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In this chapter the apostle exhorts to prayer for all sorts of men, gives rules and directions about the dress of women, and their subjection to their husbands; and concludes with some comfort to them. The apostle exhorts to prayer in the first place, directs to the several parts and branches of prayer, and points to the persons to be prayed for, and what should be prayed for on their account, ( 1 Timothy 2:1,2). And next follow the reasons or arguments engaging to it, which are taken from the agreeableness of it in the sight of God; from the will of God, that all men should be saved: from there being but one God of all, and one Mediator between God and men; from Christ's giving himself a ransom price for all; and from the apostle being a preacher of the Gospel to the Gentiles, as well as Jews, ( 1 Timothy 2:3-7) wherefore he concludes and determines, according to his apostolical power and authority, that prayer be made in any place, provided there were faith and purity, and wrath and doubting were laid aside, ( 1 Timothy 2:8). Also, he exhorts women to appear, especially in public service, in a modest and becoming dress, and to adorn themselves with good works, ( 1 Timothy 2:9,10), and that they should be silent learners, and not teachers, and be in subjection to their husbands, ( 1 Timothy 2:11,12). The reasons of which subjection are taken from the formation of Adam before Eve, and from Eve's being deceived, and not Adam, ( 1 Timothy 2:13,14). However, for the comfort of women, it is observed, that though in sorrow they bring forth children, yet through the birth of a Son, the promised Messiah, they shall be saved, who continue in faith, charity, and holiness, with sobriety, ( 1 Timothy 2:15).
Ver. 1. I exhort therefore, that first of all , etc.] The two principal parts of public worship, being the ministry of the word and prayer; and the apostle having insisted on the former, in the preceding chapter, in which he orders Timothy to charge some that they teach no other doctrine than that of the Gospel, gives an account of his own ministry, and call to it, and of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to his trust, and stirs up Timothy to the faithful and diligent discharge of his work and office; now proceeds to the latter, to prayer, and exhorts unto it; either Timothy in particular, for so read the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, “I exhort thee”, or “desire thee”; or else the church in general; unless it should rather be thought to be a charge to Timothy to exhort, and so Beza's Claromontane copy reads, “exhort thou therefore”: but it is commonly considered as an exhortation of the apostle's, which he was very urgent in: it was what lay much upon his mind, and he was greatly desirous that it should be attended unto; for so the words may be read, “I exhort first of all”, or before all things; of all things he had to say, this was the chief, or it was what he would have principally and chiefly done by others: for this does not so much regard the order of time, that prayer should be made early in the morning, in the first place, before anything else is done, and particularly before preaching, which seems to have been the custom of the primitive saints, ( Acts 4:31) but the pre-eminence and superior excellency of it; though the words may be rendered, “I exhort, that first, the supplications of all be made”: and so may regard public prayer, the prayer of the whole church, in distinction from private prayer, or the prayer of a single person; which is expressed by different words, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks : the first of these, “supplications”, signifies such petitions for things that are wanted by men, either by themselves or others; and that either for their bodies or souls, as food and raiment for the one, and discoveries of pardoning love, supplies of grace, spiritual peace, comfort, etc. for the other: and the second word, “prayers”, signifies good wishes and desires, directed and expressed to God for things that are in themselves to be wished for, and desired of God, either for ourselves or others: and the next word, “intercessions”, intends either complaints exhibited in prayer against others that have done injuries; or prayers put up for others, either for the averting of evil from them, or for the bestowing some good thing on them: and the last word, “thanksgivings”, with which requests should always be made known to God, designs that branch of prayer in which thanks are given to God for mercies received, whether temporal or spiritual: and these are to be made for all men ; not only for all the saints, for all the churches of Christ, and, ministers of the Gospel; nor only for near relations and friends, according to the flesh; but for all the inhabitants of the country and city in which men dwell, the peace and prosperity of which are to be prayed for; yea, for enemies, and such as reproach, persecute, and despitefully use the saints, even for all sorts of men, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, high and low, bond and free, good men and bad men: for it cannot be understood of every individual that has been, is, or shall be in the world; millions of men are dead and gone, for whom prayer is not to be made; many in hell, to whom it would be of no service; and many in heaven, who stand in no need of it; nor is prayer to be made for such who have sinned the sin unto death, ( 1 John 5:16) besides, giving of thanks, as well as prayers, are to be made for all men; but certainly the meaning is not, that thanks should be given for wicked men, for persecutors, and particularly for a persecuting Nero, or for heretics, and false teachers, such as Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom the apostle had delivered to Satan. But the words must be understood of men of all sorts, of every rank and quality, as the following verse shows.
