1 TIMOTHY 2:9,10 WITH 1 PETER 3:3,4
Some will say that the above NT scriptures are clear proof
that God does not want Christian women wearing and making
themselves up with the decoration of jewelry. Do these verses
contradict all the other verses in both the OT and NT that show
people of God wearing different forms of jewelry? Here we will
not concern ourselves with quoting from history, or quoting from
any sect of religion, or from any so-called "inspired" prophet or
prophetess of the last 200 years. We shall answer this question
from the Bible itself. Letting the Bible interpret itself and
doing as the Eternal says: "come let us reason together, says the
Lord." We shall let everyday common logic be our guide as we
read certain verses of the word of God.
The truth about the verses under discussion in 1 Timothy and 1
Peter is explained and amplified in the book by Ralph Woodrow
called "Women's Adornment - What Does the Bible Really Say?" I
will quote extensively from pages 17- 27.
" 'Here is the formula of failure,' says a tract sent to me
some months ago. 'first allow engagement and wedding rings, then
school and class pins, then other jewelry with sentimental value,
then jewelry in every form, all the way from that sold in the
five and ten to that in the first-class jewelry store........open
up the gate to one kind of ring, and it will be very difficult to
stop at that point. If mother wears a wedding ring, how can she
object to her daughter wearing a class ring?'
According to such tracts, wearing jewelry will cause
spiritual failure. Some have an obsession against rings - even a
ring which symbolizes marriage! It becomes a major belief to
them. Others will permit a ring on the finger, but feel that
earrings are 'worldly.'
What does the Bible say about these things? The two passages
which, supposedly, tell Christians not to wear jewelry are as
First Timothy 2:9,10 says women should be properly adorned -
'not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array,
but.....with good works.'
First Peter 3:3,4 says a woman's adornment should 'not be
that outward adornment of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of
gold, or a putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of
the heart.....even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which
is in the sight of God of great price.'
What many have failed to understand is that these verses are
using a very common HEBREW IDIOM. An 'idiom' is a manner of
speaking distinctive of a certain people or language. In this
case, the idiom was a manner of speaking which would minimize a
first clause in order to emphasize a second clause. Today, in
order to express the thought contained in this type of idiom, we
would place the word 'ONLY' in the first clause, and 'ALSO' (or
perhaps 'rather') in the second clause, as follows: Let not
a woman's adorning be (only) that of outward things - such as
fixing her hair, wearing gold, or pearls, or apparel - but (also,
rather) let it be the inward adorning of a meek and quiet spirit.
With this idiom, the emphasis is on the SECOND clause, but it
does not do away with the FIRST clause. IT IS IN ADDITION TO IT.
We now ask the reader's patience as we cite many verses in
which this idiom is used in the Bible. As the PULPIT COMMENTARY
says, it is 'a common Hebraism' and quotes for example, John
6:27, ' Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat
which endureth unto everlasting life.' If we do not recognize
the Hebrew idiom here, this verse would sound like a command not
to work for our food! But other verses say men should work for
their food, they should provide for their families, etc. The
actual thought, then, is that we should not work for the material
necessities of life (ONLY), but (ALSO, RATHER) for that which
will endure unto everlasting life.
Or notice Genesis 32:28, ' Thy name shall be called no more
Jacob, but Israel.' The meaning is that his name would no more
be called Jacob (ONLY), but he would have another name (ALSO),
the name Israel. The proof that this is the correct meaning is
seen by the fact that he was called Jacob many times after this,
even by God Himself: 'And God spake unto Israel.....and said,
Jacob, Jacob' (Genesis 46:2).
Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, yet Joseph stated:
' So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God' (Gen.45:8).
Understanding the idiom, it could be worded: ' So now it was not
you (ONLY) that sent me here, but it was God (ALSO, RATHER) ' !
During the journey of the Israelites in the wilderness, we
are told that they murmured against Moses and Aaron (Exodus
16:2). But in verse 8, we read: '.....your murmurings are not
against us, but against the Lord.' Considering what was just
plainly stated, we recognize the idiom: 'Your murmurings are not
against us (only), but against the Lord (also, rather)' !
When Israel rejected Samuel and cried out for a king. God
said: ' They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me '
(1 Samuel 8:7). Yet verse 8 shows that they had rejected Samuel.
Again, it is the Hebrew idiom, the meaning being: ' They
have not rejected you (only), but they have rejected me (also,
The use of the idiom seems clearly indicated in the wording
of Joel 2:13, ' Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn
unto the Lord.' rending garments and putting on sackcloth (2
Sam.3:31) was a common mourning custom. In view of this, the
meaning of Joel was: ' Rend not (only) your garments, but rend
your heart (also, rather)' ! The emphasis is thus on the heart,
not on the outward forms of religion.
When Peter said he believed Jesus was the Christ. Jesus
replied: ' Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my
Father which is in heaven ' (Mat.16:17). But Peter had heard this
from 'flesh and blood' - before he ever met Jesus. Peter's own
brother had told him: ' We have found the messiah, which is,
being interpreted, the Christ'(John 1:41). All is clarified once
we recognize the idiom. It was not flesh and blood (only) which
had revealed this to him; it had been revealed to him (also,
rather) by God Himself !
