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Berean Literal Bible 1 Timothy 2:9

Likewise also women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing

Was Paul against braided hair or hair adorned with gold?

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  • See also Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:33-34; 1 Corinthians 11:5-6, 11:13; James 5:1-3.
    – Lucian
    Aug 20, 2020 at 21:27

4 Answers 4

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What's wrong with braided hair in 1 Timothy 2:9 ?

Likewise also women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing

The same as what's wrong with “adorn[ing] themselves [...] with [...] gold or pearls or costly clothing” :

  • Elaborate hairstyles do not affect that which is within the head, namely the human mind.

  • Likewise, fancy dresses do not affect that which is within the body, namely the indwelling human spirit.

  • Adorning oneself with gold, silver, pearls, and other precious metals does not infuse one's character with the beauty, splendor, and radiance characteristic of expensive jewelry.

Which is why Paul states:

Likewise also women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control [...] but with what is becoming to women, professing the fear of God through good works.

The Apostle is making here a pun about “putting on an apparel of respect”, which has the double meaning of both putting on decent clothes, as well “clothing” oneself with respect, which then serves as trampoline for adding others virtues unto the list; compare this with other similar passages penned by the same Paul:

Romans 13:12-14

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

2 Corinthians 6:7

By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.

Ephesians 6:11-17

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


What's wrong with braided hair in 1 Timothy 2:9 ?

The same as what's wrong with circumcision, or keeping the Sabbath:

  • Adorning one's head with a beautiful hairstyle does not contribute anything to the adorning of one's mind with beautiful thoughts.

  • Circumcising oneself does not prevent someone from being overpowered by lust.

  • Physically resting on the Sabbath (or any other) day does not grant one spiritual rest, namely the peace of mind brought on by a clean and unencumbered conscience (Psalm 24:3-4), and by its release from the various addictions constantly and restlessly plaguing it.

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  • well covered +1
    – Steve
    Aug 21, 2020 at 2:39
  • @user48152: Was that a veiled allusion to head-coverings ? :-)
    – Lucian
    Aug 21, 2020 at 2:45
  • ………..very good!
    – Steve
    Aug 21, 2020 at 3:14
  • Excellent show of work.
    – user35953
    Aug 21, 2020 at 20:26
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1 Tim 2:9 should not be divorced from V10, so let me quote both (BSB):

Likewise, I want the women to adorn themselves with respectable apparel, with modesty, and with self-control, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, as is proper for women who profess to worship God.

This text gives me the impression that any woman who could afford it, dressed to impress (much as today!) Paul is simply encouraging women to lift their focus away from the type of apparel that draws attention to oneself and direct it to Christ.

That is, Paul wanted women to be known, not for their exquisite dress sense, but for their good deeds; or more precisely in the words of Matthew 5:16:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Christians should conduct themselves in such a way that even unbelievers give glory to God. This is not done by wearing clothes that bring glory to the person.

Lastly and specifically about braided hair: I do not believe that Paul was specifically opposed to braided hair but the braids containing gold or pearls. Gold threads cannot be placed in the hair without braiding it. Similarly, Pearls in the hair could only be done using braids. For a woman having long hair (as Paul in other places recommended, 1 Cor 11:15), braiding hair is and was a practical way to wear it in public.

Therefore, I suggest that Paul is not against braided as such, but against braiding hair with gold and pearls as an exercise in self glorification.

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Was Paul against braided hair or hair adorned with gold?

Paul was giving instruction as to how women should present themselves as worshippers of God. This is in line with what Paul talks about in the next verse:

but with good deeds which are fitting for women who profess godliness.–The Lexham English Bible (1 Ti 2:10).

Would a Christian woman dress provocatively, as was the style of the times, and at the same time say she was a follower of God? Under the subject of Adornment, Insight on the Scriptures says:

During the days of the apostles it was a custom among women in that world of Greek culture to go in for elaborate coiffures and other adornment.

The Wikipedia article on Clothing in ancient Greece brings out that these hairstyles were elaborate.

So, why was Paul worried about these hairstyles? Because they were a status symbol of the times. Note what the website Hairstory says under the topic "Hair Studies: Braids & Dreads":

To differentiate themselves from Egyptians, classical Greek women grew hair much longer, and pulled it back into chignons. Many styles involved braids fixed to the head and decorated with flowers, headbands, ribbons and pieces of metal. Braids were a sign of wealth and the leisure it affords; the more elaborate, the better.

The March 8, 1995, Awake! issue has an interesting article on "Fashion–Ancient Greek" which brings out the danger of this style for Christians:

The popular hair styles worn by rich ancient Greek women were extremely elaborate and very time-​consuming. Such hair styles required many long hours of preparation by a beautician and much expense, and they were very showy, drawing attention to the wearer.

So we can see that Paul was more concerned about where a Christian would put their devotion, on the physical appearance or on their spirituality.

For more information on this topic, see the Watchtower June 1, 1991 "Questions From Readers: Is it fitting for a Christian woman to use jewelry or makeup, dye her hair, or follow similar practices?"

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**What's wrong with braided hair in 1 Timothy 2:9?

Berean Literal Bible 1 Timothy 2:9**

Likewise also women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing Suppose you are drawn to a certain style of dress that could possibly disturb some in the congregation. Yet, you may know of no specific Bible law that forbids it. What is God's view the matter? The apostle Paul offered this inspired counsel:

1 Timothy 2:9-10 (NASB)

Women Instructed

9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, [a]modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

The counsel applies equally to men. Modesty and love move us to take into account the opinions of fellow believers in order to avoid distracting or even offending them.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (NASB)

23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his [a]neighbor.

Philippians 3:17 (NET Bible)

17 Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters,[b] and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example.

Bearing in mind what the Scriptures say can help us perceive God's thinking on this matter and can guide us in making decisions that please him.

Braided Hair Styles.

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