Faithlife Sermons

Who Does What & Why?

Fight the Good Fight: 1 Timothy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:38
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →
If 1 Timothy 2:8-15 was read in the public square, it would sound ridiculous. It’s laughable to most. To the degree we in the Church find this laughable, however, it will only serve to reveal how we are more influenced by the world than we are by the Word of God.
These are some tough verses. In fact, I’ve found myself almost dreading the preaching moment this week because these verses are so difficult. About 10 days ago Meghann asked me if there was a song that might go with my sermon for this Sunday.
I chuckled.
She asked, “Why? What’s your sermon about?”
I grabbed the nearest Bible and read 1 Timothy 2:8-15.
Meghann smiled and said, “Well, there might be a song...”
I interrupted: “No, love, there really is not.”
I can admit that these are difficult verses. Personally, I would not choose to preach this passage. If I wasn’t committed to preaching through books of the Bible, verse-by-verse; if I didn’t believe that consecutive exposition was how the Lord intended us to hear the Bible and preach the Bible, I would never choose to preach these verses. Not if I had 100 years to preach.
But here we are. Rich Hill Christian Church is committed to expository preaching, preaching through one book of the Bible at a time. After we finish this book, we’ll go to another.
Because God’s Word, the Bible, is sufficient. We will never plumb the depths of its riches. We will never exhaust its power. We will never master its teaching. We will never advance from the Bible to something else or something better. There is nothing better, not for the Church, not for God’s people. And make no mistake: those who are not part of God’s people need the Bible; nothing else can tell them what they need to hear.
God’s Word is useful—every part of it. God’s Word alone is our guide—not culture, not preference. We do not bend the Bible to suit us; we bend ourselves to meet what the Bible requires of us.
If I disagree with something in the Bible, guess which of us is wrong? It’s me. The inspired, inerrant, infallible, dependable Word of God is not, cannot be wrong—only our uninspired, errant, fallible, undependable understanding of it.
What we do with this text says as much about our doctrine of the Bible as it does about our hearts.
>This passage of Scripture answers a couple of questions for us:
Who does what in the Church?
And why?
We need to remember, as we approach this text, that it is not divorced from what comes before it or what comes after it. It’s all one letter, from Paul to Timothy and the churches. There’s a flow to it.
Paul is writing to Timothy about the primacy and the scope of public worship. He writes in chapter 2 verses 1-7 (the text of last week’s sermon) about the prayer and proclamation of the Church in light of the desire of God and the death of Christ. That naturally leads to the discussion in verses 8-15 about who does what and why.
In 1 Timothy 3, Paul writes about the qualifications of elders and deacons, which follows the discussion here about who does what and why.
This passage of Scripture has a textual home (it belongs right here in 1 Timothy) and a cultural home (it was written to specific place in a specific time). But we must admit that this was written in a time and a place not altogether different than our own. “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” so says the great Missourian Mark Twain.
In the early church and in every era of church history there have been men who are divisive and there have been women who are distracting. Even writing that sentence made me feel uncomfortable.
“Did he really just say women are distracting?!?!”
“No, I said “there have been”, meaning there are some women who are distracting and some men who are divisive.”
This was the issue in Paul’s and Timothy’s day. And I can’t imagine anyone took it well then, either. But we have to talk about this stuff because each local church is made up of both men and women. Because of this, Paul engages Timothy’s congregation according to gender groups.
Based on what Paul said (by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit) in the previous verses about church members’ need to pray for everyone, we read the initial instruction given to the men of the church:
1 Timothy 2:8 NIV
8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.


The fact that Paul has to add the “without anger or disputing” to the end of the call to pray is evidence of the divisiveness present in that day.
There were men in Timothy’s church who were, apparently, not leading in prayer at all or were praying in the church while fighting with one another.
These three are hindrances to prayer: sin, anger, quarrelling. When these are present, prayer will diminish or disappear.
Those who come before the Lord must do so with clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24).
It’s completely inappropriate for men who are supposed to be leading the way at home and in the church to approach the Lord in prayer if sin is present and/or if they are harboring resentment or anger toward another.
If you have a problem with another person, if you have issues with a brother or sister in the gathering, you need to deal with that before you approach the Lord. Jesus taught us:
Matthew 5:23–24 NIV
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
In other words, Paul is telling the men of the chuch, “Don’t pray before God when you’re not right with your brother or sister.” That is coming before the Lord with unclean hands.
What the men in the church must not do is think that we can rush into worship and bypass our need to honestly confess our sin before God. A right heart attitude is crucial for prayer and for God-honoring worship in the church.
Whether or not we lift up holy hands physically as we pray is a matter of cultural expression. In Paul’s day, the time of worship was attended standing up. For all of it, not just a song here or a song there. In prayer, people would lift up their hands as a sign of surrender or receiving. More important than our physical posture is our heart’s posture before the Lord, our purity, our motives.
Men, we cannot be divisive. We must be holy, set apart to the Lord and His service, leading for the glory of God and the joy of His people.
After addressing the men, Paul turns his attention to women who had become a distraction in the church.
1 Timothy 2:9 NIV
9 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,
From his instructions in verse 9, we can tell what Paul is talking about. I heard someone ask: “Well then, do we need to post security guards at the entrances to the church to check for braided hair and costly jewelry?”
That’s probably a bit extreme. Here’s the underwriting principle:


Like many cities in the ANE (like many places today), Ephesus was chalk full of sexual immorality. It was common for women to dress in a way that would attract attention, sometimes even dressing seductively on purpose. That’s what was going on in that culture; very different from today...
So Paul is giving the women at the church in Ephesus a different model to follow, a better model, a Christian model. “Don’t dress and behave like just like other women in Ephesus; dress differently, dress modestly.”
I want the women to dress modestly.
Or as I learned at Christian College: “Modest is hottest.”
Just like the women in Ephesus, Christian women today should, in how they dress, do so with a different motivation than women of the world.
I know I’m on thin ice here. Start telling anyone what to do with their body, start telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do period, start telling women what they should wear and should not wear—you’re asking for it.
I know the prevailing wisdom of the world is “I can do what I like and if it bothers you or offends you, that’s too bad. If what I’m wearing causes you to stumble or to lust, that’s not my problem, it’s yours.” So says the world.
The counter-cultural wisdom of the church is:
Romans 12:10 NIV
10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
That is our call—to work really hard to honor the other, to defer to the other person, to do what’s best for them, not what’s best for me. What’s fashionable in the world isn’t fashionable for the Christian woman if its purpose is to draw attention to physical beauty or worldly wealth.
Clothing, dress should be modest. To take some of the heat off me, let me quote another pastor (you can be upset with him).
“We are extremely liberal when it comes to what women wear: skin tight clothes, low necklines, high hemlines, and short shorts are the norm. This is the kind of clothing that falls far short of the Biblical idea of modesty. The way some women in Ephesus were dressing (the way some women in 21st Century America dress) is at best a distraction from honoring God, and at worst an attempt to seduce men in the church to sin.” -David Platt
Drawing attention to physical beauty is not proper motivation for the Christian woman. Neither is drawing attention to worldly wealth.
1 Timothy 2:9 NIV
9 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,
Part of the point in mentioning the hairstyles, the gold, the pearls, the expensive clothes is that these things were highlighting the distinction between wealthy and poor in the early church.
The desire of the Christian woman is not to distract, but to clothe herself with good deeds; not to draw attention to herself but to point everyone to the One she worships.
1 Timothy 2:10 NIV
10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
There’s appropriate and inappropriate and the standard is the Word of God, not what’s popular or commonplace in the world.
Paul speaks to the men and gives them instruction; he speaks to the women and gives them instruction. And now he speaks to the whole and tells them that:


These next verses answer the who, the what, and the why. “Who does what and why?” we might ask. We might even entitle the sermon, “Who Does What and Why?”
If you thought the last little bit of this sermon was awkward, just listen to this...
1 Timothy 2:11–15 NIV
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
No one has any idea what to do with verse 15 (we’ll take a stab at it: in context, it seems to be saying that as woman fulfills her God-given role, she is “saved”—not from her sins, not earning her way to salvation—but “saved”, sanctified as they glorify God in the unique roles and responsibilities He has entrusted to them).
The other verses are so incredibly counter-cultural, even potentially offensive to us here this morning, that we need the Lord to give us extra grace as we read, as we listen, as we preach these verses.
What we must not do, tempted though we might be, is ignore this as some outdated, only in Ephesus, doesn’t-apply-to-us-here-today, insignificant part of the Bible.
I’ve been part of theologically conservative, Bible-believing congregations all my life. And some of most significant, godly, bible-saturated influences in the churches I’ve been part of have been women: Jan Case, Joan Ulmer, Kathy Schmidt, Betty Bowers, MaryAnne Childress, Betty Guin, Alice Shandy, Lisa Cross, Angela Reimers—just to name a few outside of this church.
These faithful women have left an indelible imprint on my life. As such, when I interviewed at a church and they had women as elders, the search committee asked me what I thought about that personally. And personally (if all that mattered was my experience and my preference), I don’t see a problem with it. I think there are some women who are have all the gifts necessary to teach and lead the church. There are women sitting before me this morning who have more knowledge and gifting in this area than I do, and that’s no lie.
I can understand why it rubs people the wrong way when Paul says that women need to be quiet and submissive, that they shouldn’t teach or exercise authority over men. I get the bristling, uncomfortable nature of this; I feel it myself. I see why people are quick to dismiss it as an outdated, cultural mandate that doesn’t apply here and now.
I wish it was as easy as skipping it and moving on down the road. But it’s not.
If it makes you feel any better, verses 11 & 12 in some Bibles say the woman should “learn in silence…be silent”. The word used there in verses 11 & 12 which some versions translate “silence” or “silent” is the same word used in 1 Timothy 2:2.
1 Timothy 2:2 NIV
2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
Same word, translated as quiet. The point is not that women must be completely silent in church any more than that we would live silent, wordless lives. That’s not the goal, and why some translators make it say that is beyond me.
In the church, who does what and why matters. It’s not randomly decided. It’s not that we’re stuck in the past, tied to a cultural rule from a couple thousand years ago; that’s not it at all! It goes back way further than that.


