1 Timothy | 1:1-11 | 1:12-20 | 2:1-8 | 2:9-15 | 3:1-7 | 3:8-16 | 4:1-8 | 4:9-16 | 5:1-16 | 5:17-25 | 6:1-10 | 6:11-21 | PDF |

Join us as in this 1 Timothy 2:9-15 Bible study. Our discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.

1 Timothy 2:9-15 Bible Study Guide – Women In The Church


I. The character of women in the church (9-10)
II. The role of women in the church (11-15)

I. The character of women in the church (9-10)

Discussion Questions

  • Why does Paul say “likewise” here? What is the connection between this passage and the previous?
  • What is the key instruction given to women in verse 9?
  • What is modest clothing? What is immodest clothing?
  • What is discreet clothing?
  • In light of this passage, is it OK for a woman to braid her hair and wear jewelry? Why or why not?
  • What is the universal principle behind these instructions?
  • How can a godly young lady apply them today?
  • What should a godly woman focus on rather than outward beauty?
  • How can a lady discern whether too much time and money is spent on apparel and beauty? What is too much?


1 Peter 3:3-4 –  Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Proverbs 31:30 – Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Ecclesiastes 3:11- He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Song of Solomon 4:7 – You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Proverbs 6:25 – Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes

Proverbs 27:4 – One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

Proverbs 11:22 – Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. I want women to dress modestly – If Paul was writing this nearly two thousand years ago, I wonder what he would be writing today? The world has gone downhill very quickly in regards to modesty.

Modesty definition – Behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency.

Remember that this passage if focused on believers. Godly women should be modest in their dress. Their goal should be to give glory to God by what they wear. God does not want us to cause others to stumble (Romans 14:13-23). Therefore women should dress in such a way that they will not draw undue attention toward themselves and tempt brothers. At the same time, God designed sex for within marriage. A wife should and can dress in such a way to seduce or arouse her husband when other people are not around. But dressing in a seductive way in public to “flaunt” what you’ve got, is not honoring to God.

This does not mean that all the burden of responsibility is on the woman. A woman can dress perfectly modestly and lustful men may still be tempted to think impurely toward her. Women could cover their entire bodies with ugly bags with only a slit hole for an eye and some men may still be stumbled. Therefore sisters should dress in such a way that does not flaunt their bodies or intentionally draw men’s eyes to places they shouldn’t go. The Bible does not give an exact definition or standard, and that is because the motivation is very important. It is an issue that is very difficult to draw an exact line on. Most godly sisters will want to stay far away from the line. Two key words of caution would be to “cover up” and “don’t wear clothing that is too tight.”

Western society has virtually completely abandoned this idea of modesty. Young girls are paraded around like sex objects from a young age. Television, movies, celebrities, and advertisements just ad to the problem and continuously lower standards. On social media many young women seek fame and attention by exposing themselves in various controversial ways. A key problem is that when a sister lowers herself in order to get attention (and perhaps find a boy friend), she is finding the wrong kind of attention.

Application: For women, dress modestly. If you are married ask your husband what he thinks about the various clothes you wear. Get his real opinion and be open to changing your wardrobe by throwing out immodest clothes. Do not dress in order to attract attention to yourselves. Instead dress to please your King.

For men, give money to your wives to buy new things. It may be very difficult to even find modest clothes, so she may have to spend more online. Don’t get upset. Be patient. At the same time, do not let your eyes wander. When you see attractive women who wear too little don’t stare. Let your eyes bounce off and set a habit to immediately take your thoughts to the Lord in prayer.

2. Dress discretely – Discrete means subtly, not openly or publicly. A godly woman should realize that there are some aspects of her physical beauty that is not for public consumption (Hebrews 13:4). Paul is not saying that a woman cannot look beautiful or should somehow cover her beauty.

A daughter told her father that she bought an iphone. He suggested that she buy a cover for it. A cover would help it protect its value and keep it from being damaged, he told her. He went on to tell her that covering herself was an equally wise choice that would protect her from damage.

3. Not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes – Paul singles out several things that many women in the first century were doing to draw undue attention to themselves. Braiding hair for example, seems like a very harmless and “nice” thing for girls to do. But the problem was that some women would spend hours to weave and construct their hair into complicated and splendid patterns. Their focus and attention was on external things instead of internal things. The internal should be given a much higher priority. A woman who spends four hours staring at the mirror braiding her hair or five days a week at the beauty salon is wasting her life on things that have no eternal value.

