I Timothy 2 Part 2

New King James Version 6. who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,

The Resultant Version 6. Who gave Himself a ransom for all, a testimony in its own times.

This verse continues to speak of the Man Christ Jesus. He gave Himself a ransom for all. The word “ransom” here is the Greek word antilutron. Lutron is a ransom or payment, such as might be made for a slave to redeem him. The prefix anti does not mean “against,” as it does in English, but rather “instead of.” The point here is not just that Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all, but also that He gave Himself as a ransom instead of all. He paid the penalty we owed to God in our place. Praise God for the glorious ransom He gave!

Next, Paul proclaims that this giving of Himself is “a testimony in its own times.” When Christ gave Himself, this became a testimony. The word is marturion, which speaks of a witness. Christ’s ransom instead of us is indeed a witness to all who hear of it: a witness of the grace and love of God. No greater sacrifice could He have given; no greater penalty could He have paid. This ransom He gave was a testimony of His character, and it is one that speaks for itself. Praise God for His matchless gift!

New King James Version 7. for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

The Resultant Version 7. In relation to which  I am appointed a herald, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ; I do not lie,) a teacher of the nations in faith and truth.

Paul now proclaims that he is appointed a herald. Of course, we realize the one who appointed him was God, the One Who had appeared to him on the Damascus road, Acts 9:3-6. The One Who appointed him was the One Who told Ananias that Paul “is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel,” Acts 9:15. The One Who appointed him was the One Who separated him, along with Barnabas, “for the work to which I have called them,” Acts 13:2. The One Who appointed him was the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul proclaims that he was “appointed,” not “ordained,” as the old King James Version had it. The word is tithemi, which speaks of being set or put into this place. He calls himself a herald. This is not a “preacher.” The translators often like to get this word into the Bible, since many of them make their living by the art of preaching. Yet kerux means a herald who carries a message, not one who “preaches” in the form of sermons as preachers do today. It is not that there is anything wrong with preaching, but this is simply not what the Greek word means. Paul was given a message to herald, not to preach about, and herald it he did.

Paul also proclaims that he was appointed an apostle. Of course, we realize that just such an appointment took place in Acts 13, when he was separated with Barnabas to the Lord’s work. However, as we have discussed before, the word means not so much an office that Paul held as it does a task Paul was given to carry out. Every time Paul was commissioned to write one of the inspired books of Scripture, he was made an apostle for that work. He was appointed an apostle when God gave him the task of writing this book to Timothy. Yet certainly it was true multiple times that Paul was made an apostle in order to herald.

What was Paul appointed to herald as an apostle? We need only go back to the previous verse to figure this out, which spoke of Christ giving Himself a ransom for all, a testimony in its own times. Paul is heralding Christ as a ransom for all, and carrying forward this testimony. That is what he was appointed to do.

Now we come upon something that might not seem strange to us at first, but if we think about it we will realize that it is most peculiar. That is, Paul states that “I speak the truth in Christ; I do not lie.” Now we are used to Paul writing to groups of believers, to ekklesias, as he does in books like those to the Corinthians. In those books, there were people who questioned Paul’s credentials and ministry, and so he constantly had to defend himself and insist on his own authority, truthfulness, and God-given position. We are familiar with those books, and so we might look at this statement as one that would be most at home in one of them, wherein Paul must defend the rightness of his position. Yet this book was not written to Corinth, nor to any group of believers or ekklesia at all. This book was written to Timothy.

This man Timothy was Paul’s companion of long standing. He had first joined Paul from Derbe and Lystra, where Paul was ministering on his second apostolic journey. We can read about this in Acts 16:1-3. From our best guess, Timothy would have been in his middle teens at this point, maybe about 15. It seems likely that Timothy had first believed when a few years before Paul had been in Lystra and Derbe on his first apostolic journey. We can guess this from his statement in I Timothy 1:2, wherein he calls Timothy “a true son in the faith.” Timothy became one of Paul’s company in Acts 16, and has been one ever since. Now, it is likely around 17 years later, and Timothy is in his early- to mid-thirties. This whole time he has been with Paul as one of his most faithful and loyal followers. If there was anyone in the world who should have known unquestioningly that Paul was appointed a herald and an apostle of Christ, it was Timothy. So why then would Paul waste words assuring Timothy that he was speaking the truth and not lying when he said so? Surely Timothy would not have doubted the truth of this for a second. So why in the world does Paul make this comment?

