“The Elders of the Church” 1 Timothy 3:1-7 Part 1

The material in this sermon is heavily indebted to several pastors: Mark Dever, Jeramie Rinne & Alexander Strauch.


The Household of God

1 Timothy 3:1-7


1983 – 43 people meet in the home of Jim & Ruth McDowall for the first meeting of what would become Lake Wylie Baptist Church. Jimmy Ezell is affirmed as the pastor. October 9th, the church is constituted with 33 charter members.

1984 – Having rotated through member homes for worship, Lake Wylie Baptist find its first permanent home in the offices of The Realty Plantation in Tega Cay.

1984 – On May 6th, LWBC moves location to begin meeting on the campus of AME Mt. Zion of Youngblood Rd.

1984 – October 9th, LWBC agrees to purchase 7 acres of land on Highway 49.

1987-89 – Construction begins on the new property. The church builds a worship space and classrooms all with volunteer labor.

Side Note – Spurgeon Dorton, FBC, 1960, East Huntersville Baptist.

2001 – Alan Smith is called as the 5th pastor of Lake Wylie Baptist.

2004 – Lake Wylie Baptist Church builds a new 120 seat sanctuary and adds acreage in a land deal with the Palisades development.

2016 – Lake Wylie Baptist calls Jonathan Homesley as the 6th pastor.

2022 – Lake Wylie Baptist agrees to sell 11.5 acres and relocate.

These are all big changes and growths in the life of our church… and there’s another on the horizon. Just as God was faithful to give us land and a new building in 2004, and as his is faithful in giving us a new facility in the coming years, I believe he will be just as faithful to lead our church from being lead by a single pastor, into a plurality of pastors—or elders. 

I believe he’s going to do this for two reasons:

First, because he has told the church, in the Scriptures, that this is his desire and plan for every church.

Second, because our church is about to experience tremendous growth and expansion- and the need for Biblically qualified men to share in leading and shepherding the church the church is increasing by the minute. And the weight of that is too large for one man to shoulder.

Now—let me tell you—I thank the Lord every day for our deacons: Jim Hughes, Ricki Ingalls, Randy Warner, Marshall Hardin, and Jeff Williams. 5 men of integrity, who constantly lighten my load and encourage me. We will talk about deacons more 2 weeks from today in our study of 1 Timothy.

But today is about elders—men who shepherd, who disciple, who teach and who oversee the church.


As we’ve been moving through our study in 1 Timothy you’ll remember that the Apostle Paul, preparing to leave on this 4th missionary journey to Spain was leaving a younger man, Timothy behind in Ephesus to help lead the church there.

Chapter 1 of the letter was all about the right teaching in the church.

Chapter 2 gives instructions on prayer, as well as instructions to men and women in the church.

Today we come to chapter 3. And here, Paul begins outlining the qualifications necessary for the two offices of the church: elders (or pastors) and deacons.

We’re going to be in this passage for several weeks. Today we’ll read Paul’s qualifications for elders—but we’re actually going to zoom out. Today I’m going to preach a shorter, more topical introduction to elders. We’ll skip around to various New Testament passages.

I want you—LWBC, to see from the NT that God’s plan for the church is to be led by a plurality of elders.

Then next week, we’ll dig into Paul’s qualifications. Those qualifications will help us accurately see who God is calling into leadership.

And two weeks from today we’ll take time to distinguish between elders and deacons. We’ll talk about why we need them both and where they serve in different capacities.

I realize this may not be the most scintillating material we’ve ever covered. When will Christ return, the 10 plagues of Egypt, and identifying the Nephilim are far more intriguing topics.

But we must not underestimate the importance of having a God honoring leadership structure in the church. We must not ignore the Biblical qualifications of those leaders. Too many churches are stale and stagnant—ineffectual for the mission of God… too many churches are filled with neglected and hurting people, too many churches are sidelined… why? Leadership.


The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.


There are three words in the New Testament used interchangeably to refer to the office of pastor or elder. Those words are episcopos (which translates to overseer or bishop, presbuteros (which translates to elder, and poimain (which is the word we translate as pastor).

I realize that most Baptists hear the word “elder” and think, “That sounds presbyterian,” but the first and earliest Baptist—in fact, the majority of Baptists throughout history have taught from the Scriptures that eldership is a Biblical office of the church. 

So, whenever the New Testament says “elder,” we should think, “pastor.” The same is true with overseer or bishop. 

If you want a definition I like this one:

“An elder is a Biblically qualified man, recognized by his congregation as an elder, who leads the congregation by teaching the Word, praying for the sheep, and overseeing the affairs of the church.”

In short: elders are pastors. They are the spiritual shepherds overseeing the spiritual health of the flock. 


Elders aren’t the only ones who teach the church, but God has calls Godly men to lead his church, and the primary way they lead is through teaching and preaching God’s Word.

1 Tim. 3:2 – “able to teach”

An elder need not have a seminary degree, but he ought to be competent to open his Bible and teach the Word of God without error. He ought to be able to offer Biblical wisdom and counsel to church members. He should be able to explain the gospel to children and adults alike.

Where might we find an elder teaching? We might think of the pulpit of course, but there are plenty other venues for teaching the Bible in the life of the church: 

We should find elders teaching an Equipping Hour class, or in a home group Bible study. They might be invited into the youth group to teach a lesson or studying Scripture with a church member over coffee. 

As the Senior Pastor I always intend to do the bulk of the preaching on Sunday, but with Elders we have trusted men who can fill the pulpit from time to time in the year.

And it’s important to remember what elders are to teach: the Word. When I was called to be pastor, the search team told me, “We want a pastor who will preach the Word, unvarnished.”

Elders don’t get to make up their own teachings. They are to take the Word of God seriously. This isn’t a book of advice. It’s not a self-help book. It’s the living and active self-revelation of God. 


Elders have a measure of authority over the local church. That’s why they are often referred to as “overseers.” Their authority isn’t absolute. It isn’t unquestionable, and it’s not to be exercised in a domineering manner.

Nonetheless, God calls elders to lead the flock, and all things even, God expects the church to submit to that leadership:

Hebrews 13:7 says: Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

If you’ve been at LWBC for more than a year you’ll notice that we don’t have loads of church votes. We vote on really big issues—like the sell of the property. We vote annually on the budget and deacons. But by and large, we allow the leaders of the church to lead and make decisions.

We believe that if God has given us qualified leaders, then we ought to submit to them and allow them to make decisions for the church. Many churches are gridlocked because leaders don’t lead.

A few years ago repainted this room and resurfaced this stage… we didn’t vote on that. We knew that the church has bigger responsibilities to focus on rather than becoming divided over the color of the walls.

God expects the church to submit to godly leaders. God also expects leaders not to lord their leadership over the church.

The Apostle Peter reminds us that elders are to exercise oversight: eagerly – but not domineering over those in [their] charge

Elders must remember that they aren’t Jesus. He alone is the chief-shepherd of the church. We’re just under-shepherds. We are temporary assistants. 

Just because we have been called into leadership, elders must never forget that they are also sheep—in need of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Sinners, who but for Christ’s righteous life and sacrificial death, are doomed to an eternity separated from God because of our sin.

Being an elder doesn’t make you right. Being an elder doesn’t make you owner. We are to lead—but without lording.


We always find elders (plural) in the New Testament.

When Paul was in Derbe and Lystra we’re told in Acts 14: 23 – 

23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

When the church in Jerusalem had to judge in matters of doctrine in Acts 15 we’re told that 

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.

As Paul was departing from the city of Ephesus in Acts 20 Luke tells us that Paull called…

the elders of the church to come to him.

Finally, in the letter Paul wrote to Titus, he gave this command:

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you

In each instance we see that the church was being led by a plurality of elders. Why is that? Well, I can think of several reasons:

First, a plurality of elders promotes accountability. Godly elders are able to strengthen and spur one another on to godliness, humility, and integrity. Likewise, a plurality of elders distributes power, preventing 

Second, a plurality of elders promotes wise decision making. Proverbs 11:14 says:

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, 

but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. 

Third, a plurality of elders provides balance. No one man has all of the gifts necessary to bring the church to maturity. One elder may excel in preaching while another in shepherding. One may lead in evangelism while another oversees discipleship.

Fourth, a plurality of elders prevents burnout. Caring for a growing church requires lots of man hours in visiting and counselling, in membership interviews, and overseeing discipline. When more qualified men are shouldering the weight of care, it lightens the load.

Fifth, a plurality of elders prepares us for kingdom expansion. God desires that LWBC play a part in expanding his kingdom—by sending missionaries, church planters, pastors, women’s ministry leaders, worship leaders and beyond. Having more elders allows our church to take greater part in the Great Commission to expand into all the earth.

Sixth, a plurality of elders prepares the church for pastoral transition. I have no intentions of leaving LWBC anytime soon—but should Christ’s return be delayed, there will come a day when I will no longer be your pastor—and friends—it will be the responsibility of the elders of this church to both lead the ministry in my absence, but also to work together with you to call a new senior pastor. I need not tell you how difficult the year and a half before I was called here was.


1 Peter 5 says that elders are to:

shepherd the flock of exercising oversight,..not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock

Elders are not simply to lead the flock—primarily they lead by setting an example and tone for the church. Why is this so important? Because the church is not a company. 

In a company, the bosses can increase profits, ramp up production, and bring greater organizational efficiency even while their personal lives are in shambles. 

But the church is different. We aren’t producing products—we are cultivating disciples—which requires that our leaders are setting an example in holiness, hospitality, gentleness, and devotion to the Lord.

Modeling means that Elders are loving their wives well, they are ruling over their children and nurturing them in the Lord. Elders must maintain control over their emotions—you can’t lead the church if you cannot lead yourself.

Modeling also means that Elders spend time with the people of the church. Not ever lay elder will have the same bandwidth, but any man aspiring to be an elder ought to be open to church members, inviting them into their lives.


In Acts 6 we’re told that the church was growing rapidly and there were physical needs in the church that were being unmet. Specifically, there were widows in the church who were being neglected. 

And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Likewise in James 5 we see this call specifically towards the Elders to plead for the flock:

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Church, elders are to be men of prayer. They are to realize how powerless they are in their own strength to bring the church to maturity in Christ—therefore they pray, asking the Holy Spirit to accomplish this work. They minister encouragement and comfort to the saints through prayer.

Church—this is a simple message. I pray it has laid the basic groundwork from the New Testament of God’s plan for leadership in the church. 

I pray that you will commit to three action items:

First—pray for me. Pray that God keeps me humble and holy. Pray that God uses me effectively to shepherd and disciples.

Second—pray for elders. Ask God to give us men who aspire to the office this sermon has outlined. Pray that our church would follow in faithfulness to the Word of God.

Third—pray for yourself. As the membership of LWBC, it is your responsibility to recognize godly, qualified leaders. As you see God raising up men who meet these qualifications and responsibilities, tell me. 

“The Men & Women of the Church” 1 Timothy 2:8-15


The Household of God

1 Timothy 2:1-7


Two Questions.

Question Number One: What do you do when you read something in Scripture and you are certain of what it means, yet at the same time, you’re quite sure you disagree with it?

Do you question the authority of the Scriptures and search online for anyone who will agree with your interpretation? Or, do you question your own assumptions, sensibilities, and cultural values? Do you sit over the Scriptures, acting as the final arbiter of meaning? Or, do you sit under the Scriptures, allowing them to question you, press you, sharpen you?

Question Number Two: What do you do when you read something in Scripture that you don’t understand at all, so you read commentaries to gain understanding only to realize that each commentator offers a different interpretation.

Do you wonder why God couldn’t have spoken more clearly? I mean, if 5 Greek scholars all disagree over how to interpret a passage, what hope do I have of figuring it out? 

Well, it just so happens that the Scripture passage for this morning’s sermon contains both of those challenges. If you have a copy of God’s Word begin turning to 1 Timothy 2. If you are using one of the Bibles provided in the pew rack you’ll find our text on page ______.

Early in the passage Paul says, rather clearly, that he does not permit women to teach or hold authority over men in the church. And I don’t have to tell you how such a clear, concise prohibition runs against the grain of our culture.

At the end of our text Paul includes a statement that is far more confusing and obscure: that women will be saved through bearing children, and scholars disagree over his exact meaning.

So, we find both difficulties within the same passage: one clear statement that our culture disagrees with, and one confusing statement that may cause us to throw up our hands, feeling as if the Scriptures are simply too difficult to understand.

Beyond all of that, several factors complicate our interaction with this text, potentially causing us to misinterpret or misapply.

Many who hear this passage read are ignorant of Paul’s context, one in which women were not allowed to learn alongside men. This means Paul’s invitation to women in this passage to learn with the men would have run across the grain of his own time and culture.

Or we may misinterpret this because we’ve assumed that our own cultural sensibilities are correct. We may be guilty of what C. S. Lewis called Chronological Snobbery, the idea that the newer is truer, and that the latest word on the subject must be held as the last and final word on the subject, instead of allowing the authors of Scripture to speak and then questioning our own assumptions.

Friend, it may be that others have sinned against you. If you have been sinned against by chauvinistic and domineering men. Never heard, never cared for, but instead silenced, marginalized, degraded, and neglected, then I can imagine how difficult you might find it to read and study such a passage without reading your own painful experiences into it.

Or perhaps you’ve simply had bad experiences in church. Many pastors, teaching from this passage, speak the truth—but speak it in tones and with expressions that indicate their own sense of superiority over women.

Church, as we walk through one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament, we’ll have to do so with trust and humility. Trust, that the Word of God is authoritative, and when it speaks clearly, we are to obey. And humility that understands even a high view of Scriptures authority is not a hall pass to arrogance and mocking those who disagree.

As we seek to understand this passage first I’ll give some context, then we’ll examine the passage under two headings.

1. Paul’s Instructions to Men in the Church

2. Paul’s Instructions to Women in the Church


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, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.


First, let’s set the context. It’s important to remember that all of this passage falls under Paul’s instructions to Timothy—the younger minister he left in the city of Ephesus to order and structure the operations of the church. So, this letter isn’t written to give instructions to men in general—but men within the church. The commands to the women, likewise, are set within the context of how they are to act within the local congregation. 

Second, it’s important to remember that Paul was constantly concerned with the proper worship of God in the church. It’s a common feature of his writing.

In Titus 1:5 Paul wrote:

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you

Likewise, instructing the church at Corinth on their worship gatherings, which were getting out of control Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:40

40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

Friends the worship of our God gathered as his people on the Lord’s Day ought to be exciting. It ought to be enlivening. And at the same time, we remember that it is solemn. It is official. It is authorized and serious. And therefore, we ought to desire to know how God would have us come into his presence.

Unfortunately, things in Ephesus were out of order. As we’ve noted in previous weeks, there were men in the church—perhaps even some of the elders—who were supposed to be leading the way in that order. Teaching right doctrine. Setting the pattern for godly living and discipleship, yet they were given over to distracting and speculative teachings. 

And, if you look at the end of this letter, both in chapter 4 & 5 there are indications that some of the women in the church at Ephesus were just as disorderly as some of the men. Some had become self-indulgent. Drawing attention to themselves. They were being disruptive within the congregation.

And for that reason, Paul addresses both men and women in the church, giving them, and by extension, us too instructions for conduct within the church. Conduct that will lead the church to right worship, conduct that will aid in our devotion to God rather than distract us from it. For the men and the women Paul gives both positive and negative commands. Don’t do this! But do this! In other words, this passage isn’t simply prohibitive. For men and women we are taught what not to do alongside of what to do.

So first…


In his single verse, directed toward the men of the church Paul gives two instructions: one positive, the other negative. Positively, Paul says, “Pray with Purity” and negatively, Paul warns us to “Confess Quarreling.”

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;

         A. Pray with Purity

First, men. We are called to pray with purity. Paul isn’t saying that women cannot pray—but Paul has specific thoughts aimed towards men.

When he tells us to pray, lifting holy hands he’s calling us to pure, unmixed devotion to the Lord. When we hear the word holy we instantly think of moral uprightness—but Biblically speaking, holiness ultimately refers to our being set apart for God’s exclusive use. 

In the book of Leviticus we are told of the instruments that were made for the Temple in Jerusalem: the table, the lampstand, the altar. And we’re told that each one was holy. What does that mean? Did it mean that the table was morally upright? What would it be like to eat at a morally upright table? Or worse, what would it be like to eat at an immoral table? You see, holiness, meant that the table, the lampstand, the altar were exclusive to God’s use. They weren’t to be used for anything else.

In my bathroom there’s a tray that holds my toothbrush—and my toothbrush is holy unto me. It’s exclusive for my use alone! No one else is allowed to use my toothbrush.

Men—we are to pray to the Lord with holy hands—hands that are exclusive to the Lords use—hands that do as he bids. Hearts that are unmixed and undivided in their devotion to our King.

And notice what we are to do with our hands—we are to lift them. There are many postures of prayer. We often find those who pray in the Scriptures seated, or kneeling, or even laying flat upon the ground. The only posture we ought not assume is slouching. And here, we are taught that uplifted hands in prayer is encouraged. Why?

It signals our awareness of our own need. It signals our humility. It signals our dependence upon the Lord.

Men—when you pray, I encourage you—try lifting your hands. See if that change in your posture doesn’t have some affect on your prayers, on your own awareness of your smallness and God’s bigness.

So, positively, we are to pray with purity… negatively…

         B. Confess Quarrelling

We are to confess quarrelling. Eugene Peterson writes:

what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God.

Paul warns us men of that which most frequently hinders our prayers: anger and quarrelling. You say, “Jonathan, do you mean that my prayers can be hindered… that God would reject my prayers?

Friend, the Scriptures are clear that sin hinders our prayers. In 1 Peter 3:7 Paul writes:

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 

Likewise, in Matthew 5:23-24 we are told:

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift

Men, many of us may hear this warning about anger and think to ourselves: Well, I don’t really struggle with anger. The truth is most of us don’t realize how hangry we are because we aren’t struggling with it. We are, sadly, completely oblivious to it. 

This past Christmas my dad got a dash camera for his truck. You know, it records video so that if you’re in a wreck you can prove what happened to your insurance providers. Last week I took a road trip with him and asked if he like the camera. He said, “I love how it records everything, but it’s also made me realize how often I’m angry. I never knew how much I yelled at other people until I had video I could go back and watch.”

You may not have a dash camera recording your every action and conversation… but men, you do have spouses and friends… will you be humble enough to ask someone you trust: do you think I anger to easily, to frequently? Am I a quarrelsome person?

“Angry men passionate about being right are a primary threat to acceptable worship, as well as to the wider relational dynamics that should contribute to harmony in Christian homes and congregations.” – Yarbrough

Men—if God desires that men lead worship in the church, then we are responsible for setting the tone of that worship—and setting that tone doesn’t begin at 10:15 AM on Sunday. It is accomplished from sunup to sundown 7 days a week.

Men, the good news of the gospel is that we serve a king named Jesus—one who loved his heavenly Father with pure and unmixed devotion. His entire life was holy—exclusively set apart for the Father’s use. He was constantly saying, “I have come to do my Father’s will.” 

Though he certainly could get angry—he was never quarrelsome. No, his anger was always motivated by love of God, not love of self. His anger was never mixed with arrogance. He never lost control of his anger. He’s the only man who was truly able to lift holy hands to the Father. At the cross, he bled and died as a sacrifice for all the times we have sinfully indulged in anger. He paid the penalty for our love of self and arrogance.

And he did all of that, not so that he could hold our sin over our head, but so that he could cleanse us completely and bury our sin at the foot of his cross.

Men, your Father in heaven wants to release your heart from the stifling grip of unrighteous anger. Turn to Christ. See his wounds for you. Turn away from quarrelling. Lift your hands to God and pray asking him to forgive you for Christ’s sake.


To the women of the church, Paul gives a trio of exhortations. Draw attention to Christ, not yourself, learn of Christ submissively, and follow Christ obediently. We’ll take them one by one:

         A. Draw Attention to Christ, Not Yourself

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.

Just as Paul singles out a male tendency towards quarrelling and anger, here he points out a female tendency: an unhealthy concern with bodily appearance.

Two quick caveats: First, notice the word unhealthy.

There is such a thing as a healthy concern for bodily appearance. And there is such a thing as an unhealthy concern. Go read the Song of Solomon later and you will see that the Bible can actually make you blush when it talks about the beauty of the human body. The Scriptures are not prudish. So the focus on this passage has far more to do with the intentions of beautifying and adorning the body, than it does the actions of adoring the body.

Second caveat: Just as in v. 8 Paul was not accusing every man in the church of being a hothead, so here he is not accusing every woman of being vain, nor am I. But as one commentator said: 

Paul wrote in another setting where there were a few troublemakers, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (Gal 5:9). It takes only a few strategically positioned angry men or glamour-obsessed women to set an unhealthy tone for a much larger group.

So, what exactly is Paul saying? Well, the short version is: Ladies, draw attention to Christ, not yourself. Cultivate the fear of the Lord in your own heart, not vanity.

Ladies, I don’t believe Paul is giving a blanket prohibition on braiding your hair or wearing gold. In a first century church it’s likely that few if any members could afford to have expensive hairstyles and jewelry. Therefore, if one or two women in the church came in dressed as if they were walking the red carpet at the Academy Awards, they would have drawn everyone’s attention off of the worship of the risen Christ, and onto themselves. Their public presentation of themselves risked distracting others from hearing the gospel. 

Therefore, the encouragement from Paul is that women dress themselves with modesty. Opulent dress is not becoming of a Christian. It may be praised by the world, but it is not praised by us.

Now, what this means in specifics, I have no intention of getting into. I’m a smarter man than that. But understand, that according to the Scriptures, this is an issue that godly women must face with courage. Ladies, I believe that I can preach this principle of modesty with boldness—and that God has given you all the wisdom and knowledge of the Scriptures to meet with one another and figure out the specifics.  Ladies, if you have questions about something you want to wear, talk to other people. Get their input on it. 

In summary, we use our entire lives for the good of others. What we say about Christ matters, and how we are dressed when we are saying it communicates something as well. Dress yourself with a heart that desires to draw attention to Christ, not yourself.

Paul’s next instruction to the women of the church is…

         B. Learn of Christ Submissively

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.

Again, within these two verses we see both the positive and the negative commands. Both encouragement and prohibition.

Positively, Paul is inviting all of the women of the church in to sit down with the other men and learn of Christ. This was a radically new invitation in the ancient world—a world in which women were second class citizens. While our attention in this age of egalitarianism is primarily drawn to Paul’s instructions to silence and submission—in the first century, the readers of this letter would have been stunned that Paul invited women in to learn at all. But you ought to remember that Jesus Christ himself had a following of women—something no other Rabbi did. 

So, Paul is giving the invitation and he’s giving guidelines for how the invitation ought to be received.

Paul adds two points of order. First, this invitation to learning is supposed to be received in quiet submission. This word “quietness” strikes us. And whatever this word quietness means, he must not have meant it absolutely, because in his letter to the Corinthian church Paul gives instructions for how women are to prophesy and pray in the church.

Rather, I think Paul is better understood here to be explaining the order of any good learning environment. Quietness allows everyone in the room to learn.

What about “submission?” That seems cold and sexist doesn’t it. Well, no. I understand that our culture devalues authority and submission in general—and assumes that anyone in authority is by necessity corrupt and an oppressor—but that’s just not the way the Scriptures teach us to think about authority. As Christians, we understand that authority and submission are good gifts of God—ones that can certainly be corrupted by sin—but corruption and oppression are not baked into them.

Friends, consider all of the good relationships of authority and submission the Bible encourages: that of bosses and workers, that of church members submitting to elders, that of church members submitting to one another in reverence for Christ. Friends, consider that even Jesus Christ—the eternal Son of God will be submitted to God the Father so that God might be all in all. 

The submission that Paul is calling for in this passage isn’t the submission of every woman to every man. It’s the submission that is required of every Christian who sits under the preaching of God’s Word. Church—we believe that God’s Word, when preached rightly, is God speaking to his church—and he does so authoritatively. He speaks and we are to submit to his Word.

The second point of order Paul gives as he invites women to learn of Christ is this: 

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

Let me make a few quick bullets for you:

  • This point of order isn’t simply cultural—Paul isn’t prohibiting the Ephesian women from a function in the church that he allows in other cultures in other times. No, this call for men to fulfill both the office of elder and the functional teaching of the men and women in the public gathering transcends both time and place—because Paul roots this pattern in the pattern of creation: Adam was made first—therefore God expects men to teach and instruct. He also roots it in the pattern of the fall: Eve took the lead in breaking God’s command while Adam passively stood by. Therefore God desires that men in the church do what Adam refused to do—namely teach and instruct.
  • Paul’s instruction for men to be elders and teachers in the public gathering is not based on competence. There are women who are incredibly gifted students of the Word and have amazing rhetorical skill. So, this call for men to lead in the teaching of the congregation is not a statement on ability.
  • Paul’s instruction here does not prohibit a woman from explaining the Scriptures to a man. We see in Acts that Priscilla and Aquilla, two believers in the church, pulled Apollos, a preacher in the church, to the side to further explain the Scriptures to him. Luke names Priscilla first. So, ladies—if anyone stands in this pulpit and misinterprets Scripture—you have an invitation to pull me aside, or another man aside, and respectfully correct us.
  • This passage makes not statement on women leading either in the marketplace or in the public office; the focus is strictly on the public teaching and positions of authoritative leadership within the church.

This week I listened to a pastor named Mark Dever preach on this passage. I commend his sermon to you—I’ve borrowed portions of it myself. In his sermon he made a most interesting point:

Within our church membership we have more women than men. I don’t know what the actual percentage is—but there are more women than men. And being a congregational church you could say that women actually do rule LWBC. 