Ver. 2. For kings, and for all that are in authority , etc.] For supreme governors, as the emperor of Rome, and kings of particular nations; and for all sub-governors, or inferior magistrates, as procurators or governors of provinces, and proconsuls, and the like; all that were in high places, and acted under the authority of those that were supreme; these are particularly mentioned, the then governors, whether supreme or subordinate, who were avowed enemies, and violent persecutors of the saints; and it might be a scruple with some of them, whether they should pray for them, and therefore the apostle enjoins it; and this in opposition to the notions and practices of the Jews, who used to curse the Heathens, and pray for none but for themselves, and those of their own nation: that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty ; which does not merely design the end of civil government by kings and magistrates, which is to preserve the peace and quiet of the commonwealth; to protect the persons and properties of men, that they may possess their own undisturbed; and to secure to them their civil and religious rights and liberties, that they may have the free use and exercise of religion, signified by “all godliness”; and to encourage morality and virtue, expressed by “honesty”; and so is an argument for prayer, taken from the advantage of civil government: nor does this clause only point out the duty of saints to live peaceably under the government they are, and not disturb it; to mind only their religious exercises among themselves, and behave honestly and morally among men, as they generally speaking are, the quiet in the land; but also expresses the thing to be prayed for; and the sense is, that since the hearts of kings are in the hands of the Lord, and he can turn them as he pleases, prayer should be made to him for them, that he would either convert them, and bring them to the knowledge of the truth, they now persecuted; or at least so dispose their hearts and minds, that they might stop the persecution, and so saints might live peaceably under them, enjoy their religious liberty, and be encouraged in their moral conversation. The Arabic version renders it, “that they may be preserved”: that is, kings, and all in authority. It is a saying of R. Hananiah, or Ananias, the sagan of the priests f18 , “pray for the peace or safety of the kingdom (one of their commentators on it adds f19 , even of the nations of the world, which is remarkable, and agrees with the exhortation of the apostle); for if there was no fear of that, men would devour one another alive.”
Ver. 3. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour .] Not only to live peaceably and quietly under the government men are, since that is the ordination of God, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, which his grace teaches; but to pray for all sorts of men, and for those who are set in the highest place of government, even though enemies and persecutors: this is good in itself, and in the sight of an omniscient God, who sees not as man seeth; and it is acceptable unto him through Jesus Christ, by whom every sacrifice of prayer or praise is so; for by God our Saviour is meant God the Father, who is the Saviour of all men, in a way of providence, and the Saviour of all the elect in a way of special grace; (see Gill on “ 1 Timothy 2:1”).
Ver. 4. Who will have all men to be saved , etc.] The salvation which God wills that all men should enjoy, is not a mere possibility of salvation, or a mere putting them into a salvable state; or an offer of salvation to them; or a proposal of sufficient means of it to all in his word; but a real, certain, and actual salvation, which he has determined they shall have; and is sure from his own appointment, from the provision of Christ as a Saviour for them, from the covenant of grace, in which everything is secured necessary for it, and from the mission of Christ to effect it, and from its being effected by him: wherefore the will of God, that all men should be saved, is not a conditional will, or what depends on the will of man, or on anything to be performed by him, for then none might be saved; and if any should, it would be of him that willeth, contrary to the express words of Scripture; but it is an absolute and unconditional will respecting their salvation, and which infallibly secures it: nor is it such a will as is distinguishable into antecedent and consequent; with the former of which it is said, God wills the salvation of all men, as they are his creatures, and the work of his hands; and with the latter he wills, or not wills it, according to their future conduct and behaviour; but the will of God concerning man's salvation is entirely one, invariable, unalterable, and unchangeable: nor is it merely his will of approbation or complacency, which expresses only what would be grateful and well pleasing, should it be, and which is not always fulfilled; but it is his ordaining, purposing, and determining will, which is never resisted, so as to be frustrated, but is always accomplished: the will of God, the sovereign and unfrustrable will of God, has the governing sway and influence in the salvation of men; it rises from it, and is according to it; and all who are saved God wills they should be saved; nor are any saved, but whom he wills they should be saved: hence by all men, whom God would have saved, cannot be meant every individual of mankind, since it is not his will that all men, in this large sense, should be saved, unless there are two contrary wills in God; for there are some who were before ordained by him unto condemnation, and are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; and it is his will concerning some, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned; nor is it fact that all are saved, as they would be, if it was his will they should; for who hath resisted his will? but there is a world of ungodly men that will be condemned, and who will go into everlasting punishment: rather therefore all sorts of men, agreeably to the use of the phrase in ( 1 Timothy 2:1) are here intended, kings and peasants, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female, young and old, greater and lesser sinners; and therefore all are to be prayed for, even all sorts of men, because God will have all men, or all sorts of men, saved; and particularly the Gentiles may be designed, who are sometimes called the world, the whole world, and every creature; whom God would have saved, as well as the Jews, and therefore Heathens, and Heathen magistrates, were to be prayed for as well as Jewish ones. Moreover, the same persons God would have saved, he would have also come to the knowledge of the truth : of Christ, who is the truth, and to faith in him, and of all the truth of the Gospel, as it is in Jesus; not merely to a notional knowledge of it, which persons may arrive unto, and not be saved, but a spiritual and experimental knowledge of it; and all that are saved are brought to such a knowledge, which is owing to the sovereign will and good pleasure of God, who hides the knowledge of Gospel truths from the wise and prudent, and reveals them to babes: whence it appears, that it is not his will with respect to every individual of mankind; that they should thus come to the knowledge of the truth; for was it his will they should, he would, no doubt, give to every man the means of it, which he has not, nor does he; he suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, and overlooked their times of ignorance, and sent no message nor messenger to inform them of his will; he gave his word to Jacob, and his statutes unto Israel only; and the Gospel is now sent into one part of the world, and not another; and where it does come, it is hid to the most; many are given up to strong delusions to believe a lie, and few are savingly and experimentally acquainted with the truths of the Gospel; though all that are saved are brought to the knowledge of such truths as are necessary to salvation; for they are chosen to it through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.
Ver. 5. For there is one God , etc.] This does not so much regard the unity of God, with respect to himself, or his divine essence, though that is a truth; but does not carry in it any apparent and forcible reason why all men should be prayed for, for which it is produced; but the unity of God with respect to men, as that there is but one God, who is the Creator of all men, and who, in a providential way, is the Saviour of all men; and in a way of special grace is the one God, the one covenant God of all sorts of men, of Jews and Gentiles; for he has taken of the latter into the covenant of his grace, as well as the former, and has loved them with a special and distinguishing love, has chosen them in Christ to salvation, and has sent his Son to redeem them; and of these he calls by his grace, regenerates, sanctifies, adopts, pardons, and justifies; (see Romans 3:29,30) and therefore all sorts of men, Gentiles as well as Jews, are to be prayed for: another argument follows, and one Mediator between God and men ; a Mediator is of more than one, and has to do with two parties; and these at variance among themselves, between whom he stands as a middle person; his business is to bring them together, and make peace between them; and such an one is Christ: the two parties are God and his elect, who in their natural state are at a distance from God, and at enmity to him, and who have broken his law, and affronted his justice; Christ stands as a middle person, a daysman between them, and lays his hands upon them both; has to do with things pertaining to the glory of God, and makes reconciliation for the sins of the people; brings them that were afar off nigh to God, and makes peace for them by the blood of his cross, by fulfilling the law, and satisfying justice for them; in consequence of this he appears for them in the court of heaven, intercedes and pleads for them, is their advocate, and sees that all covenant blessings, of which he is the Mediator, are applied unto them, and preserves their persons, which are committed to his care and charge, safe to everlasting happiness; and this Mediator is the man Christ Jesus ; not that he is a mere man, for he is truly and properly God; or that he is a Mediator only according to the human nature: it was proper indeed that he should be man, that he might have something to offer, and that he might be capable of obeying, suffering, and dying, and so of making satisfaction in the nature that had sinned; but then, had he not been God, he could not have drawn nigh to God on the behalf of men, and undertook for them, and much less have performed; nor would his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, have been available to cleanse from sin, to procure the pardon of it, justify from it, make atonement for it, or make peace with God: the reason why he is particularly mentioned as man, is, with a view to the argument in hand, praying for all men; since he who is the Mediator between God and man, has assumed a nature which is common to them all: and this Mediator is said to be one, not so much in opposition to other mediators, angels or saints departed, though it is a truth, and stands full against them, but with respect to men; there is but one Mediator between God and all sorts of men, through whom both Jews and Gentiles have an access to God, and peace with him; and therefore prayer through this Mediator should be made for all. So the Jews say of the Messiah f20 , that he is y[xma la , “a Mediator, God”, a middle person between God and men. And they call him aty[xmad adwm[ , “the Pillar of mediation” or the middle Pillar; that is, the Mediator or Reconciler.
