Thursday, May 8, 2008

Forbidding Women Teachers Or False Teachers?

"In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control." ~Paul, 1 Timothy 2:9-15

In the last post, I briefly relayed some of the difficulties of 1 Timothy 2:9-15. In this post I aim to place these verses within their cultural and situational context. Not only do these verses make much more sense viewed in this light, but they fit within the larger context of 1 Timothy and the rest of the Bible.

As shown in a previous post, the prevailing theme of 1 Timothy is standing against false teaching. But what were these false teachings? Even though we do not have Timothy's letters to Paul explaining the details of the situation at Ephesus, there is an ample amount of context clues, historical evidence, and other biblical records to reconstruct the basic scenario at Ephesus at the time of Paul's letter. Let's start with context clues:

In 1 Timothy 1:3-4, Paul tells Timothy to put a stop to certain "men" (the Greek word here is tisin and means "ones," not men. It's gender neutral) from teaching false doctrines and to rebuke them for devoting themselves to "myths" and "endless genealogies." In 1 Timothy 1:6-7, Paul describes those who have turned aside to fruitless discussions, "wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions." Paul then launches into a corrective teaching on the proper use and purpose of the law, sin, the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of the Lord, and takes great care to point out that God is King, eternal, invisible, and the only God. It is obvious Paul is countering the false teaching Timothy is battling in Ephesus by reiterating the true teaching of the gospel.

Ephesus was a decadent Asian city, whose focal point was the fertility goddess, Artemis. The Romans called her Diana. Artemis is said to be the twin of Apollo and the daughter of Zeus and Leto. The cult of Artemis was particularly alluring for women because Artemis was believed to protect her female worshippers during and after childbirth. Plus, women were viewed as superior to men, possessing secret divine knowledge. Men were drawn to this cult as well because sex was part of the worship rituals, where men would receive divine knowledge through engaging in sexual rituals with female priestesses.

We know from indisputable historical findings (such as ancient temple ruins, writings, and graves) and the biblical account in Act 19: 11-41, that the city of Ephesus was dedicated to the fertility goddess, Artemis. The passage in Acts reveals the exact brand of paganism running rampant in Ephesus, even causing confusion among believers. The teachings of this goddess-cult caused so much confusion and hostility among the assemblies and the city that violent riots broke out. People were fiercely passionate about The Lady of Ephesus and flew into a blind rage when Paul rejected her divinity. Artemis was the fertility goddess and protector of women (keep that in mind for later). The female-focused cult of Artemis taught female superiority and dominance based on their claim that women were descendants of mythological Amazon women. These women enslaved the men and forced them to build the city. In order to prove this myth, followers would create lengthy genealogies in attempt to prove they were true descendants of the goddess herself or the amazon women who supposedly founded the city. Could this be what Paul refers to in 1 Timothy 1:3-4?Artemis' temple was so stunning and brilliantly designed that it became one of the seven wonders of the world. So, this is no little unknown, undocumented cult with gaps so wide that it would be impossible to reconstruct the culture and setting of Ephesus at the time of Paul's letters.

Entering into the Ephesian cultural-mix is gnosticism. Gnostic teachings ran rampant during the first century, which were famous for infusing christian and pagan beliefs together to comprise one of the first heretical teachings to infiltrate the early church. As christian and pagan beliefs intermingled, Gnostics taught that Eve, contrary to the Genesis account, actually liberated the world by eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They called Eve "the illuminator" because they believed she became enlightened when she ate the fruit and paved the way for others to become enlightened, too. They also taught that Eve was created FIRST and Adam received life from her. For the Gnostics, Eve became a salvation-figure.
Between the cult of the Artemis and the gnostics, it was widely believe that:

1. Eve was created first and received special knowledge when she ate the from the tree of knowledge.

2. Women prophetesses or mediators could share or pass on their "divine knowledge" through rituals mixing sex and worship.

3. The legend claimed that ancient amazon-warrior women, far superior to any man, founded the city of Ephesus and erected Artemis' temple. Therefore Ephesian women were these amazon-warriors' descendants and inherited their special knowledge and superiority.

4. Artemis' name means "safe." Allegiance to her meant she would keep women safe during and after childbirth.

Coincidentally, the passage in question (as well as other parts of 1 Timothy) refutes all of these teachings. When you look at these four beliefs in relation to 1 Timothy 2:11-15, suddenly we can see that Paul is not citing creation to teach women's inferiority, to put more blame on Eve, or to justify an all-time exclusion from teaching, but to correct the bizarre false teachings some Ephesians had embraced with the truth of scripture. He retells the events of creation to reveal what really happened so believers could easily recognize these false teachings circulating about the creation account. These verses do not mean all women must not teach because Eve was created second or because she became deceived, as the church has taught for centuries.

Let's go verse by verse:

Verses 9-10 admonishes women to dress modestly and appropriately for women professing godliness. He tells them to avoid braided hair, gold, pearls and expensive clothing. This is another context clue that hints toward the women of Ephesus being influenced by the cult of Artemis, for the priestesses would wear elaborate, braided hairstyles and adorn themselves with extravagant jewelry and attire. Paul makes a curious statement when he classifies this type of extravagant attire as inappropriate for women "professing" godliness, which could mean he questioned the sincerity of these women's faith to begin with.

Verse 11 is particularly liberating for women at this time. Most modern readers take "Let a woman learn..." as Paul granting mere permission for women to learn, but the original Greek is phrased as a command that women BE TAUGHT. This was a major battle in the first century, since traditional male Jews and Greeks did not find any value in educating women and viewed it as a disgrace. Paul insists that they be allowed to learn (this would be imperative if false teachings were to ever be overcome, too). Of course, women, who have never before learned the scriptures, would not be qualified to teach and would be more susceptible to deception and false teaching. It's not because they are women, but because of the patriarchal prejudices that kept them in the dark for centuries.

Verse 12-14 Paul says he does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man (we'll analyze the actual word meanings in the original language post). This makes perfect sense, if women are indeed the targets and spreaders of these false teachings consuming and dividing the Ephesian church. Paul follows his ban on women teachers by reiterating sound teaching that counters the false teaching. For Adam was formed first, not Eve, like the cult of Artemis and the gnostics taught. He then points out that Eve became deceived and sinned. This is hardly the basis upon which to claim female-superiority and divine knowledge. Eve did not do a noble thing or liberate the world; she was tricked into violating the command of God. It's important to note that Paul is not arguing for male superiority, just refuting female superiority by pointing out the facts of the creation account. He is not implying that because Eve was deceived all women are prone to deception or because she was created second that women may never be entrusted with the ministry of the word. Directly after refuting this false teaching, he moves onto the childbirth subject.

Verse 15 , This strange verse about women being "saved" through childbirth should actually read a woman shall be "preserved" or "kept safe" through childbirth. It becomes especially meaningful and relevant in light of the fact that the women of Ephesus looked to Artemis to keep them safe through childbirth. In a time when massive amounts of women and babies died in childbirth, we can easily see how the cult of Artemis would be tempting, even among Christians. Here, Paul admonishes women to continue in the faith of Christ and to put their lives in His hands.

Now, since women were obviously the primary targets of this pervasive teaching and the most vulnerable members of the church (since new christian female converts, whether Jewish or Greek were not schooled in the scripture), it makes perfect sense for Paul to forbid women from teaching at a church that was overrun with false teachings, false teachings that just happen to be tailor-made for attracting women. Of course,women who had never received proper teaching would first have to learn before they could teach. The requirements were the same for men. They had to be trained in "the way" and then were sent out to teach others. Women had been shut out from such learning under Judaism and most Greek religions. When we consider the "catch-up" game women had to play under their new found freedom in Christ, is it any wonder why Paul would command the Ephesian women who "wanting to be teachers of the Law...they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions" (1 Timothy 1:6-7) to first learn in total submission to sound teaching and stop teaching themselves? One cannot teach before they have been properly taught themselves.

While Paul's words are inspired, they were inspired for this particular situation at Ephesus. It distorts the inspired words of scripture to rip them out of their specific context, the crisis at Ephesus, and transform Paul's disciplinary solution to a culture-specific problem into a blanket prohibition against all women teaching for all times in all places.

Next post will examine the original Greek words of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 Modern translations are misleading to say the least.


Peter said...

Bravo! This is superb. You have a way of phrasing ideas so intelligently, but still easy to understand. I have already done the word study on these verses, so I think I can guess where you are headed next.

Consider this also from 1 Timothy 2:2. Most English versions translate this verse as: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable MEN who will also be qualified to teach others.” Yet, the word translated here as "men" is the Greek word anthropos, which is the plural form of human being, people. It is neither masculine nor feminine. And yet because it has to do with teaching, it is translated as men. Oh no, there is no bias at all among translators!

Faith J Totushek said...

see my post about women being more easily deceived.

When Paul refers to the deception account of Adam and Eve, he is refering to how Eve was deceived. In Ancient Near Eastern literature, the serpant was an image for a wise teacher. Moses used this image to depict the false teachers the people of God would encounter in the new land. The point of the story is that the people of God may be deceived by, as was Eve or willfully follow false gods in the new land.

Paul is making an analogy to that story in 1Timothy 2:14. The analogy is not about the substance of a women or the childlike quality of a woman needing a guardian but about the deception of Eve, a particular woman, in the History of Israel.

Because of this, I do believe that text is about deception not church order. It is not prescriptive for all time and for all churches, but for situations in which anyone, men or women have been deceived by a false teacher. Do not permit them to teach until they are willing to humble themselves enough to learn.

Faith J Totushek said...

I mean is not prescriptive to not permit women to teach for all time but prescriptive for the church to deny anyone, man or women the opportunity to teach until they have properly learned.

Tara said...

Wonderful! There is alot to chew on here. NOW I feel liberated. This really helps me to clear some questions and cobwebs that have long been waiting. Can't wait for the next post.

catrina said...

Tia, I took this from CBMW, and there is a lot more from where this came from. I know that this is long but it is so important to see how much the E's have to suppose to fit their position, not just this one passage but all of them. I don't want people to just take the E side without seeing the holes in the theory. We tend to see what we want to see, and yes it goes both ways.

6. Women teaching false doctrine at Ephesus: In 1 Tim. 2:12, where Paul says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man," many of you say the reason for Paul's prohibition is that women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus (the church to which 1 Timothy was written). Our problem in understanding the basis for your claim is that we see no evidence inside or outside the Bible that tells us that any women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus. More than that, since Paul's prohibition applies to all women, it seems to us that your position really needs to show that all the women at Ephesus were teaching false doctrine. So we are wondering if there is any text that tells us that all (or any) Christian women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus.

We recognize that some women were gossiping at Ephesus (1 Timothy 5:13), but that is not the same as teaching false doctrine -- we all know people who gossip but who don't teach false doctrine! And we know that there were pagan religions in Ephesus where non-Christian men and women did a number of things that were not done by Christians -- but to say that they did such things after becoming Christians just strikes us as speculation, not evidence. We also aware that there was false teaching by a woman named Jezebel in a different city, Thyatira, at a later time period (Rev. 2:20), but that is not this time period and that is not Ephesus. We agree, of course, that Jezebel shows the possibility of women teaching false doctrine, but many things are possible in life that never happen. So we wonder if you are just basing your interpretation on a possibility for which there is no supporting evidence, or if you might somehow have evidence that we have not yet seen.

In fact, we have read some very clear evidence in the Bible about people teaching false doctrine at Ephesus, but they are not women, they are men. For example, Paul talks about "Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some" (2 Tim. 2:17-18). He also speaks of "Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme" (1 Tim. 1:20). But "Hymenaeus," "Philetus, " and "Alexander" are men's names, not women's names. Similarly, Paul warns the Ephesian elders, "from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:30), and here he says these false teachers will be men (Greek andres), not that they will be women.

So our question is this:

Will you please show us one reference in all of ancient literature, whether inside or outside the Bible, that states that all the Christian women at Ephesus (or even that any Christian women at Ephesus) were teaching false doctrine?

If you can show us one example, we would be happy to consider your interpretation further. But if we cannot, then we suggest that you have no factual basis for your interpretation of this key verse, and we respectfully ask that you stop writing and speaking as if you did, and that you also reconsider your understanding of these verses.


Belleville graciously opens her comments by saying this:

Grudem claims that there are no explicit examples of female false teachers in 1 Timothy, and he is correct. The cumulative picture of the activities of women in 1 Timothy may well imply the existence of female false teachers, but there is no explicit reference to such.38

She then says, however, (1) that false teaching was "the primary problem" Paul was facing in 1 Timothy; (2) that "women receive a great deal of attention in 1 Timothy"; and (3) that some factors in the text (such as 1 Tim. 5:13, 15; 2 Tim. 3:7) "suggest" that some of the "affected leaders" were women. 39

But these texts are hardly persuasive. Here is what they say:

1 Timothy 5:13-15 [Referring to younger widows, if they are supported by the church]: Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan.

2 Timothy 3:6-7: For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

We find here that some women were being deceived by false teachers. We find that some younger widows could become "gossips and busybodies." Both of these things are entirely understandable in a church where there were no women teachers, and therefore no women teaching false doctrine. The fact that Belleville can produce so little evidence serves to reinforce the point of my question: the essential egalitarian claim that Paul was responding to a problem of women who were teaching heresy at Ephesus is simply speculation with no proof based on any historical fact.

Where are the facts to support the egalitarian claim?

Faith J Totushek said...

Catrina, the embedded part in 1 Tim2:14 is the analogy that is refering to the deception story of Adam and Eve. Paul alludes to the account of deception between Eve and the serpant.

Complitarians read into the account that is it about primgenture, that the man was created first therefore he is to lead, teach, rule. But that is a reading into the text something that is not there.

The text directly refers to the deception of Eve. Not to the leadership of men over women and that women should not teach or have authority because of their innate nature.

Also the greek word for authority is only found once in the entire bible. authentein, it has a much stronger meaning than simply authority. It has the meaning of asserting oneself as to usurp authority--like a hostile takeover. Older texts often use the word usurp authority to better convey the meaning of authentein. newer ones do not add this leaving one to assume that it is simiple authority. But it is really a violent authority intending destruction.

The perscription is not that women should not teach or have authority forever and for all time but that they as deceived women should not be permitted to teach or usurp authority at that present time (the verb permit is present). - like hostilly taking over a church and setting up a new doctrine which would harm everyone. No good leader would permit that.

Faith J Totushek said...

opps spelled the word primogeniture wrong.

Terry said...

I will say that I think you make a good point on the issue of Paul possibly debunking the idea of women as superior and the deification of godesses that was indeed common in Ephesus.

I DO think that we need to put one issue to rest once and for all: There really is no way to have a constructive discussion about what these scriptures mean without analyzing the culture and context in which they were written. These things do matter to some degree. Paul was a master at writing his letters in ways that spoke directly to the audience to whom he wrote. So while Tia Lynn and I part company on a lot of issues, I can't discount her desire to want to examine the atmosphere in which the letter was written.

An example: I once had a woman say on my blog that wearing makeup was sinful and unnatural based on the story of Jezebel. While I disgreed with her, I really couldn't think of any Scriptural counter for her claim. A wonderful commenter asked this woman about Esther. The woman replied that no where in scripture does it say that Esther wore makeup. This wise lady's reply: "Do you really believe that Esther, wife of the Pagan king of Persia, was taken as his wife and entered his presence looking like anything OTHER than the wife of a pagan king (makeup and all)?"

I thought that was brilliant. And while I never want to take the practic of analyzing the cultural context of the writings so far that we distort their meanings totally, we have to give them some weight.

Doesn't mean I buy everything you're elling, Tia Lynn, just my 2 cents on that one issue!

Tia Lynn said...

Well first of all, the egalitarian position on this verse does not solely rest on this cultural setting. It is but one layer. CBMW is the minority on this one. Even complementarian scholars admit to the prevalence of Artemis and Gnostic teachings in Ephesus and that the main theme of 1 Timothy is corrective and DRASTIC considering the unique theological problems and fragile state of this baby church. 1 Timothy 2:9-15 in the original language is much more complicated and no where near as clean cut or universal as English translations make it sound. Second of all, of course there were men false teachers, too. But Hymenaeus is a rare Greek name that means “wedding song” and has only been assumed as a male name. Plus all throughout 1 Timothy Paul uses gender neutral language when referring to false teachers. “Command certain ONES.” There is no explicit mention of ONLY male false teachers either. And by the way, the belief that the resurrection has passed is also a Gnostic belief, further supporting the prevalent nature of Gnostic and Artemis influence in Ephesus. AND Paul (4:3) says the false teachers forbid marriage, yet another belief in line with Gnosticism, who hated all things physical, believing the physical world and physical bodies were evil.

Actually the word curiously translated as “busybodies” in 1 Timothy 5:3 is a Greek word that overwhelmingly connotates the spread of “improper or false teachings in the philosophical and moral contexts” (see Gordon Fee exhaustive word study or Craig Keener’s articles). Which isn’t surprising since 2 Tim. 3:6 speaks of evil men who prey on weak women in their homes, who are loaded down with sin and manipulate them. When we consider the sexual aspects of the Artemis cult, this verse makes even more sense.

I find it absurd to say Paul’s prohibition applies to all women everywhere, since this is the only time in any of Paul’s letters that such a restriction exists. And we see many examples of women holding position of spiritual authority “over” men. Even if you count the shaky passage in 1 Corinthians (another Greek pagan city), none of his other letters forbid women teachers. Paul’s forbidding all Ephesus women from teaching does not have to be because they ALL were teaching false doctrines, but because they were ALL unlearned, as many Christian women were during this period. So, unlearned women plus false teaching targeting women would easily result in a prohibition against women teaching. They must be trained in the scriptures. So, some may have spread false teachings (both men and women) and others may have simply believed it. This would still preclude unlearned women from teaching the scriptures when they have not been trained in them. Paul also wanted the male false teachers to be silenced. The difference is that most Christian men were trained in the scriptures and could decipher false teachings.

Of course any reconstruction is tentative, but the influence of Artemis and Gnostic beliefs in Ephesus is heavily supported by history, ACT 19, and other context clues within 1 Timothy. Both sides have to make educated guesses because NO ONE has the letter from Timothy to Paul. But there is ample evidence that shows the influence of Artmeis and Gnostic teachings. Don’t you think it’s unwise to rip 1 Timothy 2:9-15 out of context that IS addressing a specific situation (whether we know all the details or not) and make it a blanket prohibition against all women for all time?

You’re telling me that knowing for a fact (from Acts 19) that Ephesus was completely dedicated to Artemis (beside the infant church) that those teachings did not affect the mindset of the women in that city? Women who were not properly trained in the scriptures? Even when they accepted Christ, that didn’t mean they automatically knew to renounce the belief that women descended from Amazon women or could discern between the many brands of “Christianity” fighting for orthodoxy. None of this puts 1 Timothy 2:9-15 in a different light? Are Paul’s drastic instructions to a church in shambles really a universal instruction for all women and all times?

I read Linda Bellville’s entire article on this, the CBMW chopped it up in such a way that they do not bring attention to any of her point that complementarians have trouble answering. Such as the botched translation of authentein in these verses, which will be the topic of the next post.

Even people who read this verse literally have to make some concessions, such as Priscilla teaching Apollos. They will say she did so with her husband and therefore was under his authority. But 1 timothy 2:9-15 does not allow for any such arrangement, if taken literally. Women are to only learn, in silence, and never teach a man. Apollos is still a man and a woman instructed him in the ways of the Lord. We’ll get to some of the other women in the New Testament. Literalists can say these verses are supported by the creation order, but they should also embrace that the so-called creation order renders women more susceptible to deception than men and THIS IS WHY they may not teach a man.

Tia Lynn said...

Hey Terry. I just read your comment. And thanks. I will be the first to admit that culture and historical factors cannot be the sole tactic used to render alternate understandings of scripture. They can, however, be used to enhance the meaning behind obscure, unclear, or seemingly contradictory verses in scripture. The importance of culture, history, context, original audience, and original language cannot be underestimated when studying the scriptures. To rip verses out of those contexts, distorts their original intent. It’s vital to consider the alarming scenario at Ephesus to understand Paul’s solutions and to recognize this is not always the case today.

Tonya said...

Tia, This is your BEST post yet. If it were the only one like it in the Bible, I would jump right on this bandwagon with you, but you still haven't dealt sucessfully with 1 Cor. 14 and then of course, there are still marriage passages to take care of. I think you made some really good historical observation though and I think a lot of it applies here. I will be back later to give another way to look at this passage (no time now).

Great post!:)

Tia Lynn said...

Thanks Tonya. And we will absolutely tackle those marriage passages. But would you concede that even if we are to come to the conclusion that the husband is to be the “head” of his wife, the sole leader of the family, that this is different then all women being under the authority of all men?

Regardless of how one interprets 1 Corinthians 14, whether the quotation reading or the original language with the cultural reading, it can easily be read as a prohibition against disruptive/usurping speech, a call for order among the Corinthian church, not all banning all speech from women in the assembly. Most rational complementarians do not interpret this verse as completely silencing women. And given how it is shuffled around in the original texts, it vague at best.

Looking forward to your input sister friend.

Tonya said...

Yes. In fact, I don't think the hubby/wife verses apply to the assembly much at all. Marriage is to mirror Christ's relationship with the Church with the church willingly submitting to the headship of Christ. Having all women be in submission to all men under the marriage headship clause would be somewhat blasphemous considering the picture marriage is to give:?. Now we in the body ARE to submit ourselves to one another out of love for Christ, for the good of our brothers and sisters. But I think it is pretty clear that wives are to submit themselves to their own husbands as the head of the union as the Church is to submit itself to Christ. The members of the church are never told to put each other in this place so I think that while we consider the needs of our brothers and walk in love towards them, there is no biblical precedent for all men to hold headship over all women.

And I myself have held to the disruptive speech bit for a long time. I now believe that the quiet clause relates directly to the public teaching from the Word during formal assembly when men and women are present together. I came to this conclusion by reading through the NT again and stacking up the facts. If it weren't for the phrase "as the Law says", it would be much easier to dismiss this as an injunction for women not to be disruptive. But since I believe that the "law" referred to is Gen 2, I see this as pointing, in honor, to God as Creator. Otherwise, I would be more than happy to run my mouth (un-disruptively, of course)...and you know that:):):).

Okay, gotta cook. I'll be back later to write my usual epistle on the way I see this passage.

catrina said...

Yes, Tia I thought that this was a little shaky that is why I gave credit to CBMW and didn't pass it off as my own. lol This was their weakest argument, but the others in the article that will address where you are going with this are better. I only bring these things up to show the other side or another way people think. The problem with so many E's is that they have lived in dysfunctional C' churches, homes, etc.. and so they are happy to find another way. Sometimes they don't study ard delve into the C position with as much intensity as you are putting into the E position. I am still looking for the side that has the STRONGEST biblical support, not something that could have been, and like Tonya I think that if this was the only verse then what you proposed is certainly logical. Also I was not able to completely sort out 1 corinthians 14. So write on Tia my friend.

Michelle said...

What's really interesting me about all this is that the folks I have studied under in the past have not separated marriage and church roles at all, and have come to the conclusion that all women are subject to all men. These are not fringe people either, these are fundamental teachers of the Bible. And so, as I follow their logic and their explanaion of these verses, I see clearly that THAT is where those ideas end up... and yet I see discrepancy. Even in those churches, there is not a literal following of what Paul says here.

So for me, this is fascinating - I cannot say yet that I am just "sold" because I still feel that hesitancy within me to agree, "Okay, so that's what he really meant even though that's not what it looks like it says". I hope that comes across as fair. I just still hesitate to "mess" with the Bible that way, even though I know with certainty that we all do that already with passages and don't even realize it because we don't think of it that way....

I am reading a book right now on a totally different topic that is challenging me in this exact same way - to read scriptures differently in order to consider than maybe an age-old interpretation of a certain topic is completely wrong and in fact, a different interpretation - one that I would have once considered liberal at best and heresy at worst - may in fact be true. Talk about wrestling! whew.

For the record everyone here does such a great job with their study and their respectful discourse - I appreciate that, it makes me enjoy listening in on the conversation. :)

Tonya said...

This was a long post and I am going to try to address everything I want to hit here in as few words as possible. If I am not clear, please let me know.

First, Gnosticism was not fully formed as a philosohy until the 2nd and 3rd centuries. While Paul was probably refuting early blossoms, they were not yet dealing with the real deal in all it's Gnostic glory.

Second, we find no proof in the passage you referenced that the church was struggling with confusion over Artemis. The city, certainly, but the church seemed to understand that Artemis was "no god at all". In fact, the silversmiths were enraged because they were loosing business as people converted.

Third, we know that Jewish myths and geneologies were a problem addressed in Titus, which was written about the same time as 1 Tim. This would correlate better with Paul's discussion of the law, right after he talks about myths and geneologies in ch. 1. It does not appear that this mention of myths and geneologies refers to Amazon women ancestry but Jewish myths and geneologies which would then be supported by false teachers who used bad application of the Law.

Fourth, while I agree with you that women may very well have been teaching false doctrine, we KNOW that men were. In fact, we know exactly what Hymaneaus was teaching from reading 2 Tim. If 2:11-15 was directed at false teachers, why did Paul only address the women? Obviously there would have been plenty of ex-pagan men who were also uneducated in the law and the Prophets. And obviously, there were godly women like Priscilla, highly respected by Paul, who knew more about the gospel than Appolos did at one time. Why would Paul choose to tell the women false teachers to be quiet and learn in full submission while not doing the same for the men false teachers? Or why would he address the women only (when Priscilla could have easily taught good doctrine) when some men were known to be teaching false doctrine?

I think another interpretation is needed here.

I think that Paul was pointing to the created order to show how women could be kept safe from being decieved by Satan as Eve was when she stepped out from under the God ordained authority of her husband and made a choice for both of them. Instead of deferring to Adam when the serpent tempted her, "submitting to him in everything", she made the decision for herself and then asked him to eat as well.

For all of us, living in a healthy fear of walking outside the parameters God has set for us will certainly "save" us from disaster over and over and over. It seems to me that a woman who focuses on her role as helper to her husband, managing her home and children, while "continuing in faith, love and holiness with propriety", will find that she escapes many temptations and opportunities to fall into Satan's trap and be led away. I can personally attest to this, anyway.

In the same letter (5:14), we find Paul admonishing younger widows to "marry, have children (same word as in 2:15), manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander." And then he tells us that some young widows who have not followed this way "have already turned away to follow Satan."

