1 Timothy 2:9 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Timothy 2:9, NIV: "I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,"

1 Timothy 2:9, ESV: "likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,"

1 Timothy 2:9, KJV: "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;"

1 Timothy 2:9, NASB: "Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive apparel,"

1 Timothy 2:9, NLT: "And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes."

1 Timothy 2:9, CSB: "Also, the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense, not with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, or expensive apparel,"

What does 1 Timothy 2:9 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse begins the second main section of chapter 2, which extends to the end of the chapter at verse 15. The theme is that of the role of women in Christian worship. When believers gather together, how should women function? The first statement made by Paul here uses the term hōsautōs, meaning "likewise." Paul has just made mention of prayer and its importance. Women, therefore, are to share in similar godly actions as the men of the church. What Paul says here, then, is not a unique principle for women as much as a specific application for women.

Specifically, this refers to how women dressed and cared for their hair. Then, as now, church gatherings were not an appropriate time to dress seductively or for attention. Clothing styles vary, and tastes change based on time and culture. All the same, how women (and men) dress should be appropriate for worship of God.

Second, women were not to focus on "braided hair." This is another comment requiring careful cultural understanding. Paul's point is not that certain hairstyles are necessarily sinful; rather, the message and the motives are. In the culture of Ephesus, braided hair was a luxurious status symbol. In that era, it required much time and financial costs. This was the equivalent of modern hairstyles requiring significant time and cost. Those who put so much energy into hairstyles suggest that their emphasis is on themselves, rather than on worshiping God.

Further, Paul addresses fancy clothes and flashy jewelry. These items are mentioned because of the focus on using money on self rather than to help others (1 Timothy 6:10). Once again, no particular piece of jewelry, or clothing, is being called out as explicitly sinful. The message and effect have to be considered. Then, as now, worship services are not intended to be treated as a prom, social event, or a party where women—or men—"dress to impress." These are times to worship God and focus on Him. Self-promoting clothes not only distract others from the point of a church gathering, they distract the one who is overly concerned with their appearance.