Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 14 No. 3 March 2012
Page 16

Questions and Answers

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Would you please explain 1 Timothy
2:9-10 in regard to modest dress?

Mark N. Posey

Mark N. PoseyFirst Timothy 2:9-10 discuss the woman’s character in the church. Verse 9 says, “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.” The phrase “in like manner also,” suggests that there are things for women to consider about their role in the church, just as there are for men. The word translated adorn is the Greek word kosmeo, which is where we get the term cosmetics; it means, “to put into order” or “to arrange.”

You will sometimes hear a woman say that she has to put her face in order, meaning that she needs to apply cosmetics and various kinds of things. “Adorn” here carries the idea of making ready and could be translated “beautify.” Read this way, the text would state, “In like manner also, let the women beautify themselves.” There is to be a specific way in which they are to beautify themselves, and therefore, we know that not everything that a woman does to beautify herself is acceptable in the sight of God.

What does it mean to “make yourself ready” or to “put yourself in order?” Notice the way women adorn themselves in verse 9 is to be “modestly.” In 1 Timothy 3:2, the word is translated “respectable.” Understand that decent, modest dress is not a holdover from bygone days; it is the command of a Sovereign God. Decency in dressing habits is not embracing the efforts of a past generation to be prudent; modesty is the command of the holy God. The text commands that women dress self-consciously every day to the glory of God. When a woman chooses what she will wear, she should think, “I will dress today to the glory of God; I will adorn myself in modest apparel.” If the apparel is not modest, it does not glorify God.

The word “modest” is the opposite of provocative, seductive and revealing. As verse 9 continues, it also says that women are to be clothed with “propriety.” “Propriety” means reverence for God, and it actually signifies a sense of shame. We do not want to do anything or dress in any way that would dishonor God! Oh, how that is lost in our culture today, including church culture. Furthermore, the text continues by saying, “in moderation.” The word means “discretion” and is translated elsewhere as “self-control” or “sensibly.” One is to be dressed in attire that is marked by discretion, or in common terminology, not showing everything!

In 1 Peter 3, we find that the issue of dress is not just an outward issue. You cannot be godly from the outside in, or measure a skirt length to find out who is godly and who is not. Some people may dress very modestly and be headed to hell; the real issue for the person of God is the heart. First Peter 3:3 says, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

Verse 9 of the text tells us how women in the church should not dress. There is nothing inherently wrong with braided hair, but in the cultural context, the braids were fastened by jeweled combs and pins made of ivory and silver. Paul depicts women who wore their hair very high, filled with expensive jewelry. The braids were just a way of holding all those jewels in place, so it is not the braiding that was the problem, but what the braiding represents – gaudiness, extravagance and showiness. Women of that time lavished gold and jewels all over their bodies to communicate their wealth or importance. Pliny the Elder, a first century Roman historian, described a dress of an emperor’s wife that today would cost $500,000. Dressing in this way is a proliferation of self, but the goal of the Christian is to glorify God. Verse 10 continues this thought: “But, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” There is a way of dressing which is proper for women who profess reverence to God. The point is this: A woman cannot revere God if she disregards what His Word says about modesty. Therefore, modest dress is paramount to godliness!

Unequal Yoke

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis RushmoreHello: I read the article about unequal yoking by T. Pierce Brown on your website. I understand what he was saying, about how the yoking with unbelievers itself is not wrong, but it is wrong only when the relationship requires the believer to do things against God’s word. That makes sense. If the relationship itself was sin then Paul would not instruct us to stay in a marriage with an unbeliever. But if that is true, then can you please explain Deuteronomy 7:3 to me? It says, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.” Doesn’t that say that marrying unbelievers is wrong? If that’s what it’s saying, then what T. Pierce Brown said in his article would be incorrect, wouldn’t it? I’m a Christian woman, but my fiancé is agnostic. I want to spend the rest of my life with him, and this has been bothering me a lot lately. I’m so afraid that I might have to break up with my fiancé because God’s word says we cannot be together. I’m really confused, please write back. Thank you. - Kimberly Chow

The basic confusion occurs because of not putting various portions of Scripture in their respective contexts. The most basic and first reasonable approach to understanding properly the Word of God is to note the biblical context of a given passage of Scripture. Each student of the Bible must ‘rightly divide the Word of God’ (2 Timothy 2:15).

In the case of the question posed, references to “unequally yoked together” from 2 Corinthians 6:14 and marriages to unbelievers from 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 are in the New Testament. On the other hand, Deuteronomy 7:3 is found in the Old Testament. These two testaments were given to different people in different time periods, and they represent similar but different laws of God.

