Please turn to 1 Timothy 2:8-15. Paul is writing in a cross-cultural situation here. Therefore, he is explaining to these Gentiles what Christian worship practice is according to God’s Word. In this passage, Paul speaks about four topics. First, in verse 8, Paul addresses prayer. Because these Gentile men did not know what the Old Testament had taught about their leadership, some of these men were failing to exercise leadership in prayer. Then, in verses 9-10, he talks about clothing. Paul is telling Christian women here that they are to aspire to modesty in dress and godliness in demeanor. Next, in verse 11, he addresses female discipleship. In other words, Paul is calling on women to be receptive in their discipleship in the church. Finally, in verses 12-15, he speaks about teaching in the church. Specifically, in these verses, Paul is restricting the teaching and ruling functions of the church to qualified males.     

I. Christian Men Are to Lead in Prayer in the Church. 

In verse 8, Paul says, “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” We read in Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 11 that all Christians are to pray. But, especially in verse 8, Paul says that he wants the men to lead in prayer, and for the men to be holy, and for there to be no dissension in the congregation. There are three hindrances to prevailing prayer in the corporate prayer life of the church. These include men not taking the spiritual initiative to pray; a lack of holiness upon the part of the men who are praying; and bitterness and divisions that exist in the congregation. Those are very practical things for us today. It is easy for us to get crossways with one another. It is easy for us to live parallel lives. Therefore, Paul says, “Men, take the initiative; pray; live holy lives; and be at peace with one another.”     

II. Christian Women Are to Aspire to Modesty in Dress and Godliness in Demeanor.

In verses 9-10, Paul says, “likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works. This is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” The circumstance in Ephesus was that there were many wealthy women in Ephesus who often showed off that wealth in the excess of their clothing. Therefore, he says that they are to clothe themselves properly with modesty and discretion. He is telling the Christian Ephesians that the congregation is to be made up of men and women, and boys and girls, of all kinds and classes and stations of people in life. There should not be one part of the congregation flaunting its wealth against another part of the congregation. Furthermore, Paul is saying that Christian women ought to aspire for beautiful character and life, and that they ought to avoid anything that is improper and immodest in terms of our clothing. Paul is perhaps even meditating on the characteristics of the godly woman in Proverbs 31. She works hard; she has her husband's trust; she advances his reputation; she cares for the poor; she speaks with wisdom; she is a person of strength and dignity; and she has the praise of her family. In other words, Paul wants Christian women to be treated with esteem, respect and dignity. 

III. Christian Women Are to be Receptive in Their Discipleship.

In verse 11, Paul says, a woman must “quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.” In our culture in which women have attained unparalleled freedoms, the three words that jump out at us are quietly, entire, and submissiveness. Those three words jump out and they kind of grate, because it seems like a put-down. But there is a hidden blessing in this verse. Notice that Paul says a woman must receive instruction. Forget “quietly” and “entire submissiveness” for a second. Paul is once again affirming exactly what we see in Jesus’ ministry which is that women are disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’ pattern was for women to be part of His disciples, but for men to be doing the teaching in that circle of discipleship. Paul is calling on women to be receptive in their discipleship. The headship of men in the home and the authority of the elders in the church, Paul is saying, is not to be tested by women in the public assembly. Instead, they are to receive that teaching submissively.

IV. Qualified Christian Men Are to be Elders. 

In verses 12-15, Paul is restricting the teaching and ruling functions of the church to qualified males. In Titus, chapter two, Paul speaks of the role that women have in discipling one another. And in Second Timothy, chapter one and chapter three, he speaks of the important role of women in discipling the children of the church. Elsewhere in his writings, Paul also speaks of the prominent role that women had in his ministry, from those who financially supported the Apostle, to specific women such as Pricilla and Lydia who labored along with Paul. There is a vast role for women in discipleship in the church. Paul has no question about the abilities of women.  

However, Paul’s point here is that women are neither to teach in the public assembly of Christians as we gather to worship, or to hold authority over men in the church. Specifically, in verse 12, he says, “I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man.” Then, Paul gives us specific reasons for this statement. First, in verse 13, Paul says that men are to be the teachers in the church because Adam was created first. Adam's priority in creation expresses a complementarian relationship between man and women in marriage and in the church. Thus, Paul is saying that this reveals something about the structure of family and church that God wanted to be reflected and respected in every situation and culture. Secondly, in verse fourteen, he speaks of the deception of the woman in the fall. Paul is not saying that women are more gullible than men, and therefore they cannot be trusted with leadership. Instead, Paul is saying that what you see in the fall is the classic example of role reversal. And so Paul says, because of the problems of role reversal, women are not to have this particular role in the life of the church. Paul is exhorting us here, in our male and female role responsibilities, to do what God calls us to do in prayer, in the way we dress, in the way we go about our discipleship, and in the way we respect His order in teaching in the church. All of these things have an incredibly significant impact on the health of the life of the local congregation. May God teach us by His Word, and by His grace and by His Spirit, build His church as we are faithful to His truth.