In my recent post on 1 Timothy 2:12, discussion about the word “authentein” (often translated as authority) was especially rich. Here are some highlights:
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This is a 2017 Junia Blog Contest Winner! [Click here for a Spanish translation of this post.] At 5 years old, I sang in my first church choir. My dad encouraged me to sing loud so he could hear me. I did, joyfully and unconsciously convinced that my voice was wanted and welcomed in my […]
From the mailbox: “Just wanted to say thank you for your article on 1 Timothy 2. It was a great reference for me as my 13 yr old daughter asked me about it when she read it during her devotions. I was not sure how to respond to her until I found your article. Thank you!” God Bless, Brian. As long as 1 Timothy 2 continues to be used to restrict women from fulfilling their call to discipleship we will continue sharing good scholarship on this passage. Today’s “long form” post is by seminary professor Patrick Franklin. In it he identifies 3 general reasons and 6 specific problems with using the passage in this way. This is our most comprehensive post on 1 Timothy 2 to date – be sure to bookmark it for further reference.
They are the verses of Scripture used most frequently to silence women in the church: 1 Timothy 2:11-12. I remember reading them as a 26-year-old when first contemplating my call to ministry. God’s voice had been clear, but those three short sentences were not; “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit her to teach or have authority over a man. She. Must. Be. Silent.”
I’d sat there reading the passage over and over; trying to find something I hadn’t seen before. The black and white lettering seemed so stark, so clear; so… black and white. Why would Paul say such a thing? In my church, Paul’s instructions were taken literally. Women weren’t permitted to speak whenever men were present. They couldn’t lead, teach or even pray. Growing up, those words hadn’t particularly bothered me, but now they smarted like lemon juice in an open cut. No matter how I read them, the conclusion was still the same – I couldn’t follow God’s call. As a pastor today, it’s obvious that my understanding of those few verses has long since changed…
Hundreds of pages have been written on this chapter, with almost as many interpretations, proving this to be one of the least understood and most contested passages of all time. Yet many Christians continue to cite 1 Timothy 2 as the foundation for their belief in male only leadership in the church. In today’s post Gail shares her “elevator speech” about why we need to stop using this passage in the debate.
Throughout history, the church has been characterized by a male-dominated social hierarchy. This worldview has been so pervasive that some even consider it to be “God’s created order.” In light of the prevalence of this pattern, some people have asked me, “Has there ever been a female-dominated culture?”
A 1st century B.C. historian by the name of Diodorus Siculus provides us with the following information:
“Beside the river of Thermadon, therefore, a nation ruled by females held sway, in which women pursued the arts of war just like men…. To the men she [the nation’s Queen] relegated the spinning of wool and other household tasks of women. She promulgated laws whereby she led forth the women to martial strife, while on the men she fastened humiliation and servitude.”
1 Timothy 2:12 continues to be an obstacle that prevents churches from moving toward a more robust theology of women.
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one who was deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But […]
I think it’s odd to denounce Paul’s extensive teaching on spiritual gifts as not relevant today, yet embrace a few verses that appear to restrict women’s full participation in church leadership.
In Lost in Translation, Part 1, Bob showed that some words in the Bible are translated differently when they refer to women as opposed to when they refer to men. Case in point: Phoebe’s depiction as servant and helper rather than minister and leader. Today he addresses the impact of translation on our understanding of […]
RECENT SCHOLARSHIP A review of the literature on the Greek word “kephale”, translated as “head” in Ephesians 5 The Significance of Kephale by Cervin (2016) A review of the literature on the Greek word “authentein”, translated as “authority” in 1 Timothy 2:12 THE MEANING OF αὐθεντέω IN 1 TIMOTHY 2.12 by Westfall (2014) SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS […]