She Shall Be Called Woman

Part Three Session Five

 

 1 Timothy 2:8-15  

 

This passage from First Timothy has been studied extensively but the conclusions remain controversial. It will be important for you to remember your past lessons and what we know of Paul and his teaching.[1] This passage seems to go against all that Paul says in other areas. Other lessons have shown that the seeming contradiction was due to numerous factors including poor translation, misguided punctuation and ignorance of the culture. So with our hearts tuned to the Spirit, we will study these verses looking for truth.


In this lesson we’ll examine:


1.    Paul’s purpose in writing the letter.
2.    Mistranslated or misunderstood words and phrases
3.    The importance of the papyri for correct translation
4.    The problem of false teaching that Paul is addressing
5.    Gnosticism and its influence in Ephesus


For background, you need to read 1 Timothy 2:1 through 2:7 before you start this lesson. It is in the footnotes for those who do not have Bible access.[2]  Paul is writing to Timothy, whom he considers a “son in the faith” and has sent to Ephesus to care for the church in his absence. He is very concerned with false teaching. We have included the Greek for most words in question so that you can do your own research. However, you must remember that most of our study aides do not include information on word meanings that has been gotten from the recently discovered papyri (first century documents in Koiné Greek which is the language of the New Testament).


We’ll start by giving you the whole passage and then we can break it into more manageable parts.


8. I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 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, 10. but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.


We’ll look at verses 8 and 9 just to get the setting. Please note the underlined words.


1 Tim 2:8 "I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 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,"


“Shamefacedness and sobriety” is used in the King James Version instead of “propriety and moderation.” Saying “shamefacedness” instead of “propriety” reflects the common belief that Eve was responsible for the fall and therefore all women should be ashamed. It is a terrible translation of the Greek word aidos.  “Moderation” isn’t a bad translation as Paul is concerned that no showy outward appearance interferes with attracting people to the gospel.


In verse 8 “holy hands” is a Greek idiom for living pure, sinless lives. God wants the totality of our lives, not just an outward action. The word “doubting,” has to do with internal questioning of yourself. Verse 9 begins with an expression that Paul uses often. When it says “in like manner” it means “the same goes for” — the women, too, are to live pure sinless lives before the Lord without anger or doubt. Women are to dress in keeping with who they are in God.


It is in verses 10 and 11 that we really begin to discover the problem that Paul was addressing.


10. "but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission."


In verse 10 the word “professing,” epagellomai in Greek, doesn’t just mean saying you are godly. It means professing or announcing yourself to be skilled in something. This person would be an authority and able to give orders. The papyri show that it was also a technical word for being paid to teach any form of wisdom.


The word “godliness” is theosebia in the Greek.[3] There is some question as to the exact meaning, but it has to do with things pertaining to God. We know that women were teachers of the Law in some synagogues.[4] It’s posible that Paul is referring to Jewish women who had been teachers of the Law but have recently become converts to Christianity. We also know that many gentiles were converts from worship of the Godess Artemis whose priesthood was dominated by women.[5]  Regardless of their roots these women were used to having authority and giving orders.

 

From the text that follows, it is possible to infer that these women tried to continue as teachers of Christianity even though they were not qualified. Remember, these are recent converts and need to be discipled. They were doing what many of us have done by believing and then spreading false doctrine. (For example, most of us believed and may even have taught falsely about women and their place in God’s plan before we learned the truth.) They were among those referred to in 1 Timothy 7 who were teaching false doctrine. Paul says they are “desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.”


“Let the women learn” is an imperative phrase in the Greek which means letting the women learn it is a command. These women are skilled teachers but now they need to learn. What is to be their attitude while learning?


“Silence” is hēsychia in Greek. Strong’s Concordance defines it as “quietness” and it is so translated in most modern versions. The NIV does an excellent job with the word in 2 Thes. 2:12 where Paul has been talking about busybodies that don’t work when he says, “Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.” In Acts 22:2 the crowd becomes quiet (hesychia). Crowds don’t become absolutely silent they just quiet down. Hesychia means settle down, don’t make trouble. The particular women to whom Paul is referring are to settle down learn quietly—seeing themselves as needing instruction rather than trying to assert themselves as leaders before they are trained. They were still in the learning stages and had to act accordingly. It is the same word and also means quietness, not silence, in verse 12.

We know that the word hupotasso does not mean submit. Here the Greek is hupotage. It is derived from hupotasso and should also be translated “support.” As a former school teacher, this passage makes me think of the attitude I wanted my students to have – quiet—not silent, but orderly, not interrupting, but supportive toward me.


These women must learn, but they must do so quietly being fully supportive, teachable and committed to the learning process.


12. "And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 1.4 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."


In these verses it is critical to remember that Paul is writing to Timothy. It is a personal letter. They know and understand many problems without having to say what they are. In our English idiom we’d say, Paul didn’t have to “spell out” everything—meaning he didn’t have to provide details. Timothy knew what Paul was talking about. Heretical Gnostic teaching was a major problem at Ephesus. Gnosticism is a religious philosophy advocating gnosis (knowledge) as the way to release a person's spiritual element. Gnostics believed the physical world to be corrupt but enlightened individuals could escape if they had special spiritual knowledge. They believed that by gaining hidden wisdom they could release their enlightened spiritual element.
 

In this case a Gnostic[4] passage from On the Origin of the World mixed Greek deities with the biblical account from Genesis.


