Women in the Church- 1 Timothy 2:8-15, part 2

E. Verse 11

Here a shift in subject matter occurs from prayer to learning. Paul also changes the plural gunaixin (“women”) of verses 9-10 to singular gune (“woman”). However, does this shift involve also a shift from speaking about women in general to speaking about wives and husbands?1 The singular form does not automatically mean wife,2 even in close contrast with the plural form. Context must decide. Scholars and translations have not followed Quinn and Wacker here.3 I believe that Paul has in mind already the reasons in verses 13-14, which require a singular to connect with Eve as a representative. Therefore, Paul is using a generic singular to make his point. Mounce argues that a general principle is being stated here, and that the singular is most apropos.4 I think this is borne out further by Paul’s argument in verses 13-14, which speak of Adam and Eve as representative of male and female.

As many egalitarians have noted, hesuchia need not mean absolute silence.5 The word means “quiet, at peace.” The phrase at the end of the verse, en pase hupotage (“in all submission”), indicates that hesuchia must mean something in keeping with such submission. This phrase is usually overlooked by egalitarian scholars. They are quick to note the command for women to learn (manthaneto (“let them learn”) is an imperatival form indicating a command. This learning is an advance on Judaism, supposedly), but they are not quick to note the pase (“all”) in the last phrase of the verse. Paul has been emphasizing the manner in which men are to pray and in which women are to pray. Now, he stresses the manner in which women are to learn. It is an “in quietness, and without teaching” kind of learning. Lock notes that hupotage (“submission”)  hints at the entire relationship of woman to man in the house.6 Some scholars think that the question of manner extends through verse 12. However, as will be shown, such is not the case.

F. Verse 12
In many ways, this verse is the crux of the passage, and the most disputed. First, we will address the issue of the two infinitives. Köstenberger has shown that the construction of ouk…oude means that whatever those two words connect are viewed by the author either both positively, or both negatively.7 His argument is that if didaskein (“to teach”) be viewed positively, then so must authentein (“to have authority”). Didaskein is viewed positively within the Pastoral epistles as the passing on of the apostolic tradition. Therefore, authentein must also be viewed positively here as the normal exercise of authority. The importance of this argument will become sharper when the definition of authentein is discussed. Köstenberger’s argument has been challenged by I. Howard Marshall, in his commentary,8 and by Linda Belleville.9

Marshall argues in strange fashion from the less well-known word to the better-known word. He grants Köstenberger’s argument, but then takes it in the opposite direction by saying that because authentein most likely means “domineer,” or some such other negative meaning, that therefore didaskein must mean “false teaching.” Marshall says further that “the context makes it clear that the prohibition is stated because there was something wrong with the teaching given by the women. Although, then, the prohibition may appear to be universally applicable to women, it is in fact meant for a specific group of women among the recipients of the letter.”10

The problem with Marshall’s position is that he gives no evidence for his view of the context. It also does not follow that it is meant for a specific group within the community, even if we grant that the women were teaching. The issue is whether or not women are teaching at all. Köstenberger notes that if false teaching were in view, Paul would have used heterodidaskein (“to teach falsely”). Marshall objects that this would imply that Paul would allow men to teach falsely. But as Blomberg notes,11 this objection does not carry force, because Paul could have said it in a way that clearly avoided such an implication (e.g.: “I do not allow women to continue to teach falsehood”). Belleville’s objection is that the construction ouk…oude can be used to express goal (the first idea leads to the second). The translation then would be, “I do not permit a woman to teach in order to have mastery over a man.” However, in the examples she gives (Mt. 13:13 and Acts 17:24-25), her spin on the two ideas is not proved. Hearing is not necessary to understanding, nor is dwelling in a man-made temple necessary to being served by human hands.12 Her understanding of these passages would make the two infinitives more of a hendiadys (saying one thing by two words) than is warranted by the evidence. Didaskein and authentein are not likely to be a hendiadys, because they are separated by so many words. I think rather that didaskein receives the emphasis, being first in the sentence, and that authentein seems almost like an afterthought: “I do not permit a woman to teach, or, come to think of it, have any authority over a man (in the church setting).” Belleville further criticizes Köstenberger for not treating the infinitives like verbal nouns.13 She thinks they modify gune. However, what this assertion does for her argument is not clear. The infinitives complement ouk epitrepo, not gune. Gune is then the subject of the infinitives.