In John 4:21-23, Jesus said that the hour was coming, and
then was, that true worshippers would not worship in Jerusalem or
in Samaria - that God must be worshipped in spirit and in truth.
But after this men did worship God at Jerusalem (Luke 24:52,52;
Acts 2, etc.). Recognizing the idiom, we realize that people
would not worship at Jerusalem (only), but (rather) in spirit and
in truth - regardless of location.
Or look at Jesus' words in Mark 9:37, ' Whosoever shall
receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.' In our way
of speaking it would be: ' Whosoever shall receive me, receiveth
not me (only), but him that sent me (also, rather). ' Thus the
use of the idiom is seen also in John 12:44, ' He that believeth
on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.'
When Lazarus was sick, Jesus said: ' This sickness is not
unto death, but for the glory of God' (John 11:4); that is, this
sickness was not unto death (only) - death did not end this
matter, for Lazarus was raised form the dead. Peter used the
idiom when he spoke to Ananias: ' Thou has not lied unto men, but
unto God' (Acts 5:4). Ananias did lie to men, but the emphasis
is on the fact he lied to God. Thus we could say: ' You have
not lied unto men (only) - your sin goes further than this - you
have lied to God ' !
Paul said: ' I labored more abundantly than they all; yet
not I, but the grace of God which was with me ' (1 Cor.15:10).
Paul labored. This is clear. Yet to emphasize the grace of God,
he used the idiom.
John also used the idiom when he said: ' Let us not love in
word, neither in tongue; but in deed ' (1 John 3:18). The context
speaks about a brother in need. If we have this world's goods and
do not help him, we do not really have love. We can tell him we
love him - we can love him in word - but this is not enough. Thus
the instructions: ' Let us not love in word (only), but (also,
rather) in deed. '
In Luke 14:12-14.........A comment in the CAMBRIDGE GREEK
TESTAMENT on this verse says: ' We must take into account the
idioms of Oriental speech......the 'not' means, as often
elsewhere in Scripture, 'not only.....but also' or 'not so
Other examples of the idiom are given including the text
regarding jewelry, 1 Timothy 2:9.
With these things in mind, we look again at out text and it
will be clear that jewelry was not forbidden: '.......whose
adorning let it not be (only) that outward adorning of
plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of
apparel, but (also, rather) let it be the.....ornament of a meek
and quiet spirit.'
The emphasis is on the INWARD adorning, but the outward
adorning is not eliminated.........."
Mr. Woodrow goes on to give examples and scripture after
scripture proving that many of God's people down through the ages
used jewelry upon themselves in one form or another, with no
disapproval from God. Of course we have one of the most famous
passages in Ezekiel 16 where God uses jewelry in a good light as
He describes how He found, cleaned, dressed and adorned Israel
with the finest in clothes and jewelry. How God made her very
beautiful to look at.
There is Jesus' use of jewelry in many parables, one such as
in Luke 15:22 about the wayward young man who repents and returns
home. He is given a ring for the hand.
There a few other verses in the Bible that seem to be
against the use of jewelry. These I have explained elsewhere in
other articles on this subject. I will not take the time to
explain them here.
There are many types of idioms and what we call "figures of
speech" used in the Bible. In fact so replete is the word of the
Lord with figures of speech, that Mr.Bullinger devoted a whole
book to its expounding. The book is called "Figures of Speech
Used in the Bible" and it is 1104 pages in total. I have it as
part of my library, very interesting and instructional.
1 Timothy 2:9 and 1 Peter 3:3 DO NOT contradict the rest of
the Bible concerning the right and Godly use of jewelry for the
Christian. When the truth is known these verses show that there
could be a time when even elaborate, costly, expensive, clothes
and jewelry, and hair arrangements are quite in order and proper,
for the Christian, under certain situations, cultures and events.
This being the truth of the matter, Peter and Paul knowing this
was so, were emphasizing to the children of God, that what was
MORE IMPORTANT than outward appearance, was the inner heart,
mind, attitude, character of the person. It is that part of us
that God is mainly interested in, for indeed it is written:
"man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the
We shall finish with a few more comments from Ralph
Woodrow(page 26,27 of Women's Adornment).
".......Considering all the uses of ornaments by women in
the Bible - ornaments for many different parts of the body -
today's customs of wearing jewelry seem quite innocent and
moderate in comparison!.......Sometimes, I fear, those who claim
to be 'holiness' people, while opposing the man-made traditions
of the more formal churches, have made up traditions of their own
that are equally unscriptural!........Taking everything into
consideration, I feel - as with other things - we should avoid
the extremes.......Too much jewelry could detract from the inner
beauty and appear overdone. On the other hand, God does not
require a drab and dull appearance. Why shouldn't a woman try to
If the motive of her heart is right, her efforts are not wrong."
To be continued