The chapter first quotes 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (ESV)—
9likewise also(R) that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10(S) but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
The next passage quoted is 1 Peter 3:3-5 (ESV)—
3(E) Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4but let your adorning be(F) the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,
How do Grudem and Piper interpret these passages?
"It would be wrong to say these commands are not relevant today. One clear, abiding teaching in them is that the focus of effort at adornment should be on "good works" and on "the hidden person" rather than on the externals of clothing and hair and jewelry. Neither is there any reason to nullify the general command to be modest and sensible, or the warning against ostentation. The only question is whether wearing braids, gold, and pearls is intrinsically sinful then and now.
There is one clear indication from the context that this was not the point. Peter says, "Let not yours be the external adorning of . . . wearing clothes." The Greek does not say "fine" clothes (NIV and RSV), but just "wearing clothes" or, as the NASB says, "putting on dresses." Now we know Peter is not condemning the use of clothes. He is condemning the misuse of clothes. This suggests, then, that the same thing could be said about gold and braids. The point is not to warn against something intrinsically evil, but to warn against its misuse as an expression of self-exaltation or worldly-mindedness. Add to this that the commands concerning headship and submission are rooted in the created order (in 1 Timothy 2:13-14) while the specific forms of modesty are not. This is why we plead innocent of the charge of selective literalism."
The question Grudem and Piper focus on is “whether wearing braids, gold, and pearls is intrinsically sinful then and now.” The pair just finished demonstrating the constructive criticism regarding outward dress prior to mentioning this question.
Referring to the 1 Peter passage, Grudem and Piper state that “we know Peter is not condemning THE USE of clothes. He is condemning THE MISUSE of clothes.” The problem with the scattered believers in the Diaspora was how they dressed too elegantly, ostentatiously, displaying their dress as though to reveal monetary wealth and earthly abundance of material possessions.
But let’s look closer at 1 Peter 3:
1Likewise, wives,(A) be subject to your own husbands, so that(B) even if some do not obey the word,(C) they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2when they see your(D) respectful and pure conduct. 3(E) Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4but let your adorning be(F) the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6as Sarah obeyed Abraham,(G) calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and(H) do not fear anything that is frightening.
Peter is not saying here that the wife should not adorn herself in a beautiful way. There’s nothing wrong with dressing well in and of itself. But there is a problem when one’s outward dress is used to MASK the INWARD DRESS of a person’s heart (the condition of the heart). Peter told these women not to let their outward dress “do all the talking.” It was good to have a great appearance, but the appearance should come SECONDARY to the beauty of the heart—“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.”
Notice too, that Peter weaves in this discussion of clothing to that which is before: the discussion of the wife’s submission to the husband in verse 5:
“For this is how the holy women who hoped in God USED TO ADORN THEMSELVES, BY SUBMITTING TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS…”
So, the idea of dress is connected to submission—submission should first start INWARD, and then work its way OUTWARD. This is the same way that Christian behavior should start: it must first be an inward change, an inner decision of the heart to place Christ on the heart-throne, and then an outward change—one that reveals that which is hidden, which is the heart.
Now that we’ve explored 1 Peter 3, let’s take an even closer look at 1 Timothy 2:
8I desire then that(O) in every place the men should pray,(P) lifting(Q) holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9likewise also(R) that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10(S) but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11Let a woman learn quietly(T) with all submissiveness. 12(U) I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13(V) For Adam was formed first,(W) then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but(X) the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15Yet she will be saved through(Y) childbearing—if they continue in(Z) faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
Notice that the context of the chapter concerns abuses in the church at Ephesus. There are a lot of problems that Paul has to correct to put the church back in order from its current disarray. First, the men are quarreling during prayer. Next, the women themselves are like the women of 1 Peter 3—they are displaying rich clothing, but their quality is being placed more in their CLOTHING than in their HEART, their character, their behavior. Notice that Paul tells the women that they “should adorn themselves in RESPECTABLE apparel, WITH MODESTY AND SELF-CONTROL…WITH WHAT IS PROPER FOR WOMEN WHO PROFESS GODLINESS—WITH GOOD WORKS.” All the bold-faced words just mentioned show us the kind of “dress” Paul had in mind—it was the dress of the hidden place—the dress of the heart. Paul mentions the words “modesty and self-control” and then tells us that their clothing should be “good works.”
What is modesty? The online Merriam-Webster dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com) gives us the following definitions for “modesty”:
1 : freedom from conceit or vanity 2 : propriety in dress, speech, or conduct
The first refers to the heart (to not be conceited or vain), which could very well be at stake here. The second definition refers to what seems to be the theme of Paul’s writing chapter 2: to correct the actions of both men and women in the church. Notice that the second definition concerns not just outward dress, but one’s behavior. I’ve often heard it said that “the clothes make the man.” Well, if you “wear” a certain character and behave a certain way, your actions will make you or break you—will either exalt you or ruin you.
What is self-control? Self-control is “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.” Paul here is referring to restraint, which means to stop oneself from doing something. If Paul is mentioning restraint, doesn’t this tell us that the problem with the Ephesian women was that they weren’t exercising restraint?
Women are to profess godliness not with external dress, but with inward dress, reflected in “good works.” Then Paul goes into what kinds of good works women can do—they can “learn quietly with all submissiveness.” There is a qualifier for the word learn: how can a woman learn? “quietly,” by not making a lot of noise, by not causing a disturbance, by not making a scene. Paul further qualifies this quiet manner “with all submissiveness.”
Merriam-Webster give us definitions for the word “submit”:
1 a: to yield oneself to the authority or will of another : SURRENDER b: to permit oneself to be subjected to something
The words “all submissiveness” could also be translated “full submission,” so as to let the women know that in no shape, form, or fashion could they submit without fully giving themselves over to what they were being taught.
I will continue discussion of 1 Timothy 2 in a follow-up post to this one. Stay tuned…