And Philo the Jew speaks of the word, as mesov , a “middle” person, and standing in the middle between the dead and the living, and between God and men. The Ethiopic version here renders it, “there is one elect of God”; which is one of the characters of the Messiah, ( Isaiah 42:1).
Ver. 6. Who gave himself a ransom for all , etc.] What the Mediator gave as a ransom for men is “himself”, his body and his soul, which were both made an offering for sin; and his life, which is the result of union between soul and body; his whole human nature as in union with his divine person, and so might be truly said to be himself: this he gave into the hands of men, of justice and of death; and that voluntarily, which shows his great love to his people; and also as a “ransom”, or a ransom price for them, antilutron , in their room and stead; to ransom them from the slavery of sin, and damnation by it, from the captivity of Satan, and the bondage of the law, and from the grave, death, hell, ruin, and destruction: and this ransom was given for “all”; not for every individual of mankind, for then all would be delivered, freed, and saved, whereas they are not; or else the ransom price is paid in vain, or God is unjust to receive a sufficient ransom price from Christ, and yet not free the captive, but punish the person for whom he has received satisfaction; neither of which can be said. But the meaning is, either that he gave himself a ransom for many, as in ( Matthew 20:28) for the Hebrew word lk , to which this answers, signifies sometimes many, a multitude, and sometimes only a part of a multitude, as Kimchi observes f23 : or rather it intends that Christ gave himself a ransom for all sorts of men, for men of every rank and quality, of every state and condition, of every age and sex, and for all sorts of sinners, and for some out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation, for both Jews and Gentiles; which latter may more especially be designed by all, as they are sometimes by the world, and the whole world; and so contains another argument why all sorts of men are to be prayed for, since the same ransom price is given for them; as that for the children of Israel was the same, for the rich as for the poor. We read, that when the people of Israel comforted the high priest upon the death of his wife, or any relation, they used to say to him, Ætrpk wna , “we are thy atonement”, expiation, or ransom; that is, as the commentators explain it, by us thou shalt be atoned, for we will be in thy room and stead, with respect to all things that shall come upon thee; but here the High priest and Mediator is the atonement and ransom for the people: to be testified in due time ; or “a testimony in his own times”; that is, the sum and substance of what is before said is the Gospel, which is a testimony concerning the person, office, and grace of Christ, exhibited in the times of the Messiah, or the Gospel dispensation. Some copies read, “the mystery”, which is another word often used for the Gospel; for that that is intended, appears by what follows.
Ver. 7. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle , etc.] He was ordained or appointed to be a preacher of the Gospel from all eternity, and was separated or set apart unto it in time, and was put into the ministry of it by Christ himself, and was not a common or ordinary preacher of the word, but an apostle, an extraordinary officer in the Gospel church. I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not ; which are a sort of an oath, or an appeal to Christ the omniscient God, for the truth of what he said, concerning his ordination to the Gospel; see a like phrase in ( Romans 9:1). The phrase, “in Christ”, is left out in the Alexandrian copy, and in three of Beza's ancient copies, and in some others, and in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions; a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity ; the Gospel of the uncircumcision, or which was to be preached to the uncircumcised Gentiles, was committed to this apostle; and his work and ministry lay among them, and therefore he is called the apostle of the Gentiles: and so he was in faith and verity; which may regard the subject matter of his teachings and ministry; it was the faith and truth of the Gospel, even the whole of it, the faith which was once delivered to the saints, and the truth as it is in Jesus; or else the character of the apostle, as a teacher, that he was a true and faithful one, who with all integrity and veracity, fully and faithfully preached the Gospel; and since he was appointed a teacher of it to the Gentiles, this is another argument why they, as well as the Jews, should be prayed for.
