1 & 2 Timothy - Lesson 3

By John Harrison

Lesson Three

Behaving Peacefully at church

(1st Timothy 2:1-15)


By the end of this lesson the learner will be able to:

1. Explain why it is important to behave peacefully at church.

2. Explain what "godliness" is and how we can demonstrate it.

Teaching Aids and Materials:

1. Easy to understand Bibles for every student (CEV, RSV, NAV,NIV, NRSV, etc.).

2. A chalkboard and/or marker board.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (5-8 minutes)

Begin class by welcoming members and any visitors; make all necessary class announcements.

    1. Have the class led in prayer. The prayer should include a request that God lead the class into a peacefully atmosphere where Christian love and faith are demonstrated so that all can see this time as a period of godly instruction and praise.
    2. Explain to the class that in today's lesson they will learn the following two items:
      1. Paul wanted the church to live at peace with non-Christians.
      2. Paul wanted the church to behave in ways that outsiders can see their assembly as a peaceable gathering of people devoted to godliness.
    3. Ask if anyone in the class would like to share how things went this week putting their action item from the last lesson which promoted relationships that are more"pleasing to God."

Learning Experiences: (30 minutes)

Part I: The church should live at peace with non-Christians.

Explain to the class that one of the biggest differences between Christian assemblies today and Christian assemblies in the 1st century are that Christian assemblies in the 1st century could not enjoy complete privacy. The class should bear in mind that in the 1st century Christians met in homes. Homes in cities were most often located near streets and would have had opened windows and doors during the day. Non-Christians could walk by as Christians assembled to be taught and to praise God and they could see and hear what Christians were doing in those assemblies. In this chapter Paul is going to deal with several behaviors that might send a message to outsiders that Christians are neither godly nor socially peaceable people. Someone might wonder why we think that Paul in 1st Timothy 2 is concerned with Christian assemblies rather than all areas of life. Verse 8 provides an important clue. Paul says that he wants men to pray "in every place" (Gk. en panta topos). The NIV translates this as "everywhere", but this is a misleading translation. Greek speaking Jews used the expression topos ("place") to refer to places where people assemble for religious purposes. Based off of the Greek version of Malachi 1:11, Greek speaking Jews used the word topos to refer to a "place" of religious assemblies, such synagogues and the Temple (this occurs as well in Matthew 24:15; John 11:48 and Acts 6:13; 21:28). So verse 8 indicates that Paul has in mind how to behave when Christians assemble as a religious body to receive spiritual instruction and to praise God.

Have someone read 1st Timothy 2:1-7.

Q: Why would it be important for Christians in the first century to be heard praying in their assemblies for those holding political authority over them?

A: In the late first century many non-Christians thought that Christians were a threat to society because 1) they didn't worship the local gods which united a community and 2) family cohesion was jeopardized when a Christian wife would no longer participate in her husband's religion. Consequently, Christians would be viewed as "ungodly" because they did not seem to support those institutions (i.e.religious worship and family) which would characterize a person at that time as godly. Social hostility could arise against Christians because of these things. By being heard praying for political authorities, Christians could demonstrate that they were not hostile towards the Roman government and did not seek to threaten society. In addition, Paul says to pray for these authorities so that Christians might live a "quiet and peaceable" life (v. 2). By the term "quiet" (Gk. hesuchia), Paul hardly meant absolute silence. What he meant was a life that was tranquil and calm.

Q: In what ways might Christians today be seen as a threat or hostile towards society today?

A: The class might provide lots of different examples. Some people in western society might see Christians as opposed to society when society generally approves of what Christians denounce. For example, Christians might be seen as hostile when we angrily voice opposition to pre-marital sex and argue that sex should only occur between a husband and wife.

Q: In our assemblies, how can Christians demonstrate that they want to live peacefully and calmly with our non-Christian neighbors?

A: Give the class a few minutes to answer this question. Lots of different answers could be given. One thing that could be done in Christian assemblies is to pray for the good of our neighbors, especially those who think Christianity is judgmental, intolerant, and bad for society.

Part II: The church should behave in ways that demonstrate godliness to outsiders.

In 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus, the word "godliness" (Gk. eusebeia) is a very important word. Paul seems to use it here in a way that is different and more pronounced than in his previous letters. In short, the word is used in recognition of how the word would have been used by non-Christians at this time because Paul is going to challenge the common usage. "Godliness" was used to describe the person whose life demonstrated respect for the institutions which the gods had established. If a person made sacrifices to the gods, respected the family unit and the government, then they were a "godly" person. The false teachers appear to be teaching that "godliness" was attained by having "knowledge" (1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim3:5; Tit 1:16). But for Paul, "godliness" must be expressed in behavior that would be clearly respected by outsiders, including such things as respect for the government and society and for family responsibilities.

Have someone read 1st Timothy 2:8-15.

Q: What would outsiders conclude about Christians if they overheard Christian men arguing and disputing with each other during one of their assemblies?

A: Lots of answers can be given. After taking a couple of responses, explain that by the phrase "holy hands" (v. 8) Paul is referring to the idea that one's hands presented to God was a symbol of their lives as "holy" or "clean" and that they have not done wrong to others. This was a requirement for all those who wanted to come near to God (Exod. 30:19-21).

Q: Why do you think it was important for Paul to insist that women not dress ostentatiously or enticingly nor try to take on the role of the authoritative teacher but instead devote themselves to their responsibilities at home?

Note: Included in this lesson is a sheet that illustrates how women's adornment were viewed by several Jewish and Gentile authors. This background helps to explain how Paul's words would have been viewed as standard instruction to women to dress modestly.

