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Godly Womanhood

1 Timothy 2:9-15
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. (NIVUK)

Ephesus, where Timothy led a growing church, was the centre of the pagan cult of Diana (also known as Artemis).  The magnificent temple in Ephesus was one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’ containing an ebony statue of the goddess.  It was a culture in which women strove for dominance, and where some behaviours forbidden in God’s Law were considered normal.  The church, however, needed to reflect the character of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Against that background, in the context of public worship, Paul called for women who believed in Jesus to dress in a way that did not draw attention to themselves in the church, and to be willing to accept the authority of the church leaders.  The Apostle Peter made a similar call encouraging Christian women to culture the inner “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” in the home (1 Peter 3:1-6).  

The other parts of Paul’s instruction to Timothy here do not ring easily to some modern ears, but they have been accepted as God’s Word for two millennia.  It is easy to fall into temptation and frustrate God’s purposes.  In Genesis 3:1-7, Satan’s deception of Eve to take the forbidden fruit was matched by the complicity of Adam’s silence, for he was with her, and he also ate without objection (Genesis 3:6).  By contrast, godly relationships may involve difficult choices but bring spiritual life into the church - as Paul continued to teach the Ephesian church, expanding on his teaching here to Timothy (Ephesians 5:21-33).  

Of course, in every age, women have often needed to take a leading role because of the circumstances they find themselves in.  Also, the heavy pressures of family life today impose increasing loads on wives and mothers.  Those burdens are eased as parents share the family responsibilities together, and as the husband prays for his wife and family - supporting and encouraging them by teaching and living out the truth from God’s Word in the home (1 Peter 3:7).  Many women have to bear the weight of parenthood alone, but believers can be assured that they have a loving Father who is also their strength, protector and provider, for which Isaiah uses the word ‘husband’ (Isaiah 54:5). 

Dear Lord God. Thank You that the gospel enables us to be changed to be like Jesus and fit into the patterns of Your kingdom, instead of conforming to the world’s pattern of thinking and behaviour. Forgive me when I lose sight of Jesus and fall into the way of the world. Please help me to demonstrate the ‘Jesus-difference’ in the simple things of life at home, as well as tackling the big issues of serving You in the church and in a world where Jesus is not honoured as Lord. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams