For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

Before beginning a verse-by-verse study of this chapter, it might be well to take a few  minutes to consider a few things relative to prayer in general, and a question often entertained, though not always expressed, is, Why pray at all?  Since God knows our needs better than we do ourselves, why petition Him relative to them? 

It is instructive to note that spiritual believers invariably are little concerned about temporal things such as food, clothing, shelter, etc., and with good cause: God has told us that we have no need to be concerned about such things, see for example, Mt 6:25-34; Lk 12:20-32.  The spiritual believer’s primary concern is with what has to do with the kingdom of God.  His prayers will be for such things as the wisdom, grace, patience, courage, and strength to walk in obedience before God; for development of his spiritual gift so that he might the more effectively serve God both in the gospel, and in ministry to those who are of the household of faith.  He will be praying relative to what he will present in worship when he meets with fellow believers around the Lord’s table on the first day of each week; as he will be also relative to the meetings convened for corporate prayer, Bible study, ministry of the Word, and the preaching of the gospel.  The elders, the other members of the local assembly, those whom God has gifted as evangelists and teachers, believers world-wide, will all be the objects of his prayers, and when we begin to get occupied with all that is embraced within this wide sphere, we will gradually come to see how small our own personal concerns really are.

Nor should it be thought that these things don’t apply to the prayers of the sisters.  On the contrary, their prayers are no less effective than are those of the brethren, and it is a fortunate assembly which has sisters who devote themselves wholeheartedly to this type of prayer.

2:1.  “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;”

It is generally recognized that the better translation of “I exhort” is “I urge.”

The value of prayer - and in the present context public prayer - is revealed in the words “first of all.”  The very fact that God, through Paul, has been teaching Timothy of the need to deal with wrong doctrine, makes it clear that this present exhortation relates to public prayer in the Church, though obviously the instruction applies also to our private prayers. 

Supplications refers primarily to our needs and wants, the expression of our desires relative to these things being described as the presentation of our petitions to God in prayer.  Petition is defined as the bringing of a request to the attention of a higher Authority, and in prayer we have the privilege of bringing our desires to the attention of the Supreme Authority, God.  Our needs and our wants, however, are not always the same, and we would do well to pray for the wisdom to be able to distinguish between the two, so as to be preserved from the evil of which James warns, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts,” Jas 4:3.

Prayer is defined simply as the devout presentation of worship, praise, thanksgiving, or requests to God; and what is written in Scripture concerning approach to Him warns us that the utmost reverence becomes us in His presence.  For example, Joshua and Moses were commanded to remove their shoes, and the Lord Jesus Christ prostrated Himself on the ground in Gethsemane when He prayed.  Lack of reverence is becoming increasingly prevalent in many assemblies of believers today.

But in answer to the question, Why pray since God already knows our thoughts?  The answer seems to be that the expression of our worship, praise, and wishes, focuses attention on the reality or value to us of what occupies our minds, for surely no one will dispute that there is a very great difference between the countless thoughts we think, and those of them which we take the trouble to verbalize.  That very effort to put some of our thoughts into words invests them with a far higher value than those which flit idly through our minds continually and aren’t worth the effort to put into words.  Clearly, then, prayer, whether engaged in silently or audibly, is the evidence that the related thoughts are of importance to us, so that prayer is the evidence of the importance to us of the things we pray about.  There is, however, the very great danger that those who participate audibly in corporate prayer or worship may be guilty of dissimulation.  For the sake of those who are listening we may feign an interest in things about which we have little or no real concern.  God, however, can’t be deceived.  He knows our thoughts, and one way to avoid offending Him by hypocrisy is not to pray in public about things we don’t pray about in private.  Adherence to that rule would probably shorten many of our corporate prayers.

Our private prayers are a very accurate barometer of what is really important to us, hence God’s desire for us to pray.  He cares about us, and wants us to express our desires, because he wants to give us everything that would be good for us.  Unfortunately, we lack the wisdom to always know what is best for us, but God does know, and will either deny improper requests, or grant them in order to teach us wisdom.  Prayer therefore is far more than just expressing thanks, or of asking for things: it is the means by which our minds are brought into conformity to God’s, and our happiness will be in direct proportion to the degree of that conformity.  In essence God’s desire that we pray is so that we might develop Christlike minds, as it is written, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds,” Ro 12:2; and again, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Php 2:5-8.