Ver. 8. I will therefore that men pray everywhere , etc.] In this declaration of the apostle's will concerning prayer, he only takes notice of “men”; not but that it is both the duty and privilege of women, as well as men, to pray in their houses and closets; but because he is speaking of public prayer in the church, which only belongs to men, he speaks only of them; and his will is, that prayer should be performed by them everywhere, or in any place, in any part of the world where they lived. Now was the prophecy in ( Malachi 1:11) fulfilled, and now was the time come our Lord refers to, ( John 4:21). This seems to be said in opposition to a Jewish notion, that the temple at Jerusalem was the only place for prayer, and that prayer made elsewhere ought to be directed towards that. The Jews say f26 , that “there is no way for the prayer of the nations of the world to ascend, seeing the gates of heaven are only opened in the land of Israel. — And again, that the prayers without the land have no way to go up before the Lord, but the Israelites send them without the land opposite Jerusalem; and when they come to Jerusalem, from thence they remove and ascend above. — No prayer ascends above from that place in which it is made, till it come to the land of Israel, and from thence to Jerusalem, and from thence to the sanctuary, and then it ascends above.”
They have also many rules concerning places of private prayer, as that care should be taken that it be not in a place where there is any filth; or any bad scent f27 . Lifting up holy hands ; lifting up of hands was a prayer gesture among the Heathens f28 , and so it was among the Jews f29 . R. Simeon lift up his hands in prayer to the blessed God, and prayed his prayer. Yea, they say, “it is forbidden a man to lift up his hands above, except in prayer, and in blessings to his Lord, and supplications, as it is said, ( Genesis 14:22) which is interpreted of lifting up of hands in prayer.”
And this was an emblem of the elevation of the heart in prayer to God, without which the former would be of little avail. It is an observation of the Jews f31 , we have found prayer without lifting up of hands, but we never found lifting up of hands without prayer. And these hands must be holy and pure; there must be purity of heart, and cleanness of hands, or a freedom from any governing sin, which renders prayer unacceptable unto God; (see Isaiah 1:15,16). The apostle alludes to a custom of the Jews, who always used to wash their hands before prayer; “Then Holofernes commanded his guard that they should not stay her: thus she abode in the camp three days, and went out in the night into the valley of Bethulia, and washed herself in a fountain of water by the camp. And when she came out, she besought the Lord God of Israel to direct her way to the raising up of the children of her people.” (Judith 12:7,8) So it is said of the Septuagint interpreters, that after the Jewish manner they washed their hands and prayed. The account Maimonides gives f33 , is this: “cleanness of hands, how is it done? a man must wash his hands up to the elbow, and after that pray; if a man is on a journey, and the time of prayer is come, and he has no water, if there is between him and water four miles, which are eight thousand cubits, he may go to the place of water, and wash, and after that pray. If there is between him more than that, he may rub his hands, and pray. But if the place of water is behind him, he is not obliged to go back but a mile; but if he has passed from the water more than that, he is not obliged to return, but he rubs his hands and prays; they do not make clean for prayer but the hands only, in the rest of prayers, except the morning prayer; but before the morning prayer a man washes his face, his hands and feet, and after that prays.”
But, alas! what does all this washing signify? Unless, as Philo the Jew f34 , expresses it, a man lifts up pure, and, as one may say, virgin hands, to heaven, and so prays. Without wrath and doubting ; or reasoning, or disputation in a contentious way: the former of these, some think, has reference to “murmuring”, as the Ethiopic version renders it, impatience and complaint against God in prayer, and the other to doubt and diffidence about being heard, and having the petitions answered; for prayer ought to be with praise to God, and faith in him: or rather “wrath” may intend an angry and unforgiving temper towards men, with whom prayer is made, which is very unbecoming; (see Matthew 5:23,24 6:10 1 Peter 3:7) and both that and doubting, or disputation, may have regard to those heats and contentions that were between the Jews and Gentiles, which the apostle would have laid aside, and they join together in prayer, and in other parts of public worship, in love and peace. Maimonides says, ``men may not stand praying, either with laughter, or with levity, nor with confabulation, “nor with contention, nor with anger”, but with the words of the law.”