We’re not merely tied to what Paul taught Timothy. We’re not merely grouped in with the church at Ephesus. We’re not a bunch of misogynistic, women-hating, Neanderthals. We’re not some backwater hicks who are so entrenched in an old-timey way of doing things that we refuse to be progressive.
What we strive to be is a people who submit to the Word of God and submit to the Creator God who created us with particular roles in mind.
Over the years, I’ve had a hard time understanding the ‘why’ behind Paul’s prohibition. I wasn’t entirely settled in my own mind as to why Paul would say what he does:
1 Timothy 2:11–12 NIV
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
That raises a lot of questions for me. I wasn’t entirely settled in my own mind until I got to verses 13 & 14, verse 13 specifically:
1 Timothy 2:13 NIV
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
For Paul, and for us, this is the only reasoning we need. We’re not out of date or out of line when we assert that women are not to teach a man or exercise authority over a man. We are in line with our Creator and His purpose.
This discussion essentially comes down cultural order versus created order (or more accurately, the Creator’s order).
For the same reason we believe that marriage is between a man and a woman (what God decided in Genesis 1-2), we believe that men and women have different roles within the church.
It may not reflect the cultural order (the women’s liberation and feminism of the last generation, the belief in gender fluidity of today), but it is reflective of the Creator’s design and order—and this is much more important to us, or it should be. In fact, it has to be.
Please note: men and women are created with equal dignity, equal significance, equal importance—make no mistake about this. Men and women are equally valuable before God—created in His image, co-heirs of the grace of life. To demean men or women is to sin against God. That’s not at all what Paul’s doing.
1 Timothy 2 has nothing to do with the value of men and women; it does speak to the roles of men and women.
God created men and women with complementary roles (this is not a result of the fall, this didn’t happen post-sin; this is God’s good and gracious purpose from before He spoke the world into existence).
Men and women are different and distinct in their respective roles. They are help-mates; man created with a role that complements woman, and woman with a role than complements man: “Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh...”
God has given men and women distinct roles—both at home and within the church, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
As Allistair Begg pust it: “Women are better than men…at being women. Men are better than women…at being men.”
It’s not an insult or a dig. It’s God’s good design: women being women, men being men.
It’s clear from this text and from what Paul writes in chapter 3 that women should not teach as pastors/elders/overseers in the church; women are not to teach or exercise authority over men.
There are men who don’t meet the Biblical gifting or Biblical qualifications to be pastors/elders/overseers either. It’s not that “men are in, women are out.” No. A select few men are called and equipped to be elders—the teachers and leaders of a local congregation.
How we handle the truth of this passage, how we deal with this matters.
We submit ourselves—every part of us—to God’s Word and God’s design, trusting that He knows better than us.
Ours is a joyful submission, not an angry or begrudging submission. Our working within God’s design speaks a better story; maybe not a more culturally acceptable story, but it is better. It speaks of a submission to God’s Word and God’s authority. And that’s a story worth telling. That’s a story that will stand out, a story that will shock and surprise.
The men God has called to lead and to shepherd this flock do so with an attitude of joyful service, with a realization that they are no more important or crucial to God’s plan than anyone else.
The women of this flock are gifted to serve and to teach under the direction of the elders, to make disciples, to pray, and to minister in their proper God-honoring roles.
We, Church, are to be a counter-culture in many ways, and this is one of them. We do this in order to show the surpassing worth and value of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord and serving Him in the way that He sees fit, not in whatever way pleases us or makes things easier; serving Him, recognizing His authority and the timeless authority of His Word.
We are different. We’re to be aliens and strangers, different. Set apart. Holy.
In this way, as we worship Him according to His plan, we preach a good gospel—that men and women are saved through Jesus’ death, that sin has disordered this world we live in, Satan has distorted God’s design for manhood and womanhood, for our marriages, for our families, for the Church, and for culture.
But Christ has come. He has conquered sin and death and Satan. Jesus died to make us the men and the women God created us to be; He is making all things new. One day, He will return and take us to a garden better than Eden.
In the mean time, we long to be what He would have us be: men and women, boys and girls who give Him praise, for He is worthy!
Related Media
Related Sermons