Intercessions is defined by Vine as “seeking the presence and hearing of God on behalf of others.”  It reminds us that we are to pray for others.

“... giving of thanks” scarcely needs comment.  In Php 4:6-7 it is written, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  It is to be noted that giving of thanks, and peace are here inseparably linked together.  There us nothing more likely to bring us peace than the thankful remembrance of God’s past dealings with us.  Nor should we fail to note that prayer is to be presented on behalf of “all men.”  That doesn’t mean that we can possibly pray for every man on earth individually, but it does mean that there is no class of men beyond the scope of our prayers.  Saint and sinner, friend and foe, known to us personally, can be the object of our prayers.

As to the One addressed in prayer, Scripture makes it clear that we are to address the Father, in the name of the Son, and under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  There is no scriptural authority for addressing prayer directly to the Lord Jesus Christ or to the Holy Spirit.  It is instructive to note that in those rare instances in Scripture where the Lord is addressed directly, it is always in the context of the speaker’s being face to face with the Lord; nor is there any scriptural record of prayer being addressed directly to the Holy Spirit.  To ignore the divine order, and address prayer to any member of the Godhead other than the Father, automatically excludes the other two divine Persons, whereas the scriptural order automatically includes the other Two.

This raises a question relative to our worship as expressed in hymns, many of which do address the Lord directly, and some of them also the Holy Spirit.  I believe this to be unscriptural, and would point out what many others have also noticed: the poetic talent of some hymn-writers isn’t matched by a corresponding exegetical ability.  If only the Father is to be addressed in prayer (which includes worship), then surely only He should be addressed when we present our worship in song.

2:2.  “For kings, and for all that are in authority: that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

Verse four indicates that the prayer should be primarily for the salvation of our governmental officials, and secondarily that we might enjoy quietness and peace; but their salvation, not our own peace and quiet, is to be our first concern.

2:3.  “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;”

It is instructive to note that in connection with this prayer God is presented as “our Savior,” reminding us that with Him the salvation of men is of first importance, and should therefore be also with us.  Such prayer is welcome and pleasing to God, a fact which ought to encourage us to greater fervency in such prayer.

2:4.  “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

This confirms what is made clear throughout Scripture: there are two aspects of the divine will, one permissive, the other directive.  Within the sphere of God’s permissive will the will of man is free to operate, but in the larger sphere of His directive will it is not.  Within the former, man is free to choose whether to obey or disobey God; whether to accept or reject salvation; but outside that sphere man has no choice.  For example he has no choice as to his birth and death, his physical condition, his mental endowment, etc.  Nor does he have any choice as to being in the eternal torment of the lake of fire if he dies without having been born again; or of being in the eternal bliss of heaven if he dies as a believer.

God desires to see all men saved, but He will not compel anyone to accept His gift of eternal life.

It is interesting to note that Eve disobeyed God in the expectation of knowing good and evil, because Satan was careful to withhold the truth that that knowledge would not give her also the power to resist evil, and the result was that she and all descended through her are the bondslaves of evil.  The believer on the other hand becomes the possessor of truth.  He knows the difference between good and evil, but in addition he has also the power to resist evil, as it is written, “The truth shall make you free,” Jn 8:32, for Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and like Paul we can say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me,” Php 4:13.  “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God,” Ro 6:11-13.    

2:5.  “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”

Paul’s emphasizing that there is only one God reminds us that in the world of his day there were many gods so-called, and it was necessary to remind believers of that fact, for many of them had been former idol worshipers, and few believers are able to discard instantly beliefs they may have entertained from childhood.  And relative to there being but one mediator between God and men, it is to be remembered that in every religion the priests are invariably regarded as such mediators.  Look for example at Roman Catholicism.  It is virtually impossible to convince the dupes of that evil system that Mary is not the ultimate mediator between men and God, with the priests functioning as mediators second to Mary. 

A mediator is defined as one who acts as a intermediary between two individuals or parties, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect Mediator, for as God He understands God, and as Man He understands man, so that He is eminently qualified to effect reconciliation between the two.  As God He understood the need of man’s life being taken in order to preserve God’s moral integrity, for to remit the sentence of death would make God a liar, since He had warned Adam that in the day he sinned he would surely die.  But as Man He also understood man’s desperate need of one to die in his stead, and He met that need by offering Himself without spot to God at Calvary.  Thus by His sin-atoning death He met perfectly the need of God and man.

In resolving a conflict between two parties the best the mediator can do is to effect reconciliation through compromise: each party must be prepared to give up some of its demands.  That wasn’t the case when Christ reconciled God and men.  There was no compromise.  God’s just sentence was carried out.  Christ died in man’s stead.  Nor did man have to accept a reconciliation based on compromise.  He needed one to die in his stead, and Christ was that One. 

2:6.  “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

A ransom is the price paid to deliver or rescue someone from punishment, bondage, etc., and the Lord Jesus Christ ransomed us at the cost of His life, from bondage to Satan, sin and death, and from having to endure eternal punishment in the lake of fire.  That deliverance is available to all men, but it must be accepted through faith in order to be effective.  No tragedy can equal that of dying unsaved, and thereby leaving unused the deliverance procured at such cost.

“ be testified in due time.”  The time when that testimony was given is usually understood to have been first during the Lord’s public ministry, and continuing since then to the present; but that doesn’t exclude the fact that it was also announced in the Old Testament in such passages as Isa 53:5-6.  Strictly speaking, however, it might be insisted that it began only after Christ had given Himself as that ransom at Calvary.

More important than debating the exact time of its beginning, is the fact that we are responsible to give that testimony every day of our lives.

2:7.  “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not:) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”

Paul was appointed or chosen by God to bear such a testimony to the Gentiles, as Peter had been to bear that same testimony to the Jews.  Preacher is used here in the sense of being a herald or proclaimer, and surely no one ever had better news to announce to men than that the ransom has been paid to save them from hell and fit them for heaven.

Apostle, in a general sense means simply one who is sent as a messenger, but the term applies in a unique way to the twelve, and to Paul, their special qualification being that they were witnesses of the Lord’s resurrection, Ac 1:22, Paul meeting that requirement when the Lord Himself spoke to him on the Damascus road.  It is obvious that this requirement excludes the possibility of apostolic succession.

A fact not generally understood in connection with the preaching of the gospel is that it is actually a form of teaching, for it involves teaching men their need of salvation, and teaching them that Christ’s death makes that salvation available to every one who will believe the testimony of the preacher.

“ and verity (truth)” are what men need to be taught, i.e., they must learn the truth of their lost state, and then learn that the only remedy lies in believing the truth that salvation comes through faith in Christ “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” Ro 4:25.

2:8.  “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”

The word “men” as used here is not the term for mankind, but rather for men as distinct from women, thus emphasizing again that women are to be silent in the meetings of the Church, for it is to be remembered that Paul is dealing here with public corporate, not private personal prayer.  Nor does the “everywhere” relate to every place in general, but rather to the place where the church habitually comes together for the purpose of praying as a corporate body.

“...lifting up holy hands” as used here is construed by most commentators as being metaphoric rather than literal, the reference being to the requirement that those who participate in the corporate prayer life of the assembly be walking as becomes those professing to be believers, i.e., their lives are to be marked by holiness.  It is to be noted, in fact, that those who insist on taking literally this injunction relative the lifting up of hands, tend to be charismatic, a group which in general is marked by emotionalism, but not by knowledge of sound doctrine. 

“...without wrath and doubting” means simply without anger or dissension.  It is probably unnecessary to say with sorrow that it is not unknown for the prayer meeting to be degraded to the forum in which an angry brother, under the pretext of prayer, attacks another, or presents a controversial view unacceptable to the majority of those present.

“Without doubting” reminds us that we should have faith to believe that God will answer our prayers, but obviously that faith can’t be exercised relative to things which are not compatible with genuine Christian faith, e.g., it is highly unlikely that God would answer the prayer that I win a bet, or a sports contest, yet I have known of a professed Christian praying that his son would win an archery contest!  There must also be always the recognition that God knows my needs better than I myself, and in His love and wisdom may deny my request.

2:9.  “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;”

“Modest” is usually translated “becoming, suitable or appropriate,” that is, they should wear clothing appropriate to those who are members of the body of Christ.  Fashions change with the seasons, and today they change at the dictates of a small group of so-called fashion designers whose objective appears to be to have women dress seductively to the point of indecency.  In spite of this, however, it is still possible for godly women to find clothing that is modest without being also old fashioned, a safe rule being that formulated by an unknown brother who advised against being either the first into a new fashion, or the last out of an old one.  It is possible to cling so long to an old fashion that the individual, instead of bearing a godly testimony, becomes instead an oddity whose dress damages the very testimony she seeks to maintain.  Where the heart is right with God, there will usually be little difficulty in choosing appropriate dress.

With reference to “shamefacedness and sobriety,” Goodspeed’s translation is as good as any I’ve seen: it is “modestly and sensibly.”

“... broided hair” is literally “elaborate hair arrangements  or hair-styles,” and one has only to look at the proliferation of hair-styles in the world today, to realize that many of them fall under the proscription of this verse.

The godly woman will likewise consider carefully the extent to which God will approve her selection of jewelry or other accessories.  She will consider, for example, whether the money might not be better used to minister to the needy, help spread the gospel, or help support those who have had to give up jobs in order to do the work to which the Lord has called them.

2:10.  “But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

The primary concern of the godly woman (and also of the godly man) will be to please God, and the very wisdom which makes a woman or a man godly, will teach her or him that dress isn’t anywhere near the top of the list of God’s priorities.  The spread of the gospel is!  It is instructive to note that when Tabitha or Dorcas died, her weeping friends showed Peter, not her own garments, but those she had made for others (Ac 9:39)!  A care for the things of God invariably lessens care for self, and increases concern for others.

I know a godly elderly woman, who all her Christian life has made it a practice to add to her offering the same amount of money expended on the purchase of every article of clothing bought for herself.

The parenthesis in this verse emphasizes that the profession of the lips is to be confirmed by the activity of the life.  Lavish dress and a profession of faith in Christ are incompatible.

2:11.  “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.”

In spite of all the attempts to dismiss this command, it means exactly what it says, and can’t be circumvented by the contention that it related only to that age or that culture; or that it prohibits only distracting whispering or talking.  To limit its application to that age and that culture is to invest every scriptural command with the same character, and therefore to rob the Word of God of its legitimate meaning, and open the door to every fanciful interpretation the rebellious mind of man may choose to give it.  It is, in fact, by just such illogic that much of God’s order has been dismissed.

2:12.  “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

The favorite ploy of the libertine to dismiss this command is to say that it was only Paul’s personal command because he was a misogynist, and therefore has no validity.  This puerile reasoning is negated by the fact that this epistle begins by certifying that Paul was writing as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Tim 1:1.  This slander of Paul is refuted by the many recorded instances of his high regard for women.  It is to be noted also that there isn’t one NT instance of a woman’s teaching.  There is nothing to indicate that the teaching given Apollos in the home of Aquila and Priscilla (Ac 18:26) was by Priscilla.  It is highly unlikely that such a godly woman would have done so.  In Tit 2:3-5, the aged women were not to expound  Scripture, but to teach the younger women relative to their conduct as wives and mothers in the home.

It is instructive to note that altogether apart from the order for the Church, the structure of western society today is a complete aberration from God’s order, and is a result of the activity of the women’s lib movement.  God’s order for society is that the woman is to be in subjection to the man, but in the western world that subjection is conspicuous by its absence: note, for example the ever increasing number of women who are judges, executives, politicians, diplomats, military officers, clerics, etc.  And contrary to the high expectations that attended this “emancipation” of women, the “liberated” woman is no happier than her unliberated sister.  She is, in fact, very often more unhappy, a fact which is now beginning to be publicly acknowledged by the media.  The social devastation produced by this aberration is becoming glaringly apparent even to those who refuse to acknowledge the existence of God.

2:13.  “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

Adam was created as the human federal head of the earthly creation, with Eve given to be his complement, but there isn’t a word in Scripture to indicate that she was ever intended to be his equal in that dominion given him by God, and it is instructive that when she stepped out of her dependent role she brought ruin upon the whole creation.  The departure of the woman from her God-appointed role is wreaking similar havoc in our society today.

2:14.  “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

Since Adam’s eating the forbidden fruit wasn’t the result of his having been deceived, the question may be asked, Why, then,did he eat it, knowing that his own death would be the consequence of his disobedience?  There appears to be only one answer: he loved Eve so much that since he couldn’t save her from the terrible consequence of her folly, he would die with her.  He loved her, apparently, as men ought to love their wives, as enjoined in Eph 5:25

It is significant that Satan approached the woman and not the man.  The implication seems to be that any attempted seduction of Adam would have been impossible.  “He was not deceived....” is the clear declaration of Scripture.  It seems that it was neither belief of Satan’s lie nor any desire to disobey God, but his deep love for Eve, that led Adam to eat the forbidden fruit.  A love that couldn’t save her from the terrible consequences of her folly would share her fate.  Since he couldn’t die for her, he would die with her, willingly making her transgression his, though it would cost him his life.

