A Guest Study for February 22, 2018
Authority: who has it, who doesn’t – when, where, and why?
Excerpts from “Women in Service to the Church: A Comparative Analysis of Martin Luther’s Writings on 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and His Personal Correspondences with Women." M.A. Theology Thesis By: Leann L. Luchinger
“Here I close. I hope it is good. By ‘good,’ I mean pleasing to few and sorely vexing to many...If it pleases everyone, it is surely a wicked, shameful piece of work I have done.”1 – Martin Luther
First Timothy 2:8-15 appears firmly seated on the modern and post-modern list of contentious and confounding scripture. Even the most thoughtful scholars may come to sharply divergent perspectives about the meaning of this passage. Defining words like submission and authority have forged a “great divorce” between the Complimentarians2 and the Egalitarians3 among us. Twenty-first century western culture has added to the milieu. As women not only join the leadership ranks of Fortune 500 companies and governments, but also infiltrate and excel in academia, how can the Church endeavor to apply the 1 Timothy principles to its organization? When we consider the scriptural realities and the cultural implications of 1 Timothy 2:8-15 the underlying issue – how these verses inform Church participation and management – is in view.
In the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, we owe a great debt to our esteemed forefather. On the one hand, he helped release us from the oppressive theology of the middle ages, yet on the other, much of our modern thought is inextricably bound to the writings of Dr. Martin Luther. And his theology, at least in the case of male/female relations, may not be so easily determined. For example, in his lectures on Genesis, Martin Luther explains,
[i]f you reflect on the history of nations, you will find that even the greatest kingdoms have been destroyed because of women. Familiar is the shameful conduct of Helen.
1 WA 51, 264, 10-14
2 Complementarianism is the theological view that although men and women are created equal in their being and personhood, they are created to complement each other via different roles and responsibilities as manifested in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere. It is rooted in more literal interpretations of the Creation account and the roles of men and women presented in Scripture. It is also known as the Traditionalist or Hierarchical view. http://www.theopedia.com/Complementarianism accessed 10/3/2013
3 Egalitarianism, within Christianity, is a movement based on the theological view that not only are all people equal before God in their personhood, but there are no gender-based limitations of what functions or roles each can fulfill in the home, the Church, and the society. It is sometimes referred to as biblical equality. Egalitarians understand the Bible as teaching the fundamental equality of women and men of all racial and ethnic groups, all economic classes, and all age groups, based on the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. It should not be confused with secular political, economic, social egalitarianism. http://www.theopedia.com/Egalitarianism accessed 10/3/2013
Moreover, the Holy Scriptures reveal that through the fault of a woman the entire human race fell.4
Yet from this same pen we read,
[t]he historical and true reason [for circumcision], however, is this, that God wanted to condemn the male, not the female, manifestly because it was the male who sinned. For if Eve had been alone and Adam had not agreed, or had rebuked his wife, he would have escaped the punishment. But because he gives his consent to his wife’s sin, he is the cause of evil and is properly brought to punishment through circumcision, while the woman is let go, although she herself also bears her share of the punishments. ...as Paul also states in Rom. 5:12 ff. Everywhere he calls Adam the author of sin; about Eve he is silent.5
The opaqueness of this clarity suggests, perhaps, Luther himself was a bit inconsistent on the issue of female relations. Perhaps, then, it would be wise to begin at the beginning. With St. Paul himself. If we are to enter into these verses with earnest hearts, seeking the truth, then let us do so with great love.
There’s something rotten in the Ephesian church.
Paul opens his epistle this way:
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,4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions (1:3-7).
18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme (1:18-20).
What’s the problem? False teaching and bad behavior seem to be at the heart of the matter. As readers continue further into this letter, people are treating each other poorly and risking the witness
4 Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 2: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 6-14, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 2 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 29.
5 Martin Luther, vol. 3, Luther's Works, Vol. 3: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 15-20, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 133.
Paul has worked so hard for. “Is this what Christians really look like,” an outsider may ask. If so, “thanks, but no thanks,” their likely response.
But who are these scoundrels? We learn right away that it is “certain persons” (vv.3, 6), and “some [who] have made shipwreck of their faith” (v.19). Two of the perpetrators are named – Hymenaeus and Alexander (v.20).
We now know the problem, these two men (whom Paul has already expelled) along with certain other people, have been trying to hijack the church. “Certain people” – not all the people.
