The Proper Attitude of Men and Adornment of Women in Church Service

March 31, 2019 | Speaker: Pastor Jurem Ramos

1Timothy 2:8-10

  Each January, the entertainment community and movie fans around the world turn their attention to the Academy Awards, also known as The Oscars. Hundreds of millions of movie lovers tune in to watch the glamorous ceremony and learn who will receive the highest honors in filmmaking. But that is not the only reason millions watch; many also want to find out who wears the best gown or tuxedo, that is it has been said that the Oscars are the “fashion Olympics“ for Hollywood's brightest stars.   When it comes to fashion, Filipinos wont let others bypass them and so during our own FAMAS Awards, actors and actresses also try to outdo one another with their red-carpet dresses and suits.   Surprisingly, the same happens during the president’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). Sometimes, SONAs have become like a fashion show for politicians, celebrities, and other personalities who take the opportunity to show off their dresses made by top Filipino gown designers. If the congresswoman’s dress is a head turner, she is criticized by netizens as being extravagant. But pity the senator who is so poorly dressed that her gown is described as good for a table cloth or matches the floor carpet. Something similar to this happen in 2014 when Sen. Nancy Binay was first criticized for her SONA outfit. Her skirt was likened to a hot air balloon, and she was compared to Disney character Fiona and the green Pokemon Bellosom. As a result, she became the subject of numerous memes and jokes on social media.   When it comes to the Oscars or FAMAS or even the SONA, you could understand the glitz and glamour of the personalities. But when we see this ostentatious display of wealth and pride happening in the church, and especially during the worship service, reactions could range from distracting to stumbling.   Today, we are going to look at the The Proper Attitude of Men and Adornment of Women in Worship Service. IN our text, we are going to find out about Paul’s instruction regarding the attitude of men and adornment when in a worship gathering.   Purpose Bridge:
  • We want to find out the wrong attitudes of men and the wrong adornment of women in worship services and God’s reaction to all this?
  • I want to challenge the men and women to replace their wrong attitudes and adornment with the good works that glorify God and edify the church and attract the world.
    Before we get into our text, to find out what Paul has to say about this issue, we need to have some idea of what was happening in Ephesus when Paul wrote this letter.

The Occasion

  Paul’s first letter to Timothy is occasioned by actual historical circumstances. 1Ti 1:3 tells us that Paul left Timothy in Ephesus as his personal representative in order to stop the influence of some false teachers. It seems that the prophecy of Paul in Acts 20:30 had actually been fulfilled at the time Paul wrote this letter: “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”   These false teachers were misusing the Law and emphasizing “myths and endless genealogies” that were causing controversies and quarrels and divisions among the members of the church. (1:4). They were those who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods (1Ti 4:3)   The false teachers didn’t just teach wrong doctrines, they also manifested evil conduct. Paul may be referring to them when he writes in 1Ti 6:4-5 that “he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people. They also think that godliness is a means of gain.”   According to 2 Timothy 3:5–9, these false teachers were finding their way in homes with some “weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” And it is possible that among these women were some young widows mentioned in 1 Timothy 5, who “are self-indulgent” (v. 6), and have become “idlers” and “gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (v. 13), and by so doing are bringing the gospel into disrepute (v. 14). Some of them, Paul says, have “already strayed after Satan” (v. 15).   That background will explain the urgency of Paul’s charge to Timothy to stop the false teachers in chapter 1. This also explains the emphasis on prayer in the first part of chapter 2 and his instructions regarding men’s attitude when praying. This is also the reason for Paul’s longer discussion regarding women and their adornment and roles. This background also explains Paul’s instruction regarding the qualifications of elders and deacons in chapter 3. As you read the rest of 1 Timothy, you must read it in the light of this background of false teachers and their negative influence upon the congregation or house churches in Ephesus.   First let us look at Paul’s instruction regarding…

