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Reading and studying the Word of God should be a priority in the lives of all Christians. In fact, it is something every person should do in order to discern what is true and what is false. God leads each of us in His divine ways toward Him, His Word, and His Wisdom in order to determine that He is very real, and the only means of salvation and eternal life is through accepting and having faith in His Son. It is impossible to determine on our own what truth is, as well as to navigate our purpose and calling in life without the guidance of our Creator. Leadership, for example, is something not everyone is called to, but many desire to be.
The idea of leading people is enticing. There may be a sense of power and pride over such a position, and the ability to influence and change people in all kinds of ways. This, though, is precisely why we must not take up the reigns of leadership unless we are so called by our Heavenly Father. Doing so without His commission could likely result in leading people astray and also taking an opportunity from someone else who is called to lead. Typically when someone without the gift and calling of leadership takes up those reigns they lack the wisdom necessary and end up teaching falsities. Most often it is done out of ignorance and pride, and sometimes from good intentions, but still has negative results.
False teachers and heresy were a serious problem in the church of Ephesus. Timothy was sent to Ephesus by Paul to help the people combat false teachings and establish structure in their church. The letters of Titus and first and second Timothy are Pastoral Epistles authored by Paul to specific individuals, about specific congregations, during a specific period of time, to address specific problems of false teachers becoming more prevalent in their congregations and the need for more structure within their ministries. At this time, the church in Ephesus was without structure and therefore not well equipped to combat these false teachers. Paul sent Timothy, and this letter to Timothy showing his authority to step in and assist the church of Ephesus, to provide structure and clarify correct doctrinal truths to combat the false teachings that were spreading in Ephesus. This letter is intended to assist in combating false teachers in the church of Ephesus.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 1 Timothy 1:3-8 NIV
We are each responsible for not only seeking after the truth for ourselves but to have an understanding of what the Gospel is in order to combat against what it is not. In order to help equip the church of Ephesus to better discern the difference between true doctrine and false teaching Paul begins his letter by stressing that all are called to Godly living, and addressing some factors of godly gospel living. While Ephesus had specific people causing a specific problem for a specific church, the warning from Paul is just as relevant today. There are false teachers in this world and we must equip ourselves with the knowledge of Truth through submission to God.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-7 ESV
Paul establishes some key factors of Godly living that we should focus on in order to be more wisely equipped against false teachings and to recognize true doctrine better.
There is no one right way to pray, but all people are to pray within their personal relationship with God. Paul is reminding the people of the importance of heartfelt prayer, versus flashy outward appearances in how one prays. It is the heart and intention of prayer that God cares about.
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Matthew 6:7 ESV
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 ESV
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18 ESV
Meekness and Humility:
We are called to be meek and humble, living as examples of Christ in all we do. The culture in Ephesus promoted flashy attire and outward appearance to show social status or attractiveness, and Paul was reminding them that God cares about inward beauty. We should show meekness and humility, and be dignified and modest so as to not draw attention to our outward appearances.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13 ESV
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18 ESV
God desires all to be saved, but Paul is reminding the people of Ephesus that this requires knowledge (and acceptance) of the Truth, and that they are in danger because of the false teachings being taught.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 ESV
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:17-18 ESV
Modesty by Biblical definition, according to the original Greek, is a sense of honor that seeks to prevent shame, is respectable and has self-control. We can display outward modesty by striving to be honorable to God in our appearance, which is being described here as refraining from flashing material wealth and earthly status, as well as not presenting yourself in such a way to attract attention by your appearances. We should all present ourselves in a manner that shows honor and respect to our bodies as the temple of God.
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 1 Timothy 2:8-10 ESV
Strong’s G2887 – kosmios – ko’-sme-os – respectable: well arranged, seemly, modest.
Strong’s G127 – aidōs – i-do’s – propriety: a sense of shame or honour, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect. Precedes and prevents the shameful act, reflects upon its consequences in the shame it brings with it.
Strong’s G4997 – sōphrosynē – so-fro-sü’-na – moderation: soundness of mind; self-control, sobriety.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:25-26 ESV
Men and women should both display Biblical modesty and refrain from flashy outward appearances, and instead focus on God and how to honor and glorify Him in all our ways, conduct and appearances. Paul is stating that with proper outward appearance and conduct we are better able to focus on and display godliness by the fruit of the Spirit through good works as the evidence of true faith. True faith is found when it stands on true doctrine and displayed by good works done in the fruits of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 ESV
Test All Things:
As we strive to adhere to true doctrine we must test all things through the Holy Spirit and check our intentions behind our actions. We should be seeking God’s truth with the intention to follow His truth, no matter how difficult it may be or what we may need to sacrifice in order to adhere to His truth. It is not enough to merely know the truth, we must also intend to follow the truth. The intent of the heart is what we will be judged by, for actions done with the wrong intention are still wrong.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. Matthew 5:21-22 ESV
The people were being led astray from godliness and modest living because of false teachings. We are instructed to test and filter all things through the Word of God to “discern what is the will of God”; to determine whether they line up with the Word of God or not. If any teaching that claims to be Biblical does not line up with the Word of God, it should be considered “of the world” and therefore a false teaching that we should not follow or condone. By failing to test and filter all things through God’s Word, and falling into false teachings, we risk falling away from Truth itself and therefore away from God and the life He calls us to live.
but test everything; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 ESV
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV
At the time of Paul’s letter to Timothy there were “prophetesses” of Artemis promoting Gnosticism in Ephesus, teaching incorrect doctrine and influencing the women of the church by their teachings. Women of the time were adorning themselves with flashy attire likely to show their social status and material wealth, being influenced by the false teaching, and seemingly attempting to usurp the men’s position of head of the family and leaders of the church. Women of the time often were also less educated than men, and would have had much less teaching and understanding of scripture than men, which would have placed them as less wise in the Word, and more likely to mis-understand, mis-interpret, and mis-teach the Word of God. Widows were also heavily targeted by false teachers because they were so easily persuaded.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV
Paul is striving to harmonize the church with the Creator’s design for home and community. This is a sense of balance between the roles and positions of men and women. Each person is given their roles by God, and men and women have their roles in order to find balance in relationships and leadership. Remember, God made women to be a helper to man, and man was called to love and care for women.
This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. Genesis 5:1-2 ESV
giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21 ESV
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.’ Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV
Strong’s G5293: Submit – hypotássō, hoop-ot-as’-so; to subordinate; reflexively, to obey:—be under obedience, put under, subdue unto, subject, be in subjection, submit self unto.
This use of “submit” is found over 30 times in the New Testament, and is referring to the submissive relationship we are called to have with God out of respect, love and reverence for Him. As a marriage is a representation of the relationship between Christ and His Church, so is this submission between husband and wife – to be subject to Him, obedient to His will, out of love and reverence. This submission is a mutual balance where husband and wife submit one to another, as we are also called within our marriage relationship and individually to submit to Christ. Wives are called to submit all things to their husband’s leadership as the head of the family, as the Church is called to submit all things to the will and leadership of God. Husbands are called to submit themselves to their wife, offering themselves up fully in love for their wife as Christ offered Himself up for the Church, His bride, providing for all her needs and caring for her in all things. This submission is not providing an excuse for abuse, dominance, intolerance, dictatorship, tyrannical treatment, or participation in sin from either husband or wife. It is also not to be mistaken for women not being allowed to participate in decision making, or discouragement for women to express themselves.
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 ESV
Paul is saying that the women of Ephesus should learn with quiet respect toward those in authority and teaching positions. This is not saying they should never speak, never lead, or never teach, but is saying they should show respect and meekness as they learn from truthful teachers in Ephesus and reinforces the balance of God’s design.
Strong’s G2271 – hēsychia – ha-sü-khe’-ä – quietly: Quietnes, description of the life of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others.
Strong’s G3129 – manthanō – män-thä’-no – learn: to learn, be apprised
- to increase one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge
- to hear, be informed
- to learn by use and practice
- to be in the habit of, accustomed to
Strong’s G5292 – hypotagē – hü-po-tä-ga’ – submissiveness: the act of subjecting, obedience, subjection
By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 2 Corinthians 9:13 ESV
to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. Galatians 2:5 ESV
giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21 ESV
We should strive for balance according to God’s design for men and women in places of leadership and authority. Within an assembled church, Paul encourages the men of higher education to preside over the church, to teach correct doctrine and display Godly living to the congregation. All are encouraged to respect those placed in positions of authority and strive to learn correct doctrine and refrain from false teachings. We must all recognize that each individual who has a relationship with God will be called by Him according to His purpose, and we must respect and obey how He calls each person to serve Him.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:3-8 ESV
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 ESV
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17 ESV
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 ESV
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29 ESV
We can reference many places in scripture that identify the God-given placement, roles and responsibilities of men, women, and people in general. It is clear throughout scripture that even women were given authority, places of leadership, and honor by God. We are, both men and women, one with Christ, as well as in relationship with fellow believers as the Body of Christ, in the sense of relationship not in sameness of function. Neither men nor women are rewarded based on their roles in God’s Kingdom, but instead based on their faithful obedience to the assignments God has called them to. To God, men and women are of equal value as His creations, but each is functionally different in order for there to be balance in the Kingdom. Men and women can both receive the same spiritual gifts and blessings.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Ephesians 4:11-14 ESV
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 10:42-45 ESV
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Joel 2:28 ESV
When we see Jesus teach in the home of Martha (Luke 10:38-42), Martha was frustrated with her sister Mary for sitting idly to listen to Jesus teach while Martha was hard at work. Martha had a prideful attitude about serving, and was bitter with her sister for prioritizing her time with Jesus. Unfortunately sometimes we serve with a heart not for Jesus but for our own gains and praises through serving and must be careful that we always have a heart and intention to serve and honor Christ in the ways and times He calls us to. The intention of the heart and the attitude of your spirit greatly impacts your ability to live a godly, gospel life.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, Luke 10:41 ESV
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:9-11 ESV
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 ESV
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 ESV
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35 ESV
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. John 12:26 ESV
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24 ESV
We need to continually check our hearts that we are Christ-focused in all our ways, and that our worldly responsibilities do not become a snare and hinder us from serving God. Many times we allow for the duties that we have to become a higher priority in our lives than sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to Him.
As the Bride of Christ, we need to make sure that we do not have our priorities ascue and put worldly things as a higher priority than God. This includes members of our family, our job, and our daily duties. In all our activities, we must live as one fully submitted to Christ and acknowledge Him as our top priority. Paul’s instructions are valuable reminders that God’s design and call for our lives should be prioritized in every way. We must seek Him earnestly, and strive to constantly test to ensure we are adhering to His true doctrine and follow the path He has laid out for us, being watchful of false teachings of the world.