Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

1 Timothy 2:12, the created order, and Bible men who were guided by godly women

The Created Order and 1 Timothy 2:12

Some Christians believe that 1 Timothy 2:12 contains a timeless prohibition which forbids a woman from teaching a man and exercising authority over him. They also believe that verse 13 contains a reason for this prohibition.

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or ‘to exercise authority over’ [authentein] a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve (1 Tim. 2:12-13).

Biblical scholar Douglas Moo is one person who believes that “these restrictions [in verse 12] are permanent, authoritative for the church in all times and places and circumstances as long as men and women are descended from Adam and Eve.” But I’m not so sure.

If the created order of man first, woman second, somehow signifies a divine, universal, and incontrovertible principle, why then are there many examples of women in the Bible who did have authority, and did teach and direct certain men? And why did none of these men have a problem with this guidance from women? Surely these men and women are descended from Adam and Eve.

The following men didn’t seem to consider that the created order was a factor, let alone an impediment, in regards to a woman teaching or leading, and they listened to what women had to say.

Barak, the general of Israel’s army, depended on Deborah’s leadership. And the Israelites (presumably both men and women) came to Deborah for her decisions on matters of law (Judges 4:4-6, 8). (More on Deborah here and here.)

David accepted the prophecy of Abigail (1 Sam. 25:2-42), and King Lemuel accepted the oracles of his mother (Prov. 31:1-9). Moreover, the words of these women are recorded in scripture where they still instruct both men and women.

Joab, the general of David’s army, heeded the words of the Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah when she negotiated with him for the safety of her town (2 Sam. 20:14-22). The townsfolk also agreed to her plan, and implemented it (2 Sam. 20:22).

King Josiah sent a prestigious, all-male delegation to the prophetess Huldah, to “inquire of the Lord” concerning the rediscovered book of the Law (2 Chron. 34:19-33, etc). Huldah spoke to men on behalf of God, as did other prophetesses.

Mordechai and Abraham did what their niece and wife, respectively, directed them to do; and thus they aligned themselves with the will of God (Esth. 4:17 NIV; Gen. 21:12).

There’s no reason to think the men in the temple, those who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem, had a problem with the prophetess Anna when she spoke to them about the Messiah (Luke 2:37-38).

Jesus didn’t stop the Samaritan woman from telling the men of Sychar about Jesus (John 4:4-42). And, later, he expressly gave instructions to Mary Magdalene to tell his “brothers” the amazing message that he was alive (John 20:17-18).

Neither Luke (the author of Acts) nor Apollos seemed to be concerned that Priscilla, with her husband Aquila, corrected Apollos (a teacher and up and coming apostle) and explained theology to him.

The church historian Eusebius reveals that Philip’s four daughters were famous prophets who ministered in the early church. There is nothing to suggest that their ministry was limited to women.

This list of men includes kings, generals, a patriarch, and a teacher, yet there is no indication that any of these men felt affronted by the women who guided and advised them. Nor is their any indication that their masculinity was threatened or diminished because they followed directions and instructions given by women. (These things seem to be a problem for men such as John Piper.)

Moreover, in all these, and several other, episodes recorded in the Bible, there is not the slightest hint that the men were acting improperly by heeding the words of women. Rather, the men benefitted by listening to women, as did, in some cases, whole communities, and even the nation of God’s people.

More importantly, there is not the slightest hint that God had a problem with these men who were being directed by women. Perhaps, after all, the created order has nothing whatsoever to do with who can teach and lead, and speak for God.

There must be something more to 1 Timothy 2:12-13, because, the fact is, there are simply too many examples of godly women who God authorised and used to counsel and guide men, even in matters of theology.

Illustration is from the 13th century Morgan Bible showing the wise woman of Abel Beth Maacah, in a fortified tower, looking decidedly medieval. (Wikimedia Commons)


Related Articles

25 Biblical Roles for Biblical Women
Many women leaders in the Bible had this one thing in common
Bible Women with Spiritual Authority
The Complementarian Concept of the Created Order
Women, Teaching, and Deception
Women, Eve, and Deception
Various articles on 1 Timothy 2:12-15 here.
Authority in the Church

Posted May 4th, 2016 . Categories/Tags: Equality and Gender Issues, , , , ,

Unkind, judgemental, bizarre, and off-topic comments will be deleted.