Surely it isn’t difficult to discern in this a picture of the love of Christ, the last Adam, for His bride the Church, “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph 5:25).  But what the first Adam couldn’t do, the last Adam could.  Christ took our guilt upon Himself, making Himself fully accountable for all our transgressions, and having done so, died, not with us, but for us, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa 53:5).  He “was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Ro 4:25).

The love of the last Adam went far beyond that of the first, for Christ’s love for the Church was equaled by His love for the Father, and impelled Him to a perfect obedience which made it possible for God, not only to resurrect His Son, but to resurrect from spiritual death every man who would trust that Son as his Savior.

Adam couldn’t die unless he sinned, for it is written, “ one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin....” Ro 5:12, so that in order to die with Eve he must sin, which he did when he ate the forbidden fruit.  It seems that he felt that he couldn’t live without the woman whom God had given to be his complement, so his disobedience wasn’t because he didn’t love God, but that he loved Eve more.  What a terrible dilemma he faced!  His love for Eve caused him to sin against God, and that love was not only powerless to save her, but it caused him to die also.  Yet in Adam and his love for Eve we have a typological picture of the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His love for His bride, the Church, as it is written, “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Eph 5:25.  But how different were the two Adams!  The first was of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven,” 1 Cor 15:47.  What the first man couldn’t do, the second man could: He could not only lay down His life and take it up again, but He could also raise “the woman” up out of the state of death into which her sin had brought her.  As the first man took upon himself the sin of the woman, and thereby incurred the sentence of death, so did the Lord take our sins upon Him, and thereby placed Himself under sentence of death.  But where Adam’s assumption of guilt made him disobedient to God, the Lord’s assumption of our guilt was in perfect obedience to the Father Who desired to see men delivered from the power of death.  The sin of the first rendered him subject to death; but it was the obedience of the last Adam that brought Him under the sentence of death, as it is written, “ a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” Php 2:8.  Adam could only die with Eve: the Lord died for us, and by that death delivered us from the power of death.  The first Adam loved his bride, but lacked the power to save her.  The last Adam loved His bride, and because He was God as well as man, He had also the power to save her.  But what God would have us see is not Adam’s lack of power, but his great love for Eve; and in that love, catch a glimpse of Christ’s love for us, so that we who, by His death, have been delivered from the power of death, can say, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

2:15.  “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

Clearly this is not saying that women will be saved either physically or spiritually simply because they bear children.  Many godly women die in childbirth; and to take this verse to mean that women are saved spiritually through bearing children is to contradict Scripture by teaching salvation by a means other than faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of all the explanations I have heard or read, the most reasonable is that offered by James Allen in his commentary on 1 Timothy in What the Bible Teaches, published by Ritchie.  He draws attention to the parallel between the sentences imposed on Adam and Eve respectively in Ge 3.  To Eve God said, “ sorrow thou shalt bring forth children,” and to Adam He said, “ sorrow shalt thou eat of it(the cursed ground)....”  One of the evidences of a genuine conversion is the man’s willing acceptance of the fact that even as a believer he must experience the sorrow of toil in wringing his bread from a cursed earth by the sweat of his brow. 

Likewise, one of the evidences of a genuine conversion is the woman’s willing acceptance of the fact that even as a believer she must experience the sorrow of birth pangs in bringing forth children.  It is not that the believing man is saved by his daily toil in tilling the ground; or that the believing woman is saved by suffering pain as she bears children, but rather that the uncomplaining acceptance by men and women, of God’s sentence, is one of the evidences of faith through which alone men and women are saved.  This willing acceptance of the Divine sentence is simply one of the equivalents of the good works which should accompany faith, but which do not themselves bring salvation.

This also explains the switch from the singular “she shall be saved,” to the plural, “if they continue in faith....”  The “she” refers to the woman; the “they,” to the husband and wife.

The qualifying “if they continue in faith and love and holiness with sobriety” reminds us that evidence of genuine faith is not only uncomplaining acceptance of the circumstances which God has ordained for the man and the woman, but also the exercise of faith, love, and holiness with sobriety (sobermindedness).  In other words, good works (which do not themselves bring salvation) are nevertheless one of the evidences that the man or woman is a true believer.

Sobriety is variously rendered as soberness, good sense or good judgment, sobermindedness, self-restraint.

[1 Timothy 3]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough