What shall I wear to worship? (G. Kappas)

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Author's Bias | Interpretation: conservative | Inclination: dispensational | Seminary: Western (Portland)

1. Study 1 Timothy 2:8-9. What did Paul's letter mean within the context of the 1st century and the prevailing culture?

Timothy was left with the responsibility of caring for the church of Ephesus in Turkey. What a challenge! This port city for East and West trade was one of the richest cities in the world, in part because this city was the location of the Asiatic goddess Artemis. Worshipped for hundreds of years since approximately 800 BC by many cultures in Asia Minor, she was known by many names. In later years, she was confused with and mistaken for the Greek mythology goddess Artemis (and later adopted and renamed by the Romans as Diana) the daughter of Zeus and twin of Apollo.

The temple to the Asiatic goddess Artemis had been destroyed and rebuilt several times, but its 6th temple was regarded as one of the Seven Greatest Wonders of the Ancient World. Pliny recorded the dimensions of this temple as 425 feet in lengt, 225 feet in width, and the roof supported by 127 columns with a height of 60 feet. In comparison, the Parthenon whose ruins are found in Athens Greece today was only 230 feet in length, 100 feet in width, and had a roof supported by only 58 columns.

The Ephesian Asiatic goddess Artemis, whose patrons were prostitutes, was represented by a garland consisting of three rows of bulbous shaped objects which have been interpreted as nipple less breasts, eggs, or grapes which symbolized fertility and sexuality. Many ancient writers recorded the rampant immorality of the time. Imagine what type of tourism that attracted!

2. Against this cultural context, what does 1 Timothy 2:8-9 mean?

"Likewise." Just as men are to conduct themselves in an organized and godly manner in the assembly, women also have specific guidelines to follow.

"Modestly." The term here means to "be reserved in sexual matters." Given what the Christians faced in Ephesus, this was in specific reference to clothing that was sexually enticing. Godly women do not dress like those who worship the Ephesian goddess Artemis and they should not be confused with prostitutes.

"Discretely." This too was in reference to a sexual perspective. The term means "self-control or sobriety." In other words, it's not just the clothes you wear but how you wear them.

"Braided hair." Fritz Rienecker (*1) informs us, "Both Jewish and Gentile women were noted for their elaborate hairstyles. In Philo's description of pleasure coming in the guise of a prostitute, he describes such a woman as having her hair dressed in curious and elaborate plaits, her eyes with pencil lines, her eyebrows smothered with paint, and her costly raiment broided lavishly with flowers, and with bracelets, necklaces of gold and jewels hanging around her."

"Pearls." Pearls (1), at that time, were three times the value of gold. The pearls were used to dress up the hair, fingers, earrings, garments, and sandals.

"Costly garments." Paul grew up in Tarsus, which was one of the finest centers for woven garments in the ancient world. Some garments could cost as much as 7000 denarii; lower quality garments cost 500-800 denarii. All this while the average wage was 1 denarii / day. Only the wealthy could afford such luxuries, clothes that cost, at minimum, 2 years salary. Consider what the "cost" of dressing down meant especially in a city with many beautiful people! Wealth, then and now, remains a stumbling block for many Christians.

Paul discouraged expensive and fancy attire for 2 reasons: 1) at this time in Ephesus, this type of apparel was associated with pagan worship and prostitution; a potential distraction in worship, and 2) the clothes may garner favoritism at the expense of poorer members of the assembly and / or be a source of jealousy or resentment to believers (see James 2:1-4).

3. Study 1 Timothy 2:10. What are the best adornments for worship?

"Good works." Paul is referring to good deeds placed in the direction of serving God. Adornment "by means" of "good works" was the only outward appearance Paul emphasized as a reflection of the woman's beauty.

"Making a claim." This phrase was made in the present tense indicating a continual action. Genuine Christianity makes a claim on godliness. This points to a continual process of character development as a witness for and in service of God. "A Christian woman's beauty is found in her godly character and her love for the Lord as demonstrated in all types of good works." (2)

Therefore, the real question is not so much "What shall I (or you) wear to worship?"! The question that looms for us today, and believers in Jesus 2000 years ago, is and was, "What spirit of worship are we wearing?"!

Greg Kappas's personal note: I was born and grew up in the Northern Kentucky / Greater Cincinnati, Ohio region. I was raised by my mother and a nanny, since my parents were divorced when I was an infant. My mom, nanny, 2 sisters, brother, in-laws, friends, teammates, and athletic coaches supported me with tons of love and acceptance during my young life.

I grew up with a love for God and a passion for sports. My private schooling in Roman Catholicism and familial contacts in the Greek Orthodox Church pointed me to a healthy fear of the Lord. When I was 11 years old, my mother remarried and my step-father became a dad to me. My passion for sports extended to baseball, basketball, football, track and just about any other sport as a young lad. During my high school years, I had the honor to play for the National Champions in Mickey Mantle Baseball (15-16 year-olds) and star as a pitcher and outfielder.

A few short months after being "the best in America," I realized that something was missing in my relationship with God. I felt my prayers were hitting the ceiling and not going anywhere. During this spiritual pursuit of the Truth, I signed a baseball scholarship with Marshall University in West Virginia.

During my baseball career at Marshall (where I broke numerous school records, won the Outstanding Pitcher award for three years, was a Captain, nominated for Academic All American in baseball, won Blue Chip Scholar Athlete awards and was offered a free agent contract with the Boston Red Sox), my most significant life decision occurred. Nearing the eve of my sophomore season, I heard a clear personal presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by 2 missionaries with Campus Crusade For Christ, International. As I reflected on the words of these young men and thought about the Scriptures presented that day on the golf course, I knelt by my dormitory room bed (Twin Towers) that evening (May 7, 1975) and received Jesus Christ into my life as my personal Savior and God. This was what was missing…He was what I was looking for. The reality is, Jesus pursued me (John 15:16)!

I began to quickly grow in my new relationship with Jesus Christ and switched my major from Pre-Dental to Speech at Marshall University, sensing a call to go into full-time Christian work. In 1977, I turned down my life dream to play professional baseball, to obey a clear call from God to go into full-time ministry with Campus Crusade For Christ, International. My dream of pro baseball was exchanged for a passion and mission to follow and serve Christ completely, preaching and teaching His Word.

I have been serving the Lord full-time since 1977 and I love the Lord with my entire being. Not winning a World Series is nothing compared to communicating our Lord and His Gospel with humor and seriousness to the world.

Pastor Greg Kappas has known the Lord since 1975. He is married to his awesome bride, Debbie (1982).

They have two beautiful girls, Michele and Tiffany. Dr. Kappas has a specific focus in leadership, with an emphasis on the role of character and integrity in Biblical leadership. He has a passion for the integration of Scriptural truth and relationships, with a Life Mission that Nurtures and Empowers Worldwide Leaders for Jesus Christ in Truth and Relationships through: Integrity, Authenticity, Vision, Passion, Prayer, Outreach and Loving His Family.

Pastor Greg has been involved with church planting since 1980 and has personally launched four churches of various health (largest is now approximately two thousand people). He has coached/mentored leaders from around the globe and has impacted the planting of over one hundred and fifty new churches. Greg is the founder of the International Church Planters Summit (2001) and co-founder of the Northwest Church Planters Fellowship (1992).

He has a B.A. in Speech and two masters (M.Div. and Th.M.) in Biblical Exposition and Literature. Greg has a doctorate in Biblical Leadership (D.Min.). Dr. Kappas has served as an assistant for two seminary presidents and has taught in theological education since 1982 (Western Seminary, Multnomah School of the Bible, International School of Theology and Imago Dei Institute/Cascade).

Greg and Debbie have lived in Israel (summer of 1984) and traveled studying leadership and church health around the U.S./Israel since 1982.

Pastor Greg started the church planting ministry at Antioch Bible Church in 1991 (Seattle, WA) as the Lead Pastor of the first new work and now is the Pastor of the Church Planting Ministry for Antioch (eight daughter churches, fourteen granddaughters) where God is developing a multiplying church planting movement with an intentional multi-ethnic, cross-cultural and multi-generational philosophy of ministry.

He is a co-founder of the Antioch Global Network (AGN - 2000) and Director of Church Planting and Revitalization for the AGN where Greg trains leaders in the intentional ministry noted above. Dr. Kappas speaks for Leadership Network, Dynamic Church Planting International and he serves existing churches through Church Dynamics International in revitalization and establishing a process/flow of ministry with a strategy for implementation.

Greg loves sports. He starred for a national championship baseball team as a teenager, went to college on a baseball scholarship (Marshall University) and turned down a free-agent contract with the Boston Red Sox. Currently, he enjoys playing racquetball.

He loves to read, listen to music, go to the beach and relax with his family. Leading, preaching, teaching, writing, encouraging and training leaders energizes Greg. Pastor Greg has a tender spot in his heart for developing young, emerging leaders.

Dr. Kappas has been selected as one of the nation's top 100 evangelical influencers in leadership development (1999). He is the author or co-author of several works, including Somewhere Inside the Rainbow, Elder or Congregational Rule?, Recapturing the Art of Shepherding, Crucial Questions on Discipleship and Twenty-Five Questions for Planting a Healthy Church.

Greg deeply loves the Lord! His favorite Biblical characters next to Jesus are Daniel, Joseph and Paul. His life verse is John 15:16. Everything that he has is a gift from God and a reflection of Yahweh's grace.

1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are regarded as Paul's pastoral epistles, written from one pastor to another. Unlike his other epistles, these were personal letters to evangelists responsible for the care of churches. Its focus was on church organization and culture. Within the context of today, the words of these verses, in the above example, are often cast aside as irrelevant and can fuel the perception that the Bible is not relevant to today. Understanding the historical and cultural context of the times, as this case demonstrates, helps us understand more clearly what the Bible was saying especially in reference to conduct occurring then so that we may learn how to appropriately apply the lesson today.


1. Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company (1990), 620-621.

2. Earl Radmacher, Ronald Allen, H. W. House, eds, The Nelson Study Bible, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers (1997), p. 2044.

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