A Sermon on 1 Timothy 2
The passage that we are looking at today has some very controversial issues in it. We will look at them in a little bit but first I want to explain the background of the letter as well as the main point of what Paul says in this chapter.
Paul wrote this letter to Timothy to address a particular context and a particularly difficult situation in Ephesus. Paul was addressing false teaching (1 Tim. 1:3-20; 4:1-5; 6:2b-10) and he was telling Timothy how people ought to “behave in the household of God” (1 Tim. 2:1-3:16; 4:6-6:2a). People at the church in Ephesus were teaching things that were wrong and doing wrong things.
Paul labored at the church in Ephesus for three years (Acts 20:31) and wrote one of the most amazing letters that have ever been written to them and yet they were still liable to fall to unhealthy teaching and living. We see later on that they were also liable to lose the love that they had for Jesus at first (Rev. 2:4). This letter should serve as a wakeup call to us! We too are capable of falling! We too need correction!
Paul wants people to teach what is right and act the right way in “God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). If the church is teaching and living wrong that’s really bad news for everyone. It is the church that is to be the “foundation of the truth.” If the church is not the set-apart light that it’s supposed to be how great is the darkness?!
It’s important that we not miss the main point of what Paul is saying in this passage because our modern disputes distract us. Paul’s main point in this chapter is to instruct us to pray. He tells us to pray together. And he tells us how to pray. So, the main point is: In light of Jesus’ sacrificial love, pray with compassion and holiness.
We will look at that in more detail soon. A few things, however, should be said at the outset. First, OCF is committed to a high view of Scripture; we believe it is the word of God. We also believe that unless the Bible is God’s word to us, we live without any real moral authority. “Right” and “wrong” would then become matters of personal taste or popular opinion. We would not be able to talk about justice or truth at all, for there would be no way to know objective truth.
So, second, the Bible is our authority. The Bible informs us and teaches us. We are not to sit over the Bible, God’s word, and inform it… It informs us.
Claire Smith has pointed out in her book, God’s Good Design, that “we do not come to the text as neutral readers. We all have cultural blind spots and sensitivities that influence our reading.” She goes on to say, and I couldn’t agree more, that “we must always allow God’s word to critique us and our culture, rather than the other way around.”
Third, all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable. One of the reasons it’s profitable is for correction. One of the things the Bible does, is it functions like a mirror by which we can see ourselves and compare.
Fourth, we must always keep in mind God’s lordship and love. God is all wise and powerful as the Creator. But He is also good and loving. He has definitively shown that at the cross. God’s lordship and love should always inform how we think about things.
If what we discuss below is hard for you, I get it. But please don’t doubt the good character of God. And also don’t doubt His lordship. He is loving and Lord.
Having laid the important groundwork, let’s get to the main point of the passage.
Because of Jesus’ sacrificial love we…
1. Pray with God’s Heart of Compassion (for all people) (v. 1-6)
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”
We are to pray all sorts of prayers for all sorts of people! And our prayer should support the church’s universal mission to the world. We pray for our governmental leaders. But not just so we can live chill lives. Rather, we pray for peace so we can have the ideal condition to spread the good news of Jesus. Our prayers for the government and for peace must be connected to Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations.
So, remember, we pray for peace not merely so we can hang out and enjoy life but so that there will be a context for the gospel to go forward and flourish. That is a prayer and circumstance that pleases God. Why does it please God?
Because, as it says in v. 4, God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
So, what Paul pictures here for prayer is not an iPhone to be used to increase our civilian convenience. He is, instead, envisioning a warfare walkie-talkie. He doesn’t want our effort to be wasted on physical warfare when there is spiritual warfare being waged that has eternal significance. So, pray for peace, but not so you can punk around. We are in a spiritual battle of life and death.
This gets us to controversy #1…
Why should God who wants all people to be saved (as we saw in v. 4), not save different people in different ways? Why should He not save some people through Hinduism, some through Buddhism, or Islam, or paganism or whatever else?
That question is answered in many peoples’ minds already. Of course, everyone, or at least, every “good person” is saved. However, that is not at all what Paul the Apostle who was inspired by the Holy Spirit said. Paul said that there is not only one Savior
God but also only one mediator between God and us. That is, Jesus. There is, therefore, only one way of salvation. There is no way to the Father except through Him. He is the One by which we must be saved.
God’s desire is for people to come to a knowledge of the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins and be saved. That is God’s desire. However, that’s not it.
God has also provided the way of salvation. The one God has provided the one way of salvation through the man Christ Jesus who is the one mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).
Imagine we were all on an island that a very wealthy and magnificent man owns. It is on fire because the guest set it on fire and we all have to get off or we will die. The owner of the island built a very large and sturdy bridge to the mainland so that people could escape. And in making the bridge he himself died.
Before the wealthy owner of the island died he instructed people that the bridge was the only safe way to exit the island. The water is turbulent and infested with sharks; no one can swim or take a boat. And the winds and fire don’t allow planes or helicopters to leave without catastrophe.
What would you think then if some people refused to take the bridge and set off swimming on their own? What would you think of people insisted on there be multiple ways? What would you think if some were dismayed and angry with the owner of the island who died so they could live?
What would you think if people got upset because they wanted options? And were upset that there was only one way of salvation?
I think the correct perspective is being thankful that the owner of the island provided a way of salvation at all and even at great cost to himself. The correct perspective is humility. We didn’t have a way off the island on our own and further we didn’t deserve a way off.
As much as we may not like it, some things are exclusive. In the story above there is only one way off the doomed island. It is the only way to be saved. It is exclusive but it is still benevolent, kind, thoughtful, loving.
When something is exclusive, or there’s only one way to do something, it highlights the importance. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, the life, no one goes to the Father except through Him (Jn. 14:6). Jesus being the exclusive way to salvation highlights His importance.
Jesus is the only way to the Father, the only way to salvation. Jesus is the only mediator. And notice that “knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4) is necessary. It also important for us to realize that there are no intermediaries between us and God. Saints
and human priests are not the mediator. Jesus is the Great High Priest who gives us access to God and it is He alone that makes us saints. We are holy in and through Him, and Him alone.
Many say that “all roads lead to God,” or, at least if you’re “good” (however “good” is defined). As Stephen Prothero has demonstrated, however, each religion “offers its own diagnosis of the human problem and its own prescription for a cure. Each offers its own techniques for reaching its religious goal, and its own exemplars for emulation.” Different religions may have similarities but they are different.
So, we see Jesus is the only way to salvation. We have also seen that God desires all to be saved. And so we pray with God’s heart of compassion for all people. And we pray for ideal circumstances for the good news of salvation to go forward.
Our exclusive faith (there is one God and one Mediator) leads necessarily to our inclusive mission (the one God wants all people to be saved). Once we understand this we pray with hearts of compassion for all people. We pray with urgency.
We have seen that because of Jesus’ sacrificial love we pray with compassion for all people we also must…
2. Pray in holiness (v. 7-10)
“And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. 8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.”
Paul has said pray for all people. Now Paul says he is a herald—a messenger—of the good news of salvation in Jesus and then in v. 8 he says, “Therefore…” It seems then that both of Paul’s calls to prayer are related to mission.
Paul tells us to pray for all types of people and then because of the mission that he’s been given he tells us to pray in holiness. This is important for two reasons. Frist, we need to not fight within the church and we need to dress appropriately so that we will be a light to the community and not a hindrance to the gospel going forth. Second, it’s important because if we are not praying in holiness, and instead fighting, our prayers may be hindered which will effect the gospel going forward. We will look at both of these aspects but let’s start in v. 8.
Paul started by instructing Timothy, and by implication us, about public worship. Paul continues to instruct us and starts by addressing men. He says men must pray with “holy hands.” What does it mean to have “holy hands”? Set apart. Specifically, here it means, without anger and fighting.
Paul says, “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” Paul has instructed the church to pray for peace and he wants those who pray themselves to be praying without argumentation…
The way that the church practices public worship (e.g. unity, modesty, and proper submission) connects in an important way to the witness of the local church. It also connects to the impact of our prayers.
We need to pray in holiness. If we don’t it will very likely hinder our prayers.
Elliot Clark has said, “If we continue in sin, God won’t always listen. Do you have categories for that God? Or have you been taught that because of his unconditional love, he never deals with us according to our sin?”
Peter tells us, in 1 Peter 3:7, that husbands must live with their wives in an understanding way, showing honor to them as a precious vessel, or else the husbands prayers will be hindered (cf. Matt. 5:23-24).
Peter uses the reality of unanswered prayer as a warning to men. He challenges husbands to live in compassionate understanding so their prayers wouldn’t be hindered.
Church, we must pray with “holy hands” or our prayers will be hindered.
This brings us to controversy #2, but we don’t want to miss the important point Paul is saying because we are distracted by disputes…
Paul addresses specific concerns about the church. For the men of the church, he was specifically concerned for their holiness and demeanor when they pray. He, however, had a different specific concern for the women of the church…
I’m teaching the youth on Wednesdays and we’re going through a series on Understanding the Bible. I’m teaching them various tools for understanding the Bible. One important thing for us to understand about the Bible is that it’s a historical book. That is, it gives us an accurate history and it is has a particular historical setting.
So, we have to go from the original setting and context to our own context. Like the picture below shows. But how do we do that?
We must first understand the original context as best we can…
And times are different. Parchment to paper to iPad, stone tablet to tablet, camels to Corvettes, heralds that go around announcing the news to fake news.
They had no phones, no refrigeration, no AC, no cars, no internet.
To get from the first century to the 21st century requires a bridge. We have to cross over culture, language, and time.
However, there are things that are similar. People were still sinful and need of a Savior. People still fought. People still obsessively cared about their looks. People had abortions. People… So, there are similarities but there are also differences.
In 1 Timothy, Paul is addressing a specific issue that was going on in the church at Ephesus. He has talked a lot about the problem of false teaching. So, that’s partly why he is coming across so strongly in these verses.
Also, in the cultural context in which Paul wrote women did not teach and did not even count as witnesses. It wasn’t acceptable for them to teach. That, however, is not the cultural context that we live in today in America.
Of course, we are not to interpret Scripture by culture. Scripture stands above culture. However, it does and should impact the way we apply Scripture.
With all that being said, let’s look at the text and see what it means…
“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles [/braids] or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”
Paul, here, is concerned with apparel that is inordinately expensive or has an association with immoral behavior. Braided hair “gold and pearls and extravagant clothing… signaled to others a sexually lax lifestyle… The way that wives dressed in public sent clear signals to men, thereby presenting themselves as either modest or promiscuous women.” Paul is thus not restricting all braids, gold, and pearls.
Remember, Paul is mainly addressing two connected concerns in this letter: 1) He is concerned with the churches witness to the world and 2) how the church is to behave in the household of God. Paul wants all believers, men and women, to behave rightly so they can be faithful witnesses and their prayers will not be hindered.
Next we see, because of Jesus’ sacrificial love we…
3. Practice Proper Submission (v. 11-14)
All right, now we get to another controversial section. Verses 11-14:
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”
There are various viewpoints but really what it seems to come down to in interpretation is those who think the Bible teaches role distinction and those who think that there should be no role distinction between the sexes.
It will be helpful for us here to understand a few approaches to Scripture interpretation. There are really three options regarding our approach to Scripture.
1) Literalism says we should disregard our current cultural context. So, in example of a literalistic interpretation of this text would mean that men should literally raise their hands when they pray and women should not braid their hair. And we should literally greet each other with a holy kiss.
2) Liberalism says we should disregard Scripture. It doesn’t speak to our modern context, at least in most cases.
3) The third option and I think the correct options says, learn the God-given principle: Learn the transcultural truth that transcends and applies to all cultures. An example where we apply a universal principle is the New Testament charge to greet each other with a holy kiss. We do not literally do that, and to be honest I’m glad we don’t do that literally. We must, however, obey the principle that is given in Scripture and we do as we greet each other with a holy handshake or hug.
Of course, in some a kiss on the cheek is fine. The culture in the Greece for example is different. I have a friend from Greece that is super touchy felly… He even—accidently—kissed my wife on the cheek before… Cultures are different. However, I ask please, don’t kiss my wife or me… J
I believe that’s what we must do with this text as well. We must apply the universal principle. See the table…
Holiness and love are ethical, whereas hand-lifting is cultural, decency and modesty are ethical, whereas hairstyles and jewelry are cultural. The specific reason, for example, Paul says that women should not braid their hair is not because braiding hair is inherently sinful. Rather, in that time prostitutes had fancy braided hair and so having braided hair signaled to people that you were open sexually. Braided hair does not have that cultural meaning anymore. Certain things, however, are not appropriate for women—and men—to wear because the message that it sends within a particular cultural context.
Of course, that’s not how everyone sees it. One author I read this week said, “The text is out of sync with our climate or culture of interpretation. Thus, in order to make sense of what the text says, it must in some sense be made to conform to our climate of interpretation.” Thus, some people propose that we should judge the Bible and not let the Bible be judge over us. Some people believe that we know better than the word of God and we can correct it… I, however, disagree. Though that is not to say that I understand why God has created us the way He has.
To be honest, I don’t know why women are not able to be pastor/elders. I do know that God made men and women different to reflect His triune nature. And I do know God is good and does all things well. He has shown that abundantly on numerous occasions. I also know that God has made males and females different. This may not be popular to say but it’s true. Biology, observation, and Scripture all teach us that males and females are different. God created things with specific purposes and ways they are to function. The world often does not like that but the alternative is purposelessness and aimlessness. We as the church, however, must let the Lord be Lord. He is the Lord and He does a much better job being Lord than us!
It is also helpful to note that anyone that is being taught should learn in quietness and all submissiveness. It’s hard to teach students if they’re not being teachable. So, what Paul says here applies in some ways to everyone. He highlights it specifically to women here because there was a particular problem with the women at Ephesus not learning in quietness and all submissiveness. It is important to notice that Paul addresses specific problems with both the men and the women.
Sometimes people argue that what Paul said regarding women being submissive can be disregarded because he was addressing a specific problem in a much different context than the one in which we live. Paul, however, grounds what he says in Genesis and the distinction of roles that God established in the beginning. Paul says women are not to teach… Why? “for [Gk. gar] Adam was formed first…” (v. 13).
Man was given the responsibility to teach even though it seems Adam failed in the beginning. He should have kicked the serpent out of the garden. He should have protected Eve. We see, however, that role distinctions are not a result of the Fall. It is part of God’s original good design.
All that to say, it’s not as if what Paul says can be disregarded as just a local thing because of the problems going on. Also, Paul seems to indicate that the prescription is for “everywhere” (v. 8). Also, Scripture reinforces the Biblical teaching of role distinction elsewhere (1 Cor. 11; 1 Tim. 2; Eph. 5; Col. 3; 1 Pet. 3; Titus 2; Gen. 2).
It is important to note that this verses doe not mean that women are not competent to teach, or that they may never teach. In other letters, Paul encourages women to teach other women and children (Titus 2:3-5; Eph. 6:1 cf. 1 Tim. 5:9-10; 2 Tim. 1:5). Paul and Jesus both had women that partnered with them in their ministry (e.g. Rom. 16:3,7; Phil. 4:2-3). Women are clearly gifted! Very often more gifted then men. For example, I had my wife read this, one of my sisters read this, and my sister-in-law read this. Why?! Because they’re wise and I trust them! Women are created in the image of God and gifted! They are certainly not of lesser value!