Now we might imagine that Paul anticipates others reading this letter, yet that is not really implied anywhere in it. The fact is that we would still have to make sense of this in the light of Timothy as the recipient, and it does not make sense if we only consider this verse as the context. Therefore, we have no choice but to conclude that Paul must be referring to something further back. There must have been something before this verse that Paul said that was so radical that he thought this statement of assurance necessary, even when talking to Timothy. So the question we need to ask ourselves is: what in the earlier context that Paul said was so radical that he would need to assure even Timothy of its truthfulness?

If we go back to verse 6, we get no help. Surely Timothy believed as much as anyone could that Christ gave Himself a ransom for all, a testimony in its own times. Yet if we go one verse further back, which still puts us in the same sentence as verse 7, we come upon Paul’s teaching that “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

If we would think carefully about this statement, we can see that this really would have been a radical statement to Timothy. Remember, he had been a believer in the Acts period for around 15 years. He had believed through the actions of Paul, God’s apostle. He had worked with Paul from early in his second apostolic journey all the way through Acts to the present time. During that time, he had seen Paul act as God’s mediator. During that time, he himself had acted as God’s mediator. During that time, both he and Paul had appointed others to be God’s mediators. Keep in mind that anyone who acts on behalf of God toward someone else is a mediator. Timothy had been watching other people be mediators for God practically his whole life. And now Paul is telling him that there is only one Mediator, Christ Jesus. Certainly this statement must have seemed incredible to Timothy! Certainly he must have wondered if it could even be that Paul was lying in saying this! How could he possibly believe that there was only one Mediator when he himself had been one, probably many times?

Yet as we discussed in verse 5, this was an important part of the dispensational change that had taken place. In the dispensation of grace, there would be no more mediators, since God would not be speaking or acting through any human being or angel or any other creature. Instead, God would tie Himself down to acting only through His Word. Christ Jesus is therefore the only Mediator. We can see why this would be hard for Timothy to believe, but it is the truth for today. It was not announced immediately after Acts 28:28, as for a while, God’s chosen apostles and prophets continued to act on His behalf, revealing the truth for this new work of God. In fact, until Paul himself put down his pen from finishing II Timothy, the last book written of the Scriptures, it could not be completely true that there was no mediator between us other than Christ, as someone writing His Word down was acting for Him. Yet I believe at this time Paul is writing probably his second-to-last book in I Timothy, and all the other Scripture authors were done writing. Therefore, Paul was the last one with a clear and direct connection to heaven, and soon even his connection was about to be broken. Ever since, we have been tied down to the Word of God and to the work of the Spirit that takes place in our hearts. We have no light directly from heaven, and must be satisfied instead with our “portable lamps,” our Bibles.

Paul ends his aside affirming the truth of his statement about there being one Mediator, and goes back to what he was saying. Having assured Timothy that even in this radical statement he is doing nothing but telling the truth as he received it from the Lord, he goes on to affirm that he had not only been appointed a herald and an apostle, but also a teacher of the nations. This is not “Gentiles,” for surely Paul taught Jews who lived out among the nations as well, and this teaching must be included in this statement. Yet really through most of his ministry, other than a few years spent in Israel, Paul had been spending his time teaching the nations.

Paul had taught these nations in faith and truth. Mr. Sellers makes this “knowledge and truth,” but I cannot personally confirm that this is a good reading, not to mention the preferred one, since the texts I consulted all read “faith,” nor does Bullinger suggest anything against its being here in the Companion Bible. Certainly Paul taught the nations the knowledge of God and His works and ways, and He taught the nations in faith or belief, encouraging them to take God at His Word and to respond accordingly. Paul also taught them in truth, for all the things he taught them were the truths he had received from God. He did not lie in what he taught. This is why he mentioned first before saying this that he did not lie when he told Timothy about one Mediator earlier. Surely Timothy knew that Paul was not a teacher of lies before, but lest he was tempted to believe he might have lied for the first time now when he made this radical statement about only one Mediator, Paul assured him first that he did not lie, and then reminded him of his true teaching. Praise God for the faithfulness of this man Paul! And thankfully, everything we know about Timothy would suggest to us that he would have believed Paul, even when he made such a radical statement as this.

New King James Version 8. I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;

The Resultant Version 8. I am intending therefore that men pray in every place, lifting up benign hands, and this apart from anger and reasoning.

Paul tells us his desire or intention here, but since he is speaking by inspiration, we can be assured that the Lord has the same intention as Paul did. That is, He intends that men pray in every place. The word for “desire” or “intention” here is boulomai, a word which is sometimes translated “will.” There are two words for “willing,” the first of which, thelo, speaks of the emotional element that leads to action, and can have to do with the natural impulse or desire. Boulomai is the second word, and speaks of the result of thelo, or deliberately determining to act on one’s will. God has every intention to have men pray. He is acting on that intention here by commanding them to do so.

The word “men” here seems to be significant, for it is contrasted with “women” in the next verse. The word is actually the same word that is often translated “husbands,” and it could particularly be speaking to husbands here. This is probably because husbands are considered the patriarch of the family and the one ultimately responsible before God for the family. Therefore, a man or husband in particular should lean and depend on God through prayer.

Acts 16:13 speaks of Jewish women who customarily met to pray by a riverside. They appear to have done this because there was no synagogue available to them. In the same way when a man prays, he need not enter a “church” or even his home to pray, for God intends him to pray in every place. Moreover, he need not wait for “prayer meetings” to pray at all, but can pray by himself and at anytime, anywhere.

Of course, when a man does pray like this, he need not fold his hands and close his eyes. He can pray while busy with his tasks at work, or while driving down the road, or any time that he can turn his mind and heart toward God. This is an important truth for all who love and depend on God to remember, but as Paul indicates here it is particularly important for those who are responsible for their families: the husbands.

Then Paul urges the husbands that when they pray, they lift up holy hands. Some have stepped in with their imaginations running wild here and have suggested that there is some special reason for holding your hands up, even suggesting that this makes your hands like an antenna to pick up the Holy Spirit! Yet this is nothing but foolishness, and we need to look to Scripture to find a more sensible position than this. If we would do so, we would discover that this is probably a reference to the typical position that the Jews would assume when praying. We read of Solomon at least praying this way in I Kings 8:22 and 54.

22. Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven;

54. And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the LORD, that he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.

In our society, we like to close our eyes and fold our hands when we pray. For them, it appears that kneeling with hands lifted to heaven was the more common position. Yet at the same time, I do not think that God’s main point here is to set the proper position. I at least do not plan on changing to kneeling with my hands spread out when I pray. Yet the important point here is not the position, but the kind of hands you are reaching out to God in prayer. The word in Greek here is hosios, which is not the usual word for “holy,” hagios. Instead, this word means “undefiled by sin” or “free from wickedness.” Sellers in his Resultant Version makes this “benign hands” and explains this as meaning “free from harm.” So the position is not so important, but the kind of hands being lifted to God is important. Psalm 24:3-4 talks about “clean hands.”

3. Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
4. He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.

The idea of “clean hands” here is the same as “benign hands” in I Timothy 2:8. One who has “clean hands” is one who has not been unfaithful to the Lord, nor who has acted to deceive his fellow men. Clean hands stand for clean actions. He has not defiled his hands by the things he has done with them. So it should be with believing husbands when they approach God in prayer. They should approach him with hands unstained by ungodly deeds.

