Sermon text: 1 Timothy 2:1-15
Sermon Day: Sept 22, 2013; 18th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 20
Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our text this morning is the Epistle lesson. Where St. Paul isn’t going to win any popularity contests. But worse than that, we wonder how in the world this could possibly be what God wants to say to His people.
We wonder, because we are a product of our times. Times where this very text is used as an excuse to abuse women. Times where “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness,” has been the same as saying “sit down, shut up, and do what I tell you.” As we read the epistle lesson, isn’t that what you heard? How does that make you feel? Angry? Puzzled? Suspicious? You probably should feel like that. After all, words like these is how you run a cult in order to control people, not a church that serves God.
But there it is. In the Bible. Part of God’s Word. So what do we do? Our options are to either put up with it, or to cut it out. To say either yes or no. Except neither option is any good. If we put up with it, women are treated as second class people. If we cut it out, we have placed ourselves as judges over God. Both choices reveal us to be selfish, sinful people. But what other choice do we have?
Oh, you sneaky Satan. Remember when he was tempting Jesus in the desert and said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone’”? If Jesus agrees, if Jesus says yes He is the Son of God, then He uses His power for Himself. A selfish act contrary to the nature of God. If Jesus declines, He doubts the His own promises. Denies who He is. And that too is a selfish act contrary to the nature of God. Only two options. Yes or no. Jesus answered with scripture in context. Because the real answer was yes, Jesus is the Son of God, and no, Jesus will not be throwing Himself down off the temple. And that’s what we have here in our text today as well. The answers Satan leaves to us are both wrong. So it’s time to do what Jesus did. To read Scripture in context. To read St. Paul as St. Paul, not as some misogynist from our experiences.
And to do that, lets back up to verse one in our text. First of all, Paul says. Or maybe better,Of first importance, 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. Here’s our context. Pray for all. Pray especially for those in charge. Whether they’re godly or not. So that you may have peace. That you may have quiet. The people Paul wrote to, if they’re familiar with Judaism, would think instantly of the Hebrew words ‘shalom’ and ‘sabbath.’ Peace and rest. Peace and quiet.
Not peace with the world. That would have nice. But peace with God. And that’s far more valuable. Likewise, not quiet as in silence. But a quiet to hear God when He speaks. For His Word isn’t just noise. But God’s Word creates what it says. We pray for those in authority, saying, “Preserve our nation in justice and honor, that we may lead a peaceable life with integrity.” And were asking for that peace. That quiet. And that our leaders facilitate that peace, by saying “Help them to serve this people according to Your holy will.” Does that mean the world will leave us in peace and quiet? No. They won’t. Today’s text alone is proof of that. But rather that God pave the way for His peace and quiet, His Shalom and Sabbath to be brought to us, and to the world.
Because of this peace and quiet, Paul continues. Therefore I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. Guys, your hands aren’t for fighting or violence. Not for anger. Not for quarreling. But for that quiet, restful peace. Your hands are for giving Jesus to your neighbor. Helping them when they need help. Serving them when they are in need. And guys, we do that because Jesus gave us His hand first. Nailprints and all.
Likewise, in the same way, women dress themselves in good works. Just like the men. Don’t dress with things that incite jealousy and selfishness. But in the shalom and sabbath God gives through Jesus. And that changes everything about verse 11. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. Better said as “Woman, this shalom and sabbath are yours, not by anything you’ve done, but given by Jesus Christ who teaches these things.” That’s not a negative thing, as Satan wants you to hear. But God’s wonderful gift to you.
That’s nice and all, pastor, but that’s quite a spin, isn’t it? After all, Paul didn’t stop there. He said in verse twelve “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” How exactly is that good news? How does that fit with your story? Because Paul makes it sound like women don’t rank as high as men, that women are in second place to men. “For Adam was formed first, and then Eve”?
Don’t forget our context. Don’t forget our Lord. Because first is not a good place to be. Didn’t we just hear Jesus say a few weeks ago that the first will be last and the last will be first? This isn’t a position of degradation as Satan wants you to hear. This is the position of honor. Women, you are given Christ’s honor. The Honor He gives to His bride, the Church, is the same honor you are given as women. Just as Jesus serves His Church, so you are to be served. Not because you are the master. Not because of authority. Not because it is owed to you. But you have honor because you are loved. Because you are cherished. Because mean that much.
Men, we have a responsibility. Because the women in our life are as precious to us as the Church is to Jesus. Whether that woman is mother, wife, sister, or daughter. And that responsibility is to give them peace and quiet. Shalom and Sabbath. A responsibility to give Jesus, in both word and works. Paul worded his letter to Timothy in this way not to put down the women we love. But to make sure we take care of them the way we should. The way Adam should have with Eve.
But Paul says in our text today that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Except we put the subordinate clauses in the wrong place! Adam was not deceived. In other words he knew what he was doing. And in that, he became the transgressor, just as Paul makes clear in Romans Chapter 5. Because Satan used the same trap on him that he used on Jesus and uses on us today. To choose between a yes and a no that cannot win. Choose between a damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Adam decided to be with Eve in sin rather than live a life without her. Forgetting that God gives a different answer altogether.
Only in Jesus is there an answer besides yes and no. Only in Jesus is there the solution to damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Only in Jesus can Adam have both Eve and life. Only in Jesus can we keep today’s text and treat women with honor. 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.
The ransom is paid. The proper time is now. Shalom and Sabbath are for men and women both. No matter what roles God gives us to have with one another. And He does give specific roles. But the focus of all Scripture, even this one if front of us today, is about Jesus Christ. It’s about His death and resurrection. God serving you, giving His gifts of life, forgiveness and salvation. Not because you’re in charge. But because you are that important to Him. And every role God gives reflects His love to all people. And that’s not just a positive spin. It’s what God has always done for you. Thanks be to God.
Pastor Eli Davis
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Caruthers, CA
Found at this link