“After the day of rest Sophia sent her daughter Zoe, being called Eve, as an instructor in order that she might make Adam, who had no soul, arise so that those whom he should engender might become containers of light. When Eve saw her male counterpart prostrate she had pity upon him, and she said, ‘Adam! Become alive! Arise upon the earth!’ Immediately her word became accomplished fact. For Adam, having arisen, suddenly opened his eyes. When he saw her he said, ‘You shall be called ‘Mother of the Living’ For it is you who have given me life.” [5]
 

Eve is also an important figure in two other Gnostic texts[6] 1 Tim 2:12-14 makes sense when we see that Paul was confronting the threat from a woman or group of women who were promoting Gnostic teaching and the idea of the female as somehow superior to the male.


12. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.


Have authority over is authanteo in Greek. This word, authenteo, is ordinarily translated "to bear rule" or "to usurp authority"; yet a study of other Greek literary sources reveals that it did not ordinarily have this meaning until the third or fourth century, well after the time of the New Testament.[7] While authenteo is a rare word in Classical Greek, it is occasionally found to mean “author”, “originator” or “perpetrator.” This supports what is found in papyri where its meaning is “original” or “originator of.” Remember the scriptures were written in Koiné Greek, the same form as the papyri.


I do not permit a woman to teach that she is the originator of man” makes sense in the context and does not conflict with other passages that approve women teaching. Now look at the verses 12 and 13 together and you’ll see how well they fit.


“12  I do not permit a woman to teach that she is the originator of man” 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve."


The next verse fits well, but for full understanding it needs further explanation


14 "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."


Adam knew exactly what God had said in Genesis 2 about eating from the tree of life and he was not deceived by Satan. We know from the Genesis 2 study that the woman had not been formed when God told Adam about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She must have gotten her understanding from Adam and it evidently lacked some important details because the woman was deceived when Adam wasn’t. She made a decision without all the necessary information just like these women are doing. They need to take a lesson from Genesis 3 and learn before they speak.


It is generally taught that both Adam and Eve blamed someone else for their disobedience. But we need to look again at the scripture. Adam blamed God and the woman for his deliberate disobedience. The woman simply stated the fact, “the serpent deceived me and I ate.” This is a confession not an excuse. She is confessing being open to deception which is admitting error. God never rebukes her. Instead, He gives her the promise that she will bare the Seed (Messiah - Savior) who will crush the serpent’s head. There is not room here to go into detail on Genesis. You may need to go back to the lessons from Part 1 on Genesis including the separate explanation from Katherine Bushnell’s book God’s Word to Women on Genesis 3:15 & 16.


Gnostic teaching must stop. Paul does not allow anyone to teach that Eve came first or gave life to Adam. Women who are to teach must be quiet until they learn enough to be qualified to teach. It does not mean women are forever silenced.


15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.


She, (singular) the woman we’ve been talking about who is later named Eve, will be saved the same way we all are, “by means of the birth of the Child.” According to Strong’s Concordance the word translated as “in” can also be translated “by means of.” Childbearing is bearing - delivering a child. It certainly doesn’t mean women are saved by having children. What Child saves us? The one prophesied in Genesis 3:15, the “Seed of the woman,” Christ Jesus.


Paul then switches to “they” (He is probably speaking of all women, however, it could be all people) will be saved if they “continue” (live) as Christians; which would be in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.


15 Nevertheless she (the woman later called Eve) will be saved through the birth of the Child, if they (women or people) continue (live) in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

____________________

Footnotes

 

1] Both early tradition and the salutations of the Pastoral Letters themselves confirm Paul as their author. Some objections have been raised in recent years based on seeing a difference in vocabulary and a lack of Paul’s usual theological terms. However, the evidence overwhelmingly supports Paul’s authorship. 

 

2.  1 Tim. 2:1-7  Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men,the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ[a] andnot lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

 

[3] People who were not born Jewish but who believed in the one God of the Jews and needed instruction. They were known as God Fearers. 

 

[4] B.J. Brooten, Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue, Brown Judaic Studies 36 Chico, 1982. Synagogues were places of instruction. 

 

[5] Excellent article by Bob Edwards with information on the cult of Aretmis toward the end of the article   http://equalityinchrist.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/the-subjugation-of-women/

 

[5]   The Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of thirteen ancient pieces of literature containing over fifty texts, was discovered in upper Egypt in 1945. This immensely important discovery includes a large number of primary Gnostic scriptures. Nag Hammadi texts which include the Genesis creation accounts are: On the Origin of the World, Gospel of Philip, Exegesis on the Soul, Hypostasis of the Archon, Thunder: Perfect Mind, Apocryphon of John, Apocalypse of Adam, and Testimony of Truth. 

 

[6] On the Origin of the World 115:31-35, 116:1-7, The Nag Hammadi Library, ed. James Robinson, rev. ed. San Francisco: Harper 1988.

 

[7] Hypostasis of the Archon and The Apocalypse of Adam

 

[8] Ancient Heresies and a Strange Greek Verb by Katherine Clark Kroeger found at http://www.godswordtowomen.org/kroeger_ancient_heresies.htm 

 

Questions for Thought and/or Discussion 

 

This is a very difficult passage. Please take your time as you study and respond to the questions.

 

1.    Why did Paul write this passage to Timothy?
 

2.    Who are the false teachers referred to in these verses and why do they think they should be able to teach?
 

3.    Define the Greek word authentio and explain why knowing its correct meaning is critical to understanding this passage.
 

4.    Explain the false teaching that Paul was coming against in 1Timothy 2:11.
 

5.    Paul does not mean that women are saved by having children so what does he mean in 1 Timothy 2:15?
 

Click here to discuss 

 

Back to the top           Link to Part Three Session Six

 

© 2020-21 by Women for the Nations using Wix.com

  • Wix Facebook page