Exposition: 1 Timothy 2:8-10
In our last section in 1 Timothy we were taught that ‘petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving should be made for all people’ (1 Timothy 2:1), this flows from God’s work of salvation. Jesus died as a ransom for all people, for Jews and for Gentiles. It is with this in mind that we read the next section.
‘Therefore’, because Jesus surrendered himself as a ransom, ‘men should pray lifting up holy hands without anger or quarrelling’ (1 Timothy 2:8). On account of the costly grace you have received surrender your anger and join together in prayer. This is an appeal that comes direct from Paul’s heart, ‘Therefore, I desire,’ that in every place (of Christian worship) you pray without anger.
It seems that speculation over ‘myths’, ‘endless genealogies’ and the ‘senseless babble’ of those aspiring to be teachers of the law has led to quarrelling in worship and anger in prayer (1 Timothy 1:3-7). In particular the men of the church (presumably those most guilty of anger in worship) are commanded to pray lifting up ‘holy hands’.
The image of ‘holy hands’ comes from Exodus 30: 17-21 where Aaron and his sons are required to wash their hands before entering the tent of meeting. In the New Testament the ritual cleansing of hands becomes a moral cleansing (James 4:8) as men are called upon to be reconciled to one another before coming to God in prayer (See, for example, Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:23-24).
Questions for us to think about are: In what attitude do we come to prayer and how should we pray for people? Secondly, are we and how do we put into practice a reconciliation that precedes worship?
Having addressed the men, Paul now addresses the women of the church. Outward dress and adornment, like ritual cleansing, is meaningless without ‘modesty’, ‘self-control’ and ‘good works’ (1 Timothy 2:9-10). More than this though women are taught to dress respectably for worship, ‘with modesty and self-control’, both these words carry sexual connotations (1 Timothy 2:9a).
It appears that whilst the men were arguing the women were dressing immodestly, even provocatively, to the point that it was causing disruption in worship. For this reason Paul establishes the principle: dress in a way that is in keeping with your Christian character, ‘with modestly and self-control’. Then he unpacks what this means for them by saying, ‘not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire’ (1 Timothy 2:9b).
Questions for us to consider from this are: In our materialistic culture do we focus too much on outward attire and give too little attention to clothing ourselves with modesty, self-control and good works? And how do we put into practice Paul’s principle to dress for worship in a way that is in keeping with our Christian character?