What follows is an interesting word study with implications and suggestions which may surprise some of our readers. As believers we have a responsibility concerning “adornment.”
Sometimes when asked about career expectations, a young woman will say that she plans to pursue a career in Cosmetology. What does this word mean? Why is it so similar to the word “cosmology” which refers to the study of the universe and the laws of nature? The answer lies in the Greek word “kosmos ” which refers to an orderly arrangement and is the opposite of the Greek word which came directly into the English language as “chaos.”
The word “kosmos” refers to the universe because it as an orderly arrangement. It has, however, also come to us as cosmetology. The cosmetologist thus, is supposed to bring order out of chaos.
We also find this root word in such English words as cosmos, cosmic, cosmopolitan, and cosmetics.
But is there also a Christian cosmetology? Let’s do a word study of some New Testament occurrences of the Greek word “kosmos, ” including its noun adjectival and verb forms.
The Adornment of the Believer
In 1 Timothy 2:8 Paul has dealt with the men (not mankind, but “andres ” or males in contrast to women). He is dealing with the subject of public prayer, and in this, women are to be silent. However, in 2:9 he takes up the topic of women. Twice in this verse he uses the word “kosmos.” “In like manner also the women adorn (kosmeo) themselves in modest (kosmio) apparel, with shamefastness (the restraint which prevents the overstepping of the limits of womanly reserve – W.E. Vine) and sobriety (sound judgment, discretion).” The sister is to display outwardly what is true inwardly. The true adornment is the dual adornment of a reserved spirit and good works. Peter takes up the thought in his first epistle. He exhorts the sister with an unbelieving husband to preach a wordless sermon in which she may win the husband, not by an outward adorning (kosmos, 3:3,5), but rather a submissive, meek and quiet spirit. Peter uses the expression, “in the sight of God.” This expression should be written over everyone’s mirror, so that we will always ask, “In whose sight?” Abraham obeyed the injunction, “Walk before Me and be thou perfect” (Gen 17:1). He did not walk before the world or court its favor. It should not only be to Sunday School children that we teach the verse, “Thou God seest me.” The godly women to whom Peter refers, in the expression, “who having set their hope upon God,” found that their hope regulated their apparel.
The word, however, is not limited to women, for in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 where Paul is outlining the characteristics of the one who “aspires to exercise oversight,” that man is to be “vigilant, sober, of good behavior (kosmion). ” What does Paul mean? The man who is to take care of a church of God must be a man living with the decorum of a well-ordered life. His behavior will be an adornment. To the Greek mind, order and harmony represented beauty.
The Adornment of the Doctrine
“Exhort servants … that they may adorn (kosmeo) the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:910). How can a servant adorn or beautify the teaching of our Savior God? Paul presents the grandeur of the doctrine of grace in Titus 2:1114, where he writes, “For the grace of God, laden with salvation for all men has appeared, teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age.” The Bible always presents a belief that behaves; in reality, a belief that does not affect our behavior is not a belief. Paul presented a grace that saves but also a grace that severs us from a godless manner of life and a grace which serves.
These bondservants had come to know truths which transform. This change in their character would be the adorning of the doctrine. Have we not heard that we are the only Bible that many in the world will ever read?
The little maid in Namaan’s house evidently adorned the doctrine, for she had credibility with her master and with the king (2 Kings 5:14). The Samaritan woman adorned the doctrine: she left her waterpots as a proof that she had received a drink of living water. In the power of a transformed life she was able to say, “Come see a Man.”
The greatest example of the adorning of the doctrine was in the life of the Lord Jesus. “No man hath seen God at any time; the Only Begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath told Him out” (John 1:18).
Is my life adorning the doctrine? Does my life give credibility to the gospel? Does the way I live cause others to want what I have?
The Adorning of the Lamp
There is an interesting use of the word “kosmos” in Matthew 25:7. “Then all the virgins arose and trimmed (kosmeo) their lamps.”
They beautified the lamps so that they would bum brightly. They had heard a cry of the coming Bridegroom and were going out to meet Him.
Trimming is the removal of the byproducts of incomplete combustion; it is the cutting away of the residue. If not cut away, the results are lots of smoke and limited light. In a similar manner, believers are not able to “shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15).
In l Timothy 6:4 we have the word “proud” which is really the word “tuphoo” the root of which means to raise a smoke. The person who is proud and puffed up is one whose light has not been “adorned.”
What lessons can we learn from the trimming of the lamp? Does the Father sometimes trim the lamp for us so that we may shine more brightly? Will He take us through what we consider to be painful trimming experiences? Are there things now in our lives that must be removed to adorn the lamp?
In the tabernacle, the High Priest was to light the lamps of the Lampstand every evening. Every morning he was to take the golden tongs and to dress the lamps. A new day was about to begin, and anything which caused the light to bum less brightly was to be removed. The night for us is about to end. We anticipate an eternal day without a night. Let us be sure the lamp has been dressed.
Why did these virgins arise so quickly and trim their lamps? They had heard a cry, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh!” The message gripped them. They held the doctrine and were held by the doctrine. If we live in the reality of the imminent return of the Lord, will we not also have to do some trimming? John deals with this adorning of the lamp that will take place as we anticipate the Lord’s return in 1 John 3:1-3, as does Peter in 2 Peter 3:10-18. Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are “not of the night” and cannot take their character from the night.
The Adorning of the Bride
In Revelation 21:3, John sees “the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned (kosmeo) for her husband.” Over a millennium earlier, in preparation for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the bride had made herself ready. She was “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints” (Rev 19:8). These righteousnesses refer, not to imputed righteousness, ours on the ground of faith, but rather to righteous acts of believers. We are all currently weaving a garment that will be our eternal apparel. The Bride will be adorned as no other bride could ever be, but what will be our portion after the Judgment Seat of Christ, at the Supper and for the eternal age? What will we wear? It appears that we will wear what we have woven here.
So the Christian is a cosmetologist, isn’t he? Perhaps you never thought of choosing this as a career, but it is to be our life path – weaving the garment of a meek and quiet spirit, adorning the doctrine, trimming the lamp and weaving an eternal garment. “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees” (Heb 12:12).