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Keep the women in line

1 Timothy

In worship,  it must be the men who offer the prayers.   The women present should be modestly dressed,  without elaborate hairstyles or jewellery.   The appropriate adornment for women who claim to be religious is their good deeds.   Women are there to learn,  and they should be silent and submissive.   They must never be the teachers,  or be dominant over men.   They should just be quiet.   Remember that Adam was created before Eve,  and it wasn't Adam who was deceived  -  it was the woman.   Their salvation will come through motherhood  -  provided they are constant in faith and love and holiness,  and live modest lives.     [2:8-15]

It is foretold that in the last days some will be led astray by deceitful spirits and demonic doctrines,  claiming that marriage is forbidden and certain foods are to be avoided.   The truth is that everything God has created is good.   Let that be your advice to the brethren.   Don't have anything to do with godless myths and old wives' tales.     [4:1-7]

The church should provide for widows,  only where they are true widows.   If they have children or grandchildren these should take the responsibility.   The true widow who is without family to support her sets her hope on God,  and is in constant attendance at prayer meetings and worship.   The widow who is only out to enjoy herself is as good as dead already.   Enshrine this in your church rules so that the women will know what is expected of them.

And don't put anyone on the list who is under sixty or who has been married more than once,  or who does not have a reputation for family virtues and good works.   You can't expect younger women to be constant in their devotion to Christ.   They will be too keen to get married again.   And they are liable to go visiting from house to house indulging in idle gossip.   Actually I would like to see young widows re-marry and have children and be good home-makers,  so as not to give any occasion for scandal.

Congregational leaders who do their job well,  especially preachers and teachers,  should get a double stipend  . . .       [5:3-17]

Critical scholarship is confidently of the opinion that the letters to Timothy and Titus are late writings,  probably early second century.   Their pretence that they were dispatches from Paul to his young lieutenants gave them a dignity they would not otherwise have enjoyed,  and eventually made it possible for them to be adopted as authoritative Christian scriptures.   The vehemence of the author's attempt to bring Christian women under control makes it rather obvious that the actual situation in many congregations was not at all as he would have wished.   We know from Paul's genuine letters that he himself did not demean women in this way.

  paraphrase and note by Evan Lewis



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