No one living today is bound by Old Testament instructions because that law of God has been replaced by the New Testament (Romans 7:6-7; 2 Corinthians 3:6-7; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:6-13). Some items in the Old Testament have been reinstituted in the New Testament, but they are authoritative today not because of their former inclusion in the Old Testament, but because of their inclusion in the New Testament. First century Christians were sternly warned throughout the Book of Galatians that they could not please God any longer by resorting to the Old Testament (Galatians 5:4).

Specifically, Deuteronomy 7:1-4 was given only to the Israelites as they were about to settle in Canaan. They were forbidden to contract marriages with the seven nations of pagans (verse 1) who were residing there. A similar scenario under Patriarchy, before Judaism, of godly and ungodly marrying occurred preceding the universal flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6:2ff). Other references companion to Deuteronomy 7:1-4 are these: Exodus 34:15-16; Joshua 23:12-13; Judges 3:6-7; 1 Kings 11:2; Ezra 9:1-2; Nehemiah 13:23-27.

The stated reason for the prohibition against Israelites marrying pagans in Deuteronomy 7:1-4 appears in verse 4, namely that the idolatrous influence of those pagans would lead the people of God away from worshipping and serving Him; the cross references noted above contain the same information. Marrying unbelievers is an ever-present danger about which the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, though his warning also applies to other partnerships (e.g., business, social, etc.).

(A second perceived reason that the Israelites were forbidden from marrying non-Jews was that through the lineage of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:17-18; Isaac Genesis 26:1-5; Jacob Genesis 28:13-14) the Messiah or Savior was to come. See the New Testament chronologies of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38. Of course, the Messiah or Savior has already come, and this would no longer be a reason for anyone not marrying another.)

Incidentally, marriages between Christians and unbelievers in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 refer to instances where two non-Christians married each other, after which one of them became a Christian and one did not become a Christian. The marriage was still a valid marriage as far as God was concerned, though one marriage partner was a Christian and one marriage partner was not a Christian. New Testament passages do not seem to anticipate directly that a Christian would voluntarily choose to marry a non-Christian. Still, no restriction against such occurs in the New Testament except the warning of 2 Corinthians 6:14.

From both testaments of the Bible, we discern that it is not wise for a child of God to marry one who does not share that commitment to God. Though the New Testament does not prohibit marriage between Christians and non-Christians, it remains a dangerous undertaking to one’s Christian faith. When Christians marry, they can assist each other in Christian worship, Christian living, Christian service and godly parenting. Married Christians can help each other remain faithful that they both may enter heaven together (Revelation 2:10). The problems to the Christian faith and parenting can be and often are insurmountable when Christians and non-Christians wed. Usually, Christians fall away, or at the very least, the children of such a union fail to become Christians or pursue Christianity heartily. Yet, in the end, each individual must make decisions for himself or herself – after which at the Judgment Bar of God give an account for the life lived (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Did Paul See Jesus?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Did Paul/Saul actually “see” Jesus, and please give the Scripture if possible. Many times, we read Christ spoke to Paul, but did Paul “see” Jesus? ~ Jack Phillips

Yes, Paul saw Jesus (Acts 9:17; 22:14; 26:16; 1 Corinthians 15:8). Acts 9:17 reads, “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit’” (emphasis added). The word “appeared” (optanomai) means, “to gaze (i.e. with wide-open eyes, as at something remarkable” (Strong’s). The Greek word here occurs 59 times in the New Testament, and in instances where no one doubts observation of the physical manifestation of Jesus Christ. One prime example is “to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen [optanomai] by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3 NKJV emphasis added). Paul himself affirmed that he had gazed upon Jesus Christ, just as others had observed the resurrected Christ, too.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen [optanomai] by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen [optanomai] by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen [optanomai] by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen [optanomai] by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8 emphasis added).

This is the word that the Holy Spirit used to depict the Christian’s observation of Jesus Christ at the Second Coming (1 John 3:2; Revelation 1:7).

Acts 22:14-15 reads, “Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see [eido] the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen [horao] and heard” (emphasis added). The word eido  means, “to see”; the word horao means, “to stare at… to discern clearly” (Strong’s). In addition, the idea of being a “witness” involves seeing something.

Acts 26:16 reads, “But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared [optanomai] to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen [eido] and of the things which I will yet reveal to you” (emphasis added). In these four accounts of the apostle seeing Jesus Christ, using three different words for “see” plus references to Paul being a “witness,” one can affirm confidently that Paul saw Jesus Christ.

Works Cited

Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, 2006.

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