Sunday, January 25, 2009

So Historical Context, DOES Matter, Huh?

“…Thus the theological and contextual questions posed earlier [in the chapter] remain. If women are saved by bearing children, then is this not salvation by works and a contradiction of Pauline theology? UNDERSTANDING THE HISTORICAL SITUATION will aid us in answering this question. The false teachers, in trumpeting an overrealized eschatology, prohibited marriage and certain foods (1 Tim. 4:1-5). If marriage was banned, then bearing children was probably also criticized. Childbearing was selected by Paul, then, as a specific response to the shafts from the false teachers. Referring to childbearing is also appropriate because it represents the fulfillment of the woman’s domestic role as a mother in distinction from the man” (117, 118).

I’ve been working my way through Andreas Kostenberger’s and Thomas Schreiner’s book, “Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15.” The last time, I talked about how Schreiner claims that Adam was deceived, similar to Eve—but the problem is that this claim is a DIRECT VIOLATION of the text. 1 Timothy 2:12 says, “And Adam was not deceived…” Although this doesn’t totally annihilate Schreiner’s thoughts, when a contradiction to Scripture is employed as part of an analysis of a BIBLICAL text, it should make us stop and question whether or not the analysis is right. Schreiner’s work, then, at the very least, is scripturally questionable.

In this post I am concentrating on the statement Schreiner makes above regarding historical context.

Schreiner believes that when Paul wrote 1 Tim. 2:15, he was trying to persuade the women to do the OPPOSITE of what the false teachers were urging them to do: “the false teachers, in trumpeting an overrealized eschatology, prohibited marriage and certain foods.” He then goes on to talk about childbearing and that this act, too, was to turn the women away from the false teachers.

However, what does Schreiner do with the first 6 verses of this 7-verse text? Not much. When Schreiner writes about the prohibition on women, he says, “The proscription on women teaching men, then, does not stem from the fall and and cannot be ascribed to the curse. Paul appeals to the CREATED ORDER, the good and perfect world God has made, to justify the ban on women teaching men” (105).

I see a problem with Schreiner’s statement: where in Scripture are we told that Adam was made head of his home BEFORE the Fall in Genesis 3? Nowhere. Therefore, we must ask ourselves this question: why would Paul write something here that FLATLY CONTRADICTS what we read in Genesis 3? Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, would not have written CONTRARY to the Word of God that already existed (which was the Old Testament). Paul, having studied the OT vigorously as a Pharisee, one who knew it both inside and out, would not have come to his first letter to Timothy and attempted to impose a NEW EVENT on the events of Genesis. Complementarians who argue that the created order CHANGES when the husband was made the head of the home are the ones who seem to liberal, changing Scripture to fit their own ideas. If Paul is arguing the created order, then, he must be hinting at something else EXCEPT the rule of the man in the home—in other words, his argument must involve defending the events of Genesis as Moses recorded them.

Schreiner then presents the various views of egalitarians, and, once discussing them, moves on to present a plausible reason to believe the COMPLEMENTARIAN view: “It seems that unclarity is in the eye of the beholder, for the thrust of this verse has been deemed quite clear in the history of the church” (106). Now, to add to his view, Schreiner appeals to history to justify his (and the complementarian) belief; but the problem with this is that there are lots of things that have happened in history (such as mass killings and dictatorships) that were wrong. History, then, doesn’t justify anything; it only presents a belief or view that can be observed. Therefore, when Schreiner appeals to history, what he is saying is merely that “the belief that women were not to serve in positions of leadership has been a consistent belief in the view of the church.” And this statement in and of itself is incorrect: there is archaeological evidence of tombstone and monument inscriptions from the third and fourth centuries (time of the Patristic Fathers) that shows otherwise. Many of the church councils of the first SIX centuries fought against women being in places of leadership, but the churches themselves promoted women in such positions. There were even bishops who were allowing women to serve at the altar, a practice that was ONLY allowed for the ordained! Women also served as deacons (one woman, named Sophia, actually called herself “The Second Phoebe”), widows, and even presbyters! I will post on this archaeological evidence in the days to come; but for those who wanna read up on this subject, I highly recommend the book “Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History” by Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek (done by Johns Hopkins University Press). The book was written just a few years ago (no earlier than 2000) and provides the most recent up-to-date research on the positions of women in the early church. Contrary to Schreiner, history has not shown a consensus on this subject.

