Women in Ministry: Questions About 1 Timothy 2:11-15 – Endnotes

[1] Craig Blomberg, “Neither Hierarchicalist Nor Egalitarian: Gender Roles in Paul,” in Two Views on Women in Ministry (ed. James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Zondervan, 2001), 357-58. Craig Keener writes, “It would be surprising if an issue that would exclude at least half the body of Christ from a ministry of teaching would be addressed in only one text” (Paul, Women, and Wives [Hendrickson, 1992], 101).

[2] God gave Deborah authority as a prophetess and judge, and Esther as a queen.

[3] For example, 1:18; 4:12-14; 5:23.

[4] The “complementarian” view is that men and women are complementary, having different roles in the family and in the church. The “egalitarian” view stresses the equality of men and women, saying that there is no role in the church restricted to one sex or the other. Both terms are less than perfect, since complementarians believe that men and women are equal in worth, and egalitarians believe that men and women have different and complementary strengths.

[5] In some churches, “tradition” is that women never speak from the podium. Hurley, Moo, Piper, Grudem, and Schreiner present a moderated version of tradition, in that they argue that women may speak in church in some circumstances.

[6] Some scholars do not believe that Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles, or that he had someone else formulate the wording. The exact authorship does not affect our study, since we accept these epistles as canonical and therefore authoritative for faith and practice. We will proceed on the basis of Pauline authorship.

[7] James Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (Zondervan, 1981), 196. He ignores 1 Tim. 1:18 and 4:12-14, and says nothing about any modern application of 5:9-14.

[8] Thomas Schreiner, “An Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9-15,” in Women in the Church (2nd ed.; edited by Andreas Köstenberger and Thomas Schreiner; Baker, 2005), 87.

[9] Ibid.

[10] T. David Gordon, “A Certain Kind of Letter,” in Andreas Köstenberger, Thomas Schreiner, and H. Scott Baldwin, eds, Women in the Church (1st ed., Baker, 1995), 59.

[11] Schreiner writes, “When Paul calls on men to pray ‘in every place’… this is probably a reference to house churches” (91). First-century Jews sometimes recited various curses against apostates in their prayers. It is possible that some early Christians used similar curses against government officials or their religious opponents, and Paul tells them to stop.

[12] Hurley, 198.

[13] Ibid., 199. We agree that women may wear braids, gold, and pearls today, and should avoid flaunting their wealth. Schreiner writes, “The similar text in 1 Peter 3:3 supports this interpretation, for read literally it prohibits all wearing of clothing, which is scarcely Peter’s intention. The words on clothing provide help in understanding the instructions on braids, gold, and pearls. Paul’s purpose is probably not to ban these altogether, but to warn against expensive and extravagant preoccupation with one’s appearance” (95).

[14] Douglas Moo, “What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men?” in John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Crossway, 1991), 183. But he also notes that the stress is on the manner, not the command to learn. “It is not the fact that they are to learn, but the manner in which they are to learn that concerns Paul” (183; similar comment by Schreiner, 97).

[15] Hurley, 200. The Greek has a third-person imperative: “have a woman learn.” He also claims that the verb in v. 12 is not just a personal preference, “but has overtones of command” (201).

[16] Schreiner, 98.

[17] Moo, 183. “We can also be fairly certain that women were functioning as teachers in the Ephesian community; otherwise, Paul would have no need for a corrective” (Linda Belleville, Women Leaders and the Church [Baker, 1999], 169).

[18] Schreiner, 112.

[19] Steven M. Baugh writes, “To say that Ephesian women were uneducated because they did not appear in ‘graduate schools’ of philosophy, rhetoric, and medicine is misleading. Few people in antiquity advanced in their formal education beyond today’s elementary school levels, including men like Socrates, Sophocles, and Herodotus…. There were wealthy women in the Ephesian congregation. At least some of these women were educated” (“A Foreign World: Ephesus in the First Century,” chapter 1 in Women in the Church, 2nd ed., 34).

[20] Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth (Multnomah, 2004), 293.

[21] Grudem notes that “some women had prominent roles in pagan religions in Ephesus…. The idea that women could not hold church office because it would have been unacceptable in that society does not square with the evidence” (324). Nancy Vymeister notes, “On the western coast of Asia Minor there was a tradition of dominant women” (Women in Ministry [Andrews University Press, 1998], 339). Clinton Arnold and Robert Saucy suggest that in Ephesus, “women were converting to Christianity and desiring to attain leadership roles in the church similar to what they held in society. Aware of this situation, Paul addressed this issue because he did not want these churches to cave in to the cultural pressures of the day and violate a deep-set theological conviction about order between men and women” (“The Ephesian Background of Paul’s Teaching on Women’s Ministry,” chapter 12 in Women and Men in Ministry: A Complementary Perspective, ed. Robert L. Saucy and Judith K. TenElshof [Moody, 2001], 287).

[22] Hurley, 201. Similarly, Piper and Grudem write, “Paul endorses women prophesying in church (1 Corinthians 11:5) and says that men ‘learn’ by such prophesying (1 Corinthians 14:31)…. Teaching and learning are such broad terms that it is impossible that women not teach men and men not learn from women in some sense…. The teaching inappropriate for a woman is the teaching of men in settings or ways that dishonor the calling of men to bear the primary responsibility for teaching and leadership” (“An Overview of Central Concerns,” in Piper and Grudem, 69-70).

[23] “Both verses have the same situation in mind, one in which women are not to teach authoritatively but are to learn quietly” (Hurley, 201). Blomberg also combines the two as “authoritative teaching” (364). However, Grudem (317) and Moo separate them: “We think 1 Timothy 2:8-15 imposes two restrictions on the ministry of women: they are not to teach Christian doctrine to men and they are not to exercise authority directly over men in the church” (Moo, 180). He says that these two prohibitions show us what Paul means by “full submission” (184). “Paul treats the two tasks as distinct elsewhere in 1 Timothy” (187). The fact that Paul twice calls for female silence (vv. 11-12) suggests that he did not allow any form of teaching. Teaching, by its very nature, normally involves some form of authority.

[24] Hurley, 202.

[25] Werner Neuer, Man and Woman in Christian Perspective (Crossway, 1991), 119. “Authorised teaching belongs… to the leadership and direction of the congregation and carries with it an obligation on church members to obey it” (ibid.).

[26] “As far as the present tense of the verb goes, this allows us to conclude only that Paul was at the time of writing insisting on these prohibitions” (185, italics in original).

[27] Moo, 185. However, temporary commands such as “use a little wine” are also apostolic, inspired, and biblical. Moo does not explicitly draw conclusions from his statement, but he insinuates his conclusion.

[28] Schreiner, 99-100. He notes that this does not prove that the verb in v. 12 is a permanent command, but that the form of the verb does not prove that it is temporary.

[29] Moo, 185, and Schreiner, 101.

[30] Moo, 185-86. Moo notes that “evangelistic witnessing, counseling, teaching subjects other than Bible or doctrine—are not, in our opinion, teaching in the sense Paul intends here” (186). Piper and Grudem say, “We do not think it is forbidden for women to tell the gospel story and win men and women to Christ” (77)—although that is a form of teaching, and it may involve doctrines about Jesus and salvation. They admit that there is a hazy line between a Priscilla-type role and an official teaching role (76, 85).
Moo says that women can vote in a congregational meeting, presumably even when women are the majority. He reasons that voting “is not the same thing as the exercise of authority ascribed, e.g., to the elders” (187). He thinks that women can perform administrative duties, and notes that the passage is only about the Christian community; it does not address business, government, and education. Neuer is more restrictive: “Women may give instruction, so long as it is not public teaching of the congregation, but takes place among small groups of women” (121).

[31] Neuer, 119. However, pastoral teaching should also be subject to assessment by the congregation, and if it violates Scripture, the congregation does not have to submit to it.

[32] As summarized by Schreiner, 102.

[33] Schreiner, 102. This definition seems more speculative and precise than the biblical evidence warrants. Schreiner notes that the prophecies of women are just as authoritative as the prophecies of men, but they may nevertheless be given “without overturning male leadership, whereas 1 Timothy 2:11-15 demonstrates that women cannot regularly teach men” (ibid). One scholarly study of prophecy in the New Testament gives a broader definition: “What all manifestations of this gift have in common is the speaker’s sense that they have a ‘word from the Lord,’ but a preacher who has meditated on a text or theme long enough to have had such an experience may well then qualify as one prophesying when he or she speaks to a Christian gathering or congregation” (David Hill, New Testament Prophecy [Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1979], 213, cited by James Beck and Craig Blomberg, “Reflections on Complementarian Essays,” in Two Views on Women in Ministry [ed. James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Zondervan, 2001], 308).

[34] For more on the meaning of authenteō, see the appendix at the end of this paper.

[35] Schreiner, 103.

[36] Andreas Köstenberger, “A Complex Sentence: The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12,” chapter 3 of Women in the Church, 2nd ed., 71. He notes that this observation has been accepted by egalitarian scholars such as Padgett, Keener, Marshall, and Giles, although some of them, in order to keepauthenteō as negative, try to see “teaching” as also negative in this verse. Belleville objects to the principle, expressing some reservations about the method of Köstenberger’s study, but not offering any counterexamples of her own.

[37] “The verb didaskō (I teach) has a positive sense elsewhere in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim. 4:11; 6:2; 2 Tim. 2:2). The only exception is Titus 1:11, where the context clarifies that false teaching is the object” (Schreiner, 104). Saucy writes, “Further evidence for the positive understanding is seen in the fact that the prohibition of exercising authority is specifically said to be ‘over a man.’ Only a positive meaning makes sense of this addition, as surely the apostle would have prohibited women from ‘domineering’ or ‘flaunting authority’ over all people, not just men” (“Paul’s Teaching on the Ministry of Women,” chapter 13 in Saucy and TenElshof, 294).

[38] Moo, 188; see also Grudem, 296-99; Schreiner, 92-94; Belleville, 121.

[39] Schreiner, 99.

[40] Moo, 189.

[41] Schreiner, 101.

[42] “When a command or other instruction is given in paraenetic material, it is highly unlikely that the expression gar is to be taken in any other way than causal” (Gordon, 61). “When Paul gives a command elsewhere in the Pastoral Epistles, the gar that follows almost invariably states the reason for the command…. Even in ordinary speech reasons often follow commands” (Schreiner, 105). Note the qualifying phrase “almost invariably,” which suggests that a different use is possible. Egalitarians often argue that vv. 13-15 are illustrations, not reasons. Philip B. Payne writes, “It makes good sense to take gar in 1 Tim. 2:13-14 as explanatory since the example of Eve’s deception leading to the fall of mankind is a powerful illustration of how serious the consequences can be when a woman deceived by false teaching conveys it to others” (“Libertarian Women in Ephesus: A Response to Douglas J. Moo’s Article,” Trinity Journal 2 [1981]: 176, citing Robertson’s Grammar).

[43] Hurley, 207. He cites scriptures about inheritance by the firstborn son, but even though he is seeking an application for worship situations, he cites no evidence that the firstborn son necessarily had authority in worship. He does not attempt to explain why Adam’s priority would give males authority over females in religious matters but not always in civil government. As evidence that priority is linked with authority, Hurley notes that Col. 1:15-18 connects Christ’s authority with him being firstborn, before all things, and the beginning. Hurley argues that it is reasonable to conclude that Paul connected being first with implying authority.

[44] Moo, 190. “Paul maintains that the Genesis narrative gives a reason why women should not teach men: Adam was created first and then Eve. In other words, when Paul read Genesis 2, he concluded that the order in which Adam and Eve were created signaled an important difference in the role of men and women” (Schreiner, 105-6).

[45] Moo, 190-91. If the logic is extended, it would imply that women will be subordinate to men in all eternity, since v. 13 will always be true, but this is probably more than Moo wants to say. It does cast doubt on the validity of his reasoning.

[46] Hurley, 215. Hurley never suggests how we should answer the question. Schreiner notes that this “would seem to argue against men teaching women, for at least the woman wanted to obey God, while Adam sinned deliberately” (113-14). But he never answers the question, either.