So, what I think is that a women fulfilling her God-ordained role managing her home (which would, barring barreness with no adoption, include children back then) while continuing in the faith, puts her in a spot where she is much safer from being deceived by Satan. As we honor God as Creator in our assemblies, we remember the created order of man and woman and what happened at the Fall. To tell you the honest truth, in the last several weeks as I have kept my trap shut during the Sunday message, I think about why I am not talking. I have found a deeper reverence for the ways of God growing in my heart. That might just be part of keeping us mindful and humble before God with fear and reverence for His perfect ways. We remember that He loves us enough to set parameters for our protection. Adam came first, then Eve, but when Eve stepped out from under the authority of her husband, she was deceived and disaster struck the human race. Could Paul not have been reminding the Ephesian women that Artemis (whom many had formerly served) could not keep them safe in motherhood (as Artemis was purported to do), but adherence to the ways of God, put in place "in the beginning" would? God never changes.

I know that you are going to say "What about the ones who never marry or have children?" and I would say, I don't think this is a universal command that, if not adhered to rigidly will bring disaster. God looks at the heart and a woman who is looking to the best interests of whatever home and family God gives her, while continuing in faith love and holiness with propriety (I think that is the key) is on the right track. And it doesn't mean that you, dear Tia, need to stay at home and sew cutains (I laughed at that mental picture, BTW) because right now you can help Will more by helping your family out of debt. So don't go and try to make this sound like I am condemming all single, barren (I'll just put in a plug for adoption here since that's my heart) or working women. I think the main point is that we remember that woman was created as a helper and would be wisest to function there, however that looks in her life, not as the authority in the Church or home.

I just re-read this and I am actually nervous about posting it for fear of the blasting I am sure to get.

Michelle said...

I wish it was possible to go back and edit a post after its posted, but I can't find a way to do so, so just let me add here - while unrelated to this discussion, I failed to point out that in this book I'm reading, the interpretation that is so "new" to ME, is not actually NEW at all. It was likely the view of the early church and certainly was of ancient times, up until Augustine or Constantine, I forget which. My memory is not to be trusted at 11:30 pm but the point is, what can seem newfangled to us is often not new, it's just that we've only been exposed to stuff from the past few hundred years.... getting back before THAT can sometimes shed a lot of light. If that's possible... and if you can figure out whose historical research to trust. Thank God for His spirit to guide/teach/counsel as we do the hard work of sorting all this out.

Michelle said...

hmm... Tonya, I read your thoughts. I like the way you expressed them - no flames, don't worry.

It is late so I'll keep this brief - I think the women saved in childbearing thing could likely be as Tia described, sure, but I've always wondered, isn't it also referring to when God says, "Your seed shall crush his head" (Gen) as in, the seed of the woman will be CHRIST who will SAVE us all? Maybe that is a stretch but that is what I come away with....

Another of your points: a woman who busies herself at home, IMO, is no less likely to be tempted - with that I disagree. We are tempted to rely on ourselves and our own strength/independence, glory in our own accomplishments, be proud, compare ourselves to others, gripe and complain, be laze, be gossips, belitle and ridicule our husbands, worry, despair, a million other things can tempt us just as much if we're busy at home with kids as out doing other things. So, sorry, I'm not swallowing that one. Not trying to be argumentative, I think it's a good thought, I just don't see it playing out... even with your reference to the widows, etc. In fact I'd say I've been MORE tempted in my life since becoming a mother than any time prior in my life. It's hard! God used that season to break me and teach me to rely fully upon Him, for which I'm grateful, but the point is, I think women at home with kids/housekeeping are extremely tempted to be led astray and fall into traps of wrong thinking. Remember, corruption does not come from without from WITHIN.

I'm not sure about the false teaching thing yet. I know it was a big deal in the church there but I'm not sure how all that relates to the issue at hand, women keeping silent and not ruling men, etc ... still, I'm intrigued by Tia's points and will continue listening, because no other explanations of all this have satisfied me thus far, either.

Tonya said...

Michelle, I think the rest of the verse has to come into play too. "And continues in faith, love and holiness (set apart) with propriety (proper behavior)". Yes, we can still be tempted, but I find that is much more difficult for Satan to lead me astray. Raising kids, keeping the home and loving the hubby takes a lot out of a person and on a good day (snort), I stay so busy asking God to help me do His will in raising kids and loving my husband that I am much more dependedent and focused on Him than I ever was when my life was easy and rather aimless:).

Corruption certainly comes from within, but when I am living a life of sacrifice, again, in faith,love and holiness with propriety, I am much less likely to be led astray and deceived. My focus is on God and I walk in His stregth rather than my focus being on my own pleasures.

If you leave off the last part of that passage, you sort loose the heart and strength of it all.

I'm not saying it's the right interpretation, it's just the best one I think I've seen so far. Maybe it's because I read it and understood it personally. It was one of those things that settled well with my experience, which I readily admit is no reason for forming or rejection doctrine. I just couldn't find any problems with it in relation to the rest of scripture and it seemed to fit the text under scrutiny so I put it out there.

PS, I would love to know what you are reading. I am doing an unrelated study right now too that has me churning.

Christy Fritz said...

good stuff to think about tonya and michelle.
these aren't my thoughts, but i found what she had to say interesting. she's a homeschool mom of 5 and a pastor. she also believes in biblical submission in the home. i think she has a jewish heritage,and i know she is a hebrew scholar.i liked her idea of a gospel revolution, not a social one. newly converted women with new freedoms, especially if tia is right about the particulars here in Ephesus, would naturally require some pretty swift action by paul to ensure there wasn't a shift of focus IMO. quite long. sorry.

"Never before had men studied with women, nor Jew with Gentile, and there were conflicts as well as false teachers running around. Essentially, in the early church, there were four primary groups of people coming together to worship: Jewish men who had spent their entire lives studying Torah; Jewish women who lived Torah but had never studied it; pagan men who knew nothing about Scripture; and pagan women who knew nothing about Scripture and were sometimes coming from being temple prostitutes or goddess worship that had very different ideas. How to integrate these people into one community of unity was a challenge that Paul addressed with wisdom and grace. He was able to be all things to all people to win them over to the Gospel.
While women were not included in the study of Scripture in Judaism, they were the heart of the home (and the heart was believed to rule the body, not the head).The “Excellent Wife” is doing everything *so that* her husband can be at the Synagogue and at the City Gates (where he is praising her) all the time! It is still this way in devoutly Orthodox circles. Women were valued and honored, just not included in the study of Scripture.
As I mentioned above, just the 4 groups coming together would not have qualified women to teach or to have authority. He does not say that he never allows women to move into positions of authority or teaching. However, it is clearly a doctrinal eternal truth when Paul proclaims in Galatians that there is neither “male nor female, slave nor freeman, Jew nor Gentile” at the foot of the Cross. This means all obstacles to studying God’s Word have been removed! And all barriers of social order have been done away with! Because these are the three things that social order were based on in the Jewish community. Once you were a Jewish man you could do pretty much any role depending on what family you’d been born into–because only the Levites were Priests, but anyone else studied and approved could become a Rabbi. So take away the barrier of male/female; slave/free; Jew/Greek and anyone can study and can show themselves approved. Often the people who want to focus on women not being allowed to teach don’t understand how revolutionary it was for them to study! And until you’ve studied you can’t teach. In fact, a lot of what Paul writes to women and slaves, etc., makes the most sense when understood in light of the fact that he wanted a gospel revolution, not a social one! Women who were now socially equal to their husbands were admonished to continue to submit to them. And Paul uses ideas from Scripture to show why this idea is not inconsistent with the new freedoms of the believer’s heart. Paul admonishes all believers to submit to one another so it’s not inconsistent to tell women to submit to their own husbands.
So we go to the infamous Timothy letter and we start at the beginning. Paul starts out talking about false teachers and the women being swayed by them. This is a problem *because* now that the social barriers have been broken down the women are trying to be leaders, but they are not yet soundly trained in true doctrine. He uses the reference to Eve to show that this is a situation just like that one where women are being led astray and then bringing the men with them and Timothy needs to put a stop to it! In these fledgling churches Paul has explained he’s found it important to not let women teach and take over. They aren’t solid in their doctrine yet! And then when he has excluded the women he goes on to explain the qualifications for the men who are allowed to teach because not just any man should be in leadership–not a new convert, someone who’s homelife represents living by the Word. In fact, in the very new churches it would only be the Jewish men in leadership.

Michelle said...

Tonya - one day I may be ready to talk about that, what I am reading/wrestling through. For now my pastor has advised me to wrestle through it privately with the Lord here and I am going to follow that advice for a while. I'm sure the time will come when it will be wise to talk/discuss it openly.

trust me it's been a big point of discipline for me to not talk about it with all the folks' whose brains I like to pick! :)

Michelle said...

Christy, that was great - thank you for sharing it. It really helps me get a better visual of what was going on. Great points she makes...

Tonya said...

Michelle, I totally understand. Wrestle away, sister:).

Christy, I loved what you put up there. Very good. My question still remains though.

Why would Paul silence all, and only, the women since there were obviously ex-pagan men in the congregation who had not had the proper education and training, AND women like Pricilla who had?

Greg Anderson said...


I must beg to differ. The Corinthian passages concerning women ("as also saith the law"), have been dealt with in a cogent fashion by egalitarians.

You can comb through the OT from now until hell freezes over, and you will find no restriction on women speaking in any corporate venue anywhere.

There are only four things that Paul enumerates in Acts 15:28-29 which admonish the church on what's newly kosher (new covenant) and what's not.

To read into the Corinthian account that Paul then turns around and reaffirms Talmudic Judaism to silence women in corporate assembly, makes no sense at all.

Which explanation makes more sense then? Paul legislating new restrictions for newly planted churches? Or refuting the Judaizers who dogged his ministry from the get-go?

It's even doubly disturbing in the Timothy passages about women teaching, and here's how:

1) It implies that Paul's groundwork in Acts 15 is now null and void.

2) It implies that all women are to be doubly punished from the fall; and that Jesus' work on the cross has only partial efficacy for women . (no matter how many statements to the contrary are issued by CBMW)

Don't get me wrong, I greatly respect your calling as Godly wife and mother, to be one of the highest there is, but it doesn't have to apply to every woman.

Some women are gifted elsewhere, including the areas of Bible teaching and leadership. To deny them entrance to these areas on account of their gender is wrong.

Christy Fritz said...

i have read that it was accepted social custom and practice for men to study in quiet and submission of sorts to their teachers. it was understood, so it would not need to be pointed out precisely, as it seems to have needed to be for women who were new to the practice of studying in general. also i think the men would have been commanded likewise, had that been the overiding issue that paul was addressing here...which makes tia's assertions about "women's issues" with false teaching in this particular culture, more relevant and probable to me.
as for priscilla, your guess is as good as mine, but i guess we'll get into some discussions about future roles of women in the letters furthur on, that may shed some light as to whether or not this ban was full on lifted for some women, once they showed themselves to be approved after keeping quiet and learning from/with their husbands at home, as paul instructed. i know some claim authority of women in certain places later in NT scripture. i have to wonder if priscilla would still be under this since although familiar with torah (was she jewish,i'm assuming- help?)didn't she still have alot of studying to do?
i think i'm comfortable seeing this prohibition as a building block for addressing a very specific issue of women getting to much too quick and needing a way of dealing with it, based on scriptural history and the lessons learned from that past of women, just going their own way without guidance from good teaching, sound doctrine. and because of the consequences of the fall, it is important to be careful in this area.
in this culture sound doctrinal teaching, it seems, had one source of being available from, and it just happened to only have been from the men. maybe? not sure that is the same today, and that their aren't some really good purposes for women (beyond homemaking), to teach women or men, especially if said men, are not studied to show themselves approved yet. do they always have to go to other men? or do we need to have sound doctrine proclaimed from all voices ready to teach it as they've been approved?
God seemed to have addressed the social structure for a reason?
women, who were really good home managers, before being able to study scripture (without specific instruction from the men?i assume women taught other women then already), surely would not have been given opportunity to study scripture if not for more than the purpose of just telling more women how to be good home managers?eventually wouldn't they be valuable voices to spread the good news to all? if the only purspose for women teaching, was to duplicate the past social order, why would have he let women study scripture? that could have been enough of a reason, i'm not saying there had to be another reason, but it does make me wonder and consider what others claim through alternate interpretation, as possibly other reasons for this freedom to study. Not to claim rights or power, as surely women can be prone to do, but for the voices of all to be heard because possibly God intended it that way, when he broke with accepted social order.

i think the general principle here applies, that it is better to keep quiet and listen when building/learning doctrine (no matter what group of people you are in) than to run your mouth and think that is important to have all your questions answered. i can see why women, might need this direct instruction more than the men. i am not trying to be sexist, it just makes common sense to me.:)
i've at times had to discipline myself to keep my mouth shut in women's studies more than studies where men are present, just so i could learn what i needed to instead of speak my opinions, or ask my questions, until i thought a bit about it.

hope that makes sense.

Laurette said...

Great post, Tia! I wish I could say more than that, but I found myself nodding along at your post so easily that at the moment I'm just absorbing and trying to figure out how this could be an issue in the first place. Sounds silly, and I know it's not nearly that simple, but I grew up in an Egalitarian church and only recently became involved in a Complementarian one (very nice people, too), so I don't really get Complementarianism. I understand the arguments, but I have difficulty even imagining placing myself in a permanently submissive role to my brothers in the faith on account of my being female.

Of course we should all submit to each other, but we should do that because we're part of Christ's Body. The gender issue seems so out of place and mundane against the profoundness of Jesus' sacrifice that erases all social prejudice! (Gal 3:28, of course.) And like Greg said, a Complementarian view of 1 Tim implies that Jesus' sacrifice wasn't so complete. Spiritual distinctions between Jews and Greeks disappeared despite no change in their inherent nature - why would spiritual distinctions between men and women remain?

If women are never to teach any man, what about men who are newer to the faith? By Complementarian reasoning, a man young in his faith would be better suited to teach others than any woman ever. If chances are zero for something, anything else would be infinitely more likely.

Also, (quotation reading of 1 Cor 14) does God only impart his wisdom on men? Why does the idea that I am spiritually less capable of acquiring and sharing God's truth make me feel worth less than other humans with the same emotional and intellectual capacity but with a different hormonal composition? It's like a Dad who shows favouritism, and I happen to be one of the suckers who should just keep quiet when the smart kids talk. Very difficult to reconcile with my belief in an infinitely loving Father God.

Christy Fritz said...

i'm sorry i think that did sound quite sexist. i think there are alot of quiet men and women and alot of loud men and women. i just tend to see this as a general problem and made a generalization, which may not have been helpful. that's what i get for running my mouth.:):)
(it has just been my personal general experience, especially being a talkative woman married to a really quiet guy) that most men generally have less to say than women.
hope i didn't offend.

Tonya said...

Greg, I think the "law" that the people were being set free from was Levitical. The one that was put in place to show sin. We know that all of the Mosaic law(including levitical law) was good. It was not able to save though. And Paul would CERTAINLY not be putting the people under religious law. That's not even a question. Please point me to the cogent egalitarian interpretation of 1 Cor 14. I would love to read it.

Honoring the created order laid out in Gen. 2 does not make Paul's groundwork in Acts null and void. Nor does it weaken the cross. We are all redeemed, and that, only by the grace of God. Jesus (and Paul) set people free from having to follow the law for their justification. We can't earn salvation. However, when God created the world, He set things up perfectly in a certain way and we all know that obedience to the ways of God will save us from disasters brought on by disobedience. Gen. 2 is part of the Law of Moses and no Bible scholar would say differently. They will disagree on whether or not A&E were egalitarian, complementarians or patriarchal, but they will agree that Gen 2 is part of the law. If Eve was not walk in Adam's headship, then you have a case for women preaching and teaching. If Eve was not to have co-headship then there is a case for honoring the Creator by observing some sort of male/female order in our corprate worship services. All through the Bible, we see people physically acting out spiritual truths, revelations or covenants by doing something. Using our physical bodies in this way serves to make us more mindful of God. In fact, as we act out Biblical pricipals, they become more and more ingrained as we understand them multidimensionally. In all honesty, whether you agree with me or not, can you not see this as a possibility?

I have never said that there is a specific law that silences women in a corporate venue. Ever:). I beleive that the created order is something to be respected because that is how God designed us to function. Once again, the words "as the law saith" do not mean "as the law quotes verbatim", but "as the law lays forth or means or describes." It is the spirit of the law am looking for, not the letter by itself.

I can totally understand where you are coming from though and I honestly am not saying that you need to change your position. I am just putting another position out there. I hope you are gaining as much insight into the complementarian understanding as I am into the egalitarian understanding:).

Tia Lynn said...

I am just so proud of everyone participating in this discussion. Everyone seems to be coming with valuable insights and study, and it has yet to turn ugly!

Now down to business! :)

Christy, I LOVED what you shared.

Michelle, I know it’s hard wrestling against ideas you’ve held you’re entire life, but in the end it will make your faith so much stronger.

Laurette, thank you so much for your input. The more I think about it, the sillier it becomes to keep qualified women from all levels of ministry, too.

Greg, great points, I concur.

Tonya, a couple of things:

I was not offended in the least about your interpretation of the childrearing subject. :)

While 1 Timothy and Titus MAY have been written around the same time, Ephesus (where Timothy was) and the isle of Crete (where Titus was) were over 200 miles apart! It is more than a stretch to assume that the myths and genealogies Paul warns Titus against in Titus 1:14 and 3:9-11 are the same ones he warns Timothy against. Timothy and Titus were both battling false teachers, but to assume the same kind of false teaching broke out in two places over 200 miles away from each other in the ancient world, with different cultural factors, without consistent and speedy communication capabilities, with new believers who probably did not travel much, some never leaving their home town, is a bit much.

Just because in 1 Timothy Paul launches into a discussion about the law does not mean the false teaching in Ephesus had to be of Jewish origin. Obviously if false teachers were trying to deceive believers they would tie their false teaching TO the law or the scriptures. That’s how any “good” deceiver works, you mix in truth with a lie. The people at Ephesus could have readily accepted Jesus but still have been unaware of the creation story and still retained their belief that “woman” was created first, as they believed Artemis appeared before Apollo. All new believers have trouble divorcing themselves from ALL they have ever known and the only mindsets they’ve ever had.

There will be more on the following topic when I finish the original language post, but one reason Paul “silenced” (which I don’t believe he did here) “all” women and not “all” men is because Jewish men were trained in the scripture and Greek men could read (for the most part). Women needed to start from scratch. He does order for the false teachers to be silenced and sets up criteria for leadership, so not just any man could teach. Over all, Paul is trying to establish and atmosphere where people could be train in the “the way.” Women had to start from the very beginning, because most were never taught how to read or were ever given the opportunity to study. Novice students (both in Greek and Jewish culture) always FIRST learned by listening and then as they moved up the ladder, a questions-and-dialogue-format was adhered to.

Now, as far as the “the law” discussion of 1 Corinthians 14, even if you are right, why would Paul fail to explain this new ritual in reverencing the creation order? He says it in passing, as if we would immediately know which law or bible story he is referring to. And since the creation story has nothing to do with silence, it’s an analogy that needs explaining.

Next, your theory that Eve came out from Adam’s authority is nonexistent in the creation account. Eve was deceived by the false teaching of the serpent, not into disobeying Adam, but into disobeying God. When God calls Eve out from the bushes He make NO MENTION of her disobeying Adam or making a decision on her own apart from Adam’s “headship.” She is held accountable for disobeying the command of God and that’s it. Just like Adam.

While I know you believe Paul’s words “Adam was created first, then Eve...” is a reference to a hierarchical order set forth in creation, you are conveniently leaving out the next line. Which talks about Eve being deceived and falling into transgression. So, if we are following the flow of Paul’s words, the REASON all women cannot teach men or have authority is twofold: EVE was created second AND Eve was deceived, becoming a sinner. So, if you are going to believe that women cannot teach men because she was created after Adam, you also have to believe that women cannot teach because they are prone to deception and are still being punished for Eve’s transgression. That is the only option that interpretation leaves. You can’t cherry pick the hierarchical creation order and then leave out the deception part. However, if one views Paul’s analogy to show that the Ephesian women who actually being lead astray by false teaching just as Eve was, then we can see Paul is making a point for this specific situation, not making a mandate for all women everywhere in all times. He’s is just making a correlation about what is actually happening at this church in crisis and warning the church not to be led astray by the voice of false teaching.

But we’ll get into the exact nature of Paul’s words in the original language post.

Tonya said...

Tia, I didn't cherry pick the hierarchy and leave out the deception:). I do believe that the women were being led astray by false teaching. But so were the men. And some of the women were NOT being led astray.

Nor do I believe that women are being punished for Eve's being decieved, AT ALL. Once again, I do not see the silence verses as punishment or part of the fall. I don't know how many more times I will need to say that here but I think it should be starting to sink in sometime soon:):):). I think I write such long wordy comments sometimes that people don't really read them carefully. Ah well.

And it is extremely reasonable to believe that Crete was struggling with the same false doctrine Ephesus was. Jewish myth and geneologies would be found where ever there were Jews:). It fits better with the context too.

Christy, to answer your question about Priscilla, yes, she was a Jew. She had been a believer for at least 10 or 11 years and 4.5 - 5 of it had been spent in direct contact with Paul and his teaching. Paul stayed with Pricilla and Aquilla for 1.5 years while he was in Corinth between 49-52 AD and then again for 3 years in Ephesus around 52-55 AD. We also know that Priscilla and Aquilla gave Appolos further instruction in the Way so it is reasonable to assume that this woman was able to teach.

Also, the church in Ephesus was not an infant church. It had been established at LEAST 12 years earlier during Paul's second missionary journey and I imagine it was up and going before then. The women who had been a part of this church for 12 years (Pricilla included) would have been well educated in the ways of the Lord.

I dont think they were dealing with a bunch un-educated women here. The new belivers would more than likely fall into that category, but not the ladies who had been under Paul's teaching and been a part of this body for up to 12 years.

Hope that helps:).

catrina said...

Fascinating, truly fascinating. I am learning things I have never known before, now if only I could reatain it for a while. lol Tia, or anyone else that knows. Is there relevance for today in the text we are discussing? I am only wondering why this letter would be canonized into scripture if it was only about some false teachers and church troubles. Someone may have already addressed this, sorry.

Tia Lynn said...

Tonya, I understand that YOU don’t believe women are being punished for Eve’s sin, I am pointing out the reality of the face value reading. You cannot say Paul points to the “creation order” to forbid women teaching without acknowledging that he also he cites Eve’s deception as part of HIS REASON for banning women teachers. Now if we believe Paul is only referring to the situation at Ephesus, this does not pose a problem, since women were in fact being lead astray by false teaching. But if we want to use this verse to ban all women from becoming teachers in the church, then we must admit it is because they are easily deceived and Eve fell into transgression. There is no way around it. It can’t go both ways. Either we admit Paul brings up these two points (Eve created second and she was deceived) to draw a correlation of what is happening in Ephesus or refuting false teaching OR he is forbidding all women everywhere to stop teaching because Eve was created second and she was the one deceived, rendering all women easily deceived. The face value reading doesn’t solely point to a hierarchical creation order, but that women are more easily deceived and therefore must not teach men.

I find it hard to believe that men ingrained within a patriarchical society would become Christians and immediately start educating their women. We can tell this is NOT the case since Paul has to issue a command to insist upon women being allowed to learn. So what if the church was around for 12 years? By Paul’s own letters we can see this church is literally falling apart and on the verge of succumbing to false teaching. He doesn’t even trust the leaders of the church enough to address the letter to them, he has to send a personal letter to timothy! So in every other way, the church at Ephesus was dysfunctional, but they took great care to educate their women, which would be radically countercultural? Not buying it. We’ll talk more about Priscilla in another post dedicated to her and Phoebe.

I’m not saying Jewish myths could never have circulated in Ephesus, but the city was predominately GREEK and we know genealogies and myths about Artemis were ABSOLUTELY a part of life at Ephesus. In Titus, Paul names Jewish myths, in Timothy he does not. Considering the sort of issues Paul addresses in 1 Timothy, I think the context clues point toward Artemis myths more than Jewish myths. But who knows? This is a time when christian and pagan beliefs intermingled, it could be both!

Tia Lynn said...

Catrina, there is absolutely relevance to this letter! We have universal principles and specific solutions prescribed for specific situations side by side. And there are underlying universal principles in the culture-specific or circumstantial instructions. One need not ban all women from teaching or throw out these verses altogether. The universal principle we see is that false teaching is a dangerous situation. That not just anyone should be allowed to teach. One must be qualified. One must be willing to learn with a submissive spirit before they can teach. The church must be willing to train all its members in “the way.” Otherwise, whoever is left out from proper teaching will more likely succumb to false teachings. There are always universal principles in scriptures, some are overt and others are covert.

It’s like saying we should not include Jesus’ commands on healing in scripture just because we do not practice the same methods. When He tells the one guy to dip himself in a pool seven times, there is not much practice there applicable for us today. We do not dip people seven times in a pool to heal them or rub mud and spit in their eyes. However, this scripture is universal because it shows us the heart of Jesus, his willingness to heal, and the reward of obedience. It’s the same thing with Paul’s letters. Some of his instructions/solutions deal with specific problems in specific churches, colored by culture and time, but while the instructions themselves may change from place to place, people to people, or church to church, the heart or wisdom behind it is what stays universal.

Christy Fritz said...

that does help tonya, thanks.
i will try to read about her more on my own.
12 yrs may seem long enough, but i'm not sure if women were able to fully devote themselves to study, as they were also instructed to continue managing home first and foremost. time is obviously divided when married or managing a family. also, now they were to submit to their husbands in everything, which may have been a new concept to at least jewish couples, used to having clear roles and not submitting to eachother as much, but just carrying out levitical duties, and observing feasts and such...(all quite organized and seperated by gender socially it seems) there may have been some major adjusting going on in families too. more for men and women to consider together, as now modeling interdependence and oneness in christ to others, rather than just past traditions or social roles.
seems like it would take alot of assuming to think that these women even in the church, were becoming fully educated and ready for teaching within twelve years. plus they were responsible for teaching the younger women(maybe the new believers- who better to teach them, than old women) the things of the home,which furthur divides time.
church plants take years to become established even in our culture, which is not dealing with alot of the new social issues that existed particularly in this culture,so i'm not sure it's safe to assume 12yrs. was not considered really young still, and therefore possibly vulnerable to negative influence from the influx of new believers. at least young enough to be needing advice. our western culture has a long history to build on when asserting christ as lord in our churches. this one, only 12 yrs old, with alot of other people possibly running around still,calling themselves the real messiah in the meantime...seems like something we know nothing of. it is all sin. but the circumstances were different and so was the culture. we cannot say we have the exact same situation playing out now,so i hesitate to say that this was universal command to all women of every culture in different circumstances.
i don't think silence needs to be viewed as a punishment either though. it is such a necessary discipline at times for all believers. i just don't want to deem it necessary for women of all time,at all times the word of God is opened, if that is not what God specifically commanded and intended, and i am not convinced he did. Paul does say "I" here, when he speaks of this command I believe.
on another note,my understanding of the original creative order is more circular than linear. so when considering what to model in relationships, i don't read heirarchy (which can, when abused leads to control,by either gender) than relational unity (oneness)which only breaks down when out of relationship with God or depending on yourself (being independent). oneness is not about control or order, however submission always and most certainly applies. it also allows and calls inherently for gender specific attributes IMO, as we were created for different purposes brought together to model this oneness.

some more thoughts from that lady about this subject of the creative order. i know many in this conversation are well studied in the creation narrative, so i am not putting this up to refute anything presented, just to highlight this idea of echad. again, these are just thoughts. i've done some personal study, but not of all interpretations, so i am not claiming this as THE way to interpret this. i just found it interesting. once again, sorry so long.

"The Shema in Deuteronomy tells us that God is One—the plural One that expresses God existing in relationship. At creation we find that God deems it “not good” for man to be alone and creates woman so that man and woman can become echad/one and share the same relationship that God experiences. The word “ezer”, often translated “helpmeet” and used of Eve in her relation to Adam, is used in Scripture of God and does not denote any hierarchy. Rather, the nature of Adam and Eve’s relationship is expressed through the use of Echad—they were in plural unity. The deepening of understanding of how they were in relation to God came in learning that the word translated “work”, and referring to the work that Adam was put in the Garden to do, refers to the work done by priests serving in the Temple. God, who exists in plural unity, created a new being and invited him into relationship with himself, and created an earthly ezer to exist in plural unity of relationship with him as well—both expressing the eternal nature of God when they are in echad and being in echad with God as well to expand the character of his love into the physical world he had created.
Eve was tricked by the serpent. This is, however, an area where much tends to get murky theologically depending on who is teaching about it. Often what is presented is that the sin of disobedience destroyed what God had given to man and they had to be punished for disobeying. Yet this is not what is presented in the Biblical account or expressed in later references to this story. To present the Fall in such terms has led to a great deal of confusion about the nature and character of God as well as the relationship we have with Him both before and after salvation.
First, if disobedience were what caused the Fall then it would have been Eve who was accountable for the Fall. This is not the case. Adam is the one held accountable for the Fall.
For one thing, the “pain” for childbirth is actually the same “labor” that Adam has to do in the fields to get food. It speaks to hard work, the painful toil of laboring in our flesh. But my main area of concern here is the relationship between the man and the woman and what we are being told is a consequence of the Fall. If we accept the premise I’m putting forth about the relationship prior to the Fall being Echad, since that is what we’re told is the purpose of why a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, then after the Fall this very different picture we are seeing is the consequence of sin in the world. The relationship between God and man has changed. The relationship between man and woman has changed as well. The woman who was created to be an ezer, whose purpose towards her husband was to serve along side him and be a co-laborer of his burdens, is now in a hierarchical relationship where she desires that echad but he rules over her.
And it is through Adam’s action that allowed sin to enter the world; it is through Adam’s choice that the ground is cursed and death is imminent. What was his choice, though? It was much more than eating the fruit. He “heeded the voice of his wife” rather than the voice of God. He followed his wife into the path away from God. He chose echad with his wife over echad with God, not realizing that without God there is no echad.
This is a very rich picture that warrants much more attention than it has been given. Prior to the Fall we have man and woman, in the Garden echad with God and with one another. After the Fall we have man and woman cast out of the Garden and the loss of echad—between man and God and between man and woman. That is, until Messiah was to come.
The opportunity to be in right relationship with God is what we are given because of the cross. And when we are in right relationship with God we have the opportunity to be in right relationship with one another. The restoration of echad is what is being discussed in Ephesians 5—from our relationship with God, to our relationship to the Body, to one another, to specifically husband and wife because this is the relationship that God intended from Creation to express to the world who God is and how he desires to relate to us. Not in a hierarchy, but in echad. Plural unity is a very different relationship than one where someone is in control. Unified is the desire of God’s heart; unified is at the heart of relationship."

me again:
i think in the controversy about modeling a "heirarchal" relationship or an "equal" one, we may miss that which is to be restored and modeled. this idea of echad or oneness with god and eachother. it hadn't existed since the garden. and comes through no outside perameters ( whether heirarchy or equality), but through being one with christ, because of accepting the gift of his sacrifice and turning from our independent ways in relationship with him and others.
there are no parts if we are one, no higher order or 50/50 break down the middle seems necessary, any split and we are no longer one?which is why submission is of the highest importance.
that may be too simplistic.
please feel free to pull all that apart, i don't think i've got it all figured out.:)

and i promise to stop these way long comments.

Tia Lynn said...

Again, I loved what you shared Christy from that woman. I agree, it's not about hierarchy or independent equality, marriage is about oneness, which is distinct from both hierarchy and independent equality.

Michelle said...

christy, I think sometimes when things seem "too simplistic" we often find ourselves nearest to TRUTH. something about "babes" and "little children" comes to mind. :) I love the contrast from hierarchy/equality to oneness, thanks.

and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all you mothers. We've already been to church then my kids took me out to lunch (or brunch?), and it's only 10:50 am. Gotta love early service. :) seriously, love to each of you this Mom's day, what a cool thing God created, birth and motherhood...

Greg Anderson said...


Thanks so much for the gracious reply! The bottom line here is simply this: I am not going to convince you, and you are not going to convince me.

Different people see different things from different angles, and that's what I like about Tia's blog here; is that we can all disagree in an agreeable fashion.

Other places in the blogosphere have gotten ugly over the issue of women in ministry. Some camps even want to make this a litmus test for orthodoxy.

Not so with Tia's blog. So far, we have all been civil and tolerant of opposing views. Oops! did I say the "t" word? In some circles, the "t" word (tolerance) is almost as bad as the "f" word... HA!

Tonya said...

LOL! I'd rather call it unity in diversity, Greg:). Tolerance sort of denotes putting up with someone or something you don't like.

Christy, I agree with the stuff you said about oneness.

I don't think there is much doubt about Priscilla being educated though. Paul stayed in her house for at least a year and a half and more than likely taught for 3 years in the house church she and Aquilla hosted, not to mention the traveling they did together, so I am pretty sure she got an earful of his teaching:). And the church at Ephesus was probably much older than what I gave credit for. I was just going by Paul's missionary journeys.

Christy Fritz said...

i agree tonya, i read more of her last night from different texts in the NT, and she and her husband seemed to be tentmakers with Paul, and there was another account of them bringing someone into their home to provide furthur teaching which i found interesting. she definitley seems highly valued as a teacher (of sorts,i'm not trying to make a point) in the early church days.
what an inspiring couple.

Michelle said...

this is totally unrelated, but Tia I wanted to let you know that I open your blog and just let it "set" so I can listen to your playlist. Great songs, great variety. thanks :) :)

Tia Lynn said...

Oh yay! I am so glad you like it. I was wondering if people were annoyed by it. Hehe!

Melody Joy said...

This is phenomenal! Really...even knowing about the original word (authentein) and sexually-saturated gnostic cults, I hadn't seen it quite broken down point by point like this, and it is really solid.

The struggle I think many who are uncomfortable with context analysisv have (at least by my own assessment) is that there is a fear of watering down Scripture by translating it in light of cultural setting, but I think that this post really explains why context is important in making sure God's Word does not get watered down. Paul's letters were letters and though they were meant to be passed around from church to church and often were, we do lack the letters that were written to him. So, even though his words are divinely inspired and are most definitely Scripture, they can't just be applied to any situation you feel like they apply to. We need to know how they were applied then, not because they don't apply now, but because they DO, but only in one way. A given passage can only really have the meaning the author intended, you know (Unless we want to play Derrida and deconstruct Scripture...and thusly also play God)? So without knowing the context we really can't know what the Scripture is saying to us right now. It would be like taking the passage on Jesus clearing out the temple as a literal instruction to clear deceivers out of churches with whips. Not quite what was intended.

Thanks for such a detailed and well-researched post!

Michelle said...

Melody Joy, I love how you explained that, thank you. That helps me with this discussion as well as with others.