Finally, they should do this and pray apart from anger and doubting. There are many people who are quite simply angry with God for the fact that their lives have not gone as they would have liked them to go. They have not seen the success they wanted, they have not fulfilled the dreams they wanted to fulfill, they have lost people important to them, or they have suffered illness and sorrow. These things make them angry toward God, and so they are likely to come before him with a belligerent and accusing attitude. This is not how God wants His men to be, however.

Others when they come before God simply come doubting. They see so little sign of God’s intervention in the world in the dispensation of grace that they wonder if praying to God really is worthwhile. Does He, after all, hear their prayers? Is there even any chance of Him granting them? Does He even care? This kind of doubting can be all too common when people pray. Yet this again is not the attitude God wants His men to have. Rather, he wants us all to understand the reality of prayer today, as we read it in Philippians 4:6-7 (The Resultant Version).

6. Let nothing be worrying you, but in everything by means of prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God; 7. And the peace of God, which is superior to every frame of mind, will garrison your hearts and your apprehensions in Christ Jesus.

We are never promised that our requests in prayer will be granted. Rather, we are promised that God will hear them, and His peace, our true union with Him, will guard our hearts and minds. There is no reason to doubt in prayer. Though we might not always get what we ask for, we can know that God does hear our prayers, and that He lovingly considers our every request. Though in grace He does not always grant them, He does hear, and He does care. Let us rest in that, and never pray doubting.

New King James Version 9. in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,

The Resultant Version 9. In the same way, woman also be adorning themselves in decorous apparel, with modesty and sanity; not with braids, or gold, or pearls, or expensive apparel;

Paul now speaks of the women or “wives” in the same way. Since what he was talking about with the men or husbands in the previous verse was about how they come before God in prayer, I would take this to be talking about the same thing: how women are to come before God in a proper way when they pray. He suggests that when women come before God, they should do this with modest apparel. Yet the idea seems to be more of fitting, well arranged, or decorous apparel, rather than of modesty. In other words, as men should come before God with appropriate hands, women should come before God with appropriate clothing that decorates her as she prays to God.

The next word speaks of coming with a sense of shame or modesty. The Greek word literally seems to come from the idea of “without eyes.” In other words, she should not come before God while wearing clothing meant to draw eyes to herself through immodesty or sensuality. No, God is not impressed when you come before him wearing your belly-dancer’s outfit. In a society like ours that suggests to young women that they can wear whatever clothing they feel comfortable in and reveal as much of their bodies as they wish to reveal, the Bible still stands as admonishing women that they need to dress modestly.

Now we realize that the Bible never actually gives a standard for what exactly modest dress is. This is important, as the definition of modesty and immodesty often changes in different societies and cultures. In the culture of just around a hundred years ago, it was shocking in many places in the western world for a woman to reveal her ankles in public. We would not suggest that women need to go back to this standard today. Yet at the same time, in a society that seems to think that all one has to do is to take women’s underwear, color it some non-underwear type of color, and then it becomes perfectly acceptable outerwear under certain conditions (particularly when swimming or engaging in “sports”), we need to realize that a woman’s standard of modesty needs to be something higher than that held by the world around her.

It is important to emphasize that this is not to suggest that there is something shameful about a woman’s body. God made women and designed them as He saw fit, so their appearance is something that is good and right. It is not necessary for any woman to be ashamed of having a figure, or to try to hide herself under a giant potato sack. A woman cannot help being attractive to men, and even one who dresses modestly will have some man look at her inappropriately at some point. If she is dressed properly, then this is his sin, not hers. Yet at the same time, it is important for a woman to not flaunt her figure, considering the fact that men have been made by God to respond so strongly to what they see. She must remember the words of God in I Timothy 5:22.

22. Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.

