About one year ago I shared about why my family chooses to wear skirts and dresses almost exclusively. Those reasons were pretty much cultural, and not at all Biblically based. However, much like my sudden understanding of head covering, I feel like the Lord revealed something to me this past weekend which is a Biblical case for wearing skirts! Now, I totally understand that many will not see things the way that I do. That’s okay. Although I mostly wear skirts, I do not only wear skirts at this point in my life. One reason that I believe that I am so intrigued by this topic is because I came from a church background in which immodest dress was considered normal and good. Those who do not share the same background as I most likely will not be as convicted about modest dress as I am. I’m truly just here to share my heart, and maybe the Lord will speak to you about this topic through my few meager words.
Basically, one day last week I was reading through several of the shorter epistles in the New Testament. I had just finished up, and then felt lead to take a look at 1 Timothy. As I read verses 2:9-10 I was reminded of why modesty is so important.
In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 (NKJV)
For some reason, I felt lead to look further into the word “apparel” which is used in these verses. I’ve read this chapter many times before, and truly never felt any reason to look further into this.
So, I looked into the Greek wording. Personally, I believe that the original Biblical manuscripts are inspired and infallible, but sometimes the English versions might not get each and every text exactly right, due to the fallibility of the men doing the translating.
The Greek word which was translated to “apparel” or in some versions “clothing” here is katastole. Katastole is only used once in the entire Bible. There are many other Greek words that can be used for apparel, such as esthes, esthesis, himation, and himatismos. (Credit) Katastole is a feminine noun. “Kata” means “a lowering, letting down.” “Stole” in and of itself is not necessarily feminine, and is “a loose outer garment.”
This is a more detailed description:
“According to Thayer’s Lexicon, the Greek word translated “apparel” in I Timothy 2:9 (katastolē) means “a garment let down, dress, attire”. The Greek word for apparel in this text is Katastole, meaning a long dress. Kata meaning down – a garment flowing down; and Stole – a long garment, covering or wrapping. It should be noted that Thayer’s Lexicon describes the Greek term stole in this way: “a loose outer garment for men which extended to the feet”, and it is found in such passages as Mark 12:38 and Luke 20:46 where it is translated as “long clothing or long robes”. But in I Timothy 2:9 women are commanded to adorn themselves in modest katastole, which seems to emphasize that women’s legs and even feet should be covered by loose forming apparel. When women here are commanded to wear modest katastole, the term katastoleis not just a more general term for clothing, apparel, or array like the Greek term himatismos, which is translated “array” at the end of I Timothy 2:9 and apparel in Acts 20:33. The Greek word for modest is Kosmios, meaning orderly, well-arranged, decent, modest, harmonious arrangement, or adornment. Modesty is also Biblically applied to one’s demeanor or behavior. This same Greek word is translated good behavior in 1 Timothy 3:2 in the qualifications of bishops. Therefore, women are instructed to wear modest long dresses (Kosmios Katastole). Thus this Kosmios Katastole not only specifies that the article of clothing should be a dress, but also specifies that the dress should be of a suitably long length. And I Timothy 2:9 teaches that this dress is to be characterized by “shamefacedness” and “sobriety”.
Sometimes, we dismiss Biblical teachings as strictly cultural. For example, we can look at many of the times that the word “apparel” is used in the Bible and say, that’s what people used to wear, and it no longer applies to us. When we read of what Bible characters were wearing, this can be true. But the verses in 1 Timothy are written in more of a “command” or instructional form. In fact, in 2 Timothy it is written that:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Ladies, I truly believe that this is something that we should at least consider as we seek to be obedient to The Lord. If you are interested in more information about this topic, please feel free to watch the youtube video that I posted below. May He bless you richly!
*I have recently moved web addresses, and some links are likely broken. Thank you for grace as I work on updating the new blog, Redeeming Home.