A: The class may give several answers. Be sure to be respectful of the answers that are given on this sensitive and controversial subject. To tie this section with the intent of the entire letter, it should be explained to the class that Paul is concerned with how women have been misled by false teachers to reject social norms such as marriage and child-rearing. The false teachers saw these social behaviors as no longer relevant for those who had the true knowledge of God. Christian women could leave those social obligations. Paul rejects that idea and insists that godlyChristian women will continue to do those things that God expects of them, namely to be devoted to their domestic responsibility of honoring their husbands and raising their children. They should also show the expected respect to the church's teachers by not attempting to usurp their authority and take on the role as the church's authoritative teachers.

Note: This section of 1st Timothy is one of the most controversial passages in the entire NT. This series is not about exploring in depth all the aspects of these few verses. The purpose of the series is to encourage the class to reflect on the broad principles underlying these verses that should characterize godly Christian assemblies today. Avoid trying to answer lots of specific questions about what this text will and will not permit women to do specially in Christian assemblies. To answer those type of questions require reading and integrating the whole counsel of God in Scripture.

Q: How can godly behavior help us in evangelizing our communities?

A: When people see our good works and lives, doors for teaching will be opened.

Application: (5 minutes)

Have someone lead the class in prayer, praying specifically for God's guidance in the following areas: That as a church we will model behaviors that are respectful and reverent as seen by the world. That when we come together to worship that we behave peacefully with each other.

Assignment: (2 minutes)

Take time this week to pray every day that we would be seen as a church that is peaceful with each other and within the community we live and work.

Lesson Wrap Up: (5 minutes)

      • We learn that we must make every effort to behave peacefully when we come to assemble for worship.
      • We also learned that in order to demonstrate "godliness" we must be sensitive to model those behaviors which are considered by society as respectful and reverent.

Jewish and Greco-Roman Backgrounds to Paul's Prohibition on Braided Hair, Gold, Pearls and Expensive Clothes (1st Timothy 2.9)

Isaiah 3.16-24: "16 The LORD says, "The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. 17 Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald." 18 In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces,19 the earrings and bracelets and veils, 20 the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, 21 the signet rings and nose rings, 22 the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses 23 and mirrors,and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls. 24 Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding."(NIV)

1 Enoch 8.1-2: "And Azazel taught men to make swords and daggers and shields and breastplates.And he showed them the things after these, and the art of making them: bracelets, and ornaments, and the art of making up the eyes and of beautifying the eyelids, and the most precious and choice stones and all kinds of colored dyes. And the world was changed. And there was great impiety and much fornication and they went astray, and all their ways became corrupt." (Knibb)

T. Reuben 5.1-5 "For women are evil, my children, and by reason of their lacking authority or power over man, they scheme treacherously how they might entice him to themselves by means of their looks. And whomever they cannot enchant by their appearance they conquer by a stratagem. Indeed, the angel of the Lord told me and instructed me that women are more easily overcome by the spirit of promiscuity than are men. They contrive in their hearts against men, then by decking themselves out they lead men's minds astray, by a look they implant their poison, and finally in the act itself they take them captive. For a woman is not able to coerce a man overtly, but by a harlot's manner she accomplishes her villainy. Accordingly, my children, flee from sexual promiscuity, and order your wives and your daughters not to adorn their heads and their appearances so as to deceive men's sound minds. For every woman who schemes in these ways is destined for eternal punishment." (Charlesworth)

Philo's Sacrifices 21 "For two women live with each individual among us [pleasure and virtue], both unfriendly and hostile to one another, filling the whole abode of the soul with envy, and jealousy, and contention; of these we love the one looking upon her as being mild and tractable, and very dear to and very closely connected with ourselves, and she is called pleasure; but the other we detest, deeming her unmanageable, savage, fierce, and most completely hostile, and her name is virtue. Accordingly, the one comes to us luxuriously dressed in the guise of a harlot and prostitute, with mincing steps, rolling her eyes about with excessive licentiousness and desire, by which baits she entraps the souls of the young, looking about with a mixture of boldness and impudence, holding up her head, and raising herself above her natural height, fawning and giggling, having the hair of her head dressed with most superfluous elaborateness, having her eyes pencilled, her eyebrows covered over, using incessant warm baths, painted with a fictitious color, exquisitely dressed with costly garments, richly embroidered, adorned with armlets, and bracelets, and necklaces, and all other ornaments which can be made of gold, and precious stones, and all kinds of female decorations; loosely girdled, breathing of most fragrant perfumes, thinking the whole market her home; a marvel to be seen in the public roads, out of the scarcity of any genuine beauty, pursuing a bastard elegance." (Younge)

Seneca, Ad Helviam, 16.3-5 Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. A.D. 1-65) wrote to his mother "You have never defiled your face with paints and cosmetics. Never have you fancied the kind of dress that exposed no greater nakedness by being removed. Your only ornament, the kind of beauty that time does not tarnish, is the great honor of modesty."

Diodorus, XII.21.1 Diodorus Siculus (c. 60-30 B.C.) repeats the legend that "Saleucus had enacted a lawat Locri that a woman was not to leave the city at night, unless she was going to commit adultery, not to wear gold or purple unless she was a courtesan.

P.Haun. 13, ll. 6-29 (Papyri document) In the letter from Melissa to Clearete, when discussing the Pythagorean and Neo-Pythagorean view towards marriage, it reads "a wife's adornment . . . with quietness, white and clean in her dress, plain but not costly, simple but not elaborate or excessive. For she must reject garments shot with purple or gold. For these are used by hetairai in soliciting men generally . . . the ornament of a wife is her manner and not her dress. And a free and modest wife must appear attractive to her own husband, but not to the man next door, having on her cheeks the blush of modesty rather than of rouge and powder, and a good and noble bearing and decency and modesty rather than gold and emerald. For it is not in expenditure on clothing and looks that the modest woman should express her love of the good but in the management and maintenance of her household."

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