We must now deal with the meaning of authentein. Major research has been done on this word. Baldwin has done a very thorough job in researching all the known occurrences of the verb in extant Greek literature. His conclusion is that the one unifying concept of the word is that of authority.14 The fact that the verb form is never used to mean “murderer,” while the noun form authentes is, gives the lie to Keener’s and Belleville’s objections to Baldwin’s study. Keener is guilty of etymologizing, when he says that Baldwin should have included the noun form in his study.15 Marshall agrees with Baldwin on this issue of treating the verb form separately.16 In fact, Marshall criticizes Wilshire for making that very mistake in his analysis of the word authentein.17 Keener then has the audacity to claim that the entire argument for the complementarians depends on the meaning of this one word! As we shall see, such is far from the truth. Belleville claims that the one sense not in use at this time was “to have authority.”18 Baldwin has decisively shown that this is not the case. A more important argument is that of Belleville19 to the effect that Paul did not have to choose such an ambiguous word, and that if he had a positive meaning in mind, he could have used exousiazo. However, as Blomberg notes,20 exousiazo is hardly unambiguous itself. Blomberg notes the possibility that it might have been precisely because of the ambiguity of exousiazo that Paul decided to choose authentein. Variety in word choice could be another factor. It is certainly not the case that this word has to have a special nuance simply because it is a hapax legomenon (word used only once).21 The New Testament hardly exhausts the Greek vocabulary of the day.

The noun andros that follows is best to be understood as being the object of both verbs: “I do not permit a woman to teach (a man), or to exercise authority over a man.”22 This has the effect of limiting the sphere in which a woman may not teach or have authority. This verse does not imply that women may never teach anyone. Paul plainly indicates that women may teach other women, as well as children. I think that the church setting of these verses excludes women from church office. However, in other institutions and settings, there is room for gray areas.

The syntax of the two infinitives and the meaning of authentein are closely related. Therefore, I have chosen to address epitrepo (“I permit”) only after both issues had been dealt with. Some egalitarians argue that the present tense of epitrepo seems to indicate that the command is only to be in force for a limited period of time, or that he is only stating his opinion. For the latter interpretation, see Mounce.23 In regard to the former, however, I think there is another, much more likely explanation of the present tense, namely, that Paul does not permit women to teach or to have authority in the churches where he himself ministers, and that Timothy therefore ought to follow his example. Wallace further notes that the generic gune indicates that epitrepo be taken as gnomic, which would imply universality.24 This is, after all, a pastor to pastor epistle. Nothing would be more natural for Paul than to use himself as an example.25

Schreiner, in his essay in Two Views on Women in Ministry, makes a very solid argument against the notion that Paul forbade women to teach based on their being led astray.26 Why would Paul only mention women? Why would men be allowed to teach, who had been led astray, but not women? Second, were all the women of Ephesus led astray by the false teaching? Surely, this is a bit much to swallow. There is no textual indication of a limitation on the command.

As Knight notes,27 the interpretation that Paul is only excluding women teaching if there is not proper oversight is ruled out by Paul’s reiteration of “quietness” (Knight sees hesuchia as “silence”). This would form some sort of inclusio with verse 11. This fact forms another argument for why didaskein and authentein form two separate words. The chiasm goes as follows: a (“in quietness”); b (“not teach”); b (“not have authority”); a (“in quietness”).28 This structure implies that teaching and having authority are two separate concepts.

G. Verse 13
This verse gives argumentation for the preceding verse. However, even this (besides much else) is disputed. Belleville argues that the verse is not causal in force, but explanatory.29 However, she gives no reason whatsoever as to why Paul would give Adam’s created priority as even an explanation of a woman’s remaining quiet. The verse makes much better sense if explained causally, offering the reason why women should learn in silence, and not be allowed to teach men in the church. Belleville objects that verse 15 is against such an interpretation.30 However, verse 15 is concessive in character. Ann Bowman makes the point that Paul, in verses 13-14, is using the rabbinic technique know as summary citation.31 Paul is reminding us of the entire context of Gen 2-3. Adam is the head of the family. He was formed first. Therefore, he deserves some kind of honor.32 This does not imply superiority in kind, but rather priority in time. Belleville offers a specious objection that eita (“then”) means a simple order of time.33 But this is precisely the point! He is the “first-born,” although we should not import the Bible’s understanding of birthright into the passage here, as the first-born got twice as much as the next in line, whereas women are equal sharers in salvation.34 Belleville makes a false dichotomy in her discussion of the creation narrative.35 She says, “Do these narratives (Gen 1-2) put forward a divinely instituted gender hierarchy, as traditionalists claim? Or do they teach a male-female relationship of mutuality, as egalitarians contend? In a sense, the answer is “yes.” Hierarchy does not exclude mutuality. Is this verse a second reason for vv. 11-12, or is it a continuation of the vs. 13 reason? For reasons that will become clear later in the hermeneutics section, I believe that this is a second reason added to verse 13. Note that a “diabolical passive” exists here. Satan is the implied agent of Eve’s deception. Quinn and Wacker note: “In the argument of 1 Timothy 2:14 the serpent has disappeared into the anonymity of the Greek passive participle.”36 This “diabolical passive” contrasts with the “divine passive” given in verse 15. More on the divine passive later. The reason Paul gives for why women should remain quiet in church is that men are to lead. It was this way in the beginning (that is the import of verse 13). The Fall was the result of Eve trying to subvert her husband’s covenantal headship by making the decision apart from him.37 She was mastered by the animal whom she should have mastered. She mastered the one being on the planet she should not have mastered. She subverted and was subverted. Therefore, the punishment was that there would always be a battle for leadership between the man and the woman in marriage (Gen. 3:16). This is hardly placing the full blame of the Fall on the woman as some have said about the complementarian position. I do not think that this passage says that women are more easily deceived than men, though that is the conclusion of most of the history of the complementarian position, and even of a few modern commentators. As Schreiner says, it was a moral failing of Eve, not an intellectual deficiency.38 This verse is a concession, or a correction of a possible misunderstanding. Given the guilt of Eve in the Fall, one might wonder whether or not there is any hope for woman at all. Paul affirms that there is hope. Note the passive voice of “be saved.“ As Knight hints,39 this is probably a divine passive, which is difficult in the extreme to account for on any other interpretation of “child-bearing” than that given below. Through the regaining of her proper role in the world, reaffirming man’s headship in the family, the Christ would come. I interpret “child-bearing” as referring first of all to normal child-bearing, and then to the Child-bearing, that is, the birth of the Messiah. This interpretation has a long and honored tradition.40 It does justice to the fact of the article in front of teknogonias (“childbearing,” which cannot in any case be decisive, but is suggestive), makes sense of “saved,” which otherwise is almost unintelligible and results in an unnatural understanding of the preposition dia, and does justice to the background of Genesis 3. The fact that Genesis 3 is in the background of this passage has escaped most commentators who have dismissed this interpretation (such as Marshall41). If one remembers the curses of Genesis 3, one is certain also to remember the promise of the Seed which would eventually come to destroy the serpent.42 The curse on Eve was a curse on her child-bearing. Paul wants then to remind them that the promised Seed would also come through child-bearing. This interpretation also allows sothesetai (“she will be saved’) to have its normal salvific force without introducing any works righteousness, which, as many commentators have noted, would be contrary to Paul’s theology. The only major objection that can be raised against this interpretation is that current child-bearing would then seem to be irrelevant, now that the Seed has come. However, this is where the insight of Royce Gordon Gruenler is applicable.43 He argues that the Pastoral epistles are missions epistles (pg. 216). He argues this from vv. 1-7, esp. vv. 4-6. The implication for women today, therefore, is that child-bearing is a missionary activity. They are to remember that child-bearing was the instrument that God used to bring the Messiah into the world. See also Bowman’s assertion that “child-bearing” is a synecdoche, a figure of speech in which a part stands for the whole, the whole then being all of child-rearing.44 The “she” at the beginning of the verse refers primarily to Eve, therefore, and secondarily to all women who come after her. That might be the reason why Paul switches from singular to plural in this verse.45 Certainly, Quinn and Wacker’s suggestion that it refers to the husband and wife is rather strange,46 given that child-rearing is not in view. Furthermore, the woman’s “salvation” would then depend on the man’s remaining in faith, love, and holiness.47 I think it more natural to understand the “they” to refer to women. The second part of this verse corrects the possible misunderstanding that might result if one took the “divine passive” too far at the beginning of the verse. One might think that salvation automatically accrues to women. Therefore, Paul stresses these things to ensure a non-automatic view of salvation.48 The verse stresses the necessity of perseverance.