32 comments on “1 Timothy 2:12, the created order, and Bible men who were guided by godly women

  1. Donald Johnson says:

    Great insight.

    This is another example that the comp appeal to Genesis proves too much; if it were true, so it cannot be true.

    Their most famous claim is that men are to have authority over women in church and home because of early Gen stories, but this would also imply men are to have authority over women not just there but also generally in government and society in general, but most comps do not go that far.

    • Marg says:

      Yes, if God really created men to be the leaders, this should hold true in all spheres of life, not just in the church.

      I like what Michael Bird has written about this:

      “The problem I have here is that some complementarians appeal to Genesis and the order of creation to show that it is inherently wrong for a woman to be in a position of authority over a man, and yet they only apply that restriction to church life or Sunday worship. But that is like saying that it is okay for someone to commit adultery as long as they do not do it on Sunday or in the church auditorium. Or it is like saying that it is okay to commit adultery as long as you do it with an unbeliever. If it is such a clear violation of God’s ordering of creation for a woman to have authority over a man, then this should apply to all spheres of life whether it is business, government, politics, civil service, or church because God is sovereign over all institutions, and all of life is lived before God and under God.”

      Michael F. Bird (2012-12-25) Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Haircuts: A Case for Gender Equality in Ministry (Fresh Perspectives on Women in Ministry) (Kindle Locations 524-526)

  2. Jenn says:

    Thank you for all your work to help bring truth to us about the role women are to have in the kingdom alongside men.
    Have you read Wade Burleson’s post
    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2013/02/artemus-and-end-of-us-evangelical.html?m=1
    I thought it was very helpful in understanding these 1 Timothy verses.
    Could you give your opinion if you have read it or if you may have the time. I have not heard anyone else come at these verses from his perspective.
    Thank you,
    Jenn

    • Marg says:

      Hi Jenn,

      I have read it, and overall it’s excellent. There are a few details where I disagree.

      ~ There’s simply no evidence of ritual prostitution in the cult of the Ephesian Artemis.
      ~ There is archaeological evidence, however, of sacrifices (e.g. lots of animal bones in the temple precinct). Lynn Lidonnici (1999:85) states, “The altar was large enough to sacrifice hundreds of cattle simultaneously.”
      ~ I’m not sure whether Artemis being born before Apollos is behind 1 Tim 2:13, but it might be. I suggest syncretistic (or pre-gnostic) stories of creation, where the woman precedes the man, and gives life to the man, may be behind verse 13.
      ~ We must be careful not to exaggerate the influence of the myths of the Amazons on first century Ephesians, or the regard the Ephesians had for the Amazons. On the other hand, there is abundant evidence (statues and inscriptions) that the Ephesians highly honoured the Imperial family, especially Caesar Augustus (even after he died), and highly honoured Androklos, son of the king of Athens, who settled in Ephesus in around 1050 BC.

      Anyway, I agree with Wade where he says the rigid interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, that prohibits women on the basis of gender alone, is stupid. It does not fit with what the rest of scripture says about women leading and teaching men. Patriarchy, where only men have authority, and women have practically none, is not God’s will for the community of his people. God has authorised some women to be leaders and teachers.

      I have more about Artemis here: http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/1-timothy-212-in-context-2/

      • Jenn says:

        Margaret, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and insight from history. I really appreciate. Sorry O did not respond sooner. Jenn

  3. Christian says:

    The bible is in part a product of more patriarchal times. I find fault with those that in my opinion read a type of heirarchy into the text that justifies the unquestioning faith and obediance of women to men like the relationship of humanity with God. A father child relationship puts a child in a subservient and reliant position to unquestioningly obey.

    I’d argue that this is against at least Jesus’ teaching, since a large part of his mission was questioning the given religious conventions followed by modern jews that had begun to miss the mark due to blindly following the law with no love or respect for the spirit of the law. In fact, the pharisees/and other sects were unwholesome in Jesus’ eye beause they essentially gamed the system and simply used the role of rabbi or sribe for the earthly power, wealth, and control it gave that person.

    Using the bible to limit women’s role in the Church just so happens to benefit all males and perpetuate patriarchy when patriarchal systems are not laid out by God, but by people purporting to represent him from the crowd of humanity.

    God does not simly lay out how things should be. He gave us free will after all. God wishes us to do the right thing or the right reasons without it haing to be commanded or laid out.

    Treating a woman as you yourself wished to be treated simply supercedes all the old testament limits on female roles via Jesus’ itereation of the Golden Rule. If I wouldn’t subjegate other males and dismiss their talents because of arbitrary rules regarding their roles, then we shouldn’t perpetuate such rules and agree to live by them. It relies on negative stereotyping of women as to what they cannot do well, and in others advocates what women should aspire to be based on what they are supposedly good at. There is nothing spiritual about it.

    Are we to tell a woman talented at football she ought not play it because of her stature? Isn’t her talent obviously God given? Why limit what God has created? The rhetorical quetions i hope highlight that what we humans do is try to eliminate uncertainty out of our relationship with God by trying to infer too much out of the word of God, when common sense and an open mind bely some of the anachrnisms put there by past authors. Just because the Bible is inspired does not mean God meant it to be perfect in the sense of factually or even theologically correct.

    Maybe we were meant to use the brain God gave us and our conscience to work out the inequities we see in the world and not attempt to glean certainty about issues by cherry picking the bible and twisting and turning dubiously relevant passages as if God meant to write a book that could settle any argument with certainty.

    I’m sad beause many people in their desire to have a religion that proscribes everything in their life for fear or lack of interest to figure it out with Biblial principles in mind. They resort to using the Bible as a reference book. The worst phrase is the popular one stating the Bible has all the answers, which is true but not in a literal sense. This produces the shallow questions you see of some very earnest religious people seriously posing questions about whether a hairstyle is proper, or if cufflinks are unbiblical. That is the religious spirit Jesus tried to reform, like the pharisee trying to put Jesus in a catch 22 over dietary law, in which Jesus replied that it is better to be more concerned with what comes out of one’s mouth over the deuteronical dietary proscriptions, meaning critical thinking is involved and mindless following of law is counterproductive to one’s relationship with God.

    But some of the most earnest of us with the text right in front of us thik and act like pharisees in regards to Christianity. We try to out-Christian each other like Jesus criticized some jews would do in trying to outdo each other in doing no work on the Sabbath for instance.

    The subjgation of and the relegation of women to a servant role is not something proscribed in the bible. The Bible is a product of its time and the culture at the time and place it was written was patriarchal, and still is. We don’t replicate slavery just because it appears in the bible. This doesn’t mean it is preferable or correct in our time and place to practice it in modern times. Just because God gave humaity the dominion over the earth does not mean it’s morally o.k. to hunt some animals to extinction or cut down every tree. It’s only greed that makes some Christians make the argument that God giving us dominon means whatever we decide to do with that authority is righteous. The same self-serving sentiment I feel is behind the arguments dominionists use to dictate what are basically hijabs (the strict clothing rules certain ultra orthodox christians that are really into patriarchy are forcing onto their female family members). If it’s so “bad” for Islam why is it “right” or a matter of scriptural preference or interpretation when it’s being done in our society within our faith? What are the real substantive differences between orthodox jews christians and muslims in how they live when they all separate the sexes, add a bunch of rules that make females more property by taking away their own agency and substituting it with either her father’s, her brother’s, or her husband’s? The food laws are kept to varying degrees, with some of the Christian faith arguing it no longer applies while others keep them.

    When we become better than this, we become closer to God. The better I treat others, the better I am treating God. Whatsoever I do upon others, I do unto Him. And unfortunately there are a lot of Christians that are good at being jackasses to Him at their job, at home, and most depressingly in their own hearts. Love should overcome judgment. God told us to leave judgment to him. We cannot Lord over the world with the Bible, nor should we aim to despite how apppealing some Christians think that is. We cannot force Communion with non-believers simply by trying to create a government reflective of Christianity, beause we Christains cannot agree on what that even means. But we can practice the Golden Rule in our daily lives and by that practice we can all hone ourselves as individuals. That alone is better advertisement to others to save souls than the best practied proselytizer could do. The word is out there. Souls will be saved by Christians leading by example, not by trying to politically create a theocracy, if so Jesus would have done it or talked about it and he does neither. The closest thing was the devil tempting him with the power to rule the world, which he saw for what it was and refused.

    If only modern day Christians offered power were so wise.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Christian.

      I especially like your point that patriarchal interpretations of 1 Timothy 2:12 are at variance with the “Golden Rule”.

  4. Angela says:

    Hi,

    I too struggle with this particular passage because of how it states that the woman was deceived, which is true, however are men not also deceived presently and in the past?

    The reason I say this is because I was told by a man that since the woman is more easily deceived as per what Paul writes to Timothy a woman should learn scripture under a man and not on her own because she will naturally fall into error. So I found this verse more problematic than it just about being silent and
    usurping authority.

    The entire passage can be such a stumbling block in light of other scripture
    and it seems to be used a lot by men who focus heavily on the authoritarian role of man and sub
    missive role of woman.
    Any thoughts would be helpful on the deception part would be helpful.
    Angela

    • Marg says:

      Hi Angela,

      The Bible nowhere states that women are more easily deceived than men. The man who spoke to you is not interpreting the scriptures carefully. I find the phrase “she will naturally fall into error” disturbing, harmful, and wrong.

      Eve was deceived, and she knew it. Importantly, she didn’t stay deceived. Furthermore, there are enough biblical examples of men being deceived to show that gullibility is not an exclusively female trait.

      Also there is a gnostic text which states that the archons (rulers) deliberately deceived Adam, but not Eve. Eve is never portrayed as a transgressor in Gnostic texts, but as a divine-like figure. These ideas may be what Paul is addressing in 1 Timothy 2:14.

      I’ve written more about women being incorrectly typecast as gullible here: http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/women-eve-and-deception/

      • Jenn says:

        Hello again Marg
        I just read your post on whether women are more easily deceived. Which I really liked. But then it reminded me of another verse that I have heard used to show women that women can be more easily deceived. 2 Timothy 3:6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control …
        Do you have any thoughts on this verse?
        Again thank you for sharing your wisdomwith us.
        Jenn

        • Marg says:

          Hi Jen,

          Paul is describing something that was specifically happening in the church at Ephesus. Namely, that false teachers were worming their way into the houses of “twits” (gynaikaria).

          Paul does not use the ordinary word for “women” in 2 Timothy 3:6. He is specifically talking about silly or weak women (gynaikaria). These women may have been idle young women, or widows, of the upper classes (cf. 1 Tim. 5:13-14).

          Paul is certainly not implying that all women are silly, or weak, or easily deceived; he is only speaking about the ones who were letting in the false teachers. The sensible women in Ephesus, such as Prisca (or Priscilla), were not letting them in (2 Tim. 4:19).

          It is thought that the Chosen Lady lived in Asia Minor, perhaps even in Ephesus. She is especially warned not to let false teachers into her home or house church (2 John 1:10-11).

          • Jenn says:

            Thank you again. That make sense. It helps to think of it that way. Although twits made me thunk of Charley and the Choolate Factury. Have a great weekend.

  5. Knut AK says:

    So, this passage comes up again. It continues to be a puzzle, it seems.

    I think, Marg, that you have earlier expressed the view that 1 Tim 2:13-14 is Paul’s rejection of the reasons some women in Ephesus had for what they were doing, rather than his own reasons for what he is saying. Some other bloggers are also saying this, and I think it is a view to hold on to. And if so, we can glimpse some more of what the false teaching in Ephesus was about. It must then have been something that runs contrary to what Paul is saying in vv13–14, and at the same time gave some women courage to do things that were a bit overbold.

    The idea that v12 is temporary is, on the other hand, a poor one in my opinion. Basing that on the greek word «epitrepo» seems much too thin to me. And even if it was temporary, it wouldn’t be very egalitarian to shut off ALL women in Ephesus from teaching, although only for a time.

    There is an alternative idea that I think is much better, but which I haven’t seen anyone fully embrace, although several commentators come very close to saying it. It is that the women in v12 are the same as the women in v11, the women who are learning. Two reasons for this:
    1) v11 alone is too short as a discussion of women who are learning. Paul usually takes some time to talk through a topic. Admittedly he is much more brief in this letter than in some others, but the one short sentence in v11 is too little, even here. This is also supported by a «but»/«however» (greek «de») in v12, indicating that he is somehow going on from v11.
    2) The «but» in v12 also sets up a contrast between v11, or something in it, and the teaching and authenteining in v12. At the same time the teaching and authenteining is also contrasted with the quietness in v12. This seems to me to be most naturally understood as a single contrast, and the quietness in v12 as the same as the quietness in v11. Then, since the quietness in v11 is the quietness of women who are learning, so is the quietness in v12. The teaching and authenteining in v12 is then contrasted with the quietness of women who are learning. And isn’t the teaching and authenteining then also OF women who are learning? It seems so to me. Paul is mentioning quietness again in v12 in order to say more specifically what in v11 he is contrasting; that would otherwise have been rather ambiguous.

    To also say a little about the meaning of «authentein»: There are three studies by Albert Wolters, of which I think you have read at least one, but perhaps not all three. Particularly the last one, entitled «AN EARLY PARALLEL OF αὐθεντεῖν IN 1 TIM 2:12», broadens the view of what the word can mean. As I understand it, «authentein» can be taken to mean something like ‘act as master’ or ‘act as superior’, where what one is master or superior in terms of can vary. It can certainly be in terms of authority, but also of influence, or of knowledge and/or skill. And I believe it is about knowledge here, rather than authority. Two reasons for this:
    1) There is nothing further about authority in the context, but lots about knowledge: learning, teaching, Eve’s deception.
    2) As far as I understand, the greek word «oude» hints that teaching and authenteining should be some kind of natural pair. And this is much more the case if «authentein» is about knowledge. If we read «authentein» as something like «act as knowledgewise superior», then that makes a VERY natural pair with «teach».

    As I see it then, one can paraphrase vv11–12 as something like this:
    A woman who is learning the basics of the christian faith should be peaceful and fully willing to learn.
    For such a woman to teach, however, is something I do not permit, or to act as knowledgewise superior to a man, instead of remaining peaceful.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Knut AK,

      Yeah, 1 Timothy 2:12 isn’t going away anytime soon. It keeps being brought up in discussions about women in the church. This one verse is a real sticking point for some, even though it does not represent the whole counsel of scripture.

      I suspect that verses 13 and 14 are correcting a syncretistic (pre-gnostic) heresy that was being taught in the Ephesian church: that Eve came first, and Adam was the one who was deceived. We have Gnostic texts which say as much. I do not necessarily think that a woman was teaching this heresy, but it may have been what a woman (or women) believed. I do not think verses 13 and 14 contain reasons a woman cannot teach, etc, a man.

      I don’t say that the word epitrepō gives the meaning that verse 12 is a temporary prohibition (at least I hope I don’t). I do, however, believe that epitrepō indicates that verse 12 is an ad hoc regulation for a specific situation, and is thus limited in scope, but not necessarily temporary in scope. Epitrepō is not the word usually used for introducing a universal principle or a “best practice” instruction (e.g. Jesus’ concession on divorce).

      I’ve read Wolters’ “A Semantic Study of authentēs and its Derivatives”, Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 1/11 (Spring 2006) 44-65. And I’ve read “Authentēs and its Cognates in Biblical Greek”, JETS 52/4 (December 2009) 719–29.

      I looked just now for the third paper, and found it: “An Early Parallel of authentein in 1 Tim 2:12″, JETS (December 2011) 673-84, here. Thanks for letting me know of a third paper!

      I like your interpretation. It’s entirely plausible. We’re on the same page with oude.

      I agree that “in quietness” is a key phrase in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. It even forms a nifty chiasm:

      A γυνὴ ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ μανθανέτω ἐν πάσῃ ὑποταγῇ·
      X διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός,
      A1 ἀλλ’ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ.

      Paul clearly wanted a certain woman (or women) to settle down.

      Thanks for your comment. Some interesting, new things for me to think about.

  6. Jeff says:

    Marg,
    We are one body in Christ Jesus, the church, both women and men and we all have a responsibility to love each other as God loves us.

    The Bible is also very clear on how a woman is to love and honor her husband and how the husband is to love and honor the woman; it is also clear on how we are to love all, even sinners.

    However Paul in context is very clear in relation to his message and meaning regarding women in the church; I highlight the very next passage.

    1 Timothy 3
    1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

    I would note that in 1 Timothy 3:1 Paul dose not say “if a man or women desire the office of a bishop” he clearly refers to the man only in the Bishops/Pastors role.

    A man is also to rule his own house, he is to love his wife as he loves himself and he is to live Godly.

    I do not always understand all things written in the Bible but I trust God and his wisdom; it is very clear that Eve was deceived but Adam was not; It is also clear that this was is important enough that Paul warned the body of Christ in scripture.

    All Protestant reformers taught that the Bible alone is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge; we do not go outside of the Bible to justify our position.

    I do not wish to be rude but this is a sideshow to the real Gospel and mission of the church, the Protestant Church is in great danger and yet we are neither hot nor cold on the matter, we are lukewarm; and we dishonor all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who gave their life for the Gospel of Christ if we fail to defend the Gospel of Christ.

    In the later days we are told that the danger to the church comes both from outside the church and from within, those who profess to have our faith but who are in fact enemies of the cross.

    Just another opinion for consideration.
    Jeff

    • Marg says:

      Hi Jeff,

      I know you mean well, and that your English translation may seem clear to you, but the original Greek of 1 Timothy 3:1 is a little different. There is no word for “man” in this verse. The Greek word used in verse 1 (tis) means “anyone” or “someone” or “a certain one”: “If anyone desires overseer-ship, s/he desires a good work” (literal translation). There is no word for “man” and there are no masculine pronouns (in the Greek) of the entire passage of 1 Timothy 3:1-7, with one exception.

      The Greek word for “man” appears only once in verses 1-7, and this is in a common Greek idiom which is not gender exclusive. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 is not clear as you seem to think.

      1 Timothy 2:12 is even less clear. What does authentein mean? And is it tied to didaskein? And why does Paul use the singular for “woman” and “man” in verses 11 and 12, but the plural in previous verses. Could Paul be talking about one particular couple in the church at Ephesus? And why doesn’t he use the usual language that is typical in his other instructions and commands.

      It is clear that Eve was deceived. It is far from clear that her deception is a reason for banning every woman, for all time, from teaching any man.

      What the about men mentioned in this article? Where they led astray by the advice or leadership of Deborah, Abigail, King Lemuel’s mother, the Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah, Huldah, Esther, Apollos, etc? No. In fact, in some instances, they and their whole communities were saved because of the advice and actions of these women.

      These women are biblical examples, and, as you say, we must not go outside of the Bible to justify our position.

      Here are some other instructions and pieces of advice from the apostle Paul that are clear. We know the vocabulary, and there is nothing tricky or ambiguous about the grammar in these verses.

      I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling (1 Tim. 2:8)
      Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good (1 Thess. 5:19-21).
      Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss (1 Thess. 5:26).

      Do you always raise your hands when you pray? Do you encourage spirit-inspired, sound prophesy in your church and home? Do you always greet your brothers in the Lord with a kiss? It is amazing how many people do not follow these clear instructions from the apostle.

      God has entrusted the real gospel and mission of the church to his sons AND his daughters. I would be very wary about silencing a Deborah or an Anna or a Priscilla.

      • Jenn says:

        Marg,
        I love your response here. Thank you. I read all 5 parts of http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/1-timothy-212-in-context-2/
        it was so helpful and insightful. I appreciate all your hard work in researching and doing your best to bring the bible in context for better understanding. I don’t think this is considered going outside the bible. We can’t fully understand without it.
        Jenn

        • Marg says:

          Thanks Jenn,

          Let me share some examples of background information being used to better understand New Testament letters where we only hear one side of the conversation.

          Paul Trebilco recently delivered a lecture on “The Letters of John and the Cult of Artemis in Ephesus“.

          Clinton Arnold reckons that Artemis and other “powers” are behind the “powers” frequently mentioned in the letter to the Ephesians.

          And several scholars suspect that Artemis may be, at least in part, behind the heresy that Paul alludes to in 1 Timothy.

          Background info is helpful, and even vital, in understanding the context of the books and letters of the Bible.

          Having said that, the article on this page is all about what the Bible says. It doesn’t go outside of the Bible at all. 🙂

  7. Jeff says:

    Marg,

    God forbid that I would seek to silence any Godly woman from contending for the faith I would exhort her and support her, but in context this is not what Paul is saying, Paul is very clear in his message regarding pastoral roles.

    Neither you nor I are Greek scholars, so talking about the Greek is of little value as we are in turn reliant on others for their opinion / interpolation.

    You would be aware that no one alive today has ever seen the original Greek manuscripts; we only have copies of copies of the originals, whether they are the Alexandrian text line or the Syrian text line. Both you and I depend on the integrity of our English translation and the Holy Spirit to guide us when reading Gods word and taking it to heart.

    Also noting that there are many Greek texts that the numerous translations of the Bible are based on. and they are not all the same; Some of these manuscript versions lean toward a gender neutral Bible; But this is not the position of our Protestant for fathers (the founders of the Protestant Faith) who also understood Pauls message in the same context that I am understanding the message, of this early Protestant position there is no doubt.

    As Christians we are to love and exhort each other and pray for each other, so I pray my word are taken with brotherly love. Words on a page can be taken contrary to their intent, as Christens we grow daily. Let us fight the good fight of faith so that we may lay hold of the gold crowns that await us.

    Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Jeff, you can only please speak for yourself. You clearly have no idea about my education, specialisations, or work.

      I read Koine Greek every day, including the Greek New Testament. (I also read ancient Greek papyri and manuscripts, including ones that contain books and letters of the New Testament, etc.) I do not depend on English translations, rather I depend solely on the Greek.

      I have no idea what you mean about being “reliant on others for their opinion.” I have not given the opinions of others. I presume that you also have not given the opinions of others.

      Paul doesn’t use the term “pastoral roles” in 1 Timothy 3:1-8. This is a very loose term that covers many activities. Priscilla, Phoebe, Junia, Philip’s daughters, and other NT women engaged in “pastoral roles”. Moreover Ephesians 4:11, which mentions the ministry of functioning as a pastor, is not gender specific. Nowhere does the Bible plainly state that women cannot be pastors, in either Greek or English.

      Like Euodia and Syntyche, I also contend for the gospel (Phil. 4:2-3), and for the faith.

  8. My latest post on my blog discusses women in the clergy and the old debate whether it’s biblical. I will say I don’t believe prophets are the same as ordained ministers and preachers. Not all prophets were leaders and in a position of authority as many priests,kings and leaders relieved on prophets for counsel, guidance and wisdom but in the end they were ones in charge not the prophets. Still good article. God Bless.

  9. Marg says:

    Hi CT,

    Old Testament priests didn’t have much authority outside the institution of the Tabernacle or Temple, whereas several prophets, both male and female, were key advisors to kings, generals, and even to the whole nation of Israel.

    Some people believe that being a prophet was a higher “office” than that of the priests. However, I’m not sure that “office” is the right word.

    Some prophets certainly had a lot more influence than the average priest who was restricted to the day to day running of the tabernacle/temple, including facilitating the sacrifices.

    Old Testament prophets are not the same as present-day ordained ministers and preachers. But Old Testament priests are even less like Christian ministers and preachers. (More on this here.)

    Old Testament prophets had a verbal ministry; most Old Testament priests had a practical ministry.

    I’m not sure the New Testament speaks about any ministry as being a “position of authority”. God authorises each of us to function in various ministries, but the idea of a “positions of authority” sounds foreign to what Jesus and the New Testament authors say, with the exception, perhaps, of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

  10. Jan says:

    Thank you dear sister Marg for your excellent replies to men and women interested in this subject. Maybe for me being a Greek, living and ministering in Greece, I do not face a difficulty in understanding that a woman believer has God’s permission to minister to the world to be saved and give further guidance to both men and women.

    But I was a victim of false doctrine of all these discussions you and all the rest of those that are interested in the discussion. I always desired to work for God, but the teachings in the churches were an obstacle to my faith and call of God. I left all this behind me having a call to women to find their worth in the Lord, and come out of social and church rejection, and place themselves before the throne of God for direction.

    Doctrines of men have bound woman and prevented them from ministering for the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus have given us His deliverance to loose religious bondage, and instead worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.

    I need prayers for my ministry. Greece may be a European Member but the churches are still in traditional eastern bondage.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Jan,

      I can imagine that women ministers would have great difficulties being accepted by the Greek Orthodox Church.

      I can also imagine that your ministry to the women of Greece is very much needed.

      God bless you and your ministry, in Jesus’ name.

  11. […] These lists show that, despite the patriarchal culture of Bible times, there were plenty of women who, because of noble birth, extraordinary ability, spiritual gifting, or for some other reason, had authoritative and powerful positions and ministries. There is no hint whatsoever that the positions and roles of these women were odd, improper, or unacceptable. Moreover men such as Barak, Josiah’s delegation, Mordecai, King Lemuel, and Apollos, seemed to have had no problem receiving instruction and direction from a godly woman. (More about these men and others who took guidance from women here.) […]

  12. […] it is much easier to show from the Bible that godly women can, and did, teach, advise, and lead men (even powerful men such as kings, an army general, and a teacher with an apostolic ministry) than it is to show that women can teach other women and children. […]

  13. […] The Bible provides several examples of men who were guided by godly women, without any hint of censure. Apollos the teacher was corrected by Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus (possibly in the couple’s house church in Ephesus), and yet this does not seem to have been a problem. Rather it was a good thing. […]

  14. […] These men include Abraham (Gen, 21:12); Barak (Judg. 4:4-6, 8); King David (1 Sam. 25:2-42); Joab (2 Sam. 20:14-22); King Lemuel (Prov. 31:1-9); King Josiah (2 Chron. 34:19-33, etc); Mordechai (Esth. 4:17 NIV); those who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:37-38); the men (and women) of Sychar (John 4:4-42); Jesus’ “brothers” (John 20:17-18); Apollos (Acts 18:26); etc. (More about these men and the women who taught and led them here.) […]

  15. […] [5] John Piper has recently been recorded as saying that a Christian woman can teach a man as long as she is not standing in front of a man showing her womanhood. (Source) The implication is that women are somehow offensive or threatening to men and their manhood. John Piper seems obsessed with emphasising gender differences. On the other hand, the Bible mentions kings, generals and other men who received instruction from women without concern. These men are listed here. […]

  16. Michael Moore says:

    It is important to distinguish the implications to be drawn from the various literary forms used throughout the Bible. Historical, or “narratives” of events that occurred merely state what happened. On the other hand, among many others literary forms, we have “didactic” passages. These are prescriptive and state God’s intended design. Solid hermeneutics will interpret the events of an historical account in light of the prescriptive truth contained in clear statements of God’s intended design.

    When encountering historical narratives, unless the writer of the story explicitly states what God thought of those events, no prescriptive moral implications can be drawn without grave danger. It is impossible for the reader to separate their own culturally-informed or, potentially even worse, errant presuppositions from coloring the implications they draw from the historical passage. The passages used to support this view are outstanding examples of historical narratives.

    Paul’s statement from 1 Timothy should not be discounted. To remove its authority is to place oneself on a “slippery slope” of questioning the applicability of any passage which does not agree with one’s personal views. The only end to such a journey is to blind oneself to all that God says about them and never allow His truth to “transform your mind” (Rom. 12:2).

    While God’s intended design is as Paul has stated, it does not negate the fact that, in the passages cited and in the history of Christianity both ancient and modern, God has used women to achieve His purposes and they have served very faithfully. It is commendatory when women stand up and lead, particularly when there are no men who are willing to fulfill God’s intent; whether that be due to physical absence or spiritual immaturity. In the same way that God used the MURDER of Jesus Christ to save the entire world (Acts 2:22-24), the hardness of Pharaoh heart to display His power (Romans 9:14-18), the rebellion of Jonah to turn an entire city to Himself (Jonah 4:5-11), etc. God displays His power by turning circumstances that appear to fly in the face of His righteous decrees to accomplish His works.

    So I would advocate, if there are men who possess the spiritual maturity to understand God’s word, teach it, and live lives worthy of emulation – they should lead the church as God has directed. If not, God’s truth will carry on through His faithful people, be they men or women. But the men will bear the responsibility either way in that it was Adam God came looking for in the garden after the fall and not Eve (Gen. 3:9).

    • Marg says:

      Hi Michael,

      I’m not claiming that any verse in the (Protestant) Bible lacks authority.

      In regards to your last paragraph: Huldah was a prophetess at the time when Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk were alive. Yet King Josiah sent an all male delegation–which included the High Priest (Hilkiah), the father of the future governor (Ahikam), the secretary of state (Shaphan) and the king’s officer (Asaiah)–to Huldah, a woman, to get a word of the LORD.

      Huldah’s prophetic gift and advice was sought out and heeded. She confirmed the authority of the newly rediscovered’book of the Law’, and revival ocurred. God blessed Huldah’s auhtoritative ministry to the king and to the nation. I think we should be vary wary about limiting the ministries and suppressing the gifts of God’s daughters, especially on the basis of one verse which I strongly suspect has been misinterpreted by some.

      Rather than discount, 1 Timothy 2:12, I am seeking to understand it. I can assure you that, to the best of my knowledge, I have never done what 1 Timothy 2:12 disallows.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2009–2016   Margaret Mowczko | Powered by WordPress

More in Equality and Gender Issues
The Church at Smyrna and her Women (Part 2)

This is the second part of a two-part series which looks at the women in the church at Smyrna in the post-apostolic period....

Close