But that’s not the way we see it. The church isn’t really to be a pure democracy. We have elders who are to lead the church and teach as they lead. And the congregation gives final adjudication on issues of doctrine and discipline. 

Elders teach and have authority. And as we’ll see in the coming weeks, Paul says that only qualified men can be elders and teach men in gathered public church services.

This doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t be involved in the ministry of the church. Women are called to teach one another; they are called to teach their own children and the other children of the church. They should be evangelizing and discipling. In Romans Paul calls Phoebe a “servant” of the church. To the Philippians, he says Euodia and Syntyche have labored side-by-side with him. Priscilla and Aquilla taught Apollos. And women were instructed in Corinth to pray in the church.

Can I just tell you how thankful I am for the women of LWBC? Just this past Wednesday night at our prayer service, half of those who prayed were women. If you were to go back to our children’s wing you would see that the vast majority of our teachers there are the women of the church—not because they were relegated there—but because they understand the eternal weight and value of instructing children in the gospel—and let me tell you, Marcy would not turn down some of you men in the children’s wing. 

A few weeks back a number of women in our church participated in the Titus 2 mentoring program. We have women in our church who serve in chaplaincy with evangelistic associations. We have women who meet to study God’s Word together.

I pray God would give us more and more Godly women who love good theology, who love discipleship, who love evangelism, who love prayer. Who long to learn of Christ.

Lastly, women are called to…

         C. Follow Christ Obediently

The end of our passage contains a verse that has confused man people. Look at verse 15 with me:

15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

What does “saved through child bearing” mean?

  • Does it mean that women earn their salvation by bearing children? No—because we’re told that we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. There are no works that contribute to our justification. No merit that we can earn by our own deeds. So that can’t be it.
  • Is this verse a veiled reference to the birth of Christ—that Eve, though she sinned, would later be redeemed by the offspring of woman? Maybe, but that seems like a stretch.

Friends, I believe this final verse, when set within the context of the verses that precede it is a simple encouragement to women.

Paul has just said that Adam was created first and was expected to teach his wife, Eve. And instead, the order was reversed: Eve sinned first when she was deceived, and Adam passively followed. When we go back to the book of Genesis we learn that the consequence of that inversion was the curse of sin.

Man’s work would now be toilsome—and Woman’s distinct realm of child birthing would be painful. It would be a trial. It would be cursed.

Nevertheless, Paul says, women will be saved, not by bearing children, but through it—even when they go through the trial of child birth in a world that is cursed by sin—they will be saved—how if they continue in faith.

So, women in the church are to follow Christ obediently—by faith, with love, with holiness, with self-control. 

Church, there was a role-reversal in the Garden of Eden. Adam stood by silently while Eve, his bride, transgressed God’s laws. And when God questioned him about it, he abnegated even further—“it was the woman you gave me.” When Eve fell into sin, Adam should have taken his wife to God and said, “By bride has sinned. She deserves to die, but take me in her place.”

And the Scriptures tell us of another role-reversal in another garden when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did just that. Instead of abnegating, he actually took the place of his sinful bride—us the church. Instead of standing by and allowing us to be consumed by the curse—be bore it in our place.

The first Adam’s sin brought death and decay to us all. The second Adam, Christ’s obedience, offers forgiveness and life eternal to all who will trust in him.

Let’s pray together.

“The Prayers of the Church” 1 Timothy 2:1-7


The Household of God

1 Timothy 2:1-7


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.


As we continue our study of 1 Timothy we’ve reached chapter two and Paul shifts gears. As Paul prepared for his fourth and final missionary journey, he left Timothy in the city of Ephesus to shepherd and lead the church there—and Timothy’s first job that we saw in chapter one was to correct the teaching that was happening in that church. The elders in that church had begun to drift from the doctrine that Jesus Christ had taught the apostles to teach and Timothy had to set it straight.

Now, in chapter two, Paul instructs Timothy to shape and structure the prayers of public worship. And in this instruction we see that when the church gathers on the Lord’s Day, we are to prioritize praying for all people. 

It’s crucial to remember, as we work through this passage, that these instructions are for the assembled church. Certainly, you can apply all the principles of this passage to your own individual prayer life—but the context of Paul’s teaching is in reference to the ministry of the saints to one another and to the entire world on the Lord’s Day. It’s a potent reminder that God has placed the church- not just individual Christians- at the center of his work in the world. 


Notice how the text begins:

First of all, then, I urge

When Paul says “first of all,” he isn’t saying that the first item in the order of worship must be prayer—he’s saying that prayer must be a priority in worship. And, he urges this. It’s the same urging he gave Timothy to correct wayward teaching. Prayer, Paul says, isn’t optional for public worship. It’s essential. 

What kind of prayer? What should we pray about? Paul writes…

that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions,

These four words: supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings, are four words Paul chooses to summarize all of the prayers a church ought to pray when the church gathers.

  • Supplications is a word that means “requests” or “petition”
  • Prayers refers to our devotion to God in prayer.
  • Intercessions refers to standing in the gap for the needs of others. Think of it as intervention praying.
  • Thanksgiving recognizes God as the giver of all that we have and the answerer of all our prayers.

We are to offer all those kinds of prayers on behalf of all kinds of people. For kings and for peasants.

And we are to pray this way so that…

we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 

We are to pray for kings so that our lives won’t be disturbed by unjust rulers. We are to pray for neighbors and bosses so that we’ll be able to live quiet lives of godliness in their midst.

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. 

We see that God is pleased with this kind of praying. This is the kind of prayer that God loves to answer and bless. If you want to pray prayers you know God loves, then pray like this.

Why is this pleasing to God? Because God desires to save all people. The all in this passage doesn’t refered to “every last person,” but rather to all “kinds” of people. We are to pray for kings because God desires to save kings. We are to pray for peasants because God desires to save peasants. He isn’t just the savior of an elite few—he is the savior for every kind of person there is.

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. 

Why does God hear our prayers? Why does he listen to us? Because we have a mediator, Jesus Christ. The Son of God stands between us and our Father in heaven. Our prayers ascend to the Father not because we’ve been obedient, but because Christ was obedient in our place and bore our guilt. 

Finally, Paul reminds us of his own commission:

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.

As I said, Paul’s instruction in this passage is given to the church. Timothy is in Ephesus to shape and structure the public worship of the church. And in this passage we learn a great deal.


First, the church is a public institution. We are called, as one pastor said, to “intrude upon the affairs of the world. We are to pray for kings and peasants, for neighbors and nations. Ours is a public faith. It is not a private faith. It is not a faith that only operates in secret.


How does the world change? Paul says, “Worship.” God has placed the gathered worshipping church in the center of God’s strategy for changing the world.

What we are doing, here and now, has international and cosmic ramifications.


Gardening – conditions for certain plaints.

We certainly see that the church has grown in times of persecution. We thank God for the martyrs of the faith. But Paul is indicating here that we ought to pray for peaceful lives—so that we can live out our faith as quiet citizens.

Peaceful times means the church gets to focus on


This prayer teaches us the primary functions and duties of the civil magistrates. Paul was praying for kings and emperors. We are praying for Presidents and Legislators, Mayors and City Counsellors.

The role of goverment, according to Scripture, is to maintain public order so that citizens can live peaceful and quiet lives. They are to be the hall monitors of society, not the principal of the school. 

Good government matters. And Paul is telling us that good government, that promote peace allow the work of the church to continue unhindered.

There are two equal and opposite dangers for us as we think about governments. The first is to treat the government as if it were our savior. The second is to say that governments don’t matter at all. And finding the balance point between those two is TOUGH.

Sadly, we live in a nation that worships government as god; who put political leaders on idolatrous pedestals. And this happens with democrats and conservatives. It happens with non-Christians and Christians alike.

What I fear, far more than non-believers, who vote for evil leaders, are Christians who worship and serve good leaders.

Too many Christians think: if we can change what’s happening in the political realm then we can change the culture. This is backwards.

Politics is downstream from culture… and culture is downstream from worship.

What a people worship determines what their culture will be like, which determines what kind of political leaders they will elect or submit to.

Paul says, “Get worship right, first… then the world will be evangelized.”

Our primary focus ought to be on the right worship of God, first,—then as a consequence, politics will sort itself out.


So, take all of this together and ask, “How is the world evangelized?” The answer is, first, because Christ died on the cross as a substitute. Paul calls him a ransom. He stood in the place of sinners and bore the condemnation of sinners. And as a result, the church is called to proclaim Christ, to preach Christ—and as we do, we pray. We pray for kings and all people that we might enjoy peace, because peace promotes and enables more preaching and proclaiming of Christ.