Women Warriors ?
T here are those (men) who object to the idea that women have a godly role in the New Testament (NT) Ekklesia. I have, over the years, overruled their objections by the very same texts they use in their argument against women in the ministry.
Across the spectrum, in Evangelical Theology as some use the term, are two debates: the complementary view which includes “created equal complementary roles” and the egalitarian view which they perceive as the “irrelevance of gender for spiritual authority”. These two views, we’ll examine now.
Two Texts - Two Views
If you are new to this debate, let me put forth what the two views mean:
1) the complementarion view, in Evangelical Theology (E.T.), means that both sides of the debate agrees on that male/female were created in the image of God (Gen.1: 26,27), both genders are equal value to the Creator, both have equal rights to use the gifts of God in the body of Christ. But the first view denies the role of women in the ministry, i.e., is it appropriate for women to aspire to leadership roles, placing them in positions of authority over men?
Of course the second view takes issue with the first. Over the years, we’ve seen more and more female pastors emerge. The Roman Catholic Church, however, remains in its tradition role- males only!! And many Protestant churches do the same. This is why I want to share this article - godly women are denied leadership roles.
Grant you, I honestly believe that some women should not be in authority!... and certainly some men also! (I have already dealt with this in my Women in the Ministry publications- free).
In recent years, as pointed out by the authors in Understanding Issues in E.T., two evangelical organizations have emerged: the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which champions the first view (males/females have different, complementary roles in the Church and at home), and leadership roles in the body of Christ are RESERVED for MALES ONLY! The second organization is Christians for Biblical Equality, holds to an egalitarian view, church leadership roles and roles in the home are determined by “calling” and “gifting” rather than by gender. Now I hope you see what we’re dealing with in this debate.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times my wife has been called “Jezebel”, “Out of Order”, “Whore”, and other “choice” names for standing with me, not above me, in the ministry. It all stems back to the LACK of Biblical understanding on basically two set of texts: 1 Cor. 14:34, 35 and 1 Tim. 2:12-15.
Should Women Be Silent in the Church (Ekklesia) ?
This issue is an emotional one. Back in 1983 (when we were just getting started with ACMTC), there appeared an article in Christianity Today called “Women at the Helm”, paralleling the pros/cons of this debate. This article dealt with Church tradition, cultural/sexual bias and masculine pride. And, over the years, many publications, books etc. have share their views on this subject.
Let me repeat myself again: I do not believe that ALL women are called (by God) to pastor or hold authority, nor do I believe that ALL men should either. We have the liberal/sin issue to deal with.
OK - the Basic Problem
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (1 Cor 14: 34-35, KJV) Our first basic problem stems from these two verses. Now, we must ask ourselves this question: “Did Paul write these verses?” As pointed out in my articles already in print, “Where and what is the LAW that underscores this restriction?” Find this LAW Paul (if he really did write vv 34, 35) refers to. Certainly it is not in the New Testament (we know, the Old Testament (O.T.) was strict against women, but not the N.T.). We know that Jewish women were separated from the men, both in the Temple and synagogues, but they did not sit opposite one another within talking distance. Under the Jewish system, there was TOTAL separation of the sexes. It should be noted that separation was the principle upon which Temple worship was founded; these various separations were symbolized by the different courts in the temple (see Mishnah Midoth 2, 5).
Historians point out that although Herod’s temple was completely segregated, the evidence indicates that segregation was a later development - Solomon’s temple (10th century B.C.E.), nor Zerubabbel’s temple (6th century B.C.E.) had there separate courts, we might ask “when did this practice begin?” We do know that Herod’s temple was segregated (see Josephus, Antiquities XV and the Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin, 29B). These practices were based on the rabbis’ understanding of Zech. 12:12. We can conclude that “silencing women” in Christian assemblies was based upon Jewish custom, not N.T. Scripture. So, was Paul QUOTING what the unconverted Jews wrote (vv. 34, 35)? It was a common practice to write a question or statement then go about answering or explaining them.
Actually, 1 Cor. 14: 34,35 SILENCES only those women with husbands, leaving the unmarried /divorced/widows alone.
It Has Been Asked
“Why did Paul the apostle of Christ write to the Corinthians?” The answer is simple: the Ekklesia was in a state of disorder and disunity (see 1 Cor 1:11-17). Both the Gnostics and Judaizers were trouble-makers in those days. Paul writes: “...there are contentions and wrangling and factions among you”, (v.11). So, Paul took the liberty to address certain issues that the Ekklesia had raised to Him. If we start in 7:1, we will see that Paul starts to deal with “the matters of which you wrote me”. The first issue was “for a man not to touch a woman (have sex with her), but to remain unmarried” (7:1). This was an issue being pushed by some either on the outside or the inside- the Judaizers (converted Jews that still held to the law of Moses). That statement - “a man not to touch a woman” - was answered by Paul in the following verses. He usually, in his reply to their question or “fact”, starts with “Now concerning...” or “Now as to the matter...” (See 7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1, etc.) Cpt. 9 he deals with his apostleship; Cpt. 11 he deals with head covering for women; Cpt. 12 he deals with Spirit gifts, and the following 3 chapters, he delves into a lengthy in-depth teaching on Charismata (in which he deals with women in the ministry - someone or some people had written to him that, “The women should keep quite in the Churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but should take a secondary and subordinate place, just as the Law also says” ( no doubt thinking of Gen 3:16). But Gen. 3:16 was O.T., under the curse of the fall, not N.T. under the removal of the curse by Christ!.
Before one can really understand Biblical language, one must be acquainted with what Bible scholars call H.G.C., and acronym for Historical information (time-place-culture); Grammatical Structure (language); and Contextual (Compare Scripture with Scripture), how particular words/phrases were used and translated elsewhere.
Are Men Superior?
John Calvin, the Reformer, believed that men were superior to women, therefore commenting on 1 Cor.. 14 and 1 Tim 2, he took those texts to mean that men were created to RULE over the women. One author and pastor, in reference to the “cultural” aspect of women teaching/preaching, asked: “why has the leadership role been traditionally male territory?” Well, they reason that God is MALE, not female, therefore His leaders should be MALE! WRONG!! The Bible says that God is neither male nor female but SPIRIT (Jn 4:24; Mk 12:25). But the Bible lists lots of females that held positions, O.T./N.T.
The second argument, which is laughable, that the man was created first, he was/is the leader. While it is true that the man was created first, Adam given the mandate to care for the Garden BEFORE Eve was created (Gen. 2:15), Eve was to share in that mandate (Gen. 2:18). The “functional differentiation between man/woman was reiterated more fully after the fall from grace - the man shall RULE OVER HER! (Gen 3:16). But Christ broke this RULE as far as ministry goes, gender goes (see Gal 3:13,28 etc..) Verse 28 reads:, “There is (now no distinction), neither Jew nor Greek (race), there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female (gender); for you (male/female) are one in Christ Jesus.” (Amp. Bible).
Now back to the silly argument that man was created before woman, therefore she must OBEY the man. If this is so, then man/woman ought to OBEY the “living creatures ) (Gen. 1:20), for they were created before the male/female - man/woman.
The pro-man argument declares that God created the woman to be a “helper/partner” (Gen. 2:18). These pro-man advocates reason that Eve was made as an afterthought (at least some do) as his “helpmeet”, so she was assigned to the position of submission to the man FOREVER! (Gen. 3:16 uses “rule”/ “desire” = man’s assigned role as her overseer”... man is the HEAD of a woman...” (1 Cor 11:3); “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.” (1 Tim 2:13).
The old English word “meet” meant, “fit”, “proper”, or “suitable”- the idea of joining (combining/union) without any sense of DIVISION. So, does “help meet” or “helper” mean “slave” or “server”? (“helpmeet”/”helper” = (Hebrew word) ‘Ezerkenegdo. According to Calvin it means “inferior aid” (see Commentaries, Vol. 1, p. 69). Actually, there are many theologians that believe the woman, the wife, was a sexual creature and belonged to her husband, created to bear his children. Well, with this kind of thinking, woman was created solely for marriage.
Susan Fah, who wrote Women and the Word of God (1979, pp. 61 and 215), correctly stated that ‘ezerkenegdo’ doesn’t really imply what Calvin came up with, but equality. She goes on record saying “more importantly, the helper of man is kenegdo, that is, corresponding to or like him, neither inferior or superior”. I go into greater detail in my other articles on “helpmeet”.
Before I pass on, kenegdo means the front parts, opposite each other. So when combined with ‘ezer it means equal parts, alongside (see The Anchor Bible by E.A. Speiser, 1964, p.17). Furthermore, the Pulpit Commentary tells us that the woman was to be of similar nature to the man himself, corresponding by way of supplement to the incompleteness of his lonely being, and in every way adapted to be his co-partner and companion (see TPC, Vol. 1, 1950, p.50).The truth is that the woman wasn’t created just to be a server or assistant; she was to be an associate, a co-worker with FULL RIGHTS and PRIVILEGES. Even Ms. Fah had to come in when she said, “the man’s priority in creation corresponds to headship over his wife.” If this were true (man created first), Adam would have submitted to the animals who were created before him.
So, if we’re to believe these “Man first” theologians/scholars, we must believe in a SUPERIOR sex! These ones cite 1 Cor 11:3, proving that there is a hierarchy within the Godhead. I cover this in other articles also. Others teach God as both “male” and “female” as “one”. The German theologian, Karl Barth, writing, “can these be a hierarchical arrangement among equals?”
Jesus, they claim, chose 12 men as N.T. spiritual leaders, not one a woman! When He gave His Great Commission to teach and baptize, all were male apostles! Was this a “cultural” thing in Jesus’ day or is it for all times? We have to admit that in Jesus’ day, it was pretty much a MAN’S WORLD.
Was Paul confused about women? Was Jesus anti-woman? Paul wrote Gal. 3:28 and 2 Cor. 5:17 - both stating that men and women were equal in the new Kingdom of Christ. Christ ENDED the superior/inferior, lord/servant, priest/non-priest, Jew/Gentile status etc. Believers in Christ Jesus were now FREE from the law (Rom. 6:14- the moral law is still binding though).
What exactly did Paul mean “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church (Ekklesia), His body” (Eph. 5:23)? It certainly does not mean what the complementarion view believes it to mean (eisegesis). They want it to mean CHIEF or LEADER etc. The word “head” (see also 1 Cor. 11:3) is the Greek word “kephale”. What did this ancient Greek word mean in the first century? Let me cite several sources here:
1-Liddel, Scott, Jones, and Mckenzie (lexicographers), who put together a Greek-English Lexicon tells us that “head” does not mean “Chief” etc.,
2-Translators of the Septuagint tell us that “head” does not mean “authority over” etc.;
3-William Arndt and F.W. Gingrich”s A Greek-English Lexicon of the N.T. and Early Christian Literature gives no support for “head” as “superior” etc.
None of the above widely used lexicons have “head” as “superior rank”. The first lexicon mentioned covers the Homeric, classic, and Koine Greek, which covers a period from 1000 B.C. - A.D. 600. The Greek Koine Lexicon (called Bauer’s) does have “kephale” as a POSSIBLE meaning. Actually it lists 5 texts (N.T.) Where the compiler THINKS “kephale” has this meaning. Well, 180 times in the O.T. the Hebrew “ro’sh (head) is used with the idea of “chief, leader, superior rank” etc.
However, those who translated the Hebrew O.T. into Greek (between 250 and 150 B.C.) rarely used “kephale” when the Hebrew word for “head” carried this idea of “leader, chief, or authority”. One author/historian pointed out that they usually used the Greek word “archon”, which meant “leader”, or “commander”. 17 places (out of 180) we find “kephale”, 5 of those 17 have variant readings, 5 in value a head-tail metaphor. So, this leaves 8 (out of 180 times) when the Septuagint translators chose to use “kephale” for “ro’sh” when it had a “BOSS” meaning.
What Does “Kephale” Mean?
Paul knew both Greek and Hebrew. He was not confused over words (as too many are today). If “head” did not NORMALLY mean “superior”, what did it mean when he used it?
A) 1 Cor. 11:3 (context 11:2-16). Here we find the Greek concept of “head” as “source” or “base”. Ah! Now we’re getting it straight. V. 3 suggests that he used “head” with the meaning of “source” or “beginning” of woman was from the man. Duh! And Christ was the One thru whom ALL things came from: “Yet for us there is (only) one God, the Father, Who is the Source of all things and for Whom we (have life), and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through and by Whom are all things and through and by Whom we (ourselves exist).” (1 Cor 8:6 Amp)
B) Eph. 4:15 (Context 4:11-16). The above texts read much like Col. 2:19. Eph. 4:15 reads in part: “...let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him, who is the Head, (even) Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One” ( Amp). These verses (15, 16) stress the unity of “head” and body and shows us Christ as the “nourisher” and “source” of growth. In Bauer’s Lexicon, he classified “kephale” as “superior rank” (he does not see Col 2:19 the same way). In one sense, “superior rank” is true, but the main point is “source” - we do not live or grow without Christ as “head”.
C) Col. 2:19 (context 2:16-19). Here “kephale” means “source of life”: “And not holding fast to the Head, from whom the entire body, supplied and knit together by means of its joints...” There is no way we can believe that “head” means “superior rank” here.
D) Col. 1:18 (context 1:14-20). “He also is the Head of (His) body, the Church (Ekklesia)...” Here “kephale” means “exalted Originator” and “Completer” (read all the context). Here Paul uses the common Greek meaning, e.g., “source” or “beginning” or “completion” (see Liddell/Scott, et.al.) Bauer does not list the above text among those where “kephale” means “superior”. E) Eph. 5:23 (context 5:18-23). 5:23 follows the apostle’s explanation of the Holy Spirit’s baptism. Paul then says, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One”. The Gk. word “submit” -“hupotasso”, in the original does not appear in v. 22. The KJV uses “submit” in Eph. 5:22 and “submitting” in v. 21. Below is the Gk.(v.22): “The wives to their own husbands as to the Lord.” (Wuest’s Word Studies/Gk N.T. Vol. 1, 1973, p. 130 under Eph. and Col.) Let me put forth Gk. Scholar K.S. Wuest’s comments to clarify what I’m trying to say: “The verb hupotasso, ‘submit’, ‘subject’, is supplied from the preceding verse. ‘Your own’ is idios, ‘ones’ own private peculiar, unique possession’. ‘A’s is hos, an adverb of comparison, and means, ‘even as, in the same manner as, like as’: ‘ That is, to Christ; not to the husband as lord and master. If the husband’s supremacy had been in view, it would have been expressed by tois kuriois (your lord and master). The hos (as) denotes more than similarly, and more than just as they are submissive to Christ, so should they be to their husbands. The next sentence , and the whole statement of the relation between husband and wife in the following verse in terms of the relation between Christ and the Church, suggest that the point of the hos(as) is that the wife is to regard the obedience she has to render to her husband, as an obedience rendered to Christ, the Christian husband (not merely a pagan one) being head of the wife and representing to her Christ the Head of the whole Christian body.”
The confusion lies, dear reader, in how the words “subject”, “submit”, and “head” are used according to ancient Greek, not modern English - the husband is “head” of the wife, that is supplier, source, not BOSS!! But Christ is more than supplier/source/origin, He is SAVIOR of that whereof He is Head!! Although Christ does have “authority over” the Church (Matt. 16:18), most passages that speak of Him as the “Head” do not point to authority, but rather to the ONENESS of Christ and His Body (Eph 5:18-33 shows us this). Christ is also the “enabler” (one who brings to maturity), therefore the husband is to nourish, not hate!, his wife (Eph. 5:29). The Word teaches us that both man/husband, woman/wife, are to be SUBJECT one to another (Eph 5:21). If “authority over” was in sight, it would have been worded differently.
In reading Eph. 1:13-23, “kephale” means “top” or “crown”. The authority of Christ (vv. 20,21), is extended from top/crown to feet of His body (universal Ekklesia) Colossians 2 : 8-15 uses “kephale” as the Gk. Idea of “life-source” as well as top/crown/feet. The plain metaphors speak of “fulness of life”, i.e. nourisher/enabler - set forth by virtue of the blood-stained Cross and bloodless resurrection... Crowned with glory and honor as in Hebrews 2:9 and Ps. 8:5. These two passages in the N.T. - Eph. 1: 13-23 and Col. 2 :8-15 are used figuratively. So, if Paul the Apostle, who knew both Greek and Hebrew, had “authority”, “boss” in sight, he would have used other words (like “exousia”- Gk, “authority” in Rom 13:1,2 and “archon”= Gk. “authority” in Rom 13:3.
Listen up!! We can’t read modern English into the word “head”, where both context and secular Gk. of N.T. times did not mean “superior rank” or “authority over”.
What We’ve Learned
In closing part one- the Complementarion View - the main objection from the other side is that it is culturally conditioned. As Profs. G.A. Boyd and P.R. Eddy point out - “...it seems evident that some of these women were coming directly out of pagan contexts (including temple prostitution in Ephesus, where Timothy was pastoring). Therefore, it makes sense for Paul to forbid women teachers in these contexts” (Across the Spectrum, p. 254).
Not only this but women in general were restricted in Judaism in many ways. On a personal note, the issue of head coverings (1 Cor 11) and the issue of Jewelry/braided hair (1 Tim 2:9) were culturally relative. None of the above facts are universally/culturally conditioned today.
There is no way around the fact- Biblically speaking- that God used women to preach/teach/ prophesy/pastor, etc., thus overruling the “male only” theory.
What I’m about to write will embarrass the first view: The Bible gives some examples whereby God used PAGAN Kings, false prophets, and, hold on, even a dumb animal (donkey) to speak His Word!! To say that God can’t use women today is really unbiblical. Women have their proper place in societies, but restricting them spiritually is not based on Scriptures, but on MALE PRIDE!! (For an in-depth study of “headship”, Stephen Bedale’s “The Meaning of Kephale” is the place to start, plus Kittel and Friedrick’s “Theological Dict. Of the N.T.) Of course there are those theologians who hold to the first view. George Knight’s “The N.T. Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women.” is one such proof. He embraces the SUBMISSION of women both in and out of Church; he views submission as a divine ordinance. Well, Jesus broke this ordinance when He said to Mary Magdalene... “go to My brethren, and say unto them, ‘I ascend unto My Father and your Father; and to My God, and your God’ ”. (John 20:17) Oops!! Jesus broke the culture of His day. And should I bring up the fact that Paul used women in his ministry? (See my “Women in the Ministry series; see Rom .16 for a list of women who were ministers in one form or another.)
Part 2 - The Egalitarian View
While the Bible teaches that women have a place in the N.T. Gospel Ekklesia, it does WARN about certain kinds of women (and men!) that is forbidden. The first Timothy 2:11-14 debate is such a place to start. “Let the woman learn in silence with subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Tim. 2:11-14) To say that the above texts are universal and eternal is really bad exegesis. All one has to do is search out counterexamples. May I remind you “Women are to Be Silent” advocates that Ex. 15:21; Judges 5; Lk 1:46-55 are examples whereby women had spiritual authority in song and in word. And I must add here that women were given the SAME COMMAND to RULE over God’s creation as were men (Gen. 1:27, 28). To add insult to injury to the “men only” adherents, God commanded Abraham to OBEY Sarah in Gen. 21:12!! And lest we forget, Miriam was counted as one of Israel’s leaders - along with Moses and Aaron- as found in Micah 6:4. In Ex. 15:20,21, she was noted as a worship leader. Then we have this great woman - Deborah- who was an able judge/leader in battle (Judges 4-5). Huldah was a spiritual prophetess that was consulted by both men and women in 2 Kings 22:14; Noadiah and Anna were also prophetesses (Neh 6:14; Lk 2:36-38).
The Bible tells us in Acts 2:16-18 that daughters (not merely sons) would prophesy, in which we find Philip’s 4 daughters - each possessed with the gift- prophesied (Acts 21:8,9). To carry this further, Paul allowed women to prophesy (which technically is called “teaching” as we read in 1 Cor 11:4,5). As already stated, God used women as the FIRST N.T. Christian evangelists (Jn 29:16-18). They preached the good news to the men!! In Acts 18:26 (and in Rom 16:3) Priscilla and Aquila were teachers of the Gospel. Phoebe is called a deacon in Rom 16:1,2...just go thru the list in Rom 16 for yourself. Paul refers to Euodia and Syntyche, as “co-workers” along with Clement in Phil 4: 2,3.
Do your homework. The prohibition against ALL women is unbiblical. The presence in the N.T. Ekklesia of women used in the ministry can’t be denied. While the “Old Israel” contained an element of “anti-women”, the “New Israel” does not.
1 Tim. 2: 11,12
Now we’ll deal with 1st Tim 2vv 11 and 12: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” These two verses have been live ammo to keep women OUT of the pulpit FOREVER!!
Since I’ve already written on 1 Tim 1: 11,12, I’ll only put forth the main issue which I feel causes all the confusion. It must be noted that v. 10 uses “professing godliness” which one must examine closely. “Professing” is not the ususal word for “confess” or “profess”, it is a political expression Paul linked to improperly dressed women. This is a hint why Paul makes such a statement in v. 12- “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Paul was dealing with a CERTAIN kind of woman, not all women in general. Keep this in mind.
“Usurp authority”, a rare Gk. verb found nowhere else in the N.T. In Ancient Greek, this word - authentein - was considered vulgar (like the way too many women ministers dress and act today. I won’t apologize!) If one is to build the (false) idea that all women are to be silent and not to teach, we might wonder WHY Paul did not use a common Gk. Word or words for “authority” or “usurp”?
First, if Paul instructed women should be dressed modestly, omitting hairdos and jewelry and expensive clothing (2:7), few today would believe that those instructions would be timeless comments. So, why is it that our opponents believe women can’t preach/teach- a timeless truth?
The truth behind Paul’s instruction to Timothy was culturally conditioned. Ephesus was permeated with the religious cult of Diana in which female (spiritual) leaders engaged in ritualistic prostitution. Paul’s warning was directed towards certain kinds of females, not godly women. Paul with the Adam/Eve thing in v. 14. In light of his instruction, he is appealing to the rabbinic understanding as a rationale for telling Timothy not to allow women (certain kinds) in his fellowship to teach. What was the rabbinic understanding? It is what happened in the Garden of Eden.
According to tradition, Adam was at fault for not instructing the woman about the dangers/consequences of eating from the forbidden tree. The truth is, Adam was created first, heard from his Creator first, received his instructions first - Eve created second, was dependent upon her husband for instructions. So, Paul was instructing Timothy (since he had communication with God/the Holy Spirit etc., he must pass along this information to his disciple.
Paul wrote, “that thou (Timothy) mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:3). The “some” is from the Gk. “tis” or “tisin”, a neuter pronoun meaning either male or female. If Paul meant man/male, the Gk. “aver” would have been used; “tisin” means “certain persons” (see W.E. Vines Expository Dict. Of N.T. Words, 1966, p.34)
So, Paul was warning Timothy against certain women who might teach strange things resulting in doing strange things (like sexing!). With all the forbidden (by Scripture) sex-sins being done by those calling themselves “Christian”, it would do the Church good to re-read our texts here in 1 Timothy. I mean with this BIG EXCREMENT EXPLOSION - Homosexuality (GLBTQ), adultery, fornication and the like, one is better off not going to Church! In 1 Tim 5:11-15 and 2 Tim. 3:6, women are DEFINITELY implicated as those receiving false teachings. The question arises, “who taught false teachings?” Paul called such teachings PROFANE. Jesus Himself warned the Ekklesia at Thyatira against “that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to TEACH and to SEDUCE My servants to commit FORNICATION, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (Rev.2:20). Read vv 21-14, a woman obviously who had “known the depths of Satan” (v.24). This woman was obviously a Gnostic teacher/leader. And Paul also addressed a sex-sin, i.e., incest, in 1 Cor 5:1, which he calls “fornication” (a generalized term including all forbidden sex sins).
The women in 1 Tim. 2: 9-11 were teaching “making a claim to godliness”, not Biblical holiness. The women in 2 Tim. 3:6, 7 were the hearers. I dare to say that today’s churches are plagued with both male and female false teachers... teaching all kinds of kinky, sexy things- all in the name of JESUS! Remember, Ephesus (where Timothy was pastoring) had Gnostics teaching strange (Queer!) doctrines (1 Tim.1:3-9). Some claimed “special knowledge” (6:20); these women promised “godliness” by means of good works (2:10); they were not learned in God’s Word (1:1; 2:11); they had left the faith (2:15; 6:21). Thus, Paul warned against them and their teachings (2:12). What we have is a group of women - far from God- using “sexual power” over the men.
Back to “Professing Godliness”
On the surface, we might think “professing godliness” was real spiritual, a female convert who was teaching to abstain from sexual sins. This is the way our opponents view this. But they are wrong. Let’s look at the common Gk. Word for “confession”/ ”profession” = homologeo. Christ is called the High Priest of our “confession” in Heb 3:1. This Gk word means to “say the same things as”, or “to agree with”. Paul, you can see, uses a word that is every different in usage and meaning. It’s two words - ep from epi meaning “to” or “upon”, and the Gk verb angello, meaning “I bring a message to”. The Gk noun angellos, from which the word “angel” comes, means “messenger”. But Paul used “epaggellomoi”, a Gk word with two meanings: 1- “to promise, to announce that one is about to do or furnish something” (see Thayer’s Gk.-Eng. Lexicon of the N.T., 1968, p. 277). Other texts where we find this word means “to promise”. It should be noted that Arndt and Ginrich (translators of Bauer’s Lexicon) states: “Profess here means to give oneself out as an expert in something” (B,A, and G; A Gk.-Eng. Lexicon of the N.T., 1958, P.280). Putting it altogether, we come up with “something is promised to somebody”.
I trust by now you see where we’re going with all this. “Epaggellomenais” therefore is used to gain supporters. Like politicians, those women Paul warned about, were trying to get votes and support for their sexual/spiritual teachings. To put it simple, there were women “professing godliness”(KJV) who were “promising godliness”. Isn’t this same spirit in today’s liberal church? These women-whom Paul directed 1 Tim. 2:11 and 12 towards- were deluded, deceived, untaught, believed they had “special” knowledge, etc. Oh, the Church is full of these damned females today! (along with damned males). We’ve had encounters with many through the years. It usually came down to SEX! This is the usual legitimate Church practice today. It has even gone further, GLBTQ sins are preached loud and clear with the U.S. government behind them. SICK !!!
Let Them Learn!!
Paul’s instruction to Timothy was “Let them learn in silence with all subjection” (1 Tim 2:11). In other words, “stop keeping them ignorant” as one pastor said. He was no doubt addressing the Gnostics of his day. Was Paul merely addressing wives or women in general? Gk. Scholars point out, and rightly so, that the Gk. language does not use an indefinite article: it is always assumed by the English translator for easier reading. They say that there is a definite article in this passage (VII where “woman” not “women” is used). They also point out that if this one verse prevents the wives from teaching their husbands, it frees the unmarried woman from this restriction. In verse 9, Paul uses “women” not “woman” (gunaikas=plural). But note that he continued his advice to the “woman” (gune=singular). What we have is a woman teaching other women (and men too) that they could receive “special revelations”. Such things were not uncommon for there were endless debates that caused confusion (see 1 Tim. 1:4 and 6:20). Paul wanted Timothy to have men/women as students that would learn - was Paul advocating SILENCE for all believers? Paul was not arguing for their illiteracy (as the rabbis did with their “traditions”).
Charles Trombley has an interesting take on v. 12 : “Was Paul saying, I never permit a woman to teach; or ‘I am not now permitting a woman to teach’?” He points out that “the verb oukepitrepo is better translated as ‘I am not permitting; emphasizing either the temporary nature of the answer or Paul’s personal attitude.”
Why did the apostle Paul choose to use the Gk. Verb authentein (usurp authority) (1 Tim 2:12) - a very rare verb? The reason, as stated beforehand, it was considered vulgar because it dealt with a vulgar act of seducing one. I found it interesting when I ran across how some Greek dramatists used authentein, e.g., “suicide” or a “family murderer”. Research proves out that this vulgar Gk verb never meant what we construe it to mean today- “usurp authority”. Essentially, it meant “to thrust oneself” (or used by the Attic Orator Antiphon, Dio Cassuis, Thucydides, Herodotus and Aeschylus. Even Philo (Jewish writer) used it to mean “self-murderer”. Prof. C. Kroeger has brought to light in her Ancient Heresies and a Strange Greek Verb (the Reformed Journal, 1979, p.13), authentein began to take on a sexual tinge, that of sexual services (hetero and homo)love of young boys was considered a virtue, not a vice. Isn’t this spirit in today’s church?
This Gk. verb was explained by Phynichus (a grammarian in A.D. 180) who tells us that the word is composed of two parts - autos (“self”), and hentos from hiemi ("to thrust out from oneself or “desire) In other words, kill oneself (as with a sword, a phallic symbol in ancient Greece). This was how authentes/authentein was used in the erotic sense. It was so vulgar that some Greeks advised the use of the word above -autodikein- which was less vulgar. I could continue or with what I have discovered in the realm of Judaism and Egyptian culture-all had to do with sex in one form or another.
A final note: it was not long after the apostolic period (way after 1 Tim. 2) than authentein came home to roost: “to exercise authority”, “to bear rule over”. The great Christian father John Chrysostom (347-407), in his commentary on our 1 Tim 5:6 - “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth”, used our Gk. Verb to express sexual license ( 2 centuries after Paul used it).
We know by now that Paul was dealing with a Gnostic spirit of his day. The Gnostics used sexual practices to BIND the flesh and the divine together (see Rev. 2:20). Peter the apostle wrote about this (demon spirit of sexual lust) in 2 Peter 2:14-18... the same sins that “lead captive silly women laden with sin, led away with many lusts” (2 Tim 3:6).
So, in closing part two, we know that Paul was NOT wanting ALL women to “learn in silence with all subjection”, nor was he teaching (commanding) that ALL women not to teach or preach, but only certain women. Got it? These women were female mediators who promised “godliness” in return for following them- be they male or female. This spirit is in today’s Church BIG TIME, “hidden knowledge”, “sexual lust”, false/”good works”, the Gnostics even believed that Eve, not Adam, was created first. This is why Paul wrote v. 13. How many good Christian women have been debarred from the ministry, ecclesiastical status that could have been obtained if 1 Cor. 14:32-35 and 1 Tim 2:11-15 had been correctly interpreted BY MEN!! Too many “scholars” and “theologians” have not done their homework. They were satisfied with the outlawing of women without seriously researching or discerning the original intent of the texts in question. They failed to examine the cultural/historical analysis to propose what was Paul’s real intent in writing what he wrote. These two quotes from Paul -who was not anti-woman by any means- have been, over the centuries, an obstruction for women to share in the ministry. My wife receives such ABUSE from “Christian” men who show little or nothing Christlike.
The Greek infinitive-authentein traditionally translated “to have power over”, needs to be rethought in light of ancient Greek. Few are the men and women translators/interpreters who have taken the time to CONSCIENTIOUSLY and FAITHFULLY examine this word, let alone what Paul meant when he penned 1 Cor 14:34 (which was not Paul’s thought but someone who wrote to him).I have over the years (starting in the late 1970s) sought to understand these perplexing texts, with a clear directive to promote women in the ministry. Equally, I have also sought to point out WHY certain women were/are unfit to be in the ministry. We must look closely at the linguistic, cultural, and historical evidence; what did the author intend for his audience to receive when he penned his epistles/letters? Remember, words change meanings over the years. We can’t take an ancient Greek/Hebrew word into our modern English as some try. Stick to what that word or words meant in Paul’s day. And we can’t transport Gk/Heb./Roman customs/laws of his day into our modern setting (moral laws, yes!). Paul, in 1 Tim. 2, was dealing with Gnosticism, which was taking hold of the Ekklesia at Ephesus. Thusly, women (and men) were being led astray.
Before we close, I need to speak a bit more about Jesus and women. “Jesus was not the radical reformer who proclaims laws and seeks to enforce transformation of relationships”, wrote Professor Albrecht Oepke (of Leipzig, TDNT, Vol. 1, p.784). Although Jesus did not shove the “law” down peoples’ throats, He, did stand up for moral laws. Concerning women of His earthly days, He was tender. He knew how women were treated by the Jewish culture, therefore, quite often, He used parables with women in them. (See Mt. 13:33; 25:1; Lk. 15:8; 18:3-8, etc.)
Jesus, when necessary, observed Jewish proprieties by having a witness when He approached the bed of Jairus’ daughter (see Mk. 5:40). But on the other hand, Jesus broke rigid Jewish customs/traditions with matter-of-fact boldness! In John 4:27 for example, He speaks with a woman, a real bad-bad in Jewish custom; He even taught a woman (Lk 10:39 where Mary, the sister of Martha, sat at Jesus’ feet “and heard His Word”); Jesus calls a woman “a daughter of Abraham” (Lk. 13:16); Jesus even speaks on behalf of women in Mark 12:40, where He rebukes the scribes for devouring widows’ houses; Jesus spoke of the widow’s mite in Mark 12:42 and in Mark 14:3, Jesus was anointed by a woman at Bethany; Jesus heals Simon’s wife’s mother in Mark 1:30, Jesus heals the woman that had an issue of blood for 12 years (Mk. 5:24-34) while on His way to raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mk. 5:35-43); Jesus delivers the Greek woman’s daughter of demons in Mark 7: 24-30; Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath in Luke 13:10-17; Jesus is ministered to by Mary Magdalene (which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities), Joanna, and Susanna in Luke 8:1-3; Jesus raises the dead son of a widow in Lk 7:11-17; Jesus raises up the brother of Mary and Martha from the dead (John 11:1-44), both women were loved by Jesus as well as their brother, Lazarus.
Jesus did great things for women in His day, not only Jews but Gentiles. He even broke the Sabbath law for the woman in Luke 13:10, and does not shun contact with unclean women in Mark 1:31 ( see also 5:27,41 and Lk. 7:38). In John 4:7 Jesus is seen dealing with the Samaritan woman. In Luke 8:2, Jesus was surrounded by a band of women who are with Him in His suffering (see also Mk. 15:40, 47) and in Mark 16:1; and Jn 20:1,11, women are present at His glorification. Even on women who stand at a distance, Jesus exercises great influence. (Lk 11:27; 23:27; Mt 27:19).
Jesus never had a misogynistic spirit as did many of His day, in the Jewish culture. He even forgave the woman guilty of adultery BUT He also WARNED her not to repeat that offense (Jn. 8:11).
Gen. James Green