Peace in Acceptance – 1 Timothy 2:11-15

Higgins Lake Baptist Church
Kevin A. Pierpont
9/21/03

Let me share this poem of Amy Carmichael’s,

“He said..’I will forget the dying faces, the empty places. They shall be filled again. Oh, voices moaning deep within me cease.’ But vain the word, vain, vain. Not in forgetting lieth Peace…

He said..’I will crowd action upon action. The strife of faction shall stir me and sustain. Oh, tears that drown the fire of manhood cease.’ But vain the word, vain, vain. Not in endeavor lieth Peace…

‘I will withdraw me and be quiet. Why meddle in life’s riot? Shut be my door to pain. Desire, thou doest befool me. Thou shall cease.’ But vain the word, vain, vain. Not in aloofness lieth Peace…

He said..’I will submit, I am defeated. God hath depleted my life of it’s rich gain. Oh futile murmurrings, why will you not cease?’ But vain the word, vain, vain. Not in submission lieth Peace…

He said..’I will accept the breaking sorrow which God tomorrow will to His son explain.’ Then did the turmoil deep within him cease. Not vain the word, not vain. For in Acceptance lieth Peace” (Amy Carmichael)


Great wisdom is found in that last phrase.? “For in acceptance lieth peace.” We live in a society that has not been at peace and one great source of contention, is the role of men and women. The roles of men and women in the work place have been challenged, in the military, in the home and the church has not escaped the controversy. We are going to examine a passage in 1 Timothy today that directly relates to the male – female controversy so prevalent in our society.

1 Timothy 2:11-15

11? Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.
12? And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
13? For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
14? And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
15? Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

The role of women in the church today is a controversial and often hotly debated topic. There are some denominations that ordain women for the ministry. There are a variety of opinions on just what role a woman should play in the church. When it comes right down to it, the opinion of man is worthless. Only what the Word of God has to say on this topic is what matters. What is God’s design? We need to examine His Word carefully to see what He desires and not let the culture around us dictate what is or is not appropriate for the church of Jesus Christ.

The first thing we notice is something many overlook and that is a woman should learn.

11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.

In the KJV the verse reads this way:

11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

Notice the word let in the KJV and the idea is also seen in the NKJV in the phrase a woman should learn.

Let’s take a moment to understand the significance of this phrase. The NASB translates it this way:

11? Let a woman quietly receive instruction

John MacArthur says this about verse 11,

“on the spiritual level men and women are equal. They’re equal. And as a result of that, they are equally entitled to be involved in the learning process. And we suggested to you that there were, no doubt, people in the church at Ephesus who came out of a Jewish background or people in that church who came out of a Greek background, both of which diminished the role of women, both of which held that women were inferior and both of which would assume that it wasn’t important or even necessary that women learn anything. And so this, no doubt, had filtered into the church and Paul is saying let the women learn. Let them–manthano is the verb, we get the word “disciple” from it–let them be disciples, let them be learners, let them be in on the process of grasping understanding and applying divine truth. And don’t let the influence of Jewish culture or Greek culture which diminishes and denigrates the role of women speak evil of them and hinder them from learning the truth of God”.

When studying this passage we are often quick to move on to the latter half of this verse and in our haste overlook the significance of the first half.

Often Christianity is blamed for putting women down but when we look closely at Scripture we see how women are esteemed and valued by God. Women have wonderful opportunities to learn and grow and mature in their walks with the Lord.? The phrase a woman should learn is easy to overlook, but how significant it is in this passage. Paul is affirming that women are to learn as well as men. Spiritually, men and women who profess Christ are equals. Just as we learn from Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Yes in Christ, men and women have equal standing. However, God’s role for men and women do differ, as we will see as we continue in this passage.

Notice that verse 11 says a woman should learn in silence. This word silence is translated quietness in the NIV. John Piper says;

The word for silence here (hesuchia) is used earlier in verse 2 of this chapter (hesuchion). But there it refers to the “quiet” life, which all godly people should lead. “Pray . . . that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” This gives you the tone and the extent of the word. It doesn’t refer to absolute silence: a “quiet” and peaceable life is not a life of total silence. It’s a life untroubled and serene and content. So the silence doesn’t seem to be total. It’s more like what we would call “quietness.”

There are those who have taken this verse to an extreme and say it’s wrong for a woman to even greet someone else in church. Obviously this is not the case. Rather it speaks to a woman being “settled down” and not being unruly.

Evidently the problem Paul was addressing in Ephesus was one of the Christian women assuming the role God had given men in the church.

Along with learning quietly, a woman is to learn “with all submission“. Vine has the following comment on this phrase – this “is not directed towards a surrender of mind and conscience, or the abandonment of the duty of private judgment; the phrase…is a warning against the usurpation of authority, as in the next verse”.

So a woman is to learn in quietness and in submission to the God ordained authority structure in the church. Paul moves on from how a woman should learn to address the topic of a woman teaching.

