No Braids for Women? (Blomberg)

In 1 Timothy 2:9 it seems like Paul tells Christian women that they cannot braid their hair. Here’s what the verse says: “…Likewise the women are to dress in suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control. Their adornment must not be with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing” (NET). Does this mean no Christian women can wear braids? First of all, in this verse and the verses around it the context does seem to be in reference to worship. But still, does this mean women can’t braid their hair when they come to a Christian worship service? In a word, no. In these words Paul is referring to a specific kind of braid, not all braiding in general. Here’s how Craig Blomberg explained this:

In 1 Timothy 2:9, Paul wants ‘women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.’ This ‘dress code’ is a sign that the wealthy women at Ephesus were the primary offenders addressed. They alone would have been able to afford the elaborate hair-dos described. In fact, the Greek text reads more literally, ‘not with braided hair *and* gold or pearls…’ There was nothing wrong with braided hair as such, but the ornate coiffure in which jewels were interwoven into the braids, as one way of holding a woman’s hair together, involved hours of attention to one’s external appearance and was often accompanied by lavish, costly attire (see esp. Hurley, 1981:199). So there is a timeless principle, even in these seemingly very occasional remarks, that women (and presumably men too) should not preoccupy themselves with overly expensive or fancy dress, jewelry, and the like. One wonders how many Christian worshippers today violate Paul’s principle every Sunday.”

Craig Blomberg, Neither Poverty Nor Riches, p. 207.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015