| Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve;  and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. |
In the discussion over the roles of women in the church, there are essentially two opposing positions amongst evangelicals: egalitarianism and complementarianism. As with any good discussion of a subject, we must begin with defining our terms. The egalitarian position holds that:
“ ... people are equal before God and in Christ. All have equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey their calling to the glory of God. God freely calls believers to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race. ” 1
While the complementarian position holds that:
“ While being absolutely equal in personhood and dignity, man and woman are distinct in their roles in the home and church. This position is to be distinguished from both ancient patriarchy that often neglects the equality of the sexes and egalitarianism which neglects the clear Scriptural role distinctions.” 2
The primary distinction between these two positions, is not the worth and value of men or women, since both hold that men and women are equal, but over whether or not men and women were created for distinct roles within the home and the church. The latter of which is the focus of this paper.
When studying such things we must observe certain rules of biblical interpretation. First is that “the implicit is to be interpreted by the explicit, 3” or, in other words what is clear in the text of Scripture should govern our understanding of what is unclear. Second, is that “historical narratives are to be interpreted by the didactic, 4” meaning that a passage which is teaching on a particular subject should govern our understanding of passages that are telling a story, whether historical or fictional, about that subject. So, in the analysis of the biblical perspective on gender roles in the church, we must begin with passages that are explicitly teaching on the subject. One such passage is 1 Timothy 2:11-15.
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:11-15 ESV)
The current passage under examination is actually right in the middle of a paragraph that is discussing proper conduct with the church. Paul begins this passage discussing the proper conduct of men when the church body gathers, and especially during their times of prayer, saying that they should not pray in anger with their brethren or with an argumentative attitude. Instead, he says, they should pray with pray, lifting holy hands, which is drawing on Old Testament symbolism to mean that they should come before God in prayer with a life that reflects the holiness to which they have been called. 5
After dealing with the disruptive men in the church, Paul moves on to correcting the disruptive women. He begins by telling them that they “... should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works. 6” It would seem, here, that at least some of the women of the Ephesian church were focusing on the externals of dress and jewelry to the point of becoming a distraction, 7 possibly even leading to “immodesty and indiscretion. 8” Instead, Paul would have them “... place a priority on what really matters, i.e., behavior appropriate to a person who has made a commitment to godliness. 9”
That brings us to the main text under consideration for this paper, where the author changes subjects slightly, from men and women disrupting the church, to the issue of leadership, which is one of the primary concerns of the book. 10 Paul says instructs “ Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.” The fact Paul, here, does not prohibit women learning, but actually encourages, so long as it is the proper context, cannot be stressed enough.11The stress,though, is on the manner in which they are to learn,12which is described with two prepositional phrases. There has been some debate over the meaning of the first, ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ, and, specifically, the meaning of the noun ἡσυχία. It can mean either “'silence,' in an absolute sense, or 'quietness,' in the sense of 'peacableness.'13” Of these two, within the context of teaching and learning, the sense of “silence” would seem to be preferable.14In contrast to this though, it is argued that this does not make sense in the Socratic learning style that was popular in that period,15instead this should be rendered quiet or quietly – which does not denote verbal silence, but, instead, quietness of demeanor.16However, just because the Socratic method was popular in the secular culture of the time does not necessarily mean that it was used within the church and, even if it was used within the church, that does not mean that women were allowed to participate in it. Also, while “quietness” is a possible translation of ἡσυχία, the most common usage is “silence” and this is how the standard lexicon, BAGD, takes it in this passage.17
The second prepositional phrase is ἐν πάσῃ ὑποταγῇ – “in all submission.” There issome disagreement over how this fits into the overall understanding of this passage as well. There are some that see this as Paul arguing from the specific to the general – that Paul is saying that the woman's silence in this situation is an expression of their submission – and so this prepositional phrase is modifying the previous one.18While others argue that this prepositional phrase is modifying the main verb, “learn” an is parallel to the previous one.19The difference between the two being split along the complementarian, egalitarian lines. The first represents the complementarians, and the second represents the egalitarians. Regardless, it seems that all agree that the object of the submission of the women in this passage, is not all women to all men, or even women to their husbands, but is rather women to the teaching20and specifically to the one that is doing the teaching within the church context.21
In verse twelve, we move to the real hotbed of debate within this passage. διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός22- “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man.23” First, here, it must be determined what each of these clauses mean, then we will delve into the relationship of the two, and their applicability – all of which, have been the subject of debate.
Belleville argues that the continuing sense of the present tense verb, ἐπιτρέπω, should be noted, and is a corrective to the “categorical prohibition”24- “I do not permit” - found in most translations.25Instead, she believes the clause should be translated “I am not permitting a woman to teach,” emphasizing the temporary conditionality, based upon the unique circumstances that produced the letter.26However, of all the possible understandings of this clause, Mounce thinks this seems the least likely, pointing to Wallace's standard Greek grammar for support.27In the grammar, Wallace cites the present passage as an example of the Greek gnomic present – “a statement of general, timeless fact28” - rather than as a descriptive present - “that which describes a scene in progress, especially in narrative literature29” - saying:
“ If this were adescriptivepresent …, the ideamightbe that in the future the author would allow this:I do not presently permit …However, there are several arguments against this: (1) It is overly subtle. Without some temporal indicator, such as ἄρτι or perhaps νῦν, this view begs the question. (2) Were we to do this with other commands in the present tense, our resultant exegesis would be both capricious and ludicrous. Does μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ …, ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι in Eph. 5:18 mean “Do notfor the momentbe filled with wine, but be filledat the present timeby the Spirit” with the implication that such a moral code might change in the future? The normal use of the present tense in didactic literature, especially when introducing an exhortation, is not descriptive, but a general precept that has gnomic implications. (3) Grammatically, the present tense is used with a generic object (γυναικί), suggesting that it should be taken as a gnomic present. (4) Contextually, the exhortation seems to be rooted in creation (note v 13 and the introductory γάρ),rather than an address to a temporary situation.”30
Mounce goes further and says that:
“ In hist thirteen epistles, Paul uses 1,429 present tense active indicative verbs (out of a total 2,835 indicative verbs). If this objection is true, then almost nothing Paul says can have any significance beyond the narrow confines of its immediate context.”31
So, it would seem that the traditional interpretation – “I do not permit a woman to teach” – of this clause would seem to hold.
The second of the two proposition is οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός - “or to exercise authority over a man.” One thing that is interesting to note in this, is that the verb, αὐθεντέω, is biblical hapax legomena , so the meaning of the word is difficult to discern. Belleville, in at least three separate volumes, contends that the verb always has a negative connotation and, thus, should be rendered with the English word “domineer.” 32 To counter this, though, Henry Scott Baldwin, in the Volume “Women in the Ministry: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15,” does a an analysis of all the relevant extra-biblical literature containing the Greek verb under consideration. In this analysis, he found that in all instances there are four possible denotations, with accompanying nuances:
- To rule, to reign sovereignly
- To control, to dominate
- to compel, to influence someone/something
- middle voice: to be in effect, to have legal standing
- hyperbolically: to domineer/play the tyrant
- To grant authorization
- To act independently
- To assume authority over
- To exercise one's own jurisdiction
- to flout the authority of
- To be primarily responsible for, to do or to instigate something 33
After close examination of each of these meanings, 2b through 3b may have developed after the first century AD, and 3c certainly did, and, thus, would not have been part of Paul's understanding, and in none of the remaining senses is αὐθεντέω understood in a pejorative sense. 34 However, as even with this information in hand, the exact meaning can only be discerned within the context of the passage. Within the remaining possible meanings, there only remains two real options: either Paul is saying that he does “... not permit a woman … to exercise authority” and is prohibiting any type of authoritative teaching, or he is using the verb in the sense of “to domineer” and is prohibiting a certain type of abusive teaching. However, to come to a conclusion over which is best, the relationship of the two propositions must first be examined.
What is present in the text is a δέ-οὐδέ – neither-nor – construction. Belleville, echoing the work of Philip Payne, sees these two words creating a closely linked couplet, or a single idea – namely that Paul is forbidding “... a woman to teach with a view to dominating a man.” 35 Her position, though, is untenable a couple of grounds. First, Paul, would not permit anyone to dominate someone else in the body of Christ; so, to forbid women in particular to teach with a view toward dominating others is, at the least, unnecessary. Secondly, in light of the work of Andreas K ö stenberger, this type of construction is not used to form these types of couplets, but is rather used to link two related, but separate ideas. 36 So, what is in view here is not the prohibition of a manner in which someone is teaching. Rather, what is in view here is the prohibition of two separate, but related things – teaching and exercising authority. At this point it is still premature to say that the meaning “exercise authority” is preferable over “domineer,” but K ö stenberger addressed that as well.
The construction that is present here, going further than what has already been stated, is as follows: “(1) negated finite verb + (2) infinitive + (3) οὐδέ + infinitive + ἀλλά infinitive.” 37 Another aspect of the study done by K ö stenberger was the relationship of the two infinitive verbs. In all the biblical and extra-biblical grammatical parallels to this verse, it was shown that all instances fell into either one of two patterns:
“ Pattern 1: two activities or concepts are viewed positively in and of themselves, but their exercise is prohibited or their existence is denied due to circumstances or conditions adduced in the context.”
“ Pattern 2: two activities or concepts are viewed negatively, and consequently their exercise is prohibited or their existence is denied or they are to be avoided.”38
So, in order to determine the proper understanding of the infinitive verb αὐθεντεῖν, we must first whether the corresponding infinitive, διδάσκελειν, has a positive or negative connotation. If the latter has a positive connotation, then the traditional reading of “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man,” holds. However, if can be shown that it has a negative connotation, then Belleville's, and others', reading of this verse could be put forward.
While it is true, that one of the main purposes is to refute some form of false teaching in the church at Ephesus, comprising some fifty percent of the material in the book, 39 the word Paul use to speak of this false teaching, is the word ἑτεροδιδάσκαλιεν, which is related to, but different from, the word presently under study. 40 In general, but in the Pastoral epistles especially, διδάσκειν is viewed as a positive activity unless it is accompanied by “contextual qualifiers such as those denoting the content of someone's teaching.” 41
To quote further from K ö stenberger's study:
“ Since, therefore, the term διδάσκειν is used absolutely in the New Testament for an activity that is viewed positively in and of itself, and since οὐδέ coordinates terms that are both viewed either positively or negatively, αὐθεντεῖν should be seen as denoting an activity that is viewed positively in and of itself as well. Thus, 1 Timothy, 2:12 is an instance of the first patter, in which the exercise of two activities is prohibited or the existence of the two concepts is denied due to special circumstances.”42
The immediate context of these two words, the circumstance under which their exercise is prohibited, is women teaching men and women exercising authority over men. At this point something needs to be made abundantly clear: this verse prohibits women to teach or exercise authority over men, but it says nothing about the exercise of these gifts with other women and children. In fact, Paul specifically mentions the teaching ministry of elder women over younger women in his epistle to Titus. 43 Also, Timothy, it is implied, was raised and trained in the faith from a very young age by his mother and grandmother. 44
In verses thirteen and fourteen he gives the reasoning for this injunction. He says “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” 45 Paul grounds his reasoning for the prohibition of women teaching an exercising authority over men, not in some cultural issue present at the time of the writing, but instead in the creation order and the fall. Once again, this is a set of verses that would seem to be easily enough on the surface, become much less so when put to closer examination.
One of the primary contentions of the egalitarian interpretation of this passage is that this injunction is against women who proclaiming some sort of false teaching. One line of evidence that they cite is in verse fourteen. “Here, they argue, Paul cites Eve as typical of what the women at Ephesus were doing: teaching false doctrine and doing so without adequate preparation.” 46 However, as Moo points out, this argument is completely unconvincing. The emphasis here, is not Eve doing the deceiving, but on Eve being deceived. 47
Now, we must backtrack a little, and discuss verse thirteen, because this provides the first reason for Paul's prohibition of women teaching and exercising authority over men. In this verse, Paule strongly emphasizes the creation order human beings – Adam was created first, then Eve. The point that he is making here is that:
“ ... man's priority in the order of creation is indicative of the headship that man is to have over woman. The woman's being created after an, as his helper, shows the positon of submission that God intended as inherent in the woman's relation to the man, a submission that is violated if a woman teaches doctrine or exercises authority over a man.”48
Ashley, Geoff. “What is Complementarianism?.” The Village Church, 2007. fm.thevillagechurch.net/resource_files/.../WhatIsComplementarianism.pdf (accessed December 11, 2010).
Baldwin, Henry Scott. “An Important Word: Αὐθεντέω in 1 Timothy 2:12.” In Women in the church : an analysis and application of 1 Timothy 2:9 15 , edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner, 39-51. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2005.
Bauer, Walter. “ἡσυχία, ας, ἡ.” In A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature , edited by Frederick W. Danker, translated by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich. 2nd ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979.
Belleville, Linda. “1 Timothy.” In 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, & Hebrews , edited by Philip W. Comfort, 25-123. CBC. Carol Stream Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009.
—r —— . “Teaching and Usurping Authority: 1 Timothy 2:11-15.” In Discovering biblical equality : complementarity without hierarchy , edited by Ronald Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis. 2nd ed. Downers Grove IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.
—r —— . “Women in Ministry: An Egalitarian Perspective.” In Two Views on Women in Ministry , edited by James R. Beck, 21-103. Revised Edition. Counterpoints. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.
Knight, George William. The Pastoral Epistles: a commentary on the Greek text . NIGTC. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1992.
Köstenberger, Andreas J. “A Complex Sentence: The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12.” In Women in the church : an analysis and application of 1 Timothy 2:9 15 , edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2005.
Moo, Douglas J. “1 Timothy 2:11-15: Meaning and Significance.” Trinity Journal 1, no. 1 (1980): 62-83.
—r —— . “The Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15: A Rejoinder.” Trinity Journal 2, no. 1 (1981): 198-222.
—r —— . “What Does It Men Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men?.” In Rediscovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism , edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem, 179-193. 2nd ed. Wheaton Ill.: Crossway Books, 2006.
Mounce, William. Pastoral Epistles . WBC. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000.
Padgett, Alan G. “What is Biblical Equality?.” Priscilla Papers Journal 16, no. 3 (Summer 2002): 22-25.
Sproul, R. C. Knowing Scripture . Downers Grove Ill.: Inter Varsity Press, 1977.
Towner, Philip H. The letters to Timothy and Titus . NICNT. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006.
Wallace, Daniel. Greek grammar beyond the basics . Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1996.
1Alan G. Padgett, “What is Biblical Equality?,” Priscilla Papers Journal 16, no. 3 (Summer 2002): 22.
2Geoff Ashley, “What is Complementarianism?” (The Village Church, 2007), 1, fm.thevillagechurch.net/resource_files/.../WhatIsComplementarianism.pdf (accessed December 11, 2010).
3R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (Downers Grove Ill.: Inter Varsity Press, 1977), 75.
5William Mounce, Pastoral Epistles , WBC (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000), 108.
61 Timothy 2:9-10 ESV
7Mounce, Pastoral Epistles , 109.
8George William Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: a commentary on the Greek text , NIGTC (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1992), 136.
9Mounce, Pastoral Epistles , 115.
11Douglas J. Moo, “What Does It Men Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men?,” in Rediscovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism , ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem, 2nd ed. (Wheaton Ill.: Crossway Books, 2006), 183.
13Moo, “What Does It Men Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men?,” 183; See also Walter Bauer, “ἡσυχία, ας, ἡ,” in A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature , ed. Frederick W. Danker, trans. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, 2nd ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), 349.
14Douglas J. Moo, “1 Timothy 2:11-15: Meaning and Significance,” Trinity Journal 1, no. 1 (1980): 64.
15Linda Belleville, “Teaching and Usurping Authority: 1 Timothy 2:11-15,” in Discovering biblical equality : complementarity without hierarchy , ed. Ronald Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 208.
16Linda Belleville, “1 Timothy,” in 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, & Hebrews , ed. Philip W. Comfort, CBC (Carol Stream Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009), 54.
17Douglas J. Moo, “The Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15: A Rejoinder,” Trinity Journal 2, no. 1 (1981): 198-199;See also "ἡσυχία, -ας, ἡ" in “BAGD.”
18Mounce, Pastoral Epistles , 119; Knight, The Pastoral Epistles , 139.
19Belleville, “1 Timothy,” 54; Philip H. Towner, The letters to Timothy and Titus , NICNT (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006), 215.
20Belleville, “1 Timothy,” 54.
21Towner, The letters to Timothy and Titus , 215; Mounce, Pastoral Epistles , 120; Knight, The Pastoral Epistles , 139.
24Belleville, “1 Timothy,” 54.
25See ESV, NET, KJV, NASB, & NIV2010 for this sense of the verb
26Belleville, “1 Timothy,” 57.
27Mounce, Pastoral Epistles , 122.
28Daniel Wallace, Greek grammar beyond the basics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1996), 523.
31Mounce, Pastoral Epistles , 122.
32Linda Belleville, “Women in Ministry: An Egalitarian Perspective,” in Two Views on Women in Ministry , ed. James R. Beck, Revised Edition., Counterpoints (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 82-87; Belleville, “Teaching and Usurping Authority: 1 Timothy 2:11-15,” 209-216; Belleville, “1 Timothy,” 54.
33Henry Scott Baldwin, “An Important Word: Αὐθεντέω in 1 Timothy 2:12,” in Women in the church : an analysis and application of 1 Timothy 2:9 15 , ed. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 45.
35Belleville, “ Teaching and Usurping Authority: 1 Timothy 2:11-15,” 219.
36Andreas J. Köstenberger, “A Complex Sentence: The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12,” in Women in the church : an analysis and application of 1 Timothy 2:9 15 , ed. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2005).
39Belleville, “ Teaching and Usurping Authority: 1 Timothy 2:11-15,” 206.
40Köstenberger, “ A Complex Sentence: The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12,” 62.
442 Timothy 1:5
451 Timothy 2:13-14 ESV
46Moo, “What Does It Men Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men?,” 189.