If Schreiner’s ideas on Adam being formed first are detestable, it gets better: this is what he writes to sum up the discussion on Eve’s deception:

“Paul’s purpose is more restricted here. He wants to focus on the fact that the serpent approached and deceived Eve, not Adam…in approaching Eve, then, the serpent SUBVERTED THE PATTERN OF MALE LEADERSHIP…the Genesis temptation, therefore, is INDICATIVE OF WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MALE LEADERSHIP IS ABROGATED” (115).

Here, Schreiner doesn’t even present sufficient evidence to come to this conclusion. He mentions the serpent coming to Eve, but that is not what Paul is getting at here. In 1 Tim. 2:12, Paul is not analyzing the Law; he does not tell why Adam was not deceived, but Eve was! He does not tell that the serpent by-passed the male authority to wreak havoc on the human race! Paul does what Moses does in Genesis—he simply DEFENDS and REITERATES the events of the Fall. And when writers such as Schreiner attempt to take this verse and add some SUPER ANALYSIS to it, they do the text a disgrace. The text doesn’t analyze—the text only CLAIMS! It upholds the events of the Law as Genesis states them—NOTHING MORE!!

Notice that with 1 Timothy 2:13-14 that Schreiner has given little evidence to explain these verses. His exegesis has been poor and he spends most of his time combating the ridiculous ideas of egalitarians. However, not all egalitarians are liberal (even Wayne Grudem mentions this) and not all egalitarians share their ideas. I am a theological conservative, but I disagree with liberal ideas such as certain texts of Scripture have no necessity for the modern-day Christian. ALL TEXTS are important for today, but we have to find what they meant originally before we can determine what they mean contemporarily.

While Schreiner has poor exegesis of verses 13 and 14, he tries to make up for it with his HISTORICAL CONTEXT of verse 15. Finally, Schreiner decides that context plays a role!
But there is a problem with this, too. Verse 15 does have a role to play with the historical context of false teaching and false teachers; however, the previous 6 verses are written in the same section as verse 15, with no break in between (or no time indicator to signify a different subjection being discussed). If women were to be “preserved” (to be saved) through the bearing of children,” doesn’t this preservation have something to do with falling sway to the false teachers? After all, Paul constantly mentions the tragic effect that the teachers have had on the believers at Ephesus:

(a) “certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion…” (1 Tim. 1:6, ESV)

(b) “By rejecting this, some HAVE MADE SHIPWRECK OF THEIR FAITH, AMONG whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander…” (1 Tim. 1:20)

(c) Regarding overseers: “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become PUFFED UP WITH CONCEIT AND FALL INTO THE CONDEMNATION OF THE DEVIL…he must be well thought of by outsiders, SO THAT HE MAY NOT FALL INTO DISGRACE, INTO A SNARE OF THE DEVIL” (1 Tim. 3:6, 7)

(d) “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared…” (1 Tim. 4: 1-2)

(e) “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” (1 Tim. 5:15).


I think it’s quite obvious to those who read this chapter in the book “Women in the Church” that Schreiner performs what I’d like to call “Partial Exegesis”—he picks the verses he wants to talk about with context while ditching the others. But, he does the exact same thing with the verses of Genesis! The fall happened not because male leadership was averted, but BECAUSE GOD’S LEADERSHIP WAS! When Adam and Eve decided not to listen to God anymore, and made THEMSELVES the authority, the serpent’s lies were accepted as truth and God’s truth as lie; and, as a result, sin entered the world and all the sorrow that came with it. Eve was allowed to make an individual choice, just as Adam was. But they made the wrong choice based on their own willingness to sin. Human decision is what is to be blamed for the Fall. And, sadly enough, on this subject, humans still fail today: we STILL tend to believe that we call the shots, that we determine who’s gifted and who isn’t, who can use their gifts and who can’t. But, as in the Garden, once again, God’s leadership is in the shadows; and all we have to do is get out of the way and watch God work…

Comments on Schreiner's "An Interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:9-15"

“Paul Barnett intriguingly suggests that the point of the text is that Adam was not deceived first, but Eve was deceived first. The word ‘first’ (‘protos’ in the Greek) would be implicitly understood from verse 13…but Barnett’s suggestion is a possibility when we recall that Paul was writing to Timothy, who was quite familiar with his theology. Paul would be reminding Timothy that Eve transgressed first, and yet Adam was held responsible for the sin that was imputed to the whole human race (Romans 5:12-19). The reference to Eve sinning first along with the recognition that Adam BORE PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY for sin entering the world (note in Genesis 3 that God approached Adam first after the sin) reveals the reality of male headship. In this scenario, then, verse 14 would function as second argument for male leadership in teaching” (114).

