The Scriptorium

And You Ladies

Women have a unique and crucial calling in the Church.

The Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy 2 (5)

Pray 72.1-3.

Give the king Your judgments, O God,
And Your righteousness to the king’s Son.
He will judge Your people with righteousness,
And Your poor with justice.
The mountains will bring peace to the people,

And the little hills, by righteousness.

Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 2.9-11.


1. What are Christian women supposed to profess? How should they do that?

2. Why is it wise and proper for a woman to “learn in silence with all submission”? 

Paul turns from addressing the men of the church and their duty and calling to pray, to speak a word to the ladies of the congregation. To some of us, Paul’s instructions here may seem unreasonable , demeaning, or outdated. But are they? Is Paul demeaning women in the role he prescribes for them in the church? Or is he elevating them to their proper place of leadership, both in Christian life and Christian learning?

First, nothing could be more “everyday” than how we dress. Paul calls on women to be modest in their clothing, and to exercise propriety and moderation in how they dress. These words, αἰδοῦς καὶσωφροσύνης, aidous kai sophrosunes, indicate showing respect for others, and thinking carefully and appropriately – that is, like a follower of Christ. The focus, in other words, is to be on others and how a woman should affect them by her appearance. Since showing Christ’s love and glory to the world is the end of all Christian learning (1 Tim. 1.5; 1 Cor. 10.31), how women dress can be a continuous, in “every place” (v. 8), witness to the beauty, decency, and humility of Christ. Instead of drawing attention to themselves with their clothing, or how they arrange their hair or the accessories they use, Christian women should dress with the question in mind, “How can I show Christ to my neighbor?”

How a woman presents herself is central to her witness; she is a continuous advertisement for godliness and good works. Paul does not say this of men. He says it of women, and that probably because the world tends to look at women in the wrong ways. And women sometimes tend to present themselves in ways other than what Paul prescribes here. Paul is not commending plainness; he is telling women how to express the true beauty of Christ, in ways that will show godliness and good works to the world. Women, more than men, have this calling and opportunity, and they should make the most of it.

Paul also instructs women to “learn in silence with all submission.” He seems to be talking about when believers are gathered in church. Here again, Paul shows what women can teach the world about true learning. All true learning begins in silence before the Lord, listening to Him, contemplating His Word, not challenging or offering our opinions or touting our views or otherwise talking just to hear ourselves talk – things which men like Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1.20) are always too ready to do. And isn’t this what so often happens in churches? Everyone wants their share of the limelight. We all want to speak our minds, and as we do, we’re talking over Jesus, Who wants us to “Be still” and know that He is God (Ps. 46.10). Women in church play an important role by learning in silence, reminding us all how we should learn to know the Lord; and by submitting to what they hear from the Lord, without qualification, without compromise or condition, and without hesitation – which, again is how we all should learn the Lord.

Christian women have a special opportunity to show the world both the beauty and godliness of the Christian life, and the way to increase in these by learning in silence and all submission. When women are faithful and consistent in their unique calling, they serve as a continuous witness to the world and a reminder to the Church of what it means to know and grow in the Lord. Is this a demeaning role? Hardly.

1. Paul wants Christian women to realize their full Gospel potential, in church and in the world. Explain.

2. Is Paul completely against a nice hairdo and some appropriate jewelry or cosmetics? Explain.

3. What can Christian men do to help the women in their lives fulfill this unique and holy calling as witnesses to godliness and sanctification?

Let us then hold fast modesty and that moderation which adds to the beauty of the whole of life. For it is no light thing in every matter to preserve due measure and to bring about order, wherein that is plainly conspicuous which we call “decorum,” or what is seemly. This is so closely connected with what is virtuous that one cannot separate the two.… This seemliness which we offer to God we may believe to be far better than other things. Ambrose of Milan (333-397), Duties of Clergy 1.45.219, 220.

Lord, I pray for the women in my life, in our church, and Christian women everywhere, that…

Pray Psalm 72.1-8.

Which of the blessings mentioned here does the Lord want to channel to others through you? Seek His wisdom, strength, and grace accordingly.

Sing Psalm 72.1-8.
Psalm 72.1-8 (Martyrdom: Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed)
O give the King Your judgment, Lord, and righteousness Your Son.
And let Him judge by Your good Word the need of everyone. 

Let now the mountains ring with peace, the hills in righteousness.
Let justice rise, oppression cease, and all the needy bless. 

Let nations fear You while the sun and moon endure on high. 
Refresh, renew us, every one, like sweet rain falling from the sky. 

Let righteousness abundant be where Jesus’ reign endures. 
Let peace increase from sea to sea ‘til moonlight shall be no more.

T. M. Moore

Whatever our calling in life, we are sent to bring the joy of Christ to the people around us. Our book, Joy to Your World!, can show you how to fill your Personal Mission Field with more of the Presence, promise, and power of Christ and His Kingdom. Order your copy, as a supplement to our study of 1 Timothy, by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.