[47] Hurley (215) notes that Paul blames Adam for the entry of sin into the world (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22).

[48] If v. 14 gives a reason for v. 12, these verses say, in short, that women should not teach men because Eve was deceived. The easiest way to get from one concept to another is to assume that the characteristic mentioned for Eve is relevant to the prohibition because it somehow applies to all subsequent women. William J. Webb notes that the traditional teaching of the church is “that women are more easily deceived than men due to an inferior capacity to understand and make sound judgments…. The traditional rendering is the most supportable reading of the text” (Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis [InterVarsity, 2001], 225). Blomberg notes that the “common Jewish and Christian belief throughout history” is “that women are ontologically inferior to men” (365-66). He further notes, “Attempts, however sophisticated, to defend the view that women are inherently more gullible fly in the face of all contemporary social-scientific analysis and do not fit the context of 1 Timothy” (366).

[49] Neuer, 120.

[50] Grudem, 296.

[51] Ibid. The fact that these ideas are proposed, despite not being in the text, suggests that people are not comfortable with what the text seems to imply. Blomberg faults Schreiner for suggesting, without any biblical or contemporary evidence, that women are less able to discern doctrinal errors (366). Webb notes, “The revised historical position ‘cleans up’ the traditional view based upon their own social-scientific awareness” (227). He notes that since the text does not say how v. 14 is related to v. 12, some speculation is inevitable.

[52] Webb notes, “The role-reversal interpretation is convoluted; it requires the reader to bring unnecessary and unwarranted information to the text” (114).

[53] Moo, 190. In 2 Cor. 11:3, Eve provides an example for both men and women.

[54] Schreiner, 114.

[55] Ibid. Blomberg faults this view also: “There are no well-known principles from antiquity…that would make the order in which one was deceived in any way significant” (366).

[56] Schreiner, 115. If this is Paul’s thought, he picked a roundabout way of expressing it, one that requires the readers to fill in several steps of logic. Schreiner wants to cast blame on Adam, but the text says that Eve is the one who “became a sinner.” Schreiner admits that his interpretation is weak, but says that the egalitarian view is weaker. “The verse is difficult” (112). “I can scarcely claim that I have given the definitive and final interpretation of this passage” (120). “The complementarian view stands on the basis of the clarity of verse 13 so that resolving the interpretation of verse 14 is not crucial for the passage as a whole” (“Women in Ministry,” in Two Views on Women in Ministry [ed. James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Zondervan, 2001], 225).

[57] Hurley, 215-16. In this interpretation, too, readers would have to supply several steps of missing logic. “The headship of men in domestic and religious affairs continues from the pre-fall period through the time of Christ’s advent” (220). Note that Hurley again specifies religious headship, without any evidence from Genesis for this specificity. Schreiner makes a similar unwarranted qualification: “The creation of Adam before Eve signaled that men are to teach and exercise authority in the church” (120, italics added).

[58] Moo, 190. Note in this view that Eve was not deceived into eating the fruit, but into taking initiative. But Genesis has the opposite emphasis: It is clear about the fruit but says little if anything against Eve taking the initiative.

[59] Schreiner, 115.

[60] Hurley, 221. Moo notes that this would entail an unusual meaning for sozō, normally translated “save” (192). Keener argues, “The most natural way for an ancient reader to have understood ‘salvation’ in the context of childbirth would have been a safe delivery, for women regularly called upon patron deities…in childbirth” (Paul, Women, and Wives, 118). Payne writes, “Paul’s obvious concern is to highlight the role of woman both in the fall (2:14) and in salvation (2:15)” (178).

[61] Schreiner, 115. He also argues that the verb always has the meaning of spiritual salvation in the Pastoral Epistles.

[62] Hurley, 222. Hurley suggests another possibility: Women will be “kept safe from wrongly seizing men’s roles by embracing a woman’s role.” This seems to read something into the text that is not there, and others have not accepted this meaning of “save.” Schreiner notes that “verse 12 is too far from verse 15 for this latter interpretation to be plausible” (116).

[63] Schreiner, 116.

[64] Moo, 192. He speculates that “false teachers were claiming that women could really experience what God had for them only if they abandoned the home and became actively involved in teaching and leadership roles in the church.”

[65] Schreiner, 118. “A woman should not violate her role by teaching or exercising authority over a man; instead, she should take her proper role as a mother of children.” Paul is not saying that barren women cannot be saved—he is simply citing a common role of a woman that a man cannot possibly have.

[66] Ibid. Good works cannot merit salvation, but they “are a necessary consequence of salvation (e.g., Rom. 2:6-10, 26-29; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:21)…. Since Paul often argues elsewhere that salvation is not gained on the basis of our works (e.g., Rom. 3:19-4:25; Gal. 2:16-3:14; 2 Tim. 1:9-11; Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7), I think it is fair to understand the virtues described here as evidence that the salvation already received is genuine” (ibid., 118-119). In other words, Schreiner wishes that Paul had stated things the other way around: women will be saved by faith, if they continue in good works.

[67] Susan Foh (who supports the traditional view) calls the verse “a sort of non sequitur.” Schreiner criticizes her for that (115), but his interpretation also amounts to a non sequitur, an aside designed to refute something that may have been a false teaching in Ephesus. Paul apparently feels no need to say that men will be saved by staying in their traditional role, rather than abdicating, as Adam supposedly did.

[68] Schreiner comments: “Egalitarian scholars have been busy remaking the background to the situation in 1 Timothy 2:11-15, but their reconstructions have been highly speculative and sometimes wildly implausible” (223).

[69] Richard and Catharine Clark Kroeger suggest that Paul was combating some Gnostic heresies taught by women: 1) That Eve was created first, 2) That Eve enlightened Adam with her teaching, and 3) Sex and childbearing is bad. Verses 13-15 can thereby all be explained as refutations of specific erroneous teachings.
Schreiner criticizes the Kroegers for using documents written after the New Testament (88). Admittedly, it cannot be proven that these ideas existed when Paul wrote, but since ideas often circulate before they are put into writing, it is plausible that such ideas existed in the first century. As Schreiner’s own approach to v. 15 indicates, it is legitimate for scholars to try to understand difficulties in the text by speculating about an unusual need in that specific setting.
Bruce Barron notes that “the internal examination of 1 Timothy points us toward Gnosticism and makes the connection between the two less ‘tenuous’” (“Putting Women in Their Place: 1 Timothy 2 and Evangelical Views of Women in Church Leadership,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 33 [1990]: 454). This epistle addresses various ideas that were later called Gnostic.

[70] Gordon, 63.

[71] Moo, 193. By “the text itself,” Moo apparently means the entire Bible, for he allows women to teach some subjects, and to be in authority in some situations, such as civil government, concepts not specifically allowed in 1 Tim. 2.

[72] Vicente Bejo, Jr. argues that the passage covers behavior not just in church, but “in every place” (v. 8). It would not be appropriate for men to pray with anger anywhere, and it would not be appropriate for women to wear ostentatious clothing anywhere. Paul’s call for submission and quiet demeanor were not intended to apply only to church settings. See “Exegesis of 1 Timothy 2:8-15,” page 6 of 22

[73] “The pastoral epistles were not written to be manuals of church government. Rather they were written to combat false teaching and heresy. Approximately one-fifth of the 242 verses in the pastorals explicitly treat false teaching…. In 1 Timothy 1:3 the concern to prevent false teaching is expressed as the reason Timothy was left in Ephesus” (Evangelical Covenant Church, “Policy on Women in Ministry,” 5;). “The entire book of 1 Timothy seems to have been written…with six key problems in mind, each of which is referred to in the first eight verses and is elaborated throughout the epistle: false teaching, controversies, people leaving the faith, meaningless talk, antinomianism, and Judaizers…. Women were involved in each of the first five problems” (Payne, 185). Due to the situation the letter was written for, it should be no surprise that some aspects of the letter do not seem to fit the church today.

[74] Keener observes, “What is most significant about the wording of the passage, however, is that Paul does not assume that Timothy already knows this rule. Had this rule been established and universal, is it possible that Timothy, who had worked many years with Paul, would not have known it already?” (Paul, Women, and Wives, 112). Had the situation never arisen before that women wanted to teach? The situation in Corinth suggests that this is unlikely. As noted earlier, the reason that Paul felt it necessary to write this passage may have been because women were already speaking and seeking leadership.

[75] In the Septuagint, the Greek word for “permit” always “refers to permission for a specific situation, never for a universally applicable permission…. The vast majority of the NT occurrences…clearly refer to a specific time or to a short or limited time duration only” (Payne, 172). “The women are to ‘submit,’ but the text does not say to whom…. The text itself seems to be discussing attitudes in worship rather than the marriage relationship. The Bible does not elsewhere teach that all women are subject to all males. Submission to the teaching elder in 1 Tim. 3:2 does not fit the text. A natural understanding of the verse would be that the women are to submit to the gospel, to the teaching of Jesus, not to an unnamed person. Theirs is to be a receptive attitude” (Vymeister, 342).

[76] 2 Tim. 2:2 suggests that “teaching” is the accurate transmission of apostolic sayings. However, most preaching today is not an attempt totransmit the apostolic teachings (members already have a copy), but is an attempt to explain them and persuade people to apply them in modern situations.

[77] However, a negative meaning is possible: Paul did say that males should not pray with anger (2:8). The doctrinal team does not have the technical expertise to resolve the meaning of the word, and we cannot build our conclusions on what would surely be a debatable point.

[78] “It is…safe to say that Paul does not want women to teach at this time” (Vymeister, 346).

[79] “If there had been no doubt about whose creation came first, the assertion of v. 13 would not have been necessary” (ibid., 347). Vymeister reports Gnostic teachings that gave Eve priority: Adam addresses Eve: ‘You are the one who has given me life.’ Eve is said to have ‘sent her breath into Adam, who had no soul.’ Eve…declares herself the ‘mother of my father and the sister of my husband,…to whom I gave birth’” (340, citingHypostasis of the Archons, On the Origin of the World 115, and Thunder, Perfect Mind
Douglas Moo, a complementarian, offers support: “Some later gnostic texts interpret Eve’s eating the fruit in the garden as a positive step—for by doing so, she gains access to knowledge (gnosis), the central feature of the gnostic system and the means of salvation…. Could it be that some of the Ephesian false teachers were arguing in a similar manner, stimulating Paul’s categorical assertion: ‘Eve was deceived and became a sinner’?… It may be that this tradition was partially responsible for the statement” (“The Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15: A Rejoinder,” Trinity Journal 2 (1981): 204).

[80] Ann Bowman summarizes: “Historical reconstructions generally fall into three categories. First, women may have been seeking to improperly assert authority over men in the worship assembly. Second, women may have been teaching heretical doctrine. Third, women generally were doctrinally untaught and thus in greater danger of falling into heresy” (“Women in Ministry,” in Two Views on Women in Ministry [ed. James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Zondervan, 2001], 288).

[81] “While the sparseness of the information and the complex construction of the passage make it difficult for modern readers to know precisely what Paul had in mind, it is clear that he was addressing some current concern that Timothy and the Christians in Ephesus would have readily understood” (Vymeister, 350).

[82] Schreiner writes, “The prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 is grounded by an appeal to creation, indicating that the command has universal validity” (109).

[83] Schreiner acknowledges the problem of inconsistency when he writes, “Perhaps we have not been serious enough about applying 1 Timothy 5:3-16 to our culture” (109). He offers a tentative application, but it still allows numerous exceptions. The Evangelical Covenant Church paper notes, “Those who are quick to argue against women in ministry on the basis of texts like 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 and 1 Timothy 2:11,12 need to ask why they do not imitate the kind of church service described in 1 Corinthians 14:26-36 or why they do not institute widows’ roles and care for widows according to the instructions of 1 Timothy 5. Using proof-texts out of context and using only the parts of the text that we like are not suitable practices for a church claiming to believe the Bible” (6).

