Preserving God’s Good Order
1 Timothy 2:11-15
All systems of thought have a metanarrative, that is a larger story that determines meaning and action on the part of that metanarrative’s adherents. Naturalism and atheism’s religion of evolution has a metanarrative. These competing metanarratives answer questions. One central question that must be answered by any system is: “who is mankind?”
Notice that even how that question is asked has implications. What if I asked the question: “what is mankind”? What is the difference? “Who” implies that mankind has being that goes deeper into their identity than “what”. “What” implies they are a thing. “Who” implies they are a person; I would even say it implies they are more complex than biological entities having some part of their nature that is non-tangible and transcendent, if you will.
Illustration: when my boys bring in a stick that they have been using as a makeshift sword or gun, I ask the question, “what is that?” When my boys talk about a friend or introduce me to a buddy, I may ask the young man, “who are you?” Why? They are both nouns, but one has personhood and the other does not. Therefore I designate a different word in my question based upon my evaluation of that, hopefully, obvious fact. The boy is highly distinct and has a different function than the stick.
When we come to answer the question: “who is mankind?” we have to answer that question with our metanarrative contained in the bible.
1. Man is first a creature, created by the God of the bible.
2. Man is the highest creature, the pinnacle of creation, distinguished by being created in the image of his creator. (notice I didn’t say “it’s” creator)
3. Man has a role, and that is to manage creation and fill the earth with other image bearers. Mankind has a purpose or vision for existence.
4. Man was given a helper, out of himself not the dirt, equal in image bearing and importance, but a helper to assist him in stewarding creation and filling it with other image bearers.
5. Mankind, then, was made male and female, each with their own uniqueness and created function that is different (helper fit for Adam) although equally image bearing.
6. Mankind, particularly Eve, rebelled against their Creator and suffered the consequences of such rebellion.
7. Mankind’s consequences of rebellion include: 1. The man would have to face difficulty in subduing creation (Genesis 3:17) 2. The woman would face difficulty in bearing children (unique to woman and perhaps even also metaphorical for facing difficulty in maintaining womanhood as a proper and distinct quality from manhood) and this difficulty to maintain distinction would be seen in the desire for her husband’s role (Genesis 3:16)
8. Mankind (male and female) is distinct in created function with distinct roles yet equally image bearers and yet, due to rebellion, difficulty would be had in fulfilling those roles.
From before the foundation of the world, and realized in the Garden, the God of the bible began the work of redeeming the rebellious creatures and the creation that was subjected to futility from its fallen state.
In the fullness of time the Second Person of this Trinitarian God comes and takes on flesh and dies in the place of these rebels and rises from the dead to secure their salvation from this difficult existence.
This Jesus establishes his church as the “beachhead”, the outpost, the advancing force for the re-establishment of his rule in Eden and his good order in Eden. This Jesus sets out to re-take Narnia, so to speak.
However, Narnia has been under the spell of one contrary to the King’s order, and the re-establishment of Jesus’ rule will take work and clear instruction and severe intentionality because the King’s good order is opposed by the forces of disorder disguised as “freedom” and “liberty” and “equality without any distinction”.
The church at Ephesus is an outpost, a beachhead and force for advancing the re-establishment of Jesus’ rule. Paul has written so that these folks would know how they ought to conduct themselves as citizens of God’s kingdom, in the church, a pillar and buttress of the truth (3:14-16).
In God’s Kingdom, the preservation of the good order, particularly in our text today, womanhood, is vital.
The church is a pillar and buttress of the truth, therefore, the church must be about the work of preserving and restoring the good order of mankind.
Man (Adam) was appointed to lead. Therefore, in the church, men must lead. It is the result of rebellion for men to be passive and relinquish leadership to their brides. Women’s sinful tendency, from the fall, is to take the leadership role from the man. How sad when men give it up and sit under the doctrinal instruction of the women.
Contextually, our passage precedes instruction on church eldership and is part of the previous passage dealing with prayer and hindrances to prayer: men not being in unity and women seeing approval by external means.
Therefore, in light of 1 Timothy 3:14-16, Paul is seeking to preserve the good order of God’s kingdom. The prohibition is for the sake of preservation. Illustration: I prohibit my sons from being passive and from passive activities in order to preserve manhood and leadership in them. Prohibition can produce preservation. It’s not because I’m trying to withhold good from them, but I’m seeking to give them what is best. I am seeking to preserve the ability to lead in them.
In our text today, the sphere of this preservation is the church. By implication the Christian home should be a place where the men lead and instruct good order, and the church should be a beneficiary of this male leadership.
Men, you must lead your home, and it’s the job of qualified men to lead the church and thus preserve womanhood.
(What does it say about a fellowship’s men when they cannot produce from within qualified men to take the role of pastor/elder/overseer and have to seek that from without?)
So, let’s take a look at what instructions Paul gives the church at Ephesus, and us today at TRCC, about re-establishing his good order through the church, a pillar and buttress of the truth. Let me be clear. This good order is established here. What we hope to do is continue to advance, as the Lord will advance it, this good order (build the church both local and global).
1. Men are to fill the role of pastor/elder/overseer v. 11-12
“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”
Due to the context of the passage, Paul is setting out the good order of God’s kingdom in the church. He is about to give instruction on the leadership of the body of Christ and so there is no mistake on the good order of God’s church, he leaves the discussion about how women are to engage in effective prayer and lays out the order and place for the daughters of Eve.
First, lets note some creative ways folks have sought to continue the rebellion in the Garden against God’s good order by rejecting this instruction.
First, some argue that Paul was just wrong. Some have said that Paul is wrong because his teaching is appealing to mythical accounts and rabbinical misinterpretation of Genesis 2. Paul K. Jewett (Man as male and female, 1975 and professor at Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, CA) made this assertion. He was disciplined for that assertion at his school.
Second, some have argued that Ephesus was a bastion of feminist supremacy. Roman history shows Ephesus to be a very conventional Roman provincial city with no women magistrates and a cult hierarchy controlled by men.
Finally, (there are more, but for the sake of time) some say that since Paul said “I do not permit” he used the indicative and not the imperative and therefore is not issuing a command but rather a temporary arrangement. However, Paul often uses present indicatives to give universal instruction (Romans 12:1 etc.), but even further here Paul cites creation as his ground for this instruction.
What does Paul mean here in verses 11-12?
The word “to teach” and it’s noun forms “teaching” and “teacher” are used in the New Testament to describe the work of the pastor/elder/overseer in teaching the authority of Scripture and public doctrinal instruction (1 Timothy 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 3:16; 4:2). So, what is prohibited is preaching and the teaching-elder role of authoritatively defining and expositing the deposit of the Apostles (1 Timothy 3:2). Our text is also clear that attitude is important. She must learn in quietness and full submission. This prohibits an argumentative attitude.
Therefore, this role is preserved for the man as the role of leader. But, let’s be clear, if we have not been clear yet, this is not prohibiting to keep women down, rather, this is prohibiting in order to preserve the good order of womanhood. This will be clear as we get to verse 15.
Let me share 6 evidences with you that men are to lead and preserve womanhood.
1. God created Adam first and then Eve
2. God gave the command not to eat of the tree to Adam rather than Eve
3. Adam named the “woman”, who was taken from him, just as he named the
animals, signifying authority (Genesis 2:19-23).
4. Eve is designated as Adam’s “helper” (Genesis 2:18).
5. The serpent deceived Eve rather than Adam, thereby subverting male headship
(Genesis 3:1-6). (If Satan subverted male leadership, shouldn’t we be alert and
watch for any such subversion?)
6. God came to Adam first for accountability, even though Eve sinned first
(Genesis 3:9; Romans 5:12-19).
2. God’s good order is a creation issue not a cultural adaptation v. 13-14
“For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
I suppose the question many may ask is regarding whether this prohibition is still in force today. Many have contended that Paul’s prohibition from women serving as pastors was due to them being uneducated and therefore not able to teach well and therefore they were the one’s responsible for the false teaching Paul instructed Timothy to deal with.
Attempts to root Paul’s prohibition in cultural norms of the day fall short. Paul could have written, “I don’t want women to teach or exercise authority over men because they are uneducated,” or “I don’t want women to teach or exercise authority over men because they are spreading false teaching.” As a matter of fact, the one’s propagating the false teaching were men!
Paul appeals to created order, to God’s good and perfect intention when he formed humans in his image before the fall!
We must see that distinction in created purpose is not cultural; rather it is created and intentional.
“It is imperative to see that the reference to creation indicates that the command for women not to teach or exercise authority over men is a transcultural word, a prohibition that is binding on the church at all times and in all places.”
Paul grounds this prohibition in created order to preserve the good order in the creation account of Genesis. As a side note, this grounding of current order in the narrative of Genesis implies that Adam and Eve are not mythological people who serve as story only but rather in a real and historical event called creation that dictates to the modern reader of the biblical text that the narratives of the bible are true and do not affirm anything contrary to fact and must be the ground of our practice.
To take it a step further, Paul gives another reason that the women must not teach or exercise authority over the men, and that is that Eve was deceived and became a transgressor. The point is not that women are given more to sin than men. Paul will tell us in Titus 2:3 and 2 Timothy 1:5 and 3:14-15 that women are to teach other women and children, which he would not do if the women were more prone to sin than men.
Paul’s point is that Satan’s temptation of Eve instead of Adam subverted male leadership. Satan came after Eve in spite of Adam’s presence as it was happening. And though Eve was deceived and rebelled, God calls Adam to account and man’s sinfulness is traced to Adam (Romans 5:12-19) not Eve. Therefore, to preserve the good order of the Kingdom the Father prohibits the women from taking the role of the man because it would be to follow after the original deception and sin and to give in to the fallen tendency the fall introduced into the good created order.
Part of the function of the church is to bring the values of God’s kingdom to bear on the fallen world and truly liberate image bearers through the preaching of the Gospel and their belief in and transformation by this Gospel and expositional doctrinal instruction. We do the Gospel nor ourselves no favors by giving up key values that Father holds in order to gain acceptance from those who are weeds rather than wheat – fake branches rather than branches remaining in the vine.
We are to fight for the preservation of our wives and our daughters by holding to God’s good order.
3. We are to preserve womanhood through observing God’s good order v. 15a
“Yet she will be saved through childbearing…”
Paul’s use of “childbearing” here is not so clear on the surface. What about women who have died in childbirth? What about women who have been unable to conceive? What about single women?
Paul is most likely referring to childbearing because it is a universal example of the God-given differences in the roles of men and women. I believe what Paul has in mind here is that womanhood and God’s good order are saved through being distinctly what Father made woman to be rather than seeking to be what Father made men to be.
I also believe that Paul could have in mind by not seeking the role of the men, women are more likely to have a heart attitude that attends salvation and all it’s blessings. That means women who seek their proper good function are in an attitude reminiscent of women who are truly Christian. The opposite of that would be true. Women who seek the role of men as head are in an attitude reminiscent of women who are not seeking to be truly Christian and propagating the lie of the garden all over again.
Feminism is such a soothing poison. The lie propagated by feminism is that distinction is somehow less. This is Satan’s lie. And no doubt unregenerate men have done no favors to the idea of distinction and submitting to authority.
Submission, as a word, generally carries a negative stigma. However, submission is not negative. Submission has its roots in Trinity. Jesus submitted to the Father (John 5:19). Spirit submits to the Son (John 14-16). Father lovingly shows off the Son and Spirit. Yet each member of the Trinity is equal in deity and importance yet distinct in function and specific in submission to the other members of Trinity.
This is how submission must be understood by Christians, and as a result, practiced in the home and in the church.
As Adam stood passively by and watched as Satan berated his bride with the lie that Father was holding out on us, he allowed the good order of creation to be subverted, and equality and distinction and submission have been under attack ever since.
As men, we must take up the mantle of leadership to make sure we preserve the good order of creation and the good order of the coming Kingdom.
This is not male domination for the sake of some evil agenda. Any man who dominates in sinful harshness using God as his excuse, sins. A man must lead under Christ like love. This passion and pursuit is part of what it means to be masculine.
At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.
We propagate wrong and disorder if we don’t uphold distinction inside equality between men and women and particularly inside the church that is a pillar and buttress of the truth.
How are women and men to fight for this good order? The answer is in verse 15b
“…if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”
Observing God’s good order requires:
And without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
We must fight for faith that Father is good and working for our good and that his word is truth.
Paul tells the church at Ephesus to take the shield of faith to extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Why? Because Satan’s darts are doubts. Therefore, those doubts are extinguished with faith.
In 1 Thessalonians 3:5 Paul sent to find out about their faith for fear that Satan had tempted them. What is the temptation? The temptation is to not believe.
If we somehow give in to the cultural and satanic pressure to cave on God’s good order we quit the fight.
2. Love of God and love of his order
We can fight for Father’s good order by loving him and his good order. If we really love God we must fight against the lie that somehow he is holding out on us. We must believe that his order is good and good for me and that order is to be loved, and I would argue, enjoyed.
The desire to take the role of head over the men is as broken as other sinful tendencies and it must not be given into.
Women, seek to be like Christ. Be holy as he is holy. Don’t be ok with sin no matter how benign it may sound compared to men’s sins.
We can fight for God’s good order by exercising the fruit of self-control. If the Gospel has transformed us, we have Holy Spirit and we can exercise self-control.
When we worship together in the public gathering of the body of Christ we enter into a submissive state where we all come together to sing to and hear from and be led by the Triune God of the universe.
When we worship we are in a submissive state of admitting he is above and we are below but that this submission is good and Father is good. When we worship we are open to his leadership and we are made ready to do his good will. When we are ready to do his good will we are empowered to bring the good order of his Kingdom to bear on our world.
Come and worship the King and live out his good and joyful order.