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2. Instructions on Worship
1I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; 2for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. 3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own times; 7whereunto I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing. 9In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; 10but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works. 11Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. 12But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. 13For Adam was first formed, then Eve; 14and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression: 15but she shall be saved through her child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.
9 In like manner also women As he enjoined men to lift up pure hands, so he now prescribes the manner in which women ought to prepare for praying aright. And there appears to be an implied contrast between those virtues which he recommends and the outward sanctification of the Jews; for he intimates that there is no profane place, nor any from which both men and women may not draw near to God, provided they are not excluded by their vices.
He intended to embrace the opportunity of correcting a vice to which women are almost always prone, and which perhaps at Ephesus, being a city of vast wealth and extensive merchandise, especially abounded. That vice is — excessive eagerness and desire to be richly dressed. He wishes therefore that their dress should be regulated by modesty and sobriety; for luxury and immoderate expense arise from a desire to make a display either for the sake of pride or of departure from chastity. And hence we ought to derive the rule of moderation; for, since dress is an indifferent matter, (as all outward matters are,) it is difficult to assign a fixed limit, how far we ought to go. Magistrates may indeed make laws, by means of which a rage for superfluous expenditure shall be in some measure restrained; but godly teachers, whose business it is to guide the consciences, ought always to keep in view the end of lawful use. This at least will be settled beyond all controversy, that every thing in dress which is not in accordance with modesty and sobriety must be disapproved.
Yet we must always begin with the dispositions; for where debauchery reigns within, there will be no chastity; and where ambition reigns within, there will be no modesty in the outward dress. But because hypocrites commonly avail themselves of all the pretexts that they can find for concealing their wicked dispositions, we are under the necessity of pointing out what meets the eye. It would be great baseness to deny the appropriateness of modesty as the peculiar and constant ornament of virtuous and chaste women, or the duty of all to observe moderation. Whatever is opposed to these virtues it will be in vain to excuse. He expressly censures certain kinds of superfluity, such as curled hair, jewels, and golden rings; not that the use of gold or of jewels is expressly forbidden, but that, wherever they are prominently displayed, these things commonly draw along with them the other evils which I have mentioned, and arise from ambition or from want of chastity as their source.