In our third study of the Pastoral epistles, we covered 1 Timothy 2 and part of chapter 3, due to our snow cancellation on January 20 and guest speaker on January 27. In chapter 2, Paul gives Timothy instructions on conducting worship in an orderly and respectful manner. First, he urges them to pray for all people, including those in authority who preserve the peace we need for quiet, godly living. He encourages us in verse eight:
I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 1 Timothy 2:8
Only through Jesus Christ are we able to lift up holy hands, washed in the blood of the lamb and righteous in God’s sight. As he forgives us, we are to forgive others so that we may approach God’s altar without “anger or disputing”. This is the logic behind passing the peace during the service right before we begin the Service of the Sacrament – it’s a chance to make sure you are on good terms with others in God’s family before approaching the altar for communion.
Pastor Dutzmann visited the class to lead the discussion of verses 9-15, which deal with the role of women in the church. It is important to consider other passages dealing with the same topic, including Galatians 3:28, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-21, and 1 Peter 3:1-7. Lutheran scholars interpret these together to say that women may pray, teach, and lead in the church, but that they should not hold spiritual authority over men.
In other words, women should not be divinely called pastors, but can be called deaconesses and hold virtually any other office of the church. An exception is often the role of elder, if the elders are called upon to help the Pastor with his pastoral duties in a way that gives them spiritual authority (some congregations have female elders, but the role of elders varies from congregation to congregation and does not always include duties with spiritual authority). For example, a woman may be the elected president of the congregation, or may teach under the authority of the Pastor.
Pastor Dutzmann pointed out that although there are restrictions on the role of women in the church, women played key roles in the church from the beginning. Women followed and supported Jesus, saw him first after his resurrection, helped found churches, prayed and prophesied in public (as implied in 1 Corinthians 11:5) and were often listed by name in the conclusions of his letters, including Priscilla, who was rather shockingly mentioned before her husband Aquila. For more information on the LCMS position on women in the church, the LCMS website includes a link to a report entitled The Service of Women in Congregational and Synodical Offices.
We then continued on to 1 Timothy 3, which lays out the qualifications for overseers (in other words, pastors) and deacons. The Greek word translated as ‘deacon’ simply means ‘one who serves’, and thus applies generally to those who hold a variety of positions in the church. The pastoral qualifications are stringent, but necessary to one whose role is to bring the gospel to the people. In him we see the image of Christ, as he brings the Word and Sacraments to us in worship and during the week. In return, we give the pastor honor and support him in his calling:
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:17-18
Next time we will continue our study of chapter 3 and hopefully complete chapter 4 to catch up after the snow day. For a synopsis of our previous Pastoral Epistles studies, please use the links below.