[84] The evangelistic purpose of slave submission is explicit in 1 Tim. 6, but Eph. 6:5-9 shows that Paul can issue similar commands without any acknowledgement that they are given for expedience in a temporary cultural situation. Indeed, in this passage he seems to deal with slavery as if it were a legitimate social structure, like marriage and family. In Eph. 6:8, Paul gives a timeless reason for slave submission: because God will reward everyone for the good they do. The fact that the supporting reason is timeless does not change the fact that the initial command had a temporary application.
Some scholars argue that Paul taught female social conformity for the sake of the gospel. “Paul’s missionary strategy provides the rationale for this approach. This is most succinctly described in 1 Cor 9:19-23, where Paul states that he conforms his behavior to those around him so that he can win as many as possible” (James G. Sigountos and Myron Shank, “Public Roles for Women in the Pauline Church: A Reappraisal of the Evidence,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 26 [1983]: 293). Sigountos and Shank show that Greek culture accepted women in priestly roles—prophesying and praying—but not teaching roles.

[85] Contra Grudem, 323. Paul made some comments that could be interpreted as criticisms of slavery, but none are clear denunciations. 1 Cor. 7:21 merely makes an allowance for specific situations; it could be claimed that Gal. 3:28 addresses salvation but not social roles, and Philemon 16 may apply only to Onesimus.

[86] James Beck and Craig Blomberg note that some primarily American egalitarians have proposed “hermeneutical oddities” in an effort to show that these verses are not restrictive. Egalitarians in the British Commonwealth tend however “to argue that these texts did imply rather widespread prohibitions on women’s leadership in the first-century world, but they were due to specific circumstances within that world that largely no longer obtain today” (“Reflections on Egalitarian Essays,” 164).

[87] The choice is more complicated than Keener suggests, because a command can be local and temporary even if we cannot demonstrate the situation that prompted the command, and a command can be universal even if it was prompted by a local situation. For example, Paul says that men should pray without anger or disputing (1 Tim. 2:8). This admonition seems universally appropriate, yet prompted by some situation that we have no specifics on.

[88] Craig Keener, “Women in Ministry,” in Two Views on Women in Ministry (ed. James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Zondervan, 2001), 53.

[89] Ibid., 53-54. He writes, “False teachers targeted women in the households (2 Tim. 3:6), who were proving incapable of learning correctly (2 Tim. 3:7; cf. 1 Tim. 4:7).” Nancy Vymeister writes, “Not only are women carried away by the false teachers, some of them ‘learn to be idlers, gadding about from house to house, and not only idlers but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not’ (1 Tim 5:13), evidently spreading false teaching” (Women in Ministry, 337).

[90] Some suggest that the situation involved a culture that rejected female leadership, but this seems contradicted by archaeological evidence and by the role that Paul permitted women in 1 Cor. 11. Others suggest that Paul was concerned that women were generally poorly educated, and he told them to learn in silence—implying that they would not have to be silent after they had been taught. “If he prohibits women from teaching because they are unlearned, his demand that they learn constitutes a long-range solution to the problem” (Keener, Paul, 112).

[91] Grudem argues that governance is an essential aspect of the church, not a cultural matter (323). But this misses the point—egalitarians are not arguing against all governance, but saying that governance restricted to males is a cultural matter that is not essential to the church, just as greeting one another with a kiss is a cultural matter. We can have the core function without insisting on the specific form found in the New Testament.

[92] Complementarian scholars have suggested that churches had a designated time for evaluating prophecies. As discussed in the previous paper, this is unlikely.

[93] Some scholars seem to focus on the question of authority, but leadership in the church depends more on personal example, and the truth of Scripture, than on bare assertion. “One is hard-pressed to find a biblical link between local church leadership and ‘authority’ (exousia). The New Testament writers simply do not make this connection…. It is the church that possesses authority and not particular individuals” (Linda Belleville, “Women in Ministry,” in Two Views on Women in Ministry [ed. James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Zondervan, 2001], 104-6).

[94] Paul commended women as fellow workers in the gospel. Although he does not give them specific titles, the implication is that they had significant influence in his churches—and that probably involved some speaking, although we do not have enough details to be more precise.

[95] Beck and Blomberg note that conservative churches often allow female missionaries to have considerable authority in the mission field but not at home—this “often remains an embarrassing double standard that undermines some of the credibility of the hierarchicalist position” (310).

[96] Assuming that Paul was in agreement with God’s policies, we conclude that his restrictive policy was necessitated by the situation his churches were in. As we saw in the previous paper, that is the most likely explanation for the restriction that Paul gave in 1 Cor. 14:34.

[97] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart write, “That 1 Timothy 2:11-12 might be culturally relative can be supported first of all by exegesis of all three of the Pastoral Epistles. Certain women were troublesome in the church at Ephesus (1 Tim. 5:11-15; 2 Tim. 3:6-9) and they appear to have been a major part of the cause of the false teachers’ making headway there. Since women are found teaching (Acts 18:26) and prophesying (Acts 21:8; 1 Cor. 11:5) elsewhere in the New Testament, it is altogether likely that 1 Timothy 2:11-12 speaks to a local problem” (How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth[Zondervan, 1982], 69).

[98] Paul uses Scripture selectively (saying that men are in the image of God, not saying that women are, too). Paul’s use of Scripture in support of this policy is no proof of permanence, just as his use of a timeless truth in Eph. 6:8 does not mean that his policy for slaves was permanent. Keener writes, “In the polemical context of Galatians 3:16, where Paul may be responding to his opponents by using their own methods, he employs a standard interpretive technique of his contemporaries: Apply the text the way you need to in order to make your point. While some of us may not want to accept that Paul uses Scripture in an ad hoc way at times (it makes it more difficult for us to teach sound hermeneutics to our students), respect for Scripture requires us to revise our preconceptions in light of what we find in the text, rather than forcing the text to fit philosophical assumptions about what we think it should say” (61).

[99] Paul’s policy would be appropriate under the following scenario: False teaching was sweeping the congregation, targeting women in particular, with the ideas that Eve was created first, that Adam was deceived, and that women should avoid marriage and giving birth. There is evidence for the first and fourth points in 1 Timothy itself; points two and three are speculative, but this scenario becomes more plausible when we see that these doctrines were later taught in this very area.
“It is now known that Ephesus was a major center for Mother Goddess worship…., major tenets being that a female goddess gave birth to the world, that Eve was created before Adam, and that to achieve highest exaltation woman must achieve independence from all males and from child-bearing” (JoAnn Davidson, “Women in Scripture,” in Women in Ministry [ed. Nancy Vymeister; Andrews University Press, 1998], 178). Although the evidence comes from the second century, the teachings may have circulated before Paul wrote. “1 Tim 2:13-14 makes very good sense as a coherent counter-argument to a specific problem—namely, a false interpretation of Genesis by heretical women. Paul refutes the Gnostic arguments by reasserting that Adam was created first and that he was created perfect, not ignorant…. It is not simply that some women are teaching error. Rather, the placing of any woman, whether qualified or not, in authority, may be undesirably reinforcing pagan cultural baggage” (Barron, 455-56).

[100] Dissenting voices may be found as early as the 17th century, but they became much more prominent in the 20th century. It was certainly not the modern feminist movement that caused Margaret Fell to write her book Women’s Speaking Justified, Proved and Allowed of by the Scriptures (London, 1666). Beck and Blomberg note that “secular cultural forces have in part contributed to the ascendancy of hierarchicalism” as well as egalitarianism (168). All interpreters are influenced by their culture, sometimes in ways they do not realize.

[101] H. Scott Baldwin, “An Important Word: Αυ̉θεντέω in 1 Timothy 2:12,” in Women in the Church, 2nd ed., 40.

[102] Ibid., 49-50.

[103] Ibid., 46.

[104] Ibid., 47, and see the first edition of Köstenberger et al., p. 286. Wayne Grudem is not as certain that the word has a negative meaning. “The sense could be, ‘Don’t just give orders all the time because your wife is subject to you.’… On the other hand, the parallel with telling the wife not to be puffed up (proud) argues for a more negative sense for the verb in this instance. In any case, it is still over three hundred years after the time of the New Testament” (308).


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