I.           Men’s Attitude During Church Service (2:8)

8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;   UTB: This sentence is tied to what precedes by the conjunction “then.” It indicates an inference. It is possible that Paul had in mind the Ephesian problem. You will remember that in 2:1 Paul used the word, “then.” It indicated that the section of 2:1-7 was somehow connected with the problem identified in previous chapter, chapter 1. Some of the elders who have devoted themselves to myths and endless genealogies and other aspects of the Law of Moses may have taught that God wants only certain people to be saved. As a consequence of that, many of the Ephesian brethren may have restricted their prayers. Many no longer prayed for all people but only for those whose names were connected to Abraham. To correct that Paul wrote his instructions in 1Ti 2:1-7. He urged that all kinds of prayers should be made for all people and he gave several reasons for doing so: (1) God desires all to be saved, (2) all are answerable to only one God and (3) there is only way of salvation, through the unique Son of God.   The false teachers did not only introduce ideas that affected their view of salvation and their prayers, but they also caused controversies and quarreling. It is possible that there were those who did not agree with the view of these false teachers and their discussions fell into more controversies and quarreling.   And as we would see happening in debates among Filipinos especially when the issue is about religion, usually, the debaters use “personal attacks.” In logic and rhetoric, personal attacks are called ad hominemsAd hominem is Latin for “against the man.” Instead of advancing sound reasoning, ad hominems replace logical argumentation with attack-language unrelated to the truth of the matter. We would call this, "hitting below the belt." It is when some someone rejects or criticizes another person’s view on the basis of personal characteristics, background, physical appearance, or other features irrelevant to the issue at hand.   So when the false teachers began to promote their teachings, some responded angrily, shouting, and quarreling. Who knows, maybe some even got into fist fights. That anger was carried over to their worship services, fellowship gatherings and prayer meetings and was a disruption happened.   Understanding that background, we will see why Paul gives this instruction in 2:8:   8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;     And so this instruction is not that men should pray nor that only men pray nor that they should do so with uplifted hands, but that when at prayer they should do so without anger nor quarreling.   Paul begins his instruction here with “I desire.” Now, I need to clarify that word “desire.” In many places in the NT, the word “desire” simply means a wish or passive desire. But not here in this verse. In the Pastoral Epistles the word occurs three times carrying the of an authoritative command (1 Tim 2:8; 5:14; Titus 3:8).  
  • Read the context of 1Ti 5:14: (NASB) 11 But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12 thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. 13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.
  • Titus 3:8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
    In these contexts, the word “want” has the sense that Paul is ordering something by apostolic authority. The same tone also applies to 1Ti 2:8 when Paul says, 8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. The word “desire” is from the same Greek word translated as "want" in Titus 3:8 and 1Ti 5:11-14. It is not a request that may or may not be followed, for it comes from the authoritative apostle Paul who has just finished asserting his authority in v 7.     Paul only mentions the men here. Why he does that is not stated. It is possible that, because of the church's roots in the synagague, where only men could pray, most of the public prayer in the church was done by men.     The phrase “in every place” in which the men pray may refer to the local house-churches where believers gather in and around Ephesus” But it does not mean that Paul was applying his counsel only to the Ephesian church. His counsel may apply to the universal church gathered for worship. We know that because of 1Ti 3:15 that states that these instructions govern how one is to act in the "house of God, . . . the church of the living God."  Paul’s instruction here would govern not only the public worship in Ephesus but everywhere where there are believers gathered to worship. Paul is not discussing conduct in other settings outside the scope of the church, such as secular work. The context suggests that Paul is thinking of every place in the world where Christians worship.   Ideas from Hendriksen-Kistemaker:   In calling for men to "lift up holy hands," Paul was not prescribing a specific posture for prayer. The standard posture of prayer in Judaism included standing (Matt 6:5; Mark 11:25; Luke 18:11) and hands spread out and lifted towards heaven: Ex. 9:29; 1 Kings 8:22; Neh. 8:6).   But we also see bowing the head (Gen. 24:48; Ex. 12:27; 2 Chron. 29:30), the lifting of the eyes toward heaven  (John 17:1); kneeling (Acts 20:36; Eph. 3:14); falling sown with the dace upon the ground (Deut. 9:18, 25, 26; Matt. 26:39) and other positions like striking of the breast.   What is stressed, however, throughout Scripture and also here in 1Timothy 2:8, is not the position of the body or the hands but the attitude of the heart.   The image of lifting holy hands represent a holy life that seeks not only to turn away from sin but also seeks to please God. The Greek word for “holy” means “unpolluted” or “unstained by evil.” “Hands” symbolize the activities of life.   Psalm 24:3-4 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.   Hendriksen-Kistemaker: A man who has just committed a murder or an act of adultery or a theft must not think that without pardon and restitution (when it is possible), his hands can now be lifted up in a prayer that is pleasing to God.   Moreover, this lifting of hands must be done “without anger and quarreling.”  
  • Anger orgḗ, refers to a settled indignation against a brother. It is anger that Jesus perhaps has in mind in Mt. 5:22, 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.
  Paul takes a similar view. Anger is one of the sins of Eph. 4:31 that should be removed in one’s life. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. In Eph. 4:26-27, Paul says that yielding to anger will give the devil a foothold in one’s life. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” This is why the Lord Jesus says in Mt 5:23-24 “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”  
  • The next that Paul says should be removed when lifting of holy hands is "" Quarreling was something that always happened to the Ephesian false teachers (1 Tim 6:3-5).
  3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth...  
  • Anger and quarreling would spoil the effectiveness of prayers and these were attitudes that prevailed in Ephesus because of the false teachers.
  The point of v. 8 is that in public worship the men who offer prayers must be holy, and the prayer must be offered in the proper spirit. If the heart of a person is filled with wrath or malice against his brother his prayer will not be acceptable. This admonition has universal application although the reason why Paul wrote it is because of the local problem happening in Ephesus.   The next thing that Paul addresses in the worship service is the problem that was particularly found among the women.  