It is important to realize that “Paul is not saying that all women are to submit themselves to all men, all the time. Rather, women are to be submissive in church, when the teaching is happening, to what is taught and those men who are teaching it.”
Some people point out that Paul told slaves to submit to their master and also told wives to submit to their husbands. So, they say, just as that kind of slavery has been done away with so also female submission should as well. Paul does not, however, ground the basis for the slaves’ submission in creation. He does not say: “Slaves, obey your masters because that’s the way you were created.” The basis for role distinctions between the sexes is not based upon customs of the time but God’s intent in creation. Notice that humans—man and female—are made in God’s image. And God is three in one and even within the trinity there is submission. Jesus the Son submits to the God the Father who sent Him to earth and the Holy Spirit is a helper but that in no way degrades Him.
Here then is a summary of the second half of 1 Timothy 2. As men are to pray in holiness, love, and peace, but not necessarily lift their hands while they do so; and as women should dress appropriately and care not just about their physical appearance but good works, but not necessarily abstain from braiding their hair or wearing gold or pearls; so women should uphold role distinctions and submit to the (caring and sacrificial; Heb. 13:17) pastoral leadership of the church, but not necessarily refrain from all forms of teaching within the church.
Our last verse has also been very confusing for a lot of people but it’s less controversial.
15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Here’s my translation of this tricky verse: “However, she and all women will be saved through the childbirth (of the child), if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with self-control.”
The Greek of v. 15 says, “the childbirth.” I think it refers to the birth of Jesus that was promised to Eve in Genesis 3:15. Jesus is born to bring salvation by His death and resurrection. He is born to crush Satan, the serpent of old, and reverse the curse. So, in this verse we see three important things that we should briefly consider…
- Paul is clearly not saying that women have to have children because he also encourages singleness in 1 Corinthians 7. And having children does not bring salvation. Who brings salvation? Jesus! Salvation comes through the Jesus! No birth! Thank goodness, right?!
- This verse also reminds us of all the results of the Fall. Women have pain in childbirth as a result of the curse because of sin and the land is cursed and we deal with all sorts of problems because of it. Anger… Even when we’re praying… Jesus, however, in the new heavens and the new earth will bring perfect harmony.
- This last part, I think, really sums up the whole chapter. We will be saved, Eve, women, and men, if… It says, “If.”
It’s interesting that it says “if.” We’re saved by faith alone, not works, right? Correct. But the faith that we are saved by is never alone. If we trust, if we have faith, it effects us… I trust this pulpit… So I can lean on it and do pushups… You trust the seat you’re seating on and so you sit.
So, Paul in summary of the chapter says essentially, “You will be saved through Jesus, if you continue in faith, love, and holiness with self-control.”
Thus, in light of Jesus’ sacrificial love, we must continue to pray with God’s heart of compassion, pray in holiness, and practice proper submission.
 Turner says, “A uniquely complicated situation” (Philip H. Turner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, 213).
 See Tim Keller’s similar statement in “Women in Ministry.”
 “However hard some things are to understand, it is never helpful to start picking and choosing biblical truths we find congenial, as if the Bible is an open-shelved supermarket where we are at perfect liberty to choose only the chocolate bars. For the Christian, it is God’s Word, and it is not negotiable” (D.A. Carson, How Long O Lord?, 106. Of course, Carson is writing on a different topic but what he says still applies).
 Claire Smith, God’s Good Design, 25.
 Turner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, 163.
 John Piper, Let the Nations be Glad, 47.
 As Randy Newman has said, “There are many areas of life where exclusive answers are what we really need. I want exclusive doctors who only prescribe the medicines that will cure me. Don’t you?” (Randy Newman, Bringing the Gospel Home, 86).
 There are many other verses that tell us that consciously trusting in Jesus for salvation in this life is the only way to be saved. Acts 4:12 says, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Paul was sent to tell people about Jesus “to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sings and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [Jesus]” (Acts 26:17-18). It is necessary that the message of Jesus be shared because “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Rom. 10:14). This is because people are born again “through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).
 Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World—and Why their Differences Matter, 333.
 See John Stott, Guard the Truth, 67.
 “’Everywhere’ is reminiscent of ‘as in all the congregations of the saints’ in 1 Corinthians 14:33, where the subject is the role of women in public meetings. This fact should caution us against any assumption that Paul’s instructions in our passage apply only to the church at Ephesus” (Walter L. Liefeld, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, 93).
 Elliot Clark, Evangelism As Exiles.
 “Women teachers were not acceptable in either Greek or Jewish societies. Also, women did not count as witnesses (reflected in the fact that Paul did not mention the women at the tomb in his list of witnesses in 1 Cor. 15:3-8). It would have been counterproductive to allow women to teach and proclaim the apostolic witness in Christ” (Walter L. Liefeld, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, 98).
 Bruce W. Winter, Woman Wives, Roman Widows, 108 see also Philip H. Turner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, 205).
 Literalism looks like this: Ephesus à us (the particular local context and expression in Ephesus is irrelevant, we should literally do exactly what Paul says).
 Liberalism looks like this: Ephesus à | us (there is no application to us because Paul was speaking to a particular local context and expression in Ephesus).
 Learning the God-given principle looks like this: Ephesus à us (God gives us transcultural truth that transcends and applies to all cultures and so what Paul says to Timothy and the church in Ephesus applies to us and must be applied through the appropriate expression).
 Peter J. Gomes, The Good Book, 132.
 E.g., Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” and Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.”
 “Submission to a teacher well suits a learning context, but so does self-control. A calm, submissive spirit was a necessary prerequisite for learning then (as now)” (Linda L. Belleville, “Teaching and Usurping Authority” in Discovering Biblical Equality, 208).
 “One of the strongest arguments offered for maintaining Paul’s restrictions permanently and universally is his allusion to the Genesis record” (Liefeld, The NIV Application Commentary, 109). See also Thomas R. Schreiner, “Paul and Gender: A Review Article,” 188 in Themelios 43.2.
 Adam was guilty too! He certainly was! Adam abdicated his responsibility. He caved. He should have protected Eve. He should have crushed the serpent’s head. He failed.
 What Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:12 is not supposed to be applied just in Ephesus but to all people, places, and times. This is the case because he grounds what he says in the order of creation. It should also be noted that this is not the only place where role distinction is prescribed (e.g. 1 Pet. 3:1). Also, in 1 Corinthians Paul says, “As in all the churches, the women should keep silent in the churches” (1 Cor. 14:33b-34). Now it seems that Paul was referring to the interpretation and judging of prophecies (this is the context, see v. 29). This verse does not seem to be an absolute prohibition from women speaking in church because women prayed and prophesied (see 1 Cor. 11:5, 13; Acts 2:17; 21:8-9).
 Paul encourages all believers to teach and encourage one another as they sing (Col. 3:16). We also see that women also contribute through prophecy and prayer (1 Cor. 11:4-5; 14:3-5, 12-19, 24-26, 31). See Smith, God’s Good Design, 30.
 Smith, God’s Good Design, 35).
 My point here is that beings can have different roles and still be completely equal ontologically. This is true no matter how the relationship of the Trinity functioned in the past before the creation of space and time. So I’m not here getting into the conversation, or debate, regarding whether or not Jesus is eternally subordinate to the Father. I don’t think that’s a very fruitful conversation and seems to fail to heed the Reformers dictum of the analogy of faith. E.g. The Second London Confession, Paragraphs 7 and 9 of Chapter 1, “Of the Holy Scriptures,” says: “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.” Paragraph 9 continues: “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.” To me it does not seem as if this is an issue to which Scripture really speaks. It is a mystery along the lines of Deut. 17:17. We can have thoughtful and I’m sure profitable conversations on the subject but in my opinion they will be much philosophical in nature and less grounded in the exegesis of Scripture. This is not a subject where we can or should say, “Thus saith the Lord.”
 Cf. Stott, Guard the Truth, 86.