A woman who dresses immodestly is, so to speak, laying her hands on the sin of men lusting after her, since she is encouraging this behavior by her dress. A woman who encourages men to look at her in this way is approving of their sins, and thus must be held equally accountable for those sins as the man who does the looking. It is not that a woman is held in bondage to the whims of men. She may dress as she feels is modest and appropriate before God, and is not forced to dress to hide from men’s eyes. Yet at the same time, she must consider that she should not dress provocatively so as to approve of men having lustful thoughts about her. This can also be about how she carries herself as much as how she dresses. Two women could be wearing the exact same outfit, and yet the one by her behavior could invite sensual thoughts, whereas the other woman by her behavior could discourage them. Yet at the same time, some dress is just inherently immodest no matter how a woman carries herself. It is not right for Godly women to dress this way. Women need to dress modestly, and so much the more when they come before God in prayer. If it would not be right for a woman to come before God in certain clothing, then she should not wear that clothing in public either.

A woman is also to adorn herself with sanity. This could have to do with wearing appropriate attire for the situation. When we speak of a woman dressing modestly, this is not about how she dresses in private. Certainly, she might wear things for only herself and her husband to see that might be inappropriate before anyone else! We must use sanity in our standards, not cling so strongly to some arbitrary standard that we become ridiculous. Yet ultimately, this might be as much about sane behavior as about dress. As we said with dress, a woman who was wearing something relatively modest might act in a sensual way, and in the same way a woman who was dressed very sanely and moderately might act very insanely and inappropriately. And if this is particularly talking about dressing for coming before God, then even more it is as much about behavior as about actual clothing.

Now God proclaims that her adornment should not be about braids, or gold, or pearls, or costly vesture. Yet we must think about what God is really saying here, and take this statement in context. Some have used this statement to make rules for women’s dress. They refuse to allow women in their particular group of Christians to wear anything but plain, straight hair; forbid jewelry; and forbid costly clothing. Others, eager to discount this passage and all it is saying, use this to suggest God’s words here are “cultural” in nature, and should be utterly discounted when determining appropriate behavior for today. The foolishness and shallow thinking of either of these viewpoints can be clearly shown if we ask the question: what is a woman who does not adorn herself with braids or gold or pearls or costly clothing supposed to adorn herself with instead? No braids? No jewelry? Shabby clothing? No! The answer is in the next verse. She is to adorn herself with good works.

Paul’s whole point is that this is what is proper adornment when coming before God. It is not really about clothing at all, but rather about a Godly woman’s good works in the sight of God. This is what adorns her. This is what makes her beautiful in God’s sight. Her clothing is not what really matters to Him. The only requirement is that her modest and sane clothing reflect the good and Godly heart within, and that her focus before God is not on her outward adornment but her inward adornment. To imagine these are prohibitions at all is simply to fail to take these words in context, and reveals an overall failure to take seriously and wisely the things that God has said. This is not so much about clothing as it is about the heart.

New King James Version 10. but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

The Resultant Version 10. But (that which is becoming to women who profess a love for God) with good works.

This is what is becoming to women who profess a love for God, Paul insists. The word here in Greek is theosebeia, which has to do with a proper, worshipful, and reverent attitude towards God. It is good for women to have such an attitude, and to display it not only when they pray, but also when they are dressing themselves in general. None of us who belong to God merely live for ourselves any longer, and no woman should dress for herself any longer, but for the One Who loves her and gave Himself for her. Really, this attitude should dominate our every action, not just how we dress.

Paul makes it clear here that he is not forbidding jewelry, commanding plain hairstyles, or demanding cheap clothing. Instead, he is speaking in the light of the fact that these women are coming before God in prayer. Normally when one is coming before some great king, one would take great care with one’s clothing. Particularly a woman would do this, adorning herself in her most costly attire. Yet God is revealing to women here that it is their good deeds, not their good clothing, that He desires to see them clothed in when they come before Him. This is proper adornment for a woman who professes to love Him, and this is the outfit He looks for in His women. Let all Christ’s women, when they come before Him, be careful to dress in just this way!