II.        Women’s Adornment during Church Service (2:9–10)

9 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, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.   The sentence in v. 9 begins with the word ‘Likewise.” Perhaps what Paul meant was something like this, “In the previous verse, I mentioned my desire for men; now similarly, I’ll tell you my desire for women.” The word “likewise” shows that Paul is continuing his authoritative instructions about conduct in connection with public worship.   So when Paul says, “likewise, this is what I desire,” what he is actually saying is this—"Likewise, as I ordered the men by my apostolic authority, I also have this command to you women by my apostolic authority.” This is not a suggestion but a command from a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.   Now when Paul is addressing the “women” here in vv. 9-15, he is referring to all Christian women, not just particular women, like for example, just the married women. This is Paul’s command to the married women, to widows, the single women too. The context here is still public worship and not the home.   Ideas from Understanding the Bible Commentary: Why does Paul spend a large amount of time to the women in comparison with the men? Again, the reason lies with the false teachers.  
  • According to 2Timothy 3:6 some of the false teachers “creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions.”
  • According to 1 Timothy 5, among these women are some younger widows who “self-indulgent or who live for pleasure” (v. 6), have become “idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.” (v. 13), and by so doing give the adversary no occasion for slander (v. 14). Some of them, Paul says, “have already strayed after Satan (v. 15). Within that context, the instructions on modest dress begin to make sense.
  Ideas from Word Biblical Commentary: Because of the influence of false teachers, it would appear that the women were dressing immodestly to the point that it was causing disruption; they were also becoming preoccupied with the external beauty and extravagance. They were neglecting things that were truly important such as doing good deeds. Therefore, Paul says that they are to dress in a way that is in keeping with their Christian character and to concentrate on what is most important.   MacArthur Study Bible: The Greek word for “adorn” means “to arrange,” “to put in order,” or “to make ready.” A woman is to arrange herself appropriately for the worship service, which includes wearing decent clothing that reflects a properly adorned, chaste heart.   While their dress is an issue, their attitude is Paul's true concern. As Proverbs 31:25 says, "strength and dignity are her clothing."     So now the question is how should Christian women properly adorn themselves?   Paul gives THREE principles for women regarding their adornment. We see here three prepositional phrases that describe how women should adorn themselves.     

