This section is about appropriate behaviors for the following people – a sick person, a rich person, a young person, an older man/ woman, a young married woman, an older woman, and a widow.
B386 - Seek God for an answer (for the sick)
In 2 Cor 12:7-10, Paul asked God three times to be healed. Yet, God reassured Paul that his grace was sufficient for him.
In Luke 18:38, Jesus was passing by when a blind beggar raised his voice and cried out to Jesus for his mercy despite the ridicule of the crowd. And Jesus heard him.
Jesus, however, taught us to ask and keep asking (Matt 7:7) and he reiterated with the story of the persistent widow who kept petitioning justice from a particular judge. Jesus’ answer was man ‘ought always to pray and not lose heart’ (Luke 18:1).
Many of us do lose heart after a long spell of asking. Jesus’ suggestion is still to persist.
Whatever it is, a sick-person should seek God for an answer about his/ her sickness as well as seek him for healing.
B387 - Stay in faith (for the sick)
In Matt 9:20-22, a woman who had a discharge of blood for twelve years was healed instantly when she touched the garment of Jesus. Then Jesus said,
‘Your faith has made you well.’
She stayed in faith despite a period of twelve years.
Again, when he met two blind men who cried out to him, he said, ‘According to your faith, be it done to you’ (Matt 9:29). In Acts 14:9, it is reported that Paul saw the faith of a cripple. Our faith is powerful in releasing the power of God to heal.
It is not just the faith of the sick but also those of their friends or family members.
In Mark 2:5, it says, ‘Jesus saw their faith’, that is, the faith which motivated these men to lower a paralytic to remove the roof in order to lower him down to Jesus.
And in Matt 8:10, Jesus commended the faith of a centurion who was seeking healing for his very sick servant.
It may also include those who had faith in him to be able to heal. Maybe that was why Jesus ‘allowed no one to follow him (into the room to resurrect a dead girl) except Peter and James and John, the brother of James’ (Mark 5:37).
Stay in faith.
B388 - Call the elders to anoint with oil and pray (for the sick)
B389 - Go and seek out believers with special gift of healing (for the sick)
In 1 Cor 12:9, it talks about the ‘gifts of healing’ as a supernatural gift.
Philip had a supernatural gift in casting out unclean spirits and healing. In Acts 8:7, it reports,
‘For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.’
The Apostle Paul had it so that ‘even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them’ (Acts 19:12).
But not everyone is anointed with it. Consider one of the Lord’s greatest servants who, although not a disciple, was lauded as ‘more than a prophet’ (Matt 11:9). Yet, no healing was ever recorded regarding John the Baptist.
There are people who have been given a special gift in exercising healing. Hence, seek out these believers even as we lay hands on others for healing to take place.
B390 - Remain humble (for the rich)
How easy it is for those who are rich to be arrogant and look at their wealth as God’s blessings while despising the poor.
Jesus pronounced woes to those who were rich and explained that they had received their consolation/ happiness (Luke 6:24); Jesus was pointing out that to enter the kingdom of God, one has to possess ‘poverty of spirit’ (Matt 5:3).
This message was repeated when Jesus declared judgment on the wealthy church of the Laodiceans that depended on their riches rather than the Lord.
‘For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked’ (Rev 3:17).
Rich believers must remain humble. In 1 Tim 6:17, Paul reminded Timothy to charge those who are rich ‘not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches but on God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.’
In James 1:9-11, James explained that even rich people die. Hence, rich people should remain humble.
It is easy for one to rely on one’s riches. God’s call to rich people is to be humble and see everything with an eternity perspective. Otherwise, the promise from Jesus as in Rev 3:15 is to ‘vomit you out of my mouth’ because ‘you are lukewarm.’
B391 - Don't trust in wealth (for the rich)
B392 - Be rich in good works (for the rich)
In 1 Tim 6:18, Paul told those who were rich to ‘do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, and ready to share.’
Money has been given to us for a purpose – to do good or to do evil; to satisfy oneself or to share with others.
Gal 6:10 encourages those with opportunity to ‘do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.’ Hence, without fail, believers must help believers.
Heb 13:16 says,
‘Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.’
Someone once said, ‘Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.’ Moreover, if it is kept together as one pile, it will smell to high heavens.
As believers, we are to earn as much as we can so that we can give as much as we have and be rich in good works.
B393 - Be ready to share with others (for the rich)
B394 - Respect our elders (for the young)
This section refers to what younger men should do. An important feature is that young people must submit to their elders as found in 1 Peter 5:5. The NLT says,
‘to accept the authority of the elders.’
The original Greek for ‘submit’ is hupotasso or place under/ subject to/ put myself into subjection.
The original Greek for elder is the word presbuteros or an elder of a Christian assembly.
Hence, the statement is directed specifically to younger men to submit to their church leaders.
See also see B67 to B71 – Relationship with fellow believers.
B395 - Be calm and moderate in behavior (for older men)
B396 - Exercise self control over one's own desires (for older men)
In Titus 2:2, the word ‘self control’ is used and it is the Greek word, sophron. It means of sound mind/ temperate/ sober-minded. Because of experience, an older person should hold a balanced view.
Titus 2:2 refers to a man who is in control of himself – one who is temperate and who holds himself within limits, not given to extremes in alcoholic intake, violence or extravagance.
B397 - Be sound in our faith (for older men)
B398 - Demonstrate love (for an older man)
B399 - Demonstrate endurance (for older men)
B400 - Dress modestly (for women)
In 1 Tim 2:9, the Apostle Paul suggested that women should ‘adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty ….’
The Greek word for ‘modesty’ is aidos or a sense of shame. In other words, don’t dress in a shameful manner. The Greek word for ‘respectable’ is the word kosmios or virtuous, decent, modest, and well ordered.
Society itself would define ‘modesty’ in dressing – not seductive and showy or religious, as in clothing that completely covers one’s appearance.
B401 - Do good works (for women)
B402 - Learn in silence with all submission when in church (for women)
‘The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.’
These are the most controversial verses in the current context when a woman can do anything. We have had a woman vying for the post of the President in America in 2016, the perceived most powerful person on the earth. We also have women CEOs and others holding key positions across the world.
The Greek word for ‘keeping silent’ is sigao and it means keeping a secret, keep silence.
Marshall Entrekin wrote an interesting article on this aspect. He explained that the Greek word sigao was used mainly to refer to silence required for unhindered public speech.
If we understand the Corinth church, it was quite a disorderly one; hence, Paul said to them, ‘Let everything be done in an orderly manner.’ (1 Cor 14:40)
The Greek word for ‘quietness’ is hesuchia or stillness and calmness like one who stays at home doing one’s work without meddling into the affairs of others.
CBE, a non-profit organization based in USA and advocating for the fundamental equality of men and women of all ethnic groups, used Gal 3:28 to explain their stand: ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Male and female are coequals.
CBE’s article, written by Cheri Dale, a woman no doubt, said that the letter to Timothy was addressed to the city of Ephesus when it was at that time a worship center of Artemis; Artemis, the daughter of Zeus, was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and chastity.
Artemis worship included many ‘sacred’ prostitutes who might have to entertain by speaking in front of men, and were good in the art of witty replies. On the other hand, married women were often uneducated and lived secluded lives, raising children and managing their homes. Hence, in that context, women were told to learn from their husbands.
1 Tim 2:11 could, therefore, not be interpreted as a universal principle for silencing women both rather that both men and women should learn Scripture quietly and in full submission. Dale borrowed heavily from a book, Women in the Church, written by Stanley J Grenz.
Meanwhile, Marshall Rusty Entrekin, an apologist, researched and said that 1 Cor 14:34 was written more in the perspective of orderliness and the verse was directed to the wives in the church not to engage in public speeches while caring for their children; at that time, churches were held in homes and it was not easy to care for these children.
Nonetheless, if we review B403, we find that women of those days were very capable, quite different from what the authors above had painted them to be.
This is indeed a difficult passage from Paul. Is it an instruction or a suggestion?
In B403, Be included in the ministry and church leadership, we shall examine this in the context of women’s leadership in the church.
B403 - Be involved in church ministry (for women)
Should women take up leadership positions in church? The early church started with prayer. In Acts 1:14, it said that they were praying with one accord and specifically mentioned ‘with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus.’
Women were involved right from the start.
Women during this period were not exactly subservient. They were into commerce like Lydia who was engaged in the lucrative trade of dealing with expensive purple cloth, a symbol of power and prestige (Acts 16:14).
They were active in church, like Phoebe who was addressed as a ‘deacon of the church of Cenchrea’ (Rom 16:1). Paul called her a diakonos, a term perceived to be used to denote a Christian minister. And there was the ‘elect lady’ (or ‘chosen lady’) in 2 John 1:1 whom the Apostle John commended; she must had been a prominent lady.
In Acts 9:36-42, we hear of a lady by the name of Tabitha (also named Dorcas) who was ‘always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.’ It has been suggested that the Tabitha’s story has been placed there to show the status of women at that time; she was a woman of influence..
And we see how Philip, the evangelist, had four unmarried daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). Additionally, they were several women whom Paul praised and thanked as found in Rom 16:3-16 including Prisca, Mary, the mother of Rufus, and the sister of Nereus.’
Of course, who could forget the Prophetess Anna who was given the privilege of witnessing Baby Jesus at the temple (Luke 2:36-38).
What can we learn from these passages? That instead of being spectators, women were very engaged in the ministry.
According to a theologian, the late Stanley Grenz, the gospel was unusual because it ‘radically altered the position of women, elevating them to a partnership with men, unparalleled in first century society.’
Based on these examples, women were included and welcomed in the ministry. B402, Learn in silence with all submission when in church, could be balanced with what we learn throughout the New Testament where women were truly engaged in the ministry.
B404 - Keep a head of hair and honor each other (for women)
1 Cor 11:5-6 says that
‘every woman who uncovers her head or had her head shaven, dishonors her head.’
Paul said that it was disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head.
In this case, the Greek word for ‘cut off’ is keiro or shear/ cut the hair of.
It is another challenging passage from Paul. Is it cultural or is it for our generation as well?
Someone wrote in a blog that if we lift this up to a level above, the discussion of Paul primarily focused on honoring. Is the wife honoring the husband and is the husband honoring the Lord in what s/he is doing? The instruction from Paul seemed to point to the wife as not to dishonor her ‘head’ (husband) when she is worshiping.
The point seemed to be one of ensuring that even as we worship, we must bring honor and respect to each other.
Short of not knowing the full details, we would encourage women to maintain their hair and not shave it unless it is for medical reasons. It is for the same reason that we ask men not to wear their hair longer than it should. That way, there would be no unedifying and unnecessary arguments.
Whatever it is, the important point is that we should honor each other in everything that we do. We should not be overly religious about the issue of hair. There are probably more important things to consider.
See also B75, There is a place for structure within a family.
B405 - Inner beauty is more important than external adornment (for women)
1 Peter 3:3 says,
‘Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry or the clothing you wear but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.’
Meanwhile, Paul had this to say in 1 Tim 2:9,
‘that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.’
Interestingly, the counsel came from two apostles – the Apostle of the Jews and the Apostle of the Gentiles. Here are the principles for women who are deemed beautiful:
- Beauty is perishable,
- True beauty is seen from the hidden person of the heart,
- A gentle and quiet spirit is precious in God’s sight,
- Ladies should wear their clothing in a respectable manner with modesty,
- Costly accessories are not essential for a Christian woman.
Both Paul and Peter did not reject beauty but just reminded us what true beauty is. Hence, women should focus on inner beauty while not spending excessively to adorn oneself.
B406 - Love their husbands (for young married women)
Titus 2:4-5 provides us instructions from Paul on how a family should function.
Younger women must love their husbands and children.
The Greek word for ‘love’ is philandros and it is used to describe a love between good friends or an affection of a wife to her husband. The word is uniquely found in Titus 2:4.
Is it not natural for a young married woman to love her husband?
Should not it be included for all married women and for that matter married men?
B407 - Love their children (for young married women)
B408 - Be self-controlled (for young married women)
B409 - Be chaste (for young married women)
B410- Be a homemaker (for young married women)
Titus 2:5 uses the word ‘homemaker’.
The Greek word is oikourgos and has been used only here. It means a keeper-at-home or a housekeeper. It means caring for one’s domestic home.
If we read Paul, in our gender equality world, it does sound demeaning. But yet it is in the Bible.
See B75, Relationship with family/ Structure.
What does it tell us in terms of a godly order even in our current world? The general expectation is still for a married woman to be a homemaker; of course, there are always exceptions.
B411 - Be obedient to their husbands (for young married women)
Titus 2:5 says, ‘Be submissive to their own husbands.’
The word for ‘submissive’ is the word hupotasso or place under/ subject to/ submit/ put myself into subjection.
Despite our gender equality world, there is order in God’s ordained family and a man is still the head of his household (Eph 5:23).
See also B75, Relationship with family/ Structure.
Be subject to your husband. Honor him.
B412 - Be reverent (for older women)
In Titus 2:3, older women are asked to be ‘reverent in their behavior.’
The Greek word for reverent is hieroprepes or suitable to a sacred character. Hieroprepes combines hieros = holy, with prepo = is fitting. Hence, it reads as being ‘fitting to be holy.’
An older woman should bear a mark of holiness.
B413 - Not given to slandering (for older women [and all of us])
If ‘holiness’ and ‘reverent’ are the traits of an older female believer, then ‘slandering’ is far from it. The Greek word is diabolos or the same as criticizing to hurt and a false accuser.
It is not just an older woman who should not be slandering. All of us should not be slandering.
B414 - Do not drink excessively (for older women [and all of us])
Titus 2:3 highlights that an older woman should not be given to too much wine. Simply, they are not heavy drinkers.
Notice it does not say ‘don’t drink’. Just don’t be a heavy drinker or one addicted to much wine (or liquor). None of us should be heavy drinkers.
See B310, Diet – Drink wine but not to the extent of being drunk.
B415 - Teach what is good (for older women [and all of us])
B417 - Let the children look after the widow (for widows)
1 Tim 5:4, ‘If a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household.’
Paul advocated that the immediate family should look after the widow, ‘to make some return to their parents.’
The family should look after our own first (NB: Not the government)
Of course, if that is not possible because the children are too young, then the church should come in. See B71, Honor widows, and B266, Do practical social works.
B418 - Spend time praying (for widows)
1 Tim 5:5 says, ‘Now a widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.’
It is possible to pray night and day. Paul affirmed the importance of widows to spend time with God and to intercede on behalf of the saints she knows.
Anna, a prophetess, who was mentioned in Luke 2:37 as being someone who ‘did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.’ And she was given the privilege of seeing the baby Jesus in the temple.
Prayer is a powerful ally. When a woman has time, a woman should take up the call of Paul to pray without ceasing.