I think any time a meaning different than the one we've understood is presented, it is our knee-jerk reaction to assume others are playing around with scripture and making it say what they want it to say or watering it down or what have you... I am not being critical, I am saying WE meaning myself. Even though I have learned new doctrines over the years I still struggle with this. I do worry still about the whole description, "They won't tolerate sound teaching, they will only listen to what their itching ears want to hear". That gets broadly applied to anything and everything, especially doctrines that involve love and grace. I've been wondering lately, though, do our "itching ears" only want to hear what resonates with what we are already comfortable with? My grandmother took me to church where I literally knew the pastor's sermons by heart by the time I was 10. I could finish his sentences for him. He was preaching what their itching ears wanted to hear, and there were loud amens every Sunday - but none of it was on love or freedom or grace, it was all hell and damnation and "blood to the horse's bridles". But it was want they wanted to hear... EVERY week.... to them, it meant they'd been in church, so he preached it. I think that accusation could be applied anytime we only want to hear what "seems right to us".

I'm not saying Tia's proposals here are right or wrong (though I'm more inclined to see truth in them than I have in other explanations, I still have qeustions)... but I'm speaking on a grander scale. Maybe moving on from milk to meat means being presented with things that are harder for us to swallow, whatever they may be.

Laurette said...

Melody Joy and Michelle, thanks so much for putting it in words for me! I now understand the problem I'm having: I agree with the idea of Egalitarianism, and even though Tia's post is masterfully constructed in favour of it, there's something in me that kicks against bringing in (seemingly) radical new factors into consideration when looking at Scripture, just because that in itself is something I'm wary of. The other extreme is also scary - yanking it all out of context instead of into context. There's a thin line; history is a strange thing, and it should be handled with care.

This post did feel radical to me, because it's the first time I've been confronted with the text in its cultural historical context like this - and on top of that, the situation really was intricate and crazy! But, since the basic argument makes sense to me on so many levels and Tia handled this piece on 1 Timothy very solidly, I'm more confused about what exactly I'm confused about than anything else. At least now I have some grip on what's been bothering me. Thanks!

catrina said...

Michelle you bring up an interesting aspect to the discussion, and that is of "our experience." If you grew up C but it was presented in a wrong way, then you would be leary of it being "right." If you grew up in an E position and it was wonderful you may have a problem seeing the merit to a C position, in fact if you had a positive experience on either side you probably would have a whole lot of knee jerking going on. The opposite is true if it was negative. If you have had negative experiences with either side you are more likely to want something else.

My soapbox for this discussion is not whether or not you(generic you) agree with me or find validity in my argument, but whether or not you have studied BOTH sides for yourself. Living or growing up in one camp does not alleviate your responsibility to study it for yourself. It also does not make you an expert on it either. We all have "itching ears" at times, that is why it is critical to do the work for yourself, before you throw the baby out with the bathwater because you had some "issues" or questions. For those of us who really may be on the fence about this, finding a balanced defense of a "C" position is important. Even though Tia has done a wonderful job with this series, if you look at the "other camp" you find the discrepencies that can come up against her assertions, which causes the "hmmm" factor. I personally have been very wrong about an assertion that I had for most of my life, and that was in the area of the "gifts." They were never used for today and anyone that thought so was flaky. It didn't help that my exposure to charismatic people were the ones that should be kept down in the cellar. I held to a position of "no gifts" and I read material that supported that. Then I was encouraged to read balanced writings to the contrary, which led me to the "hmmm" factor. After years of pondering, i switched sides, but I don't think that I would have come to a different realization if I wasn't willing to study the rationale counter argument to no gifts.

Michelle said...

I do appreciate this Catrina, very wise counsel. The reason I say that I still have questions is because, as Tia goes through this, I am going through on my own what might represent the "other side" - not maybe the books and websites you and Tonya refer to but others' sermons, etc. I am doing that with an open mind to learn fresh, from either direction (as I have time and amongst reading other things as well). I appreciate this - it's important to point out. Without it, we're all just like pendulums swinging wildly from one extreme to another. Still, even with that said, I do see the highest standard of all the scriptures offered by both camps/all concerned to be Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. I can't get away from that one, it is not ambiguous, and so, all seems to fall under that for me.

Tia Lynn said...

I totally agree with Catrina. No matter which “side” a person has been raised in, it does not get them off the hook for studying for themselves. The reason I am only presenting the egalitarian side is because I am finding that most complementarians are not aware of the position at all, besides the fact that they believe both men and women should lead in the church and home. So many have e-mailed me saying, “Egalitarians don’t believe the bible, they cut out the scriptures that don’t suit them,” and so forth. I hope that the people who become familiar with the basic reasoning of egalitarianism will go deeper and study for themselves both sides. But for now, I want people to understand where egalitarians are coming from.

Just for the record, I spent 12 years at a complementarian church and I loved it. I loved our pastor (one of the smartest, gentlest pastors out there). I made lifelong friends there and learned so much about the bible. There was no abuse of power in the church that made me want to chuck out complementarianism. Just wanted to put that out there in the spirit of full disclosure.

marcus said...

I’m taken aback that some here are refusing to admit that the women of Ephesus were at least influenced by the cult of Artemis. It is hardly a Jewish tradition for the women to go about dressed in gold and pearls and braided hair. This is an obvious reference to pagan-style. And if the women in the church were dressing like this (which they were, since Paul had to forbid it), is it really that far of a leap to deduce that they exhibited the same behavior, practices, and thought processes as the cult the lived amongst? We see this happen all throughout the Bible. God’s people from time to time are led astray by the culture around them. A denial of this fact in this instance, is simply that, utter denial.

And if this verse applies to today, and women cannot speak or teach, do you complementarian ladies also forbid braided hair? How about gold wedding rings? Or a string of pearls? This whole passage begins with a culturally motivated instructions.

Tilly Hester said...

Of course Paul did not straight out mention Artemis. The last time he publicly denounced Artemis there was an outbreak of violence. It’s one thing to put himself in harm’s way, but he was sending someone to deliver his letter to Ephesus, he would not put them in harm’s way by putting in writing the details of the false teaching. Religion and state were one entity during this time. Had that letter been confiscated upon arrival at Ephesus containing disparaging words against the Lady of Ephesus, the deliverer could have been imprisoned or even put top death, not mention unneeded attention and scrutiny it could have put on the small Christian church there already in a precarious situation. We find “code” writing in many of the new testament letters.

Inheritor of Heaven said...

While blog surfing this morning I came upon "The ten reasons why men should not be ordained for ministry"

Tia Lynn said...

Marcus, good point. I wonder why most complementarians do not consider gold and braided hair inherently evil, if this is not a cultural mandate?

Tilly, excellent! I never even thought of that!

Inheritor, that was hysterical. Nothing like turning the tables to show the hypocrisy of it all. :)

Tonya said...

Marcus, I'm sure that there were MANY women who were influenced by the cult of Artemis as were many of the men, but why would Paul silence women like Priscilla in order to keep them quiet while leaving out the men. It's weak.

More than likely, Paul was telling the ladies to make sure they were dressing like woman who feared God and reminding them all to keep quiet in the meetings. Remember, he did most of his teaching in person, but the ladies from the feminized cult of Artemis were probably also asserting their power by entering into the discussions that went along with the public meetings.

Tia's historical context here is excellent, but I think she makes too much of it by suggesting that the entire book centers around combatting this cult. Paul was writing instruction to Timothy. This was NOT a public denouncement of Artemis and no riot was going to break out on this one. The last riot we know of took place 7 years earlier and as far as we can tell, the church saw Artemis as "no god at all".

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone has answered this, but if Paul was citing the "creation order" to universally ban all female teachers of the gospel for all time, why did he not tell Priscilla to stop teaching?
The verse doesn't read that a wife may teach if her husband is a teacher. If we take it literally, Paul was saying no woman could teach any man period. The Priscilla endorsement lets us know we cannot take this verse as a universal ban on all women teaching men.
I like to look at Christ's treatment of women teachers and pupils. While Martha was doing "women stuff," Mary was doing "men's stuff" by sitting at the Master's feet and learning God's Word. Christ didn't send her off to the kitchen but commended her for breaking that social more in order to know Him better.
After His resurrection, He gave women the privilege of telling male believers the good news of His resurrection. The first preachers were women!!!!
If Jesus endorsed a woman preaching the gospel to men (which He did), it is doubtful that Paul would contradict that precedent.

Jason Barr said...

I know this is an old post, sorry for the late comment. Just a couple of things:

A couple of people keep referring to Priscilla's being silenced. From where do they get this? I don't see a reference to it in the text. From my reading of the Greek text, the authority and teaching that is prohibited to women is unauthorized teaching and authority, not necessarily all teaching and authority. Priscilla being "silenced" seems to be inferred from Paul's general statement about women being forbidden to teach or "hold authority," but that's not necessarily the case at all.

Second, anyone who reads a hierarchical structure from Genesis 2 is only reading half the passage. True, the woman comes out of the man, but then the man goes back into the woman, what is depicted is a circularity, not a simple hierarchy. In fact, it seems plausible to me to see the social structure reflected in Genesis 2 as matrilocal, geographically centered around the household of the woman's family (a social structure that is widely-attested in so-called "pre-civilized" societies), which undercuts any attempt to use the passage as the basis of creating a patriarchal norm.