I Timothy 2 tells us to pray for those in authority so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life. Later in that same passage, it says that women must quietly receive instruction, and should not control men (the Greek word here means to dominate/govern/control) but to remain quiet.
In the conservative Brethren church I grew up in, the word quiet was always taken to mean – not speaking. However, I recently learned this last Friday that this word, the same word used in each of these verses, doesn’t mean without speaking (we are not called to lead tranquil and mute lives), but has the idea of stillness – an inward peace and calm.
This caused me to begin to ponder more – what is in this idea of leading an inwardly calm life? I decided to look up other passages that also use this form of the word quiet (Strong’s Concordance #’s 2270, 2271, 2272).
This Greek word is first used in Acts 11:18. Peter has just returned to Jerusalem from witnessing the working of the Spirit among the Gentiles and it tells us that “those of the circumcision took issue with him.” In other words, they were riled up because of a perceived wrong. Peter explained the work of God and it says “they quieted down and glorified God.” – Their spirits became tranquil and then they were able to see how God was working.
In Acts 22:2, Paul is being followed by a crowd who wants to kill him. He begins to speak to them in Hebrew and it says they became more quiet.
In I Thess. 4:11, Paul says, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and to attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” Here, a quiet life is tied to putting our focus on our own doings – those things God has called us to be about, and to be working – useful. In doing this, we will be behaving properly.
In II Thess. 3:11-13, a quiet life is contrasted to being undisciplined, lazy, and a busybody (the Greek word here literally means: to waste one’s labor about a thing).
In the I Tim. 2 passage, we are told to live a quiet life in all godliness and holiness.
In I Pet. 3:4, women are told to adorn themselves with a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
In conclusion, to be quiet (still) is to be in a state of inward peace and calm, such that we are able to hear God’s voice and act in obedience to it. A quiet life includes being hard working and disciplined, focusing on the work and character God has called us to and not filling our lives with fruitless or irrelevant doings that may have the outward appearance of godliness.
In regards to the I Timothy passage about women being quiet, for a woman to quietly receive instruction is to be in a calm spirit that is able to hear the teachings of God. As our pastor pointed out, one of the main purposes in the Bible for learning something is so that you can teach others. Women have the specific privilege of teaching and raising up children. We learn in large part by experience. Men learn more by seeking out and digging into the truth. For a woman to try to control or govern a man is to take from him that opportunity to learn and grow in God, even to the point of keeping him from salvation. Therefore, women are to remain quiet/still/peaceful/calm while the men go through the labor of digging out the truth.
On a side note, this I Timothy passage is actually more about the men. If you are interested, look up Isaiah 1:15 as it relates to the I Timothy 2:8 and “lifting up holy hands.” Reading all of Isaiah chapter 1 gives the complete background to this reference in I Timothy.