1. Women should dress modestly and sensibly.

in respectable apparel with modesty and self-control.   “Modesty” refers to modesty mixed with humility, which carries the underlying idea of shame. It can also refer to a rejection of anything dishonorable to God, or refer to grief over sin. To dress "modestly" demands that the women do not to wear anything that they know to be revealing or seductive.   From   The Scripture says that we are to dress modestly, but what exactly does that mean in modern society? Does a woman have to be covered from head to toe? There are cults and religions in the world that demand this of women. But is that the biblical meaning of modesty? Again, we have to go back to the matter of the attitudes of the heart. If a woman’s heart is inclined toward godliness, she will wear clothing that is neither provocative nor revealing in public... Everyone else in her circle may be dressing immodestly, but she resists the temptation to go along with the crowd. She avoids clothing designed to draw attention to her body and cause men to lust... The idea of causing men to sin against God because of her dress is abhorrent to her because she seeks to love and honor God and wants others to do the same.   Paul adds the word “self-control” which means literally soundness of mind (σωφροσύνη). It refers to “exercise of care and intelligence appropriate to circumstances” (BDAG).   Ideas from Hendriksen-Kistemaker Commentary: In getting dressed for church women must … dress in sensible attire. They must not try to show off, wearing flashy apparel so as to make others jealous of them. They should adorn themselves, to be sure. They do not have to refuse fashion, unless a particular fashion happens to be immoral or indecent. They must not look decidedly old-fashioned, awkward, or queer. It must ever be borne in mind that a proud heart is sometimes concealed behind a mask of pretended modesty. That too is sin. Extremes must be carefully avoided. Don't be the first to try the new fashion, nor be the last to lay the old aside. That is what “good sense” implies. It is clear, therefore, that the apostle does not condemn the desire on the part of girls and women — a desire created in their souls by their Maker — to adorn themselves, to be “in good taste.” But if a woman’s robe is to be truly such, it will be expressive of modesty and good sense.  

2. Women should not dress to draw attention to worldly wealth.

9b not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,  
  • braided hair” –refers to elaborate and fancy hairdo.
  • Gold” and “pearls” pointed to very expensive jewelry.
  • costly attire” this is very expensive clothes.
  1. It is possible that Paul is not speaking simply of braided hair. Braided hair was a common style, and Paul is not saying that under any and all circumstances women throughout all future generations are here forbidden to wear their hair braided. Not at all.
  2. The combination of the word “braids” with “and gold or pearls or costly attire” gives us the clue that Paul is thinking of braided hair adorned with indications of wealth. He is referring to the sin of extravagance in outward adornment.
  The word "costly" that describes “attire” carries the idea of being extremely costly. This word is used to describe the ointment costing a year's wages that was poured on Jesus' head (Mark 14:3-5). The clothing Paul is considering is not slightly expensive but extravagantly expensive as suggested by the use of gold jewelry. A. H. M. Jones says clothing could cost as much as 7000 denarii, which equaled more than nineteen years' wages for an average day laborer.   Paul’s comments here should not be taken as an absolute prohibition of hairstyles, jewelry, or nice clothes. Hairstyle, jewelry and clothing have different meanings in different cultures. I like what Bible Speaks Today Commentary says of this portion,   “Christian women in some African tribes today … have preserved traditional hairstyles, which involve the most intricate plaiting, but are neither expensive, nor ostentatious, nor sexually significant. What Paul is emphasizing is that Christian women should adorn themselves with clothing, hairstyles and jewelry which in their culture are inexpensive not extravagant, modest not vain, and chaste not suggestive.”   MSB: Paul’s point was to forbid the preoccupation of certain women with flaunting their wealth and distracting people from worshiping the Lord.    

3. Women should adorn themselves with good works.

10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.   Notice the conjunction “but.” This shows contrast. So, instead of clothing that flaunt their wealth and seduce others to sin, Paul wants women to adorn themselves with godliness, and in particular, with good works. This is what is proper adornment for women who “profess godliness.” The word “profess” suggests that these women were publicly claiming that they were followers of Christ and worshipers of God.   This emphasis on “good works” is not salvation by works. God's salvation does not come because of anyone's works but only because of God's grace, mercy, love, purpose, and goodness (1 Tim 1:12-17). Good works are the necessary response by the believer to God's grace and mercy and are one of the purposes for which Christ came.   Paul says that Jesus gave himself to prepare a people zealous to do good deeds (Titus 2:14), and therefore believers should pursue them (2 Tim 2:21; Titus 3:1, 8, 14).   Paul also spells out what constitutes a good work:  
  • 1Ti 5:9-11 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.
  • Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
  • 1Ti 6:17-19 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
  So that is all about the women and their adornment.  
  • Women should dress modestly and sensibly.
  • Women should not dress to draw attention to worldly wealth.
(Note: This is a warning for Christians today to be wary of imitating styles and fashion set by Kardashian sisters or promoted by sexually promiscuous IG models and Kpop singers or endorsed in Shopee and other online sites.)  
  • Women should adorn themselves with good works.
  If I were to give one clear lesson to this study, it would be this: “Attitude and adornment matter to God when we worship.”   You can’t do these things apart from God’s grace.