Gamma 17 – The Pastoral Epistles (Study 4)

Study 4




Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions The answers will be posted on the web the next day.

Janet has a nice necklace with a string of 20 Swarovski crystals worth RM 900. Gillian has the same necklace but made up of real diamonds worth far more. Which woman should be denied entry into the auditorium to participate in the worship by the ushers? Or should the church not interfere at all? Please discuss based on biblical principles established in this chapter.

Grandma Pearly has made it a practice to bring one or two extra shawls into the church and whenever a young lady turns up with a rather revealing top she insists they put it on. Some of the young women were outraged at this interference and complained to the elders of the church. What do you think? How should you have handled the situation?

Paul was writing to Timothy and the Ephesian church to counter false teachers at the time and to give advice to Timothy on how to best conduct his ministry. Hence there will be situations there which we are unaware of and have given rise to this prohibition for in this case the letter is in a sense occasional but on the other hand there is global instructions on church government which will apply to all churches and not specifically to the Ephesian church and their particular problems so this argument is weak.

Some have argues that the word “gynaikas” can be translated as either women or wives depending on the context and in this context they have suggested that the prohibition was only addressed to wives.

There was the famous Artemis cult who was a goddess in Ephesus and people who placed importance on the position of women.

Bible commentator Kroeger and husband have suggested the presence of a fertility cult that pushed the idea that women were the author and originator of men.

The word “authentein “ in Greek is a colloquial term which is very infrequently used as there are only 116 instances of use in ancient literature that we have and the meaning is varied as it can mean even to murder someone. Hence its precise meaning is unclear.

We can there fore translate “ I do not permit women to teach or to “authentein” = dominate men. The infinitive have “authority over “Authentein is translated in a negative nuance as dominate over So Kroeger is suggesting that under the influence of the cults there were women who were using teaching to dominate over the men in the church so if this is the case the prohibition against women in ministry is only applicable to Ephesus at the time and not a timeless prohibition. There is only one instance of this prohibition in the whole of the New Testament and we should not base our doctrine on only one verse.

The letter to Timothy is not exclusively occasional (ie driven by local issues) as there was much teaching on how to conduct the church and leadership which is applicable to the church of all time. The women are referred to as “gynaikas” which can mean women or wives. The likelihood is that it is global instructions to women instead of wives as Paul would have included the term” auton” which means “their “ wives. The whole chapter is to do with instruction for men and women in general as it would make no sense that it is only the husbands who were prohibited from raising their hands in anger quarrelling and sin or that only wives were prohibited from wearing expensive clothes and single women could.

There is no concrete historical evidence of the fertility cults that prominently featured the supremacy of women that had prompted Paul to issue this prohibition. It is an interesting idea but we await more historical evidence but until that happens then this reason is deemed weak. The controversy is over the use of the word “authentein”.

The phrase to teach is an infinitive and to have authority is also an infinitive and Kostenberger did an extensive study of phrase in Greek Extra Biblical as well as Biblical literature and found that when there are two infinitives joined by the word “or” (oude) then both infinitives need to be either positive or negative together and not one positive and one negative as suggested by Kroger and the egalitarians who translate “ I do not permit women to teach (positive infinitive) or to Dominate over (negative infinitive) men.

If it is both infinitives are negative means

A. I do not permit women to teach falsely and to domineer over men If both positive.

B. I do not permit women to teach or to have authority over men. Option A is not possible because Paul would have used the word “hetero-didaskalos” which literally means “other” (Hetero) teaching (Didaskalos) which means teach falsely or another gospel which he often uses to refer to false teaching. In 1 Tim 1:3 Paul uses this word “hetero-didaskalos” when referring to the teachers of false doctrine.

1 Tim 1: 3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine (hetero-didaskalos).

His use of the word is to teach (didaskalos) is in the positive sense.

Hence option B is more plausible as both teach and authority over are in a positive sense. So not to teach men is the application of the biblical principle of not having authority over men just as not wearing seductive and expensive clothing is the application of the principle of prioritising good works and character.

To answer the question to whether this prohibition should be only taken culturally applicable only to first century churches we need to see how Paul defends his prohibition.

Paul roots the support of his prohibition in Genesis where he states that men were created first implying leadership and therefore women were created for men. This roots the prohibition in the created order and not a cultural value that can change over time.

Eve was deceived not because of any innate creative deficiency in the female gender but because when the serpent approached Eve and she responded then male leadership in the created order was subverted and in this case with the tacit approval of Adam when he abdicated his leadership.

Finally he adds that women shall be saved if they adhered to their original gender role of being a partner in marriage and family in child birth that only she could do and also in faith, love, holiness and self control which are the spiritual characteristics of a gospel transformed life.

Hence there are solid reasons to believe the prohibition of female leadership and authority in church is rooted in a timeless created order and not a one of situation that only applied in Ephesus in the first century.

To be fair there is other evidence that women were extensively used in ministry like Phoebe being a deaconess and the extensive use of women in ministry and training as disciples by Jesus himself which no rabbi would do in those days. The women were the first witnesses of the resurrection. In the OT Deborah as the leader and prophetess which was a role that actually held authority as well.

However even with Jesus the inner circle of Apostles were all exclusively male which aligns with the policy that at the level of the elders it would seem that the leadership should be male. All other else of ministry of the gospel women were involved.

The problem with this verse is the context in which it was written and in the letter to the Galatians. Paul was countering the Judaisers who wanted Christians to be Jews first submitting to the customs and laws of Israel , circumcising and taking only clean foods. He is arguing that salvation is not inherited by being children of Abraham.

Galatians 3: 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

The promise was not made to all of the children of Israel but to Christ and in Christ all will inherit the promises of the covenant.

Galatians 3: (ESV) 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Hence this passage is talking about salvation and the statement that there is no longer any male or female slave or free needs to be understood in terms of salvation where there are no gender distinctions. Women are also deliberately called “ sons of God” because it is the sons who inherit and not daughters in Jewish culture and Paul’s clear designation of women as sons of God was designed to reassure them that as far as salvation and inheriting the covenant was concerned women were equal to men. For this reason we cannot take this passage and declare everyone is unisex.

Paul’s advice to the Ephesian women to stick to their gender role of child birth clearly indicates that there are gender roles as far as the rest of life and family goes.

There are also gender roles in church where the role of authority especially in teach remains a male domain.

Alison was teaching a woman’s bible study when two of her disciples’ husbands turned up to listen and learn too. What should Alison do? Should she stop or chase them out?

Bernadette was a church planter in a remote village in Cameron Highlands. She recently started a church amongst the natives in the jungles there. She was teaching the new converts there. There were many, including men. One of her co-workers Anne suggested that she quickly suggest one of the men be chosen as an elder and he could do the teaching instead of her because of the 1 Tim 2 prohibition, what do you think?

If a woman has gifts of teaching and preaching, how should she utilise her gift in FBC today?