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Oct 17, 2006


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When Christians disagree, it is usually becuase we have go the issue wrong. Our problem on this one is that we have misunderstood "teaching".

To understand what Paul is saying, we must remember that he is not using the word teach in the modern sense. In the New Testament all teaching took place within a relationship of authority. So when Paul speaks about “teaching” and “having authority” he is not speaking about two different things. The two go together. There cannot be teaching without authority. Paul is speaking about what we would understand by “discipling”. Teaching is the formation of Christian character within a relationship of authority.

Modern preaching or seminary lecturing is not "teaching" in the New Testament sense of the word. A preacher or lecturer generally does not have a relationship of authority with those who listen. Because preaching and lecturing is not “teaching with authority”, Paul’s words do not apply. It is quite legitimate for women to preach to or lecure men.

What Paul is saying is that women should not be allowed to disciple men. It would be wrong and dangerous for a woman to gather a group of men and make disciples of them. But the converse is also true. Men should not be allowed to disciple and teach women. When men disciple women, and women disciple men, gossip and temptation follow closely behind (from Women and Ministry).


Michael Kruse

Thanks Ron for your comment and the link. I am persuaded by something similar to Bellville’s position for several reasons.

First, the word translated “teach” in 1 Tim 2:12 is didasko which literally means “to give instruction.” Matt 4:23 says, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom …” The word teaching here is the same as in 1Tim 2:12. It is also the word from which we get didactic. While I agree that modern preaching or seminary lecturing may not be precisely the same as what the ancients did we do know that didactic teaching went on in the synagogues and the churches are believed to have adopted similar didactic models, although they tended to include considerable interaction with the students. So I am no inclined to narrow “teaching” in 1 Timothy to discipleship per se.

Second, The real sticking point in the passage is the word authentein. If Paul just means women shouldn’t “exercise authority over,” then why doesn’t Paul just use exousia and say it in the most straightforward way? Why does he instead use the more obscure authentein? It is the only place it is used in the bible. From extra-biblical sources we learn that it has the connotation of seizing control of something; to “self author” (authenticate) one’s self over and against another. By the second century it is carried connotations of violence and murder. Something more than just discipleship seems to be in mind hear.

Belleville sees in this as progression or action (teaching) taken in pursuit of goal (seizing Artemis-like authority). The idea is the “teaching with an aim to sieze control.” Some have objected such a construction based on the “neither-nor” grammar but as she notes, the “action in pursuit of a goal” grammar is found elsewhere in Greek including in the Bible.

“where thieves neither break in nor steal” Mt 6:20

“they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns” Mt 6:26

“neither hears nor understands” Mt 13:13

A simple “exercising of authority” seems in adequate to word authentein.

Third, is the placing the passage within its larger context:

1 Tim 2:8-15

8 I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; 9 also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, 10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

The passage seems to me to be talking about what people do when they come together as a community and not about one-to-one or small group discipleship. Also, when we understand the syncretistic teaching of the Artemis worshipers and Gnostics that Artemis came before man, that men are deceived, and that women have superior secret knowledge, the passages in verses 13 and 14 make perfect sense. The fact that Paul is dealing with false teaching and that women seem to be a particular problem throughout is apparent throughout the letter. So while I don’t dispute that women closely discipling men, or men women, might not be well advised, and especially in Greco-Roman culture, it doesn’t seem to me to be an adequate paradigm to account for all the peculiarities of this complex passage.

I’m not picking a fight with you. Just thought I would elaborate more. :)


I want to also point out something to build on the teaching that is clincher for my understanding.
The Artemis followers in Ephesus believed that virginity was next to divinity. As well, Artemis was the symbolism of rejection of men. Artemis was held a beautiful goddess lusted after by men and by gods.
As these women in Ephesus were teaching that woman had a superior role they were dressing themselves with the intent to outdo one another. As Paul states rather than adorning themselves with the things of God. This is important due to the Artemis temple priestesses were young beautiful and virgins these women in the local assembly were bringing this concept of beauty being a sign of a “closeness” to diety. They were dressing themselves with an aim to “knockout”.
Paul was correcting them by stating that they had to dress themselves with works not with things that enhance beauty. Paul needed to correct these individuals that thought, beauty was bringing a woman closer to divinity. He had to readdress their concept of divinity.
Hence the restatement of what the Gospel message was. We can see from Context that “who the mediator between God was” was coming into doubt among this congregation. Perhaps these women believed in a female mediator. We know the church adopted Mother Mary’s Virginity as sinless perfection and gives her a level of divinity. This teaching of the Virgin Mary bearing the Christ Child would have thrown these people for a loop. Catholics today are a result from this teaching, which Paul was working to correct.

This really brings into view these verses.

1 Tim 2:13-15
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

They believed from the simple fact they were women they were closer to divinity. They were teaching this viewpoint with the intent to dominate the men. In fact, that virginity was the means of obtaining a closeness to diety. Paul corrects this view point with an arguement.

I will quote the concept:
“If Men were first, then women were not. This makes men potentially greater.
To top that the woman was the one quite deceived and became a sinner.
This makes the concept of the woman being inherently greater by what she is a bogus concept.”

It does not make men greater or women more deceived only teaches that a domination teaching from women is not plausible from this first teaching in the Bible.

Now the capstone which draws this concept in view if there is any doubt as to the Isagogics of this chapter. With an adversative Paul states:
“But women will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety”
He is drawing a direct contrast that virginity does not bring a woman closer to divinity but the opposite. It is through Childbearing that a woman comes closer to understanding the things of God.
Incredibly powerful capstone, the church has floundered over this verse and most ignore it. When you have this understanding the entire book of 1 Timothy comes into light. Most Pastors should recognize this teaching as truth when this principle is relayed. It brings an understanding to a very hard to understand part of the Bible, that being women are saved through Childbearing.

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