Thomas Schreiner, author of the chapter entitled “An Interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:9-15” in his (and Andreas Kostenberger’s book) called “Women in the Church,” takes time here to consider the ideas of Paul Barnett. Paul Barnett argues that Eve was deceived first—but that this doesn’t mean Adam was not deceived.

First of all, this CLEARLY CONTRADICTS Scripture, for Paul writes, “And Adam was not deceived…” (1 Timothy 2:12b).

Scripture presents problems for this argument by Barnett that Schreiner endorses and shows its flaws. When God confronts Adam about his sin, Adam responds,

“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12, ESV).

Adam doesn’t mention his deception. But notice what Eve says when God confronts her:

“The serpent DECEIVED me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:13b)

Eve mentions her deception by the serpent, but Adam doesn’t mention that he is deceived—instead, he simply turns and blames his wife as the culprit responsible for the sin. In addition, God’s words to Adam show us that Adam was not deceived, but sinned willfully:

“17And to Adam he said,"Because you have listened to the voice of your wifeand have eaten of the tree(R) of which I commanded you,'You shall not eat of it,'”

God’s problem with Adam was that he “listened to the voice” of his wife, did what his wife wanted him to do. Adam bore PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY because he was the only one (between he and Eve) that heard the commandment from God back in Genesis 2:16.

Nevertheless, notice what Schreiner says to cover Adam’s tracks:

“What Paul emphasizes is that it was Eve (not Adam) who was deceived by the serpent. Thus, WE NEED NOT CONCLUDE THAT ADAM WAS UNDECEIVED IN EVERY RESPECT…the latter would contradict Romans 5:12-19, and the former is hard to understand in any case, for it seems that all sin involves deceit. Do people sin with their eyes wide open, understanding the nature and consequences for their sin?” (114, 115).

It is amazing to me that now, Schreiner attempts to cover Adam’s sin by making him deceived like Eve was! The only problem is, that there’s a difference between Eve’s deception and Adam’s responsibility.

Looking up the word “responsible” in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, I found this definition:

“able to answer for one's conduct and obligations.”

What does this tell us about Adam? Adam was obligated by God’s commandment to him in Genesis 2 to make the right choice; however, he didn’t make the right choice. Adam is responsible for his sin because he knew that he had a choice not to eat from the tree, and he knew the consequences of so doing.

I also looked up the word “deceive” in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

deceive implies imposing a false idea or belief that causes ignorance, bewilderment, or helplessness .”

Eve was deceived, meaning that the serpent tried to make her sound ignorant, as though she knew nothing—and he knew everything! The serpent painted God as though He was withholding something from Adam and Eve—and only God and the serpent knew what it was! The serpent gave her a false idea—that she could achieve Godhood!

What amazes me the most is that Schreiner goes so far as to ask the question, “Do people sin with their eyes wide open, understanding the nature and consequences for their sin?”

The answer to this question is a resounding YES! Adam sinned with his eyes wide open; he knew what the sin would be and its consequences: for God told him, “in the day you eat of it YOU SHALL SURELY DIE” (Gen. 2:17b). How hard is it to understand this as God’s promise for punishment? Contrary to Schreiner, all sin does not involve deceit. Deceit is only involved when someone is lied to about something. This clearly occurs in Eve’s case, for the serpent outright lies to her about her achieving Godhood; however, Adam isn’t lied to by God—he is told the consequences for his sin! And even hearing the serpent (with his wife), he had a marker (God’s words) by which to weigh his decisions. Eve didn’t have that—all she had was second-hand information.

Finally, Schreiner makes one more comment regarding Adam and Eve that shows his presupposition: that Adam’s being held responsible for the sin of humankind shows the “reality of male headship” (114). But I have a question: how does this show the reality of male headship? God made Adam the lord over all creation, and thus, when Adam sins, he is responsible for how sin affects all of creation! Only because he is created first and given explicit instructions by God is he responsible for all of creation. Genesis records nothing of Adam being head by virtue of his gender. And, as I’ve mentioned so many times before, if Adam is the head because he is a man, tell me why, even when God officiates the first wedding in Scripture, He does not place Adam as head over his marriage? God surely could have done it then; however, He only does it after Eve sins. So, in all honesty, the man’s headship is because of Eve’s sin. Male headship is not shown in Genesis to be something that is a blessing…and yet, so many men make it out to be this way!

Notice that God doesn’t confer the blessing on Adam, but instead, gives the news to Eve (Gen. 3:16