And it is a saving of R. Chanina, “in a day of “wrath”, a man may not pray f36 .”
Ver. 9. In like manner also , etc.] Let the women pray likewise; though they are not to lead in prayer, or be the mouth of the church, which would be indecent, yet they are to join with the church in public prayer; (see Acts 1:14) and in like manner as the men, with purity of heart and hand, without murmuring and impatience towards God, and without wrath and anger towards others, and in faith, without doubting and distrust: and the apostle proceeds to point out what sort of dress he would have them appear in at the time of prayer, and at any part of public worship; and thus the Ethiopic version renders it, “so let the women be clothed in prayer”, namely, as follows; that women adorn themselves in modest apparel : the word rendered “apparel” signifies a long robe, which reaches down to the feet; and the word translated “modest” signifies that which is clean, neat, and decent, yea, beautiful and ornamental; and the sense of the apostle is, that he would not have them to come to public worship in rags, and in dirty and filthy garments, but that their bodies should be covered with clean and decent raiment; so the Israelites washed their clothes that they might be ready to meet the Lord at Mount Sinai, ( Exodus 19:14). The Jews always appeared in their best clothes on the sabbath day; this is one of their rules: f37 “for the honour of the sabbath, every man must be clothed, hyyqn twsk , “with clean or neat apparel” and clothing on the weekday must not be as clothing on the sabbath day; and if a man can make no change, he must let down his talith (or upper garment, his cloak); so that his clothing may not be as the clothing of the weekdays, when that was girt up about him.”
The apostle adds, with shamefacedness and sobriety : these are the two general rules by which dress is to be regulated; it is right and proper, when it is consistent with chastity, when it is not immodest and impudent, and more like the attire of an harlot than of a woman professing godliness; and when it is moderate as well as modest, and suitable to a person's age and station, and is not beyond the circumstances of life in which they are. There is no religion or irreligion in dress, provided pride and luxury are guarded against, and modesty and moderation preserved. Not with broidered hair , or plaited, as in ( 1 Peter 3:3), (see Gill on “ 1 Peter 3:3”). The Jews had women on purpose for this business; Mary Magdalene is thought to have her name from hence; (see Gill on “ Matthew 27:56”). Or gold, or pearls, or costly array: not that the apostle forbids all use or wear of such things by proper persons, whose circumstances would admit of it, and upon proper occasions, and at proper times: certain it is, that earrings and bracelets of gold, and jewels set in silver and gold, and raiment, costly raiment, were sent by Abraham, and given to Rebekah, and wore by her, who was a woman professing godliness so the church in ( Psalm 45:9,13,14) though in figurative expressions, yet in allusion to what is literal, and honourable, and commendable, is said to be in gold of Ophir, and her clothing to be of wrought gold, and to be brought to the king in raiment of needlework: but however justifiable such a dress may be at other seasons, the apostle judged it very improper at the time of public prayer, or at the time of public worship; seeing it might swell the heart of the wearer with pride, so as to forget herself and the business she was come about, and draw the eyes of others upon her; and so cause a general inattention. It was a complaint of Chrysostom's many hundreds of years ago, that some who came to public worship, appeared in such a dress, as if they came rather to dance than to pray; such apparel should be avoided: it is said of Pythagoras f38 , that he taught the inhabitants of Crotona, the men literature, and the women chastity and modesty; and by his disputations so far prevailed upon the latter, as to lay aside their garments of gold and other ornaments of their dignity, as instruments of luxury; all which they brought into the temple of Juno, and dedicated them to that goddess; declaring, that shamefacedness or chastity, and not garments, are the true ornaments of matrons.
Ver. 10. But (which becometh women professing god likeness) , etc.] By which is meant not any particular grace, was it, the fear of God might be designed, and so the Syriac version renders it; nor the whole of internal religion only; nor the form of godliness, or the whole scheme of Gospel truth, which is according to godliness; nor only outward holiness of life and conversation; but the whole of all this, all religion, internal and external, the whole of godliness, both in a doctrinal and in a practical way. All this, these women the apostle gives directions unto, had made a profession of, and had been baptized upon it, and received members of churches; and as yet held their profession: and such persons, it best became them not so much to adorn themselves with any outward adornings, as with good works ; such as are mentioned in ( 1 Thessalonians 5:10 Peter 3:3-5) Good works are like good clothes, to which the apostle alludes; they do not make persons men and women, but they adorn them as such; so good works, they do not make men and women Christians, or believers, but they adorn them as such; they are ornaments to their persons, and to their profession, and to the Gospel they profess. (see Titus 2:10).
