Today (a day late, sorry! snow days threw me off!) I am discussing 1 Timothy from the Bible. These are in the New Testament, in the section of the Bible called the Epistles. These were the letters sent by Paul to various churches and from other disciples to him or to each other. The two books of Timothy are written by Paul to his friend Timothy, who had taken over Paul’s travels to the different churches. I’m just covering the first book today. Timothy is mentioned in other books in the New Testament, with Paul even calling him my true son in the faith in the opening of 1 Timothy. It’s in effect a letter of introduction as well as a letter straight to Timothy. Timothy was meant to read it aloud to the congregation, and Paul’s letter sets him as someone to be treated as an extension of Paul.
Now, those of you that have been here for awhile with Dave and me, know that the Bible is one of the books listed in the Top Ten, but due to the inability of me to read it as a whole, I’ve been breaking it up.
The Bible has six authors that listed it in their top ten. Andrew Hudgins, Haven Kimmel, Erin McGraw, Richard Powers, Robert Pinsky and James Salter all listed it in their top ten.
The first Bible post I wrote can be found here.
Now, 1 Timothy has one of the passages in it that causes a lot of uproar these days.
1 Timothy Chapter 2
“8 I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; 9 also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, 10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. 11 Let a woman[b] learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman[c] to teach or to have authority over a man;[d] she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”
Verse 8 is an instruction to men (though it probably does hold true for women as well). Paul was stating that “dissension in the ranks” would lead to ineffective prayer. He’s stating that a person could not effectively come to God in prayer, or attempt to work together in prayer, if they came with an angry and bitter heart. Verse 9 is instructions on how women were to dress. Some believe (and actually, given that the instructions were about displays of wealth, I can stand behind this thought) that women in the churches were displaying their wealth, and possibly creating an environment where people of less wealth would feel uncomfortable. Christianity, in its purest form, is all about equality. We are all sinners, we are all unworthy of God’s grace, yet we can all have God’s grace. Presently, many churches still create this unwelcoming atmosphere. If you go into a church in a wealthy part of town, the attire of the congregation could in fact, make a person of low economic means feel discluded. Paul wanted to make sure that all could feel welcome in the church.
In terms of the verses about women not teaching and being in submission, I struggled. I actually went and read commentaries to attempt to find out more about these verses (this is why the Bible isn’t the fastest thing to read). Paul says in Galatians 3:28 “28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”. I think we need to see all the other dictates from Paul in that light. There are so many possibilities as to what was going on in those verses. Paul talks in Chapter 1 about there being false teachings. Some commentators believe that it’s possible that the false teachers were having women continue the false teachings. I also look at it in the context of the verses above about not coming to prayer in anger. There are so many possibilities that make me think that this might be instructions to a particular time and place. Paul’s focus on men coming to prayer in anger and false teachings, make me think that it’s possible that some commentators who think that the false teachings might have been teaching that since the dictates on marriage and sexuality came after the fall in Genesis, that they no longer applied after Christ’s resurrection. If your wives were suddenly all clamoring to have sex with your best friend and neighbor instead of yourself, I could see how a lot of men would be angry.
Throughout the New Testament, the Epistles talk about being respectful and following social dictates as much as possible, as long as they don’t contradict with the teachings of Christ. It is also possible that Paul is writing from his time and society, advising this course of action. It’s important to also note that Paul does talk about the role of women in the ministry that he knows and does so in a positive light. Unfortunately, like many other portions of the Bible, these verses have been used as justification for subjugation of people.
Paul also uses this letter to encourage Timothy (and also, since he would be reading the letter to the church, to back up his authority) with the following words from 1 Timothy Chapter 4.
“12 Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture,[e] to exhorting, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.[f] 15 Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Paul, in chapter 5 also speaks about women in a way that some criticize “13 Besides that, they learn to be idle, gadding about from house to house; and they are not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, and manage their households, so as to give the adversary no occasion to revile us.”. He’s speaking of the church’s dictates in regards to supporting widows, that widows would be supported by the church. This is also something that might be speaking to this particular church at this particular time. Also, “to give the adversary no occasion to revile us” speaks to Paul not wanting non Christians to have reason to attack the church and hurting the church’s mission.
Chapter 5 also gives us the advice to drink a little wine 😉 “23 No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”
Chapter 6 contains the verses that lead to the often used literary statement and device of money being the root of all evil. ” 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”
I also like the following advice he gives Timothy for those in the church that _do_ have wealth. He doesn’t command them to give it all up, but rather to use it for good works and to not rely on it’s capricious nature. “17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share,”.
In terms of literature, I’ve always enjoyed reading people’s letters to each other. There are tons of books out there full of letters that prominent people of history, from the political realm, the literary realm, the artists’ realm and others showing the thoughts of these people. The epistles are not just instructions for the church to me, but also the literature of reading prominent people’s letters to others and learning about the author as well. Paul puts a lot about himself in all the letters he writes (the thorn in his side is one that most people have heard of).
So, that’s 1st Timothy. Sorry for the length. It’s hard for me to go short. It’s dense in the Bible! 😀
Have a great week!