12? And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Does this verse mean that a woman is never allowed to teach in the church? Let’s first consider a couple of relevant passages. Titus 2:3-5,

3? the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4? that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
5? to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Note that we see in this passage that older women are to teach the younger women.

In 2 Timothy 3:15 Paul reminds us that Timothy knew the scriptures from an early age.

15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Who was it that taught him the scriptures? His mother Lois and grandmother Eunice. So we have some scriptural examples of women teaching other women and women teaching children. That is perfectly appropriate. What is not appropriate is for women to teach and exercise authority over men. Paul says in verse 12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” Paul is making it clear that when the church meets for corporate worship, it is not permissible for women to do the teaching. Paul also emphasizes this in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35

33? For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

34? Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.
35? And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

Scripture is clear on the matter of whether a woman is to have authority over and teach men in the church. It’s sad to see how feminism has influenced even many in the church and created confusion over the role of women. It’s sad that so many denominations today debate the ordination of women. Its unfortunate so many churches today find it permissible and necessary to debate the validity of scripture. I think God’s Word is clear on the matter and is not open to debate.

Paul moves on in verse 13 to state the reason why women are not permitted to teach men,

13? For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

God established the order. God created Adam first. Paul goes back to creation. There are foundational teachings in Genesis that are essential to our faith. God created Adam first and created Eve to be his “helpmeet”. God planned the order of creation. He didn’t randomly create Adam first – it was His design and Paul is pointing out the significance of that in verse 13.? Some today would argue that Paul forbidding women to teach was only culturally relevant to the church at the time and no longer applies to us today.

But Paul goes back to creation to defend his position of women not teaching men in the church. This clearly indicates that it is a teaching that transcends time and is pertinent to the church of all ages.

Former missionary and author Elisabeth Elliot, in her book Let Me Be a Woman says,

“I have just received in the mail a magazine containing several pieces on the ordination of women. The authors take a less serious view of the Creation story than I do and base most of their arguments on the competence of women to do the job of a priest or a minister. This is a pretty convincing argument at first glance. The church needs ministers, women make good ones, why not let women be ordained? Fish swim, birds fly, men trap lobsters, robins yank worms out of their safe underground tunnels, cities rise, civilization moves ahead – isn’t it all a part of the great rhythm and harmony of things? I believe the Lord is in charge. I have to believe that even when I think of what the wooden pots mean to the lobsters themselves, and of what the robin’s deadly beak means to the hardworking worm, and of the uncalculated pain and sin of London, or the many places in that city where it is not at all noble and elegant.

The universe moves at the command of God, and men and women are at all times under that command, but distinct from robins and lobsters, they have been given the power to disobey. They are capable of doing a great many things they are not supposed to do. The ability to do them is not a command to do them. It is not even permission. This simple fact, so obvious in the physical realm (we know perfectly well we’re not supposed to smash other people in the face, capable and eager to do so though we may sometimes be), is easily obscured in the intellectual and spiritual realms. We discern in ourselves certain propensities or even gifts and, without thought for possible restrictions, which may be placed upon their use, start wielding them. The results may be far more destructive than smashing somebody in the face. Men and women who have used their minds, their talents, and their genuis to move multitudes to evil have used the minds, talents, and genuis given to them by their Creator. But they have not asked what God has commanded. They have not offered themselves first to Him, trusting His direction for their proper sphere of operation.

So the question of ordination hinges on far more than competence. It cannot be decided on the basis of the church’s need or an individual’s urge or any of the sociological or humanistic arguments put forth by those who seek to liberate. It has to do with things vastly more fundamental and permanent, and the meaning of womanhood is one of these things.

We have something to respond to, something that directs and calls and holds us, and it is in obedience to the command that we will find our full freedom.”

Elisabeth Elliot makes a good point that it is in obedience to what God commands us in His Word that gives true freedom. The modern women’s movement would have us believe that a woman will only have true happiness when she has complete liberty to do as she pleases. The truth that applies to all women (and men) is that God’s Word and obedience to it is what gives one true liberty and freedom.

Paul continues to explain why women are not to teach and exercise authority over men in verse 14.

14? And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

God’s created order was violated. Adam had been formed first and Eve was created to help him. Adam was given the role of leader but Eve ended up taking the lead and Adam followed her into sin. Chaos and turmoil follow when we reverse the God ordained roles we have been given as men and women.? Warren Wiersbe says,

“Because Adam rejected the God-given order, he listened to his wife, disobeyed God, and brought sin and death into the world. The submission of wives to their own husbands is a part of the original Creation. The disorder we have in society today results from a violation of that God-given order.”

It’s true isn’t it? When we reject God’s order, we have disorder. It’s important that we follow God’s design for men and women in the church. It’s important not only for the church but for the family and for society as well.

Let’s look at verse 15,

15? Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

This has been a difficult verse to interpret and looking at the commentaries reveals a variety of views. Let’s look at some similar passages. Look at 1 Timothy 5:14,

14? Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

Notice Paul urges younger widows to marry, have children and manage their homes.

Look at Titus 2:4-5

4? that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
5? to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Again the emphasis is on the woman’s primary home-centered role.

Wilbert Welch says,

One of two possible meanings may be Paul’s intent. First, the woman’s place of subjection to the headship of man need not cause her to feel inferior, for through her would come the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15) to redeem all mankind. Through this Seed there will be a new spiritual family where there is neither male nor female. Second, the woman whom Paul forbade to teach authoritatively in the church need not feel frustrated and worthless. Through the God-given capacity of bearing children and instructing them in the home, she may have a tremendous impact on shaping the world around her. (Wilbert Welch, I Timothy studies, RBP)

What we begin to understand is that the woman is most liberated and secure in following her God given role in the home. A Godly woman is one who is firstly centered on her family and home. Don’t we see the chaos of fractured families? Don’t we see the damage done to children who have been left to themselves or pampered to an extreme and often because the family cannot agree with God’s design for the family?

Let me share a letter that a woman sent to Dr. Laura. It is a copy of a letter this woman had sent to a friend and it is a great reflection of a woman content in her God ordained role. The names are fictitious but the letter is real.

“Hi Mary,
I am writing you concerning our conversation this afternoon. I guess when you told me that you were going to the beach with your “girlfriends” and not with your husband and daughter I was quite shocked.

I guess that it is quite obvious that you and I are two totally different people. For me I would not even consider going anywhere unless it was as a complete family. And I am sure Keith would agree. Just this past week I was offered a trip for me and the kids to the beach in Alabama.—But I turned it down.

You see, Keith is not only my husband/lover he is my best friend in the whole world and there is not another person on this earth that could take his place. As far as my children are concerned I feel that God gave them to me (and Keith) to raise and nurture them, to teach them Godly wisdom and principles. It is nobody’s responsibility but mine. I have to admit it is the hardest job, at times not very fun, and many sacrifices have been made. I don’t “have” to stay at home I have chosen to stay at home. Getting a job and going back to school and putting the kids in school and in daycare would be the easy way out. I can think of a hundred and one reasons why a second income is needed. But I can also think of two big reasons why I need to be home, Zack and Chris.

My reward won’t be acing the big test or getting a bonus on my paycheck or getting a much-needed vacation but my reward will be two well-rounded contributors to society, to the church, and to their family. Two children that will grow up loving me and respecting me and will make me proud of them. They will be well mannered and well versed in all areas of life. My children will grow up and pass the same values on to their children. There will be no greater reward for us than to hear our children say on their wedding day “Mom and Dad, I am still a virgin.” I pray to God everyday to help me be the mother, and wife He wants me to be. I also thank Him for the opportunity and responsibility He has given me to be a Mother and mold two beautiful children’s lives.

I apologize if this letter offends you, but I felt that it was something that I needed to share with you. So many times we have ended conversations and I wished I had said something. Don’t ever think that I am saying this because I am jealous and wish that I could do the things you do because I am not. I love my husband and my children, they are worth everything to me. God has truly blessed me!

You see, being a Mother has been my choice and my pleasure. My husband’s calling is to preach the Gospel and my calling is to be a Mother. You see, it isn’t only a job, not only is it a pleasure but the greatest calling God has on my life and I do it in great honor to God.
Sincerely, Nancy”

This is a woman who clearly understands the importance of being the woman God created her to be. One who accepts her role and delights in it.

God has designed roles for men and women. Men have been given the responsibility of leading the church. The fact that women are not to lead the church does not negate their value of great worth. Women can use their gifts to teach other women and to teach children. They are given the opportunity of learning in the church.

At the beginning of today’s message, I shared a poem by Amy Carmichael.? The big idea was that “in acceptance lieth peace”.

How about it ladies? Are you at peace? Have you have accepted your God ordained role as a woman?

What about you men? Have you accepted your role as a Godly leader and provider? Gentlemen, are you encouraging your wife and daughters or granddaughters to accept their God ordained roles? Are you teaching your sons or grandsons about a woman’s God ordained role in the family and church? Are we at peace because we have accepted our roles as men and women?

Or are our lives marked by turmoil because we are rebelling against God’s design?

God, our creator and designer, created us male and female and knows best how His church should be ordered. He knows how our homes should be ordered. God is clear in His word and we simply need to take Him at His word and do as He has instructed.

There is peace in acceptance.

Comments

  1. kira says

    I am a senior in high school and I am doing a senior project. For the research portion I am trying to research what it is like to be a women minister. This site did help with that, but I was wondering if you could point me in a direction where I could find information about the pros and cons of being a woman pastor, or where I could find out about the types of discrimination they face today. If you do not know thanks anyways.