Ephesus, because of its geography had become a prominent and wealthy city, centuries before the Christian era. A seaport city, with a robust economy and a population of nearly 100,000, Ephesus was “on the ascendancy” by the time Paul arrived in town. Over the centuries the city had survived shifts in political power. Influences from Persia, Greece, and Rome had infiltrated Ephesian society. “Never really independent, the city’s Greek inhabitants staked their fortunes on their ability to accommodate the long and changing cast of rulers that came to power.”6 One dominant cultural feature was the temple and by extension worship of the goddess Artemis:
Not only were the goddess’s [Artemis] devotees ardent in their worship, but the cult itself was at the center of commercial activity in the city. The cult was flexible enough to absorb the interests of numerous other local cults and to reshape itself accordingly. Ephesus was apparently known for the practice of magic, sorcery, and soothsaying, practices that found room in most or all of the pagan religions.7
In his account in Acts, Luke details the arrival of Paul and his co-workers in Ephesus (Acts 18:18-21) after previous, thwarted, attempts (Acts 16:6) to do so. Upon his departure, Paul leaves Priscilla and Aquila behind in his stead, and returns later (Acts 18:23; 19:1) to continue his personal ministry here. “His ministry was marked by works of the Spirit and by great success (19:10-11). But Luke emphasized the opposition that arose surrounding the encounter of Paul’s gospel and Artemis worship.”8
According to primary sources and modern historians, “primary conversions to Christianity was far more prevalent among females than among males.”9 This begs the question, “If Christianity was so attractive, why would women (in particular) go astray?” One theory may lie in the population numbers.
According to sociologists, “men greatly outnumbered women in the Greco-Roman world, the suggestion being that there was some ‘tampering with human life.’10 For all social classes, termination of unwanted female infants and deformed male infants was legally and morally acceptable. “A study of inscriptions
6 Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006) 37.
7 Ibid., 38.
8 Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006) 38.
9 Rodney Stark, "Reconstructing the Rise of Christianity: The Role of Women." (Sociology of Religion: Oxford University Press, Vol. 56, No. 3 Autumn 1995) 233.
10 Ibid., 231.
at Delphi, [suggests] of 600 families, only six had raised more than one daughter.”11 This is significant research when connected to
...the linking of dyadic and social structural power and dependency. [For our purposes] it is sufficient to merely note that researchers Guttentag and Secord12 conclude that to the extent males outnumber females, women will be enclosed in repressive sex roles as men treat them as ‘scarce goods.’ Conversely, to the extent that females outnumber males, the [theory] predicts that women will enjoy relatively greater power and freedom.13
Primary conversions to Christianity were far more prevalent among women than men.14 Following the theory of this researcher, the favorable sex ratio enjoyed by Christian women would translate into noticeably more status than enjoyed elsewhere in society. Add to this scenario the particular strength and influence of the Artemis and/or Aphrodite cults in Ephesus, and it seems that some social changes were inevitable.
If, as our opening verses suggest, the men were going astray – why would we not expect the same of their wives?
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger
or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable
apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or
costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good
Is it possible that the bad outward behavior was a sign of inward spiritual decay for “certain
people”? Men were quarrelling – even angry. What kind of arguing and fighting was going on
here? Were they throwing punches? And the women were parading their luxury – dressing for
church as for a weekend in Las Vegas. Things must be bad when the champion of justification
leans into to good works (cf. vv.10, 15) as corrective for some corrupted hearts.
We can imagine this scenario – can’t we. Is there a person who hasn’t witnessed such conduct in churches all over? People behaving badly – men and women risking the Christian witness to new
believers and the outside world. This situation is as old as time.
12 Rodney Stark, "Reconstructing the Rise of Christianity: The Role of Women." (Sociology of Religion: Oxford University Press, Vol. 56, No. 3 Autumn 1995) 234-235. Guttentag, M., and P. E. Secord. 1983.Too many women? The sex ratio question. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. As they applied their theory to various societies in different eras, Guttentag and Secord noted that it illuminated the marked differences in the relative status and power of Athenian and Spartan women. That is, within the classical world, the status of women varied substantially in response to variations in sex ratios. In Athens, women were in relatively short supply....The status of Athenian women was very low. Girls received little or no educations. [ On the other hand] Spartan women enjoyed status and power unknown in the rest of the classical world. Infanticide was practiced without regard to gender...[thus]...males...more subject to birth defects and more apt to be sickly infants...resulted in a slight excess of females. Spartan women were educated at higher rates, controlled property, and enjoyed equal legal status in most cases.
13 Rodney Stark, "Reconstructing the Rise of Christianity: The Role of Women." (Sociology of Religion: Oxford University Press, Vol. 56, No. 3 Autumn 1995) 234.
