This is now the fourth week of examining our Call of Duty. We’ve been looking at 1 Timothy to find out our responsibilities as Christians. So far, we’ve looked at our responsibility to help each other live a life of faith in God. We’ve looked at our responsibility to cling to our faith and keep our consciences clear so that we can fight well in the Lord’s battles. And just last week we looked at our responsibility to pray for all people.

And I hope many of you have been praying through our prayer calendar that we handed out last week and that you’ve been praying for your families, your church, and your neighbors. Don’t forget to come prepared to pray for our community next Sunday as we do our prayer walk through town following our morning service. This is going to be a great event and I think that both our community and our church will be blessed because of it.

Now today we want to carry on in looking at 1 Timothy chapter 2 – today verses 8 through 15. I want us to read that together this morning, but first let’s pray and ask God to show us what He would have us learn.

8 In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.
9 And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 10 For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.
11 Women should learn quietly and submissively. 12 I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. 13 For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.   1 Timothy 2:8-15

Now in this day and age and in our culture, this is a rather controversial passage – particularly the last few verses. Our feathers tend to get a little ruffled when we read verses like that. So there are two things I’d like you to keep in mind as we look at portion of Scripture today:

The verses we just read are the Word of God. They are not my words or the words of the Alliance denomination – but they are the words of God as given through Paul to Timothy. And because they are the words of God, they deserve our attention. We can’t just skip over them because we aren’t comfortable with them. We need to look and pay attention to what God is saying to us in this passage.
The second thing to keep in mind, is that in the very beginning of this series, in one of the first verses that we looked at, we learned not to waste our time in meaningless discussions, but to spend our time helping people live a life of faith in God. So I don’t think God intends for us to have an endless debate over what men or women can or can’t do in the church. But rather, the intention is that we grow in our understanding of God and our faith in God, as we strive to become more and more like Him.

So with those two things in mind, let’s take a look at these verses.

In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.   1 Timothy 2:8

Now you’ll remember that last Sunday we talked about our responsibility to pray for all people. So why didn’t I include this verse in our study last week? After all, this is a verse about prayer, isn’t it? So it would seem to fit with our topic of prayer….

Well, there are two elements in this verse that tell us that Paul is now shifting gears as he’s writing this letter.

First of all, you’ll notice that Paul says “In every place of worship”. Previously in our instructions to ‘pray for all people’ – that was applicable to every person in any place at any time. Whoever you are – where ever you are – pray for all people. But now he says “In every place of worship”. He’s getting ready to give us instructions that are specifically for when we gather together to worship. In other words, He’s talking about when we meet together as a church. And that really sets the stage for the rest of the book of 1 Timothy. It’s Paul, giving instructions to Timothy about how the church is to operate.

In fact, if we read just a little further into chapter three we find this verse:

14 I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, 15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.    1 Timothy 3:14-15

One of the goals that Paul had in writing this letter to Timothy is so that He would know how stuff in the church is supposed to work. And that’s why He specifies now… “In every place of worship”.

So that’s the first hint that Paul is shifting gears. The second hint is something that we’d probably only notice if we spoke Greek.

In English it says… “In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God….”

There are two greek words that can be translated into the English as “men”. One word – “anthr?pos” means “mankind” or “humans” – This is the word that is used in Matthew 4:19.
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

That “men” means “mankind”. Humans. People. So a more literal translation might say “I will make you fishers of humans.” (as opposed to fishers of fish)

The other greek word that also gets translated as “men” is “an?r” – which means “male” or “husband”. And that’s the word that is used in this verse.

So we could read it as “In every place of worship, I want [the] men (or the husbands) to pray with holy hands lifted up to God….”

Now why does Paul say this? Why does He specifically say that he wants the men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God?

Well, for most of the rest of this book, Paul is addressing the issue of roles in the church. Throughout the next few chapters, he’s going to talk about the role of the men in the church and the role of the women in the church. He’s going to talk about the role of elders and deacons. He’s going to talk about the role of widows and slaves. He’s even going to talk about the role of the wealthy in the church.

Now at this point, often we think “Hey – aren’t we all equal in the sight of God?” Yes, we are. “Aren’t we all just as important to God as anyone else?” Yes, we are.

But has God given all of us the same role? No – He has not. We read in Ephesians that God has given different roles to different people.

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. Ephesians 4:11-12

Even within the Trinity, we see different roles among the Godhead. We have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each one is equally God – but each one has a different role.

For example – God the Father did not come to earth as the Messiah. That was the Son. And the Son (Jesus Christ) is not the one who dwells within every believer today – that’s the Holy Spirit. It is the very nature of God to have different roles for different people.

So it shouldn’t surprise us then, that God has set up different roles for us in the church. And one of the roles that God has given men, is the leadership of the church. That’s why Paul says, when the church gets together for worship, he wants the men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God. It is their role to lead the church, and that includes the area of corporate prayer.

Now remember that when Paul was writing this to Timothy, Timothy was the pastor of the church in Ephesus. And one of the things that Ephesus was (and still is) famous for is the temple of Artemis – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Artemis was supposedly the goddess of fertility and was probably the most worshipped deity in Asia at this time. The worship of Artemis was very sexual in nature, and at this temple in Ephesus, there would be hundreds of priestesses and temple prostitutes.

So you can understand why Paul would write to Timothy,…

9 And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 10 For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.

This was the opposite of what was the common, accepted “religious” practice of the day. And although we don’t have temples to Artemis today, we still have a culture that tells women (and men to some extent) that their worth is determined by their appearance. But Paul says, No. We can still look decent and appropriate – we don’t need to look like slobs – but doing what is right and good is what will really make us attractive.

Then Paul continues in his instructions about the roles of men and women in the church – probably because in this worship of Artemis, Satan had effectively taken God’s design for men & women and turned it upside down. So Paul says in opposition to what was happening…

11 Women should learn quietly and submissively. 12 I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. 13 For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.   1 Timothy 2:11-15

Now this is the part that has the tendency to ruffle the most feathers, because our culture says that “submission” is a negative word. To be under someone else’s authority makes you less important or have less value.

But that’s not what the Bible teaches at all. In fact, Jesus, who is God, submitted Himself under the authority of his Father. We see this many times in the Scriptures, but perhaps the best example is Luke 22:42, just before Jesus is arrested and crucified.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

So if Jesus submits to the authority of the God the Father, why should we think it’s a negative thing for us submit to the authority of others?

Consider this: When you get aboard an airplane, you are submitting yourself to the authority of your pilot. Once you are on that plane, you no longer have any say where you are going. You trust that your pilot will take you where you want to go, but you no longer have any say in the matter. You’ve submitted to his authority.

Or when you go for surgery. Once the operation has begun, you are submitting yourself to the authority of your surgeon. You no longer have any say in what He’s doing. You trust that your surgeon will do what He is supposed to do, but you no longer have any say in the matter. You have submitted to his authority.

Now in those examples, I don’t think any of us would disagree that it’s good to submit to the proper authorities. I don’t want to be responsible for flying that plane and I certainly don’t want to be responsible for performing my own surgery. I’m happy to submit to the proper authorities. I would be foolish to try and take that authority for myself.

In the same way, it’s good for us to submit to the authorities that God has established. That means…

It’s good for mankind to submit to God.
It’s good for nations to submit to their leaders.
It’s good for the church to submit to Christ.
It’s good for wives to submit to their husbands.
It’s good for children to submit to their parents.

To submit to the authorities over us is a good thing. It’s for our benefit.

So when Paul says….

11 Women should learn quietly and submissively. 12 I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.

That’s not a negative thing. That’s not a put-down for women. That’s just God’s design. To put it in the words of our earlier illustration, it’s like saying…

“Women should not insist on flying the airplane. I do not let women perform their own surgeries.”

Do you see what Paul’s saying? God has set our authorities over us – it would be foolish for us to try to put ourselves in a position of authority that God has not given to us.

So how might we apply this lesson to our lives today? Well, the most obvious and the intended application of this Scripture is this: That men are to have the roles of authority in the church. And again, that’s not because women are less important or less able, but because this is what God has said. This is God’s design.

So men, let’s make sure that #1, we are worthy of leading the church – by living lives that measure up to God’s standard of leadership. (Which, by the way, we’ll be talking about next week.) And #2. Let’s step up to the plate and take on our responsibilities in the church. I think that’s why women have had to be leaders in the church in the past – because the men have not been there to take up the role. So men, let’s get our act together and let’s take up the roles that God has given us.

Another application from this passage can apply to all of us. Each of us have authorities in our lives that we must submit to.

First of all, each of us must submit to God – anyone who has any authority got it from God in the first place – so we must all answer to Him. So take a moment this morning to take stock of your life. If you were to die today and had to give account of yourself to God, would God be able to say “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

Another authority that we must submit to is our governments. And no, they aren’t perfect. And they do make mistakes. And quite often we disagree with the decisions they make. But the fact remains, that God has put them in this position of authority and we are to respect and submit to them, so long as they do not ask us to do what is contrary to God’s instruction. That’s why, as we discussed earlier, that Paul tells us to pray for those in authority. Not to bad-mouth them or to be constantly griping or complaining about them – but to pray for them. That’s our responsibility as Christians.

Yet another application: Wives submit to your husbands. Let them lead your family – this is their responsibility that God has given them. Let them take up that responsibility. And husbands, be the kind of man that your wife is happy to submit to. Put the needs of your wife and your family before your own – and lead in way that is best for them. Be worthy  of the leadership of your family.

And these are just a few possible applications. There are others. If you’re a child, you need to submit to your parents. If you’re an employee, you need to submit to your employer. If you’re in the military, you need to submit to higher ranking officers. And the list could go on. But here is the bottom line.

God has established our authorities. He sets them up and tears them down. It is our responsibility as Christians to submit to and respect those in authority over us. And if we happen to be the ones in the position of authority, then we need to live lives worthy of the authority that God has given us. And that is our responsibility as Christians – that is our call of duty. To submit to our authorities and to be worthy of the authority that God has given us.