Study 11 A WORD TO THE WOMEN!
PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO TIMOTHY
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: 1 Timothy 2:9-15; 5:5-15
The place of women is important in the sight of God and in the Church, and it is apparent from the many references to them in this letter. Women play a very important part in the life of a church. They have a special ministry. The right kind of women can be the strength of the Church, and in seven different places in this Letter the apostle refers to their ministry. Notice the following:
1. THE WAY THEY SHOULD DRESS
In 1 Timothy 2:9-10 three important words or phrases guide us: “dress modestly”, “decency” and “appropriate”. What are the principles that should guide a woman in her dress, her jewellery and her choice of hairstyle, especially when she is coming to the house of God? There are three simple tests: (1) Is it modest? This is important because much dress today is not modest. (2) Is it decent? Much clothing or lack of it today simply isn’t! (3) Is it appropriate? – that is, is it suitable and in good taste? Women are certainly not to be dowdy in their dress nor careless and untidy in their appearance. On the other hand, they should not give too much thought or spend too much money on these outward things. Look up and compare 1 Peter 3:3-4.
2. THE POSITION THEY SHOULD OCCUPY
1 Timothy 2:11-14 tells us about this, and the reference is to the position that women should occupy in the church, in the public assembly of God’s people. What should be a woman’s position and attitude?
- (1) She should be a learner and she should keep silence (verses 11-12). It is not primarily her job to preach or teach, for this is the responsibility of the men. Incidentally, the word ‘silence’ does not refer to chattering – compare 1 Corinthians 14:33-35.
- (2) She is to be in full submission (verses 11-12). She must not exercise authority over the men to whom God has given the responsibility of leadership and ministry.
3. THE VIRTUES THEY SHOULD POSSESS
In the last part of 1 Timothy 2:15 four virtues are mentioned that every Christian woman should display. These are (1) Faith, which means faithfulness. (2) Love. (3) Holiness, which means Christ-likeness. (4) Propriety, which means modesty. What a blessing it is to any church when there are women of this calibre in membership!
4. THE RESPONSIBILITY THEY SHOULD SHARE.
This is indicated in 1 Timothy 3:11 and is a word for the wives of deacons, or for the wife of any man who holds responsibility in the church. Four qualifications are necessary for the wife of a leader:-
- (1) She must share the serious outlook of her husband. A Christian wife may greatly help or seriously hinder her husband’s usefulness (Proverbs 31:30).
- (2) She must be a woman of discretion. She must not be a slanderer or a gossip.
- (3) She must be self-controlled – compare Galatians 5:22.
- (4) She must be absolutely trustworthy and reliable.
5. THE TESTINGS THEY SHOULD EXPECT
These are referred to in 1 Timothy 5:5, where the particular reference is to being “left all alone”, the loneliness of widowhood; but it is not only the testing of widowhood that Christian women have to face. Some are forsaken by their husbands, some are deprived of the privilege of marriage, some long to have children but they are unable to, some have children who cause them much sorrow, and some have to face all kinds of problems and perplexities that impose a heavy burden upon them. What is the Christian woman’s refuge when such testings and trials come? Her refuge is God Himself (verse 5)! She has no-one to look to but God (Psalm 62:5; 123:1-2 and Luke 2:36-37). Does God fail His people when they trust in Him and pray to Him day and night? Never!
6. THE SERVICE THEY SHOULD PROVIDE
This is referred to in 1 Timothy 5:10. We have already noticed that in the public assembly the women are to keep silence and to take a position of quiet submission, but that does not mean that they cannot undertake any useful work for the Lord. On the contrary, look at the useful ministries listed in this verse and see what scope they offer to every Christian woman who would serve her Lord:-
- (1) She can bring up children. If the Lord has entrusted you with children you cannot exercise any greater ministry than to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
- (2) She can show hospitality. For examples of this, compare the cases of Judas (Acts 9:11); Simon the Tanner (Acts 9:43); and Lydia (Acts 16:40).
- (3) She can wash the feet of the saints. There is no suggestion here that feet-washing was a Christian ordinance. The thought is of a willingness to do lowly tasks and to bring comfort to those who are in need – compare John 13:1-10.
- (4) She can relieve the distressed. What a gracious word this is! – compare Galatians 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:7; and 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
- (5) She can be a spiritual support to other women. We need such women in the church today. There are many already, but there is room for many more.
7. THE DANGERS THEY SHOULD AVOID
These are brought before us in words that are solemn and full of warning in 1 Timothy 5:11-15, where we are told about women with “sensual desires”, which means restless; about women who had “broken their first pledge”, which means that they had grown slack spiritually; about women who had become gossips and busybodies, gadding about from house to house. Such women lower the reputation of the church and give “the enemy opportunity for slander”. Such women simply play into the hands of the Enemy. What dangers these are for every Christian woman to avoid!
In concluding this study, we should point out that all that Paul wrote about Christian grace and character for the women, refers also to the men!