14 Stark, “Reconstructing the rise of Christianity,” 233.
But then there is this,
Paul’s relatively open attitude toward female co-workers should be noted. Women in leadership were so numerous that we read mention of women deaconesses by Clement of Alexandria as well as at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 where criterion for appointment was laid out: a minimum age of 40 and unmarried status. Even Pliny the Younger reports that he tortured two young Christian women who “were called deaconesses.”15 The apostle Paul entrusts the delivery of his epistle to the Romans to a woman named Phoebe. In this same letter, Paul sends his personal greetings to 33 people, 15 of whom are women.16 In addition, Paul mentions deaconesses in both Romans and 1 Timothy. And as noted above, one of the two evangelists (mentioned by name) that Paul left behind in Ephesus to continue his work, was female. According to Wayne Meeks:
Women...are Paul’s fellow workers as evangelists and teachers. Both in terms of their position in the larger society and in terms of their participation in the Christian communities, then, a number of women broke through the normal expectations of female roles.17
While all this background may be helpful, the question at hand is “what’s the deal with the church people in Ephesus”?
It seems apparent that the influences of heresy, pagan worship, and wealth, as well as the inappropriate influence of some women (and men), were converging in Ephesus to paint an unpleasant and untraditional face to new believers and unbelievers alike. Towner tells us,
[i]n Paul’s churches Spirit-gifting undoubtedly forced some innovation in the public roles of women. But inappropriate behavior (rude or disrespectful use of a teaching position) that could be linked with the dangerous image of the new woman would necessitate temporarily curtailing these activities, and extreme abuses would not unreasonably call forth teaching in the form of prohibitions.18
Because of the public nature of both home churches as well as the periodic and larger corporate meetings in cities, Christian behavior was observable by any bystander.19 Scholars point out there is no
15 Stark, “Reconstructing the rise of Christianity,” 238.
16 Stark, “Reconstructing the rise of Christianity,” 232.
17 Stark, “Reconstructing the rise of Christianity,” 239.
18 Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006) . (Towner 2006) 197.
19 Jeffrey Kloha, 2013. In Christ and in the World: 1 Corinthians and the Christian Life in a (Sometimes) Hostile Culture. Off Campus Workshop, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Orange, CA. July 15-17.
way to avoid associating with unbelievers; and the question then is what do Christians “look like” to the outsider:20
In the end, Paul prohibits a group of wealthy women from teaching men. The factors leading to this prohibition include: (1) public presentation – outer adornment and apparel and arrogant demeanor give their teaching a shameful and disrespectful coloration; (2) association with false teaching – they may actually have been conveying or supporting heretical teaching .... Moreover, because this behavior is public and contrary to what was still the traditional status quo, Paul moved to stop the behavior to protect the church’s witness.21
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
The word Paul uses for authority should give us reason to pause. We commonly see the Greek word ἐξουσία in passages referring to authority, power, dominion, governance, jurisdiction, and ruling.22 The Greek term αὐθεντέω – used in this case – is exceptional occurring only here in the NT. Therefore, it raises questions of methodology in applying definition and extending application.23 Al Wolters asserts care must be taken as “recent studies have identified only seven other possible examples of αὐθεντέω before the time of Constantine.”24 There is debate over whether the verb would have been pejorative in use, in the sense of domineer, or a more ingressive use as in “to assume authority.” In agreement with this overall perspective on αὐθεντέω, George Knight explains,
[C]ontrary to the suggestion of KJV’s “to usurp authority” and BAGD’s alternative, “domineer” (so also NEB), the use of the word shows no inherent negative sense of grasping or usurping authority or of exercising it in a harsh or authoritative way, but simply means “to have or exercise authority” (BAGD; LSJM: “to have full power or authority over”; cf. Preisigke, Wörterbuch I, 235f.), giving three nuances for four different papyri, all in the sphere of the above definition ...25
20 Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006) 191.
21 Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006) 200.
22James Strong LL.D., S.T.D., The Strongest Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Edited by John R. Kohlenberger III, & James A. Swanson. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001) 1609. (Strong LL.D. 2001) number key 1849. P 1609.
23 Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006) 220.
24 Al Wolters, "An Early Parallel of αὐθεντέω in 1 Tim. 2:12." (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Vol. 54, No. 4 December 2011) 673.
25 KJV King James Version (Authorized Version). BAGD W. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, tr. W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich. 2nd ed. rev. and augmented by F. W. Gingrich and F. W. Danker from Bauer’s 5th ed. (1958), Chicago, 1979. NEB New English Bible. BAGD W. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, tr. W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich. 2nd ed. rev. and augmented by F. W. Gingrich and F. W. Danker from Bauer’s 5th ed. (1958), Chicago, 1979. LSJM H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, rev. and augmented by H. S. Jones and R. McKenzie, with a Supplement by E. A. Barber. Oxford, 1968.
The pre-Constantinian use of αὐθεντέω seems generally to cluster around astrological texts “and manifests a consistent semantic pattern.”26 One of the earliest recorded uses of αὐθεντέω is in the Methodus mystica. Attributed to a group of related astrological writings by Hermes Trismegistus, its likely publication date is between 100 BC and 50 AD, placing this use in proximity with the writings of Paul.27 In a survey of early astrological texts, “almost all contemporaneous” with 1 Timothy, the comparative use of αὐθεντέω in the Methodus mystica is not unusual. However, in one way it is particularly intriguing; the Methodus mystica “illustrates the rare usage of this verb with a genitive, as in 1 Tim. 2:12.”28
This Greek term is part of a larger astrological treatise on “future prospects of an unborn child.” Details about the “technical astrological terminology” are not necessary to understand the point of this section of the writing. “Future social status of the subject of the inquiry is described as one of seven possibilities, depending on the position of the planet Hermes – that is, Mercury – relative to the zodiac and the other planets at the time of the inquiry.”29 Mercury was apparently the planet with determining influence over occupational outcome. The first position was most favorable, “a leader and ruler,” and the seventh position in the hierarchy “designates the lowest of them all.”30 Wolters’ translation of the related text in the Methodus Mystica would go something like this, “Mercury in position 31 indicates one who is superior [αὐθεντοῡντα] to these [other workers32] in his occupation, and yet earns nothing.”33 In other words, this working person surpasses the other tradesmen in skill, yet earns nothing for his work thus suggesting a slave. Superior/Authority (αὐθεντέω) in this occurrence seems to be an indication of skill.
This leaves us to ponder: were some of the Ephesian church women actually more skilled than the men? Perhaps. But, then this is about behavior. Can a “slave” assume authority from the “master”? We have an OT example of this, “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you’” (Gen. 41:39-40). But what if the
26 Al Wolters, "An Early Parallel of αὐθεντέω in 1 Tim. 2:12." (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Vol. 54, No. 4 December 2011) 673.
27 Al Wolters, "An Early Parallel of αὐθεντέω in 1 Tim. 2:12." (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Vol. 54, No. 4 December 2011) 675.
28 Ibid., 676.
29 Al Wolters, "An Early Parallel of αὐθεντέω in 1 Tim. 2:12." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Vol. 54, No. 4 (December 2011) 677.
30 Ibid., 678.
31 Literally “if the benefics are squared” (ὰγαθοποιπν τετραγωνιϚόντων). The ὰγαθοποιοί refer to the four “planets” which are supposed to exert a beneficent influence, namely Jupiter, Venus, the Moon, and sometimes Mercury. If they are “squared” (i.e. “in quartile aspect”) it means that Mercury is at a 90o angle with respect to the other “benefics” in the zodiac.
32 “other workers refers to occupations or trades listed in categories one through six on the chart.
33 Al Wolters, "An Early Parallel of αὐθεντέω in 1 Tim. 2:12." (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Vol. 54, No. 4 December 2011) 679.
authority is unbestowed? What if, in addition to the liberties in dress and deportment, certain wealthy women were over-reaching, grabbing power? Here we have come to the point:
Paul more likely it seems focused on a group of men and women who are out of alignment with correct theology and missional mindsets. The fledgling church is in danger and the offenders must be corrected at once. There is no indication that every member of the Ephesian Church, or broader trans-congregational church, is in Paul’s sights. The reprobates are most likely a group of men who are in conflict with one another, and a group of wealthy women who are over-asserting their authority and bringing heretical teachings with them.34
15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
There are several popular suggestions to explain the phrase “saved through childbearing.” Current theories have suggested that women would be “kept safe” through the process of childbirth, others, that Paul is promising salvation to women who have children. Another suggestion is that women might avoid the theological errors of vv. 11-12 if they give birth.35 Clearly, even Paul would know that not all women would be bearers of children, the presence of children does not indicate theological prowess, nor would we expect the hero of “justification” to suggest that any work – even that of motherhood – will save.