Ver. 11. Let the woman learn in silence , etc.] The apostle goes on to give some other instructions to women, how they should behave themselves in public worship, in the church of God; he would have them be learners and not teachers, sit and hear, and learn more of Christ, and of the truth of the Gospel, and to maintain good works; and he would have them learn in silence, and not offer to rise and speak, under a pretence of having a word from the Lord, or of being under an impulse of the Spirit of the Lord, as some frantic women have done; and if they should meet with anything, under the ministry of the word, they did not understand, or they had an objection to, they were not to speak in public, but ask their own husbands at home; (see 1 Corinthians 14:34,35). And thus, they were to behave with all subjection ; both to the ministers of the word, and to their own husbands; obeying from the heart the form of doctrine delivered to them; and submitting cheerfully to the ordinances of Christ; the whole of which is a professed subjection to the Gospel, and which becomes all professing godliness.
Ver. 12. But I suffer not a woman to teach , &c,] They may teach in private, in their own houses and families; they are to be teachers of good things, ( Titus 2:3). They are to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; nor is the law or doctrine of a mother to be forsaken, any more than the instruction of a father; (see Proverbs 1:8 31:1-4). Timothy, no doubt, received much advantage, from the private teachings and instructions of his mother Eunice, and grandmother Lois; but then women are not to teach in the church; for that is an act of power and authority, and supposes the persons that teach to be of a superior degree, and in a superior office, and to have superior abilities to those who are taught by them: nor to usurp authority over the man ; as not in civil and political things, or in things relating to civil government; and in things domestic, or the affairs of the family; so not in things ecclesiastical, or what relate to the church and government of it; for one part of rule is to feed the church with knowledge and understanding; and for a woman to take upon her to do this, is to usurp an authority over the man: this therefore she ought not to do, but to be in silence ; to sit and hear quietly and silently, and learn, and not teach, as in ( 1 Timothy 2:11).
Ver. 13. For Adam was first formed , etc.] Immediately by God, out of the dust of the earth; and the breath of life was breathed into him, and he became a living soul; thus wonderfully and fearfully was he made; after this he was put into the garden of Eden, to dress it, and all creatures were brought to him, to give them names; and still an help meet or a companion was not found for him. All this while Eve was not as yet formed, but after this, then Eve . She was formed out of him, was made out of one of his ribs; and was formed for him, for his use, service, help and comfort; and here lies the strength of the apostle's reason, why the woman should be in subjection to the man; not so much because he was made before her; for so were the beasts of the field before Adam; and yet this gave them no superiority to him; but because she was made out of him, and made for him, (see Corinthians 11:8,9). So that the woman's subjection to the man is according to the laws of nature and creation; and was antecedent to the fall; and would have been, if that had never been; though that brought her into a lower, and meaner, and more depressed estate; which the apostle next mentions. The words may be rendered, “the first Adam”, or “Adam the first was formed, and then Eve”. (see 1 Corinthians 15:45,47).
Ver. 14. And Adam was not deceived , etc.] There is no need to say with interpreters, that he was not deceived first; and that he was not deceived immediately by the serpent, but by Eve; and that he is never said in Scripture to be deceived, as Melchizedek is never said to have a father or mother. The apostle's positive assertion is to be taken without any such limitations or qualifications; Adam never was deceived at all; neither by the serpent, with whom he never conversed; nor by his wife, he knew what he did, when he took the fruit of her, and ate; he ate it not under any deception, or vain imagination, that they should not die, but should be as gods, knowing good and evil. He took and ate out of love to his wife, from a fond affection to her, to bear her company, and that she might not die alone; he knew what he did, and he knew what would be the consequence of it, the death of them both; and inasmuch as he sinned wilfully, and against light and knowledge, without any deception, his sin was the greater: and hereby death came in, and passed on all men, who sinned in him: but the woman being deceived was in the transgression : and the serpent really beguiled her; she owned it herself, ( Genesis 3:13). And this is elsewhere said of her, ( 2 Corinthians 11:3) which never is of Adam. She really thought the serpent spoke truth, that she and her husband should not die, if they ate of the fruit; but that it was good to make them wise; and that, upon eating it, they should be as gods, knowing good and evil; and under this deception she fell into the transgression, and was the cause and means, by her persuasions and example, of bringing her husband into the same sin; which involved him and all his posterity in ruin and destruction.
And therefore she is called by the Jews ˆw[h µa , “the mother of iniquity and sin”; to which they refer, ( Psalm 51:5). And they say, she was the cause of death to Adam, and to all the world: (see Gill on “ Romans 5:12”). And they observe the order of the punishment of the serpent, Eve, and Adam, as of their sin; the serpent was first accursed, then Eve, and last of all Adam. They say f42 “Samael (the devil) could not subvert Adam, till the serpent came and turned the heart of Eve, and Eve turned his heart, and they both sinned; wherefore it is said, “the woman which thou gavest me”; Samael had no power to turn him, till Eve came, and she was the cause of his eating.”
Now inasmuch as the serpent did not attack Adam, he being the stronger and more knowing person, and less capable of being managed and seduced; but made his attempt on Eve, in which he succeeded; and since not Adam, but Eve, was deceived, it appears that the man is the more proper person to bear rule and authority, as in civil and domestic, so in ecclesiastic affairs; and it is right for the woman to learn, and the man to teach: and seeing that Eve was the cause of transgression to Adam, and of punishment to him and his posterity, the subjection of the woman to the man was confirmed afresh: and she was brought into a more depressed state of dependence on him, and subjection to him; (see Genesis 3:16). The Ethiopic version renders the text, “Adam hath not deceived, the woman hath deceived and prevaricated”.
Ver. 15. Notwithstanding she shall be saved , etc.] Not Eve, though no doubt she is saved; since she had a sense of her sin, and shame for it, a revelation of the Messiah to her, and faith in him; (see Genesis 3:7,8,15 4:2). But rather any woman, particularly such as profess godliness, who shall be saved in childbearing ; which is to be understood not of a temporal salvation, or being saved through childbearing, through the perilous time, and be delivered out of it; for though this is generally the case, yet not always, nor always the case of good women. Rachel died in childbed: the Jews say f43 , for three transgressions women die in childbearing; because they do not take care of their menstrues, and of the cake of the firstfruits, and of lighting the lamp (when the sabbath approaches). But spiritual and eternal salvation is here meant; not that bearing children is the cause, condition, or means of salvation; for as this is not God's way of salvation, so it confines the salvation of women to childbearing ones; and which must give an uneasy reflection to maidens, and women that never bore any; but rather the meaning is, that good women shall be saved, notwithstanding their bearing and bringing forth children in pain and sorrow, according to the original curse, in ( Genesis 3:16). And so the words administer some comfort to women, in their present situation of subjection and sorrow; though they may be rendered impersonally thus, “notwithstanding there is salvation through the birth of a son”: and the sense is, that notwithstanding the fall of man by the means of the woman, yet there is salvation for both men and women, through the birth of Immanuel, the child born, and Son given; at whose birth, the angels sung peace on earth, good will to men; through the true Messiah, the deed of the woman, through the incarnate Saviour, who was made of a woman, there is salvation for lost sinners: he was born of a woman, and came into the world in order to obtain salvation for them; and he has effected it, and it is in him, for all such who apply to him for it; and with it all true believers, men and women, shall be saved through him, if they continue in faith and charity, and holiness, with sobriety . The Vulgate Latin version reads in the singular, “if she continues”, etc. but the sense is the same; for the “she”, or woman, is to be taken in a collective sense, as it is in the context, for many women; even for such as profess faith and godliness. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions render the words, “she shall be saved by her children”, if they continue, etc. i.e. she shall be saved by bearing of children, and bringing of them up in a religious way; if they, the children, continue as they were brought up; which is a very strange rendering of the words, and is as strange an interpretation of them; and yet is what many have given into, but needs no confutation. The meaning of the words is, that there is salvation through the incarnate Messiah, for all sorts of persons; for all men and women who believe in him, with that faith which works by love, and shows itself in holiness and sobriety; provided that they continue herein. For there are some that profess these things, that have only a temporary faith, and feigned love, and not true holiness; and these fall away, and are not saved; but such who have these graces in truth, as they do, and shall continue in them, so they shall certainly be saved.