’, or ‘asks’; here, he commands.
‘In every place’ suggests that the church at Ephesus had flourished sufficiently that it met in several different homes.
Lifting up holy hands – This would have been the usual posture for prayer.
Conduct of Women, 9-15
2:9 Likewise the women are to dress in suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control. Their adornment must not be with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing, 2:10 but with good deeds, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God.
Likewise – or ‘therefore’ linking this section with the previous one and showing that Paul is still thinking about conduct in public worship. Belleville proposes the following ‘filling in of the grammatical gaps’: “I want men in every place to pray with holy hands.… Likewise [I want] women [in every place to pray] with respectable conduct.…”
There is an assumption, then’ (writes Belleville) that women as well as men were leading public prayer.
The women are to dress in suitable apparel – Although Paul’s words may refer to the way the women dress (writes Belleville), they more likely have to do with a respectful demeanour. ‘Women were to behave as upstanding and respectable citizens…Paul here was not concerned with the first-century equivalent of plunging necklines, tight-fitting clothes, and short skirts. The issue was flaunting one’s wealth in public. The well-to-do came to worship with gold-braided hair, pearls, and expensive clothes (2:9b). In so doing, they drew attention to themselves (2:9) and distracted from worship of God.’
Blomberg agrees that this teaching is addressed especially to the wealthy women at Ephesus, since it is only they who would have been able to afford the luxuries mentioned. The original is lit. ‘not with braided hair and gold or pearls’, suggesting that there might not be anything wrong with braided hair as such, but ‘the ornate coiffure in which jewels were interwoven into the braids, as one way of holding the hair together, involved hours of attention to one’s external appearance and was often accompanied by lavish, costly attire.’ (Neither Poverty Not Riches, p207)
‘Women of the lower economic ranks in the East frequently covered their heads; but the urban congregations of Ephesus would have included women of higher social status, who would flaunt their status by the ornate ways they decorated their hair. To poorer women in the congregation, the wealthier women’s wardrobe represented both ostentation and potential seduction, so Paul rules against it, borrowing language common among moralists of his day.’ (DPL)
Good deeds –
2:11 A woman must learn quietly with all submissiveness. 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet.
A woman must learn – This seems to link back to v4, with its reference to coming to ‘a knowledge of the truth’.
In Greek, the expression is, ‘Let a woman learn…’. The instruction is primarily directed, not to the women, but to Timothy as pastor.
Even though, in the minds of many, Paul’s teaching here seems to demean women, at the very least it must be said that, in urging that they be regarded as learners, he elevates them to a status that many in his day would have denied to them. But then, as Yarborough points out, we have the example of Jesus himself, who frequently benefitted from the Master’s one-to-one instruction.
Quietly – ‘denotes not an absence of speech but a calm demeanor (cf. 1 Pet 3:4)’ (Belleville). The word is used in Acts 22:2 for the attention that an otherwise restless crowd gave to Paul when they realised that he was speaking to them in Aramaic. It is also used in 2 Thess 3:12, where Paul urges people to ‘work quietly’ in order to provide for themselves.
‘The Greek words convey not muteness (hence NIV does not translate “with silence”) but orderly, industrious, and self-responsible labor in accordance with dominical and apostolic teaching. People freeloading off others will cause disturbance and unrest. Paul calls Thessalonian readers to pay attention to what will make for a stable and peaceful atmosphere in Christ’s service rather than self-serving disruption. In the same way, Paul calls on Timothy to see that each woman in the Ephesian setting is protected from distractions for the sake of the redemption afforded by teaching (and thus learning) able to save both Timothy and his hearers (see 1 Tim 4:16). An analogous situation might be Martha, “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made,” in comparison with Mary, “who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said” (Luke 10:39–40). Here was hēsychia. Was it demeaning?.
With all submissiveness – On the submission of women, see also Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18; 1 Tim 5:14; Tit 2:4-5. But Paul is not referring to a general submissiveness here, but rather to a submissive attitude towards learning.
Yarborough says that it goes against the context to suupose that Paul is urging submission of women either to men generally or to himself or Timothy.
Claire Smith summarises the NT teaching on submissiveness:-
‘The word that Paul uses here and a related verb meaning ‘submit’ are used often in the New Testament, and in the context of many different types of relationships. Children are to submit to their parents (Luke 2:51; 1 Tim 3:4; cf. Titus 1:6). Slaves are to submit to their masters (Titus 2:9; 1 Pet 2:18-25). Wives are to submit themselves to their husbands (1 Cor 14:34-35; Eph 5:24; Col 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Pet 3:1, 5). Christians are to submit to those over them in Christian leadership (1 Cor 16:15-16; 1 Pet 5:5). We are to submit ourselves to God (Jas 4:7), and as part of that God-ward submission, we are to submit to governing authorities (Rom 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet 2:13).’
‘However, this language of submission is not limited to human relationships. All things have been subjected and will ultimately submit to Christ (Eph 1:22; Phil 3:21; Heb 2:5, 8; 1 Pet 3:22). Demons submit to the rule of Christ (Luke 10:17). The church is to submit to Christ as her head (Eph 5:24). And when all things have been made subject to him, Christ himself will submit to God the Father (1 Cor 15:27-28).’ (Smith, Claire. God’s Good Design. Matthias Media. Kindle Edition.)
2:13 For Adam was formed first and then Eve. 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression.
For – ‘“For” can be causal, in which case Paul would be invoking creation order and proneness to deception as reasons why a woman must not teach a man. This is theologically problematic, however. Proneness to deception is something that is endemic to the human race after the Fall. While Paul does assert that all human beings without exception sin (e.g., Rom 3:9–20), at no time does he suggest that women are more susceptible to sin’s deceiving activity than men. In the case of the Ephesian community, it was two men (not women) who were expelled for false teaching that stemmed from personal deception (1:20).’ (Belleville)
Adam was formed first and then Eve – See Gen 2:21f. Belleville does not think that this necessarily implies either male superiority or functional priority. But Paul’s teaching at this point may be intended to provide a corrective to that of the cult of Artemis, whose perceived superiority was linked to her having come out of her mother’s womb first, then helping her mother to give birth to her twin brother.
Adam was not deceived, but the woman – Yes, that also is true, according to Gen 3:13. Adam sinned, but he was not deceived.
Again, Paul’s argument from the created order (see also 1 Cor 11:7-9) has been understood in various ways:-
- It is possible that the argument is ad hoc: if Eve’s deception is appealed to as a reason for all women from teaching, then Paul is arguing that women generally are more easily deceived than men.
- It may be that Paul’s intention is to use Eve to illustrate the local situation in Ephesus, where the women are easily deceived because they are untaught.
‘As Adam has served elsewhere as the representative man, through whose sin all mankind came into sinfulness (Rom. 5:12, 19), so here Eve serves as the “representative” woman, who through her deception by Satan became a sinner (lit., “came to be in transgression”).’ (Fee)
What Paul does appear to be saying is that there is a God-given distinction between the two sexes. This is not to do with intelligence, giftedness, usefulness, and so on, but creational intent. And there are serious practical implications for both men and women. If the latter are to follow Paul’s instructions here, then the men will have to step up to their responsibilities.
2:15 But she will be delivered through childbearing, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with self-control.