1 See, e.g., Quinn and Wacker, 2000, pp. 191, 199.

2 See BDAG.

3 See especially Schreiner, in Köstenberger/Schreiner/Baldwin, Women in the Church, pg. 117.

4 Mounce, 2000, pg. 119.

5 contra Knight, 1992, pg. 139.

6 Lock, 1924, pg. 32.

7 See Women in the Church, ed. Köstenberger, Schreiner, and Baldwin, 1995, pp. 81-103.

8 See Marshall, 1999, pg. 458.

9 See Two Views on Ministry, ed. Beck, Blomberg, 2001, pp. 124-127, 136.

10 Marshall, 1999, pg. 455.

11 op. cit., pg. 361.

12 Two Views, pg. 127, talking about Matthew 13:13 and Acts 17:24. See Köstenberger/Schreiner/Baldwin, Women in the Church, pg. 83 for counter-examples, and especially pg. 90 for counter-argument.

13 op. cit., pg. 136.

14 ibid, pg. 72-73.

15 See Two Views on Women in Ministry, pg. 53, note 39.

16 See Marshall, 1999, pg. 456, note 149.

17 See NTS 27 (1981) 593-604 for Wilshire’s analysis.

18 Two Views, pg. 125.

19 ibid. pg. 124-125.

20 ibid. pg. 362.

21 As Marshall claims, 1999, pg. 458.

22 See Knight, 1992, pg. 142.

23 Mounce, 2000, pg. 106, commenting on verse 8.

24 Quoted in Mounce, 2000, pg. 122.

25 See Liefeld, 1999, pg. 98.

26 See Two Views, pg. 223.

27 Knight, 1992, pg. 142.

28 See Schreiner, Women in the Church, pg. 124.

29 ibid. pg. 128.

30 op. cit. pg. 128.

31 See Two Views, pp. 288-289.

32 Keener, in Two Views, pg. 63, seems incredulous that such an argument of temporal priority should be cogent for this point. Yes, the first can sometimes be subordinated to the second. However, this is not true in every instance, and does not in any way lessen the force of what Paul says here.

33 op. cit. pg. 129.

34 ibid., pg. 62-63.

35 op. cit. pg. 140.

36 Quinn and Wacker, 2000, pg. 229.

37 Keener, in Two Views, states that the nature of women being easily deceived is the only way that this passage can support the complementarian position of male headship. Such is not the case.

38 op. cit. pg. 143.

39 1992, pg. 147.

40 See Knight, 1992, pp. 146-149, Quinn/Wacker, 2000, pg. 232, and Liefeld, 1999, pp. 101-102.

41 Marshall, 1999, pg. 469.

42 See Bowman, Two Views, pp. 288-289.

43 “The Mission-Lifestyle Setting of 1Timothy 2:8-15.” JETS 41 Fall 1998, pp. 215-238.

44 See Two Views, pg. 290.

45 See Mounce, 2000, pg. 143.

46 Quinn and Wacker, 2000, pg. 233.

47 Mounce, 2000, pg. 147.

48 See Knight, 1991, pg. 147.

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1 Comment

  1. January 5, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    […] The word for quiet in this verse is the same word used earlier in the chapter in (2:2). Silent in verse 2 is the same as the word quiet in verses 11-12. The women can still speak in church. They just need to act quietly. The reason Paul gives for why women should remain quiet in church is that the men are to lead. It was this way in the beginning (that is the import of verse 13). The Fall was the result of Eve trying to subvert her husband’s covenant headship – or leadership – by making the decision apart from him. Eve was mastered by the animal (the snake) whom she should have mastered. Eve mastered the one being on the planet (the man) she should not have mastered. She subverted and was subverted. Therefore, the punishment was that there would always be a battle for leadership between the man and the woman in marriage (Gen. 3:16).(http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2006/11/20/women-in-the-church-1-timothy-28-15-part-2/) […]


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