“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
John 4: 23-24
1 Timothy 2: 8-15
When igniting fireworks we light the blue touch paper and wait for the explosion. Some passages in the bible are like that. Today’s Scripture, where instructions for Church Worship continue, is such a passage. It cries out for our self-control to enable Gospel understanding and to prevent our emotions and prejudices taking over. It calls for good hermeneutical practice (the discipline of biblical interpretation) to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us God’s truth for application today. Such practice calls us to look at the holistic biblical picture, the context the letter was written within and to understand the language and purpose of the day. Looking at it only from our 21st century perspective will not suffice. As N.T Wright explains passions run high in the Western world on the roles of men and women; there has been huge debate, argument and hurt. Life can get confusing, some men are strongly supportive of ‘women’s liberation’ some women are opposed.* So, to allow us proper consideration we will ponder this passage within two reflections.
There have been many interpretations of this passage and I personally believe a good number miss some of the truths within. Remember that this is a letter to a young, growing church, guiding and instructing them over their particular challenges. In this passage Paul was encouraging focus on the Gospel and addressing the roles and behaviour of men and women in worship in their situation. The context for this letter was that it was written to the Church in a culture where other gods were worshiped (think back to Chapter one and Wednesday’s teaching on there being only one God). The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, which dominated the city, was a female-only cult where the priests were women. Women led and men were under their authority. In contrast the Jewish culture focused heavily on the family with distinct roles for women; their position though, in society and worship was low. Women could not take part in a service in the synagogue and were hidden from sight. A man came to the synagogue to learn, a woman to hear. Contrasting cultures indeed for a new Church - worship of a false god led by women, worship of the true God where women had no part!
Into these structures of society comes the Gospel with the arrival of Jesus Christ; God’s Kingdom impacted both cultures. Worship had changed; God made clear that He desires His children to worship in spirit and in truth. How should the new Church proceed under this Gospel in their circumstances?
*Paul for Everyone, The Pastoral Epistles, Tom Wright
To Ponder: In today’s reflection we have briefly considered the context into which Paul was writing. Consider the truth of the Gospel (Chapter 2: 5-6); what might Paul have been trying to address in Ephesus with the differing cultures so that the Gospel would bring freedom in their worship of and relationship with God?
Pray: Father as we seek to understand your Word that we may obey your will open our eyes to understand by the power of your Holy Spirit. May we lay down our wills at the foot of your cross and follow in the way of Jesus Christ taking your love to the world and thereby worshiping you in Spirit and in Truth. Amen
Praise: Here I am to Worship
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaUTv1pXRyU
The Church of Christ in every Age
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgSFTvVn20E
Incumbent at St Aidan's Anglican Church,