The universal principle is that a woman should place her priority and value on things that God values. While most scholars agree that these verses are not to be taken 100% literally (and therefore even gold wedding rings be tossed out), this nonetheless does not lessen the point. Interestingly, many other things then that are not mentioned in this passage would also be inappropriate. Buying hundreds of pairs of shoes, spending twenty thousand dollars on a luxury purse, wearing thousands of dollars of platinum jewelry, spending huge amounts of money on face lifts, and many more extravagant practices should be avoided as a waste of time and money and an incorrect focus of one’s attention.

It should be noted that the same principle applies to guys. Men should place their priority on God rather than on gadgets. Some guys may spend huge sums of money on electronic gadgets or clothing, when this could be better spent on building God’s kingdom.

Extravagant weddings with the married couple going into debt to spend on clothes and things they will use once is an example of focusing on the wrong things. Rather than spending huge amounts of money to turn heads and impress people, the focus should be on honoring God and turning attention to Him with this celebration.

Application: Before you buy something, ask yourself, “Does buying this give glory to God? If I buy this am I good steward of the resources God has given me?” Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.

3. But with good deeds – In the Bible it is a common literary device to substitute something bad or inferior for something better (John 6:27, 1 Timothy 4:8). The misplaced focus on exterior things to draw attention to oneself would be far better spent on doing good deeds. This really should not be controversial or hard to understand. Some people spend huge amounts of time on Facebook or Twitter shooting selfies of themselves in the latest outfits and trying to strike the perfect pose. Tens of hours are spent trying to gain “likes” and “retweets.” Does anyone think this is a better use of time than visiting an orphanage? Than volunteering at a hospital? Than serving in Sunday School?

God wants His people to focus on things that are important, things that have eternal value!

Ephesians 5:16 – Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Redeeming the time was important in the first century. There are way more distractions now than then. It is also even easier to waste time than ever before.

Here are couple of quotes from John Piper’s book, “Don’t waste your life.”

“Desire that your life count for something great! Long for your life to have eternal significance. Want this! Don’t coast through life without a passion.”

“I am wired by nature to love the same toys that the world loves. I start to fit in. I start to love what others love. I start to call earth “home.” Before you know it, I am calling luxuries “needs” and using my money just the way unbelievers do. I begin to forget the war. I don’t think much about people perishing. Missions and unreached people drop out of my mind. I stop dreaming about the triumphs of grace. I sink into a secular mind-set that looks first to what man can do, not what God can do. It is a terrible sickness. And I thank God for those who have forced me again and again toward a wartime mind-set.”

Application: What do you spend your time on? If you could count up your eyes would you find more time spent on the internet, television, social media, or building God’s kingdom? What are some good deeds that you can do this week to serve the Lord?

II. The role of women in the church (11-15)

Discussion Questions

  • How would you summarize the key theme in verses 11-15?
  • Is this based on the culture of that time or not? Why or why not?
  • What key attitude is the woman to display?
  • What key role is the woman to have in the church?
  • Does this apply outside the church? Why or why not?
  • In a day and age of feminism and equal rights for all, how can we understand why God’s prescription for women and the church is so different?
  • What then should a woman not do in church?
  • How can a godly woman still minister for and serve God?
  • Does God view woman as less valuable in some way? Defend your answer.
  • What would you say to a person who says this passage is “sexist?”
  • What does the statement mean in verse 15 “but women will be preserved through the bearing of children?”


1 Corinthians 14:34-35 – Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Titus 2:3-4 – Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children.

Ephesians 5:22-23 – Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Genesis 2:18 – Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.

1 Corinthians 11:3 – But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

1 Timothy 3:2 – Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.

Verse by Verse Commentary

For a more detailed look at this passage please see my paper on “Should women be leaders in the church?”

1. Paul did not just follow culture, he wanted the women to learn – Throughout the Bible women are given a much higher position than was common in society at that time. Paul’s first instruction that the women were to “learn” (1 Timothy 2:11 NIV) was radical in itself. Learning and receiving an education was considered unfit for women. Yet Paul specifically allows them to join church activities and receive instruction on an equal basis as the men. In Ephesians Paul commands husbands to “love [their] wives, just as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25 NASB). Again, in that society it would have been almost unheard of that a husband needed to love, respect, and take care of his wife to this extent. Extra-biblical literature written at that time period contains virtually no such injunctions. Paul also pronounced that women and men were equal in the body of Christ (Galatians 3:28), a concept totally foreign to the culture of his