Here is a charge, that women who profess the Christian religion should be modest, sober, silent, and submissive, as becomes their place.
They must be very modest in their apparel, not affecting gaudiness, gaiety, or costliness (you may read the vanity of a person’s mind in the gaiety and gaudiness of his habit), because they have better ornaments with which they should adorn themselves, with good works. Note, Good works are the best ornament; these are, in the sight of God, of great price. Those that profess godliness should, in their dress, as well as other things, act as becomes their profession; instead of laying out their money on fine clothes, they must lay it out in works of piety and charity, which are properly called good works.
Women must learn the principles of their religion, learn Christ, learn the scriptures; they must not think that their sex excuses them from that learning which is necessary to salvation. They must be silent, submissive, and subject, and not usurp authority. The reason given is because Adam was first formed, then Eve out of him, to denote her subordination to him and dependence upon him; and that she was made for him, to be a help-mate for him. And as she was last in the creation, which is one reason for her subjection, so she was first in the transgression, and that is another reason. Adam was not deceived, that is, not first; the serpent did not immediately set upon him, but the woman was first in the transgression (2 Co. 11:3), and it was part of the sentence, Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee, Gen. 3:16. But it is a word of comfort (v. 15) that those who continue in sobriety shall be saved in child-bearing, or with child-bearing—the Messiah, who was born of a woman, should break the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15); or the sentence which they are under for sin shall be no bar to their acceptance with Christ, if they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness, with sobriety.
Here observe, 1. The extensiveness of the rules of Christianity; they reach not only to men, but to women, not only to their persons, but also to their dress, which must be modest, like their sex; and to their outward deportment and behaviour, it must be in silence, with all subjection.
2. Women are to profess godliness as well as men; for they are baptised, and thereby stand engaged to exercise themselves to godliness; and, to their honour be it spoken, many of them were eminent professors of Christianity in the days of the apostles, as the book of Acts will inform us.
3. Women being more in danger of exceeding in their apparel, it was more necessary to caution them in this respect.
4. The best ornaments for professors of godliness are good works.
5. According to Paul, women must be learners, and are not allowed to be public teachers in the church; for teaching is an office of authority, and the woman must not usurp authority over the man, but is to be in silence. But, notwithstanding this prohibition, good women may and ought to teach their children at home the principles of religion. Timothy from a child had known the holy scriptures; and who should teach him but his mother and grandmother? 2 Tim. 3:15. Aquila and his wife Priscilla expounded unto Apollos the way of God more perfectly; but then they did it privately, for they took him unto them, Acts 18:26.
6. Here are two very good reasons given for the man’s authority over the woman, and her subjection to the man, v. 13, 14. Adam was first formed, then Eve; she was created for the man, and not the man for the woman (1 Co. 11:9); then she was deceived, and brought the man into the transgression.
7. Though the difficulties and dangers of childbearing are many and great, as they are part of the punishment inflicted on the sex for Eve’s transgression, yet here is much for her support and encouragement: Notwithstanding she shall be saved, etc. Though in sorrow, yet she shall bring forth, and be a living mother of living children; with this proviso, that they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness, with sobriety: and women, under the circumstance of child-bearing should by faith lay hold of this promise for their support in the needful time.
Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2353.