One plausible suggestion is that, “Paul employed the term ‘childbirth’ as a synecdoche36 for that part of the woman’s work that describes the whole.”37 In terms of his appeal to return to the Roman household code, as well as the Genesis reference in verse 13, this would be a conceivable explanation. Encouraging women to re-engage with tradition by reminding them of their unique contribution to the family may be a good point:
Furthermore, this understanding fits the flow of Paul’s argument. He points out that Eve (ἡ γυνή) brought herself into transgression by abandoning her role and taking on that of the man. But by fulfilling her role, difficult as it may be as a result of sin (Gn. 3:16), she
34 Leann Luchinger, Women in Service to the Church: A Comparative Analysis of Martin Luther’s Writings on 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and His Personal Correspondences with Women. (Concordia University, Irvine, CA., Thesis) 2014.
35 Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 102.
36 A synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part is put for the whole, a whole is used for a part, or the species is used for the genus. The KJV translators use a synecdoche when they refer to the passengers aboard the ship as “276 souls” (Acts 27:37) instead of 276 persons.
37 Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 102.
gives birth to the Messiah, and thereby “she” (ἡ γυνή, fulfilled, of course, in Mary; cf. Gal. 4:4) brings salvation into the world.38
If we press this notion a bit further, drawing attention to the New Woman movement and
[t]he aversion to having children by rich or progressive wives -- It may well be that in this particular element we see the convergence of the heresy, with its objection to marriage (i.e., to sexual relations), and the cultural movement. By adopting and popularizing this radical departure from the traditional value of childbearing, wealthy wives in Ephesus (whether intentionally or not) endorsed one element of heresy.39
One final and plausible explanation for this phrase is that “[t]he word ‘childbirth’ follows an article in the Greek so that an acceptable reading of the phrase may be ‘the childbirth,’ Mary’s giving birth to Jesus in the virgin birth”40:
That through which, or by means of which, the woman will be saved is τεκνογονία** (a biblical hapax), “bearing a child.” Although it is not certain that the definite article is to be stressed (the article is absent in Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta [ed. J. von Arnim] III, 158, 5; in Galen, Corpus Medicorum Graecorum V/9/1, 27, 12; and in a textual variant here), if it is, then the noun plus article would refer to “the bearing of a child”; but even without such a stress the reference to “bearing a child” could well stand for the birth of the promised seed of the woman (cf., e.g., Ellicott).41
In other words, women42 who continue in faith, love and holiness, marks of the authentic Christian existence,43 will be saved – not the unruly people addressed in verses 8 through 12. In either of the
... explanations detailed here, the points are similar. These new women need to return to some old-fashioned traditions. Paul’s final remarks seem to bracket the whole address. We see some behavioral reflection between the assertions in verses 9b and 15b. Self-control is noticeably absent from this congregation. The term μετὰ σωφροσύνης, “with self-restraint” (see v. 9), brings into perspective the need for this virtue in addition to the general call for ἁγιασμός. It probably refers not only to restraint
38 George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992), 146-47.
39 Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006) 234.
40 Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 102.
** all occurrences of the word or phrase in the New Testament are listed or it is identified as a New Testament hapax legomenon
41 George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992), 147.
42Although it could be argued that this clause could apply to men and children as well, here it is applied specifically to women. George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992), 147-48.
43 Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006) 236.
and discretion in regard to clothing and adornment, but also, in connection with vv. 11– 14, a woman’s role vis-à-vis men and the church. 44
The conduct of the people in the Ephesian Church could create either a positive or negative perception in the public mind of what the Christian life looked like. It is clear that neither the men nor the women (some people) were modeling appropriate worship behavior in church or displaying a missional mindset.
As we close this discussion, one last point to ponder. In the next chapter of 1 Timothy, we read:
If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self- controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money (1 Timothy 3:1b-3).
One stops to ponder the application of this rejoinder. Do we hold pastors and/or church elders to these requirements? Are divorced men allowed to continue in the pastorate? What about those who are poor teachers? Or alcoholics? We could continue in this vein but it seems the point is clear.
When we consider the perspicuity with which we apply 1 Timothy 2:8-15 to the roles of women in the church, it would be disingenuous to play fast and loose with similar scripture as it applies to the behavior of men.
Behavior matters; both for women and men. Let us pray for gentleness and love as we live out the call of Jesus – the only Word that truly matters.
“When women accept the teaching of the gospel, they are much stronger and more ardent in their beliefs than men, and they hold to these much more firmly and solidly. We see this in the dear Anastasia, and Mary Magdalene was more valiant than Peter.”45 Martin Luther
44 George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992), 148-49.
45 Albrecht Classen and Tanya Amber Settle, "Women in Martin Luther's Life and Theology," German Studies Review (German Studies Association) 14, no. 2 (May 1991): 231-260. WA TR V, no. 6100, p. 488
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