1 Timothy 2
E W Rogers, Oxford
The Gospel - its Bearing on Prayer. Prayer is the first subject-matter on which Paul gives direction. Its range must encompass all men from the highest to the lowest, for each can disturb the tranquility of society as we well know in our present times. The word "supplications" denotes the existence of urgent need: "prayers" is a more general and wider kind of petition and communication with God. By "intercession" is contemplated the uninhibited approach of an inferior to a superior on behalf of one's self or of others: "thanksgivings"., r.v., is a self-evident and appropriate attendant in such exercises. The authorities existing in Paul's day were anything but desirable or just, yet prayer on their behalf was not to be withholden for that cause. Similarly,, today, whatever one may think of the existing powers that be, either in one's own land or other lands, prayer for them, as well as submission to them, is the path to be trodden by the Christian. The object is that we may lead a "quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty". The word "quiet" has to do with the state arising from without, and "peaceable" has to do with the state arising from within - one's circumstances and one's condition respectively. Prayer can affect both.
Paul brings forward the attitude of God towards all men in support of this exhortation. God desires all men to be saved (this is not His irrevocable purpose but His unrestricted desire). His desire covers all without distinction. In accordance with that desire Christ Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all, "for all" relating to its potential benefits, not to the application of those benefits. If it be said that men, high or low, do not deserve our prayers then it may effectively be said that neither do they deserve to be provided with a ransom which, if they will but avail themselves of it, will prove effective for their deliverance. But God does not act on a principle of merit in this matter.
Of "God our Saviour" certain things are said:
1. He desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. This "all" is both without distinction and without exception.
2. He is the only God, unique - One God; see i. 17. This is directed against idolatry of all sorts.
3. There is only One Mediator between God and men, Himself Man, Christ Jesus. This is the answer to the long standing desire of Job for a daysman, Job 9. 33; see also John 14. 6 and Acts 4. 12.
4. That Mediator gave Himself a ransom for all. His death was entirely voluntary, notwithstanding that it was a murder on the part of men, and a judgment on the part of God. The phrase "a ransom for all" must not be construed quantitatively but qualitatively. A true vicarious substitution, or literal mathematical equivalent, is not here contended for. The New Testament recognizes no such thing as a limited atonement.
The emphasis is on the One who gave Himself as the Ransom, and seeing He is an Infinite Being His Ransom must be of an infinite nature. Matthew 20. 28 shows that the ransom was given instead of "many". The Greek preposition there is anti, that of the scales, as one thing is put over against another of equal weight and therefore the passage is strictly substitutional, and consequently limited in scope to "many". Christ's propitiation is unlimited: His substitution is limited. The notion in the word "ransom" is that of a price paid to secure the freedom of another. To whom the price was paid is not discussed in Scripture, and perhaps the nearest we can say with accuracy is that it was paid to the principle of Justice. Someone has said that "all intelligent Calvinists (that is, those who give undue weight to election) readily grant that that persuasion of theirs does not transmute an infinite into a finite expiation" (that is, that their theory does not limit the potential of the death of Christ).
5. The testimony to this is to be given in its own season; see 2 Cor. 6. 1 and 2. The season is now.
6. Paul was the divinely appointed original trustee of this message, the word "preacher" having to do with that which he heralded, an "apostle" having to do with the sphere to which he was sent, and "the Gentiles" (nations other than Israel) the audiences which he addressed. This Paul did "in faith" Godward (i.e. faithfulness), and "truth" (r.v.) manward (i.e. truthfulness).
Paul now proceeds to regulate the manner of public prayers in the "house of God", 1 Tim. 3. 15, when the church is gathered together. The audible expression of such prayers is to be made by the men - i.e. men in contradistinction from women. Their character and attitude must be consistent with such a holy exercise; "without wrath" towards others, and without "doubting" or reasonings within their own minds. The phrase "in every place" seems to equate "in every church"; see 1 Cor. 1. 2.
Women and Public Prayer. The words "in like manner also", v. 9 A.V., represent but one Greek word which is a copula and may be rendered "also". To render it as suggesting that Paul means that the "women pray also" makes an impossible construction, with two infinitive verbs in one sentence, i.e. "to adorn themselves" (stated) and "to pray" (understood though not stated). This suggestion seems to spring from a desire to justify women speaking audibly in the church, a thing which is forbidden in 1 Corinthians 14. 34. We cannot here enter into a full discussion on the scope of women's ministry, but we cannot resist observing that the notion that "silence" is not silence (because of the Revised Version translation "quietness") lacks common-sense support. If in a public library one room has "quietness" placarded on its wall, and another has the word "silence" the two must be synonymous. The Oxford English Dictionary gives a meaning for "quietness" as "silent". The Greek word hesuchia involves silence. It is not merely a quiet state of mind, as a consideration of the New Testament occurrences of the noun and verb would show. Of course, according to the context "quietness" and "silence" can have different connotations, but no scripture contradicts another, and we must always observe the rule that what is plain must govern our interpretation of the obscure. Yet we do not think that either 1 Corinthians 14. 34 or 1 Timothy 2. 8-14 is obscure. One, surely, needs but ask why did Paul specify the "men" (Greek: andres) in verse 8 for praying, and the women in verse 9 for adorning, if he intended that both alike might publicly pray? Paul certainly in his Greek has anacolutha (lack of grammatical sequence) and parentheses, but we need not make any for him where he has not made them himself.
Paul here is giving Timothy directions as to the conduct of meetings in local churches, and they may be summarized as follows:
1. Men as distinct from women are to lead in prayer publicly.
2. Women should adorn themselves with good works rather than with tinsel and finery.
3. Women should learn in silence and submissiveness.
4. Women are not to teach in the church neither to have authority over men, but are to keep silent for the two good reasons, (a) man's priority in creation and (b) woman's priority in sin.
5. The woman's proper sphere is the home and that of motherhood, and she may count on God's mercy in such case if she continues in faith, love and holiness.
Let us beware of two perils: one of extending 1 Corinthians 11. 5 and 1 Timothy 2. 12 beyond their proper limits, for plainly a woman may at times teach (see Titus 2. 3-4); the other of evading a plain meaning by the introduction of untenable affirmations.