8 God wants us to pray, but He doesn’t want us to pray only with our lips. He wants us to pray also with holy hands—that is, with pure hearts. If we have kept any sin or evil in our hearts, God will not hear our prayer (Psalms 26:6-7; 66:18; Mark 7:6). If we are angry with our brother or have sinned against him in any way, we must first go to that brother and be reconciled with him; we must forgive and be forgiven. Only after that will God accept our prayers and offerings (see Matthew 5:2324).
9-10 In Paul’s time, vain and worldly women used to braid their hair and tie it up with ribbons. They wore expensive jewelry and fancy clothes. Such women did this to show others how wealthy and important they were. Paul teaches here that such proud and ostentatious behavior is wrong. Rather, let women wear ordinary and suitable clothing. A woman’s finest “clothing” is her good deeds (verse 10); let her clothe herself with these (see 1 Peter 3:3-4).
11 Paul says that women must remain in submission to men. This rule applies to husbands and wives (see Ephesians 5:2224 and comment). It also applies within the church (see 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and comment).
12 Paul writes here that it is right for women to learn, but it is not right for women to teach men. In the church, women must not exercise authority over men; in this context, being a teacher implies the exercise of authority. However, Paul does not prohibit women from teaching children or other women (Titus 2:3-4).
Many Christians believe that in verses 9-12 Paul’s words refer only to the time and culture in which he lived; they say that his teaching in these verses does not apply to every culture and to every period of history. In Paul’s time, women were generally oppressed and put down by a male-dominated society. Therefore, it would obviously have been against the culture and practice of that time for women to teach men. According to this first opinion, then, Paul in these verses is simply reflecting the attitudes of his own time.
However, many other Christians disagree with this viewpoint. They say that Paul’s teaching here is for all times and for all cultures. They say that we too, in this present time, must follow what Paul wrote (see 1 Corinthians 11:5; 14:34-35; 2 Timothy 3:6-7 and comments; General Article: Women in the Church).
13 Paul now gives the reason why women should remain under the authority of men in the home and in the church: namely, because they were created after man was created. God created the first woman, Eve, from the rib of the first man, Adam (Genesis 2:21-22; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9). Therefore, man is the head of the woman (see 1 Corinthians 11:3 and comment).
14 Paul here gives a second reason why women should not teach and have authority over men: namely, because women are more easily deceived by false teaching than men are. In the Garden of Eden, that evil serpent Satan deceived Eve, not Adam (Genesis 3:1-6). True, Adam shared in Eve’s sin; but they fell into sin because Eve had first been deceived.
However, we cannot say on the basis of this verse that women are more sinful than men! Because even before Eve had been created, God had directly told Adam not to eat the fruit of that one particular tree (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam knew full well that it was a sin to eat that fruit; we cannot say that Eve deceived him. Adam was without excuse.
15 Because of Eve’s sin, God punished her, saying to her: “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing” (Genesis 3:16). But now Paul promises women that if they will continue in faith, love and holiness, God will preserve them through the pain of child birth. And indeed, this has proved true. From Paul’s time right down to this present time, women—to a greater degree than men—have demonstrated in their lives these three supreme qualities of faith, love, and holiness. Thus there is much truth in the saying: Women who aim for equality with men are aiming too low!