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Scripture Reading:  1 Timothy 2:8-15


Bible Question Box

(February 2006)


Question:   Concerning Bible Authority – I have heard it preached (rightly so) about a woman’s duty to learn in quietness & full submission and not to teach or have authority over a man (1 Tim. 2:11-12).  The preceding verses (1 Tim. 2:9-10) concerning decency & propriety, seem just as specific about braided hair, gold & pearls.  They seem to be in the same context of appropriate worship so what is the difference in these instructions?  Why are the verses treated differently?


I.  THE TEXT IN CONTEXT, 1 Tim. 2:8-12.

  * This verse does not exclude women from praying, but it defines spheres of duty for men & women.

  * Neither does this verse exclude jewelry, but it defines the parameters & characteristics of attire, including jewelry.


   [“The direction here given that men should pray in contradistinction from the duties of women, specified in the next verse, may be intended to imply that men should conduct the exercises of    public worship. The duties of women pertain to a different sphere. Comp. #1Ti 2:11, 12.”  (Barnes)]


  A.  Duty of MenLead in Worship, 1 Tim. 2:8.  (Appropriate worship)

    1.  Pray everywhere, 2:8.

      a.  This does not exclude women from ever praying…but she is excluded from leading public prayer…2:11-12.

      b.  Even when women used miraculous gifts (prayed or prophesied) they were to wear a sign of authority, 1 Cor. 11:4-6, 10.

    2.  Lifting up holy hands:   “To lift up the hands denotes supplication” / “Holy hands” here mean hands that are not defiled by sin…  The idea is, that when men approach God they should do it in a pure and holy manner” (Barnes).  cf. Jno. 9:31; 1 Pet. 3:12

    3.  Without wrath & doubting (disputing):  No spirit of contention or anger toward others; “They were not to approach God in prayer in the midst of clamorous disputings and angry contentions” (Barnes).

  B.  Duty of WomenQuiet Submission, 1 Tim. 2:9-12 (reflected in clothing & conduct).  (Appropriate adorning)

    1.  Adorn (kosmeo):  “To put in order, arrange.”

    2.  Modest (kosmios):  “Orderly, well-arranged, decent” (Vine).

      a. “Respectable, honorable” (Arndt & Gingrich).  1 Tim 3:2

      b.  “Modest” emphasizes avoiding gaudy, exorbitant & extravagant excess.

      c.  Used by 1st century writes to contrast with revealing clothing.
    3.  Shamefastness (propriety, nkjv)
(aidos):  “A sense of shame, modesty” (Vine).
      a.  “That modesty which is ‘fast’ rooted in the character.”
      b.  Word was used in Gk. for the opposite of “promiscuous” (cf. ability to blush,
Jer. 8:12).
    4.  Sobriety (moderation, nkjv)
(sophrosune):  “Soundness of mind…sound judgment;” self-control, 1 Tim. 2:15.
      a.  “It is that habitual inner self-government, with its constant rein on all the passions and desires, which would hinder the temptation to these from arising” (Vine).
      b.  Used in the sense of being free from the intoxicants of worldly values and lusts (
1 Jno. 2:15).
    5.  We must see immodest dress as shameful (not attractive), as indecent (not cute)!

    6.  Fact that women are to dress modestly does not mean men may dress immodestly.



  A.  Clothing Indicates Attitudes, Character &/or Circumstances, cf. Prov. 7:10; Gen. 38:14-15.

    1.  “A woman’s dress is a mirror of her mind.”  (Prov. 4:23)

          a.    Garments can indicate immoral heart & conduct:  Extravagant & conspicuous clothing that allures & attracts (“catches the eye”) shows a lack of “shamefastness” & “sobriety”Rev. 17:1, 4.

          b.    Note:  Harlot adorned with “gold and precious stones and pearls” (Rev. 17:4).  (This does not mean that everyone who wears jewelry is a harlot!)

          c.    The world admits that clothing reflects an attitude (Salt Lake Tribune, 5/22/92).

*  2.  Fundamental issue:  (INTERNAL) MODESTY IS REFLECTED BY OUR (EXTERNAL) CLOTHING, 1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:3-6ISSUE OF THE HEART!
      a.  Clothing must be governed by internal qualities of godliness.

*    b.  Christian’s clothing is to always show the godliness we profess (2:10).
      c.  This is NOT the world’s standard for choosing clothing – just the opposite (sensual, sexy, daring, provocative, alluring…).

  B.  Does God Condemn All Jewelry & All Care for Personal Appearance (such as braiding hair)?  (No)

    1.  “Not…but” (2:9-10):

      a.  Sometimes this grammatical construction (idiom) is exclusionaryJno. 12:6

      b.  Sometimes this grammatical construction (idiom) is emphatic: cf. Jno. 12:9

         -Used this way, it sets two things in contrast; not to exclude either, but to emphasize one over the other as the preferred priority.

    2.  Illustrations & application:

      a.  1 Cor. 1:17Not to baptize…but to preach.  Would it be sin for Paul to baptize anyone?  (No, 1:14-15)  Emphasis Is on the preaching of the gospel, not on who performed baptisms.

      b.  1 Pet. 3:3-4Not (merely) outward…but (rather) inward.  If Peter is commanding no arranging of hair & wearing jewelry, then he is also commanding no putting on of apparel!  Emphasis is on the heart.

      c.  1 Tim. 2:9-10Not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.  Emphasize being adorned with good works rather than emphasizing external dress & thus show a lack of modesty.

    3.  Note:  God adorned Jerusalem for beauty, but she “trusted in her beauty” & turned to harlotry, Ezek. 16:1-14, 15-18.

      a.  A blanket condemnation of jewelry & embroidered garments condemns God!  (16:10-14)

      b.  God did not sin in beautifying Jerusalem; nor did He use sinful things to illustrate His splendor that he bestowed on Jerusalem (16:14).

      c.  Instead:  Jerusalem proudly “trusted in (her) own beauty,” 16:15-18.  Her attitude of heart turned her away from God & caused her immodest conduct.

    4.  More illustrations:  Gen. 24:22, 47, 53 (Were these sinful gifts?)  Exo. 3:22 (Did God command sin here?).  Isa. 61:10 (The bridegroom & bride used to illustrate Zion’s adornments of salvation & righteousness).  Matt. 6:28-29 (Was Solomon’s attire sinful?)

  C.  Both Under Dressing & Overdressing are Immodest:
    1.  Overdressing,
Isa. 3:16-24.  Vain display & extravagance in clothing is condemned.  Such vanity & worldly ostentation reflects selfish pride & sensuality (not godliness with good works).
    2.  Under dressing:  Cf. 1st century silk market & clothing (East to Cathay: The Silk Road, Robert Collins, 44-46):  Sheer, revealing, exposing & provocative apparel.



1.  It is appropriate for men to lead in worship; It is appropriate for women to dress modestly (thereby showing godliness & the good works of a quiet spirit).

2.  Our hearts must not be attached to worldly things; avoid all immodest extremes.