Is Katastole Speaking of a Long Dress? 1 Timothy 2:9



In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel [Greek-katastole], with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 1 Timothy 2:9 (KJV 1900)

I was challenged recently  by an ex-message believer that my understanding of the term katastole (translated as apparel) in 1 Timothy 2:9 is incorrect. He suggested I do additional research, which I have done. I have come to the same conclusion that the word katastole that Paul is using suggest a long garment down past the knees, what we refer to as a dress. Here is my research. Feel free to peruse it and then read my conclusions at the end.

This was the singular reference I was given by the brother. I have provided quite a few more references that shed additional light on the term katastole that is translated as apparel in 1 Timothy 2:9. As you read you will see some Greek words that are impossible for non-Greek speakers to read. That is ok, just skip over them.

(s.  Hippocr.; Mitt-Wilck. I/2, 12, 15 [88 B.C.] ‘subjugation’; Is 61:3; EpArist, Joseph.) Like the verb ?, the basic idea is keeping something in check, hence the use of this term in the sense of ‘reserve, restraint’ (IPriene 109, 186f [120 B.C.] and EpArist 284f: both texts w. ; Epict. 2, 10, 15; 2, 21, 11: here personal deportment is certainly meant). The verb  means to ‘furnish, equip’, a sense that extends itself to the putting on of garments. Hence katastole readily serves to express outward attire, either the character one exhibits in personal deportment or something to cover the body, namely attire, clothing (Jos., Bell. 2, 126; cp. Is 61:3; Plut., 154 [Pericl. 5, 1] also appears to be used in this sense) .  dress in becoming manner (REB; dress modestly NRSV) 1 Ti 2:9. The writer skillfully moves from the literal sense of garments to personal characteristics of ‘modesty and self-control’ as appropriate adornment.—DELG s.v. . M-M. TW.

William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 527.


Commentary from John Gill on 1 Timothy 2:9

that women adorn themselves in modest apparel: the word rendered “apparel” signifies a long robe, which reaches down to the feet; and the word translated “modest” signifies that which is clean, neat, and decent, yea, beautiful and ornamental; and the sense of the apostle is, that he would not have them to come to public worship in rags, and in dirty and filthy garments, but that their bodies should be covered with clean and decent raiment; so the Israelites washed their clothes that they might be ready to meet the Lord at Mount Sinai, Exo_19:14. The Jews always appeared in their best clothes on the sabbath day; this is one of their rules: (n).


“for the honour of the sabbath, every man must be clothed, “with clean or neat apparel” and clothing on the weekday must not be as clothing on the sabbath day; and if a man can make no change, he must let down his talith (or upper garment, his cloak); so that his clothing may not be as the clothing of the weekdays, when that was girt up about him.”


Adam Clarke on 1 Timothy 2:9

That women adorn themselves –  The apostle seems to refer here to different parts of the Grecian and Roman dress. The, stola, seems to have been originally very simple. It was a long piece of cloth, doubled in the middle, and sewed up on both sides, leaving room only for the arms; at the top, a piece was cut out, or a slit made, through which the head passed. It hung down to the feet, both before and behind, and was girded with the zona round the body, just under the breasts. It was sometimes made with, sometimes without, sleeves; and, that it might sit the better, it was gathered on each shoulder with a band or buckle. Some of the Greek women wore them open on each side, from the bottom up above the knee, so as to discover a part of the thigh. These were termed , showers (discoverers) of the thigh; but it was, in general, only young girls or immodest women who wore them thus.

The katastole seems to have been the same as the pallium or mantle, which, being made nearly in the form of the stola, hung down to the waist, both in back and front, was gathered on the shoulder with a band or buckle, had a hole or slit at top for the head to pass through, and hung loosely over the stola, without being confined by the zona or girdle. Representations of these dresses may be seen in Lens’ Costume des Peuples de l’Antiquité, fig. 11, 12, 13, and 16. A more modest and becoming dress than the Grecian was never invented; it was, in a great measure, revived in England about the year 1805, and in it, simplicity, decency, and elegance were united; but it soon gave place to another mode, in which frippery and nonsense once more prevailed. It was too rational to last long; and too much like religious simplicity to be suffered in a land of shadows, and a world of painted outsides.


Jameson, Fausset, Brown Commentary

in modest apparel — “in seemly guise” [Ellicott]. The adjective means properly. orderly, decorous, becoming; the noun in secular writings means conduct, bearing. But here “apparel.” Women are apt to love fine dress; and at Ephesus the riches of some (1Ti_6:17) would lead them to dress luxuriously. The Greek in Tit_2:3 is a more general term meaning “deportment.”


The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume

by Gerhard KittelGerhard FriedrichGeoffrey William Bromiley

katastéll?, katastol?.

1. This verb means “to put in its right place,” “to arrange,” “to restore order,” “to pacify,” while the noun means “propriety,” “ordered conduct,” “action with a view to such conduct,” and then “clothing” (as a visible expression of decorum).

2. In the NT the verb occurs only in Acts 19:35–36, where the clerk calms the excited mob at Ephesus. The authority expressed by katastéll? differs from that expressed by the use of katéseisen when Paul as a witness to Christ brings the crowd to order at Jerusalem in Acts 21:27ff. The noun occurs in the advice to women believers in 1 Tim. 2:9, where Timothy is told to exhort them to adopt either a seemly demeanor or seemly apparel. The context of worship perhaps supports the former rendering, but the use of stol? for “garment” in the Apologists favors the latter.



In Vincent Word Studies

In modest apparel 

katastole- N.T.o. Once in lxx, Isa_61:3. Opinions differ as to the meaning. Some apparel, others guise or deportment = ?????????? demeanour, Tit_2:3. There seems, on the whole, to be no sufficient reason for departing from the rendering of A.V. and Rev. ???????? modest, seemly, Pasto. Note the word – play, ???????? ????????.

From Bible Believers Commentary

2:9   Having discussed the personal requisites of the men who lead in public prayer, the apostle now turns to the things which should characterize the women who are in the congregation at such a time. First of all, he states that they should adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation. John Chrysostom gives a definition of modest apparel which can scarcely be improved upon:

And what then is modest apparel? Such as covers them completely and decently, and not with superfluous ornaments; for the one is decent and the other is not. What? Do you approach God to pray with broidered hair and ornaments of gold? Are you come to a ball? a marriage-feast? a carnival? There such costly things might have been seasonable: here not one of them is wanted. You have come to pray, to ask pardon for your sins, to plead for your offences, beseeching the Lord. … Away with such hypocrisy!


John Chrysostom who lived from 347 to 407 and was an expert in the Greek languages.

My Conclusions and Response

Just because the word is used in a certain way by secular authors does not mean that is the way the apostle is using the word. If you read John Chrysostom’s notes about this verse he understood it to be modest apparel, not merely modest demeanor or behavior. He lived from 347 to 407 and he spoke Greek, which is what the apostle wrote in to Timothy.

If you take a look at John Gill, Adam Clarke, and Jameson, Faucet and Brown’s commentary’s you can see that indeed the apostle Paul did intend to communicate what I have written previously regarding this verse. You have to go a little deeper beyond the mere meanings in secular writings.

Before we conclude, let’s examine closely the two words that make up the word katastole, kata means down and stolay means a gown or dress.

Therefore we can conclude that Paul is expressing his teaching that women are to wear a modest dress and that both her dress and her character should be expressed with humility and sobriety.



3 thoughts on “Is Katastole Speaking of a Long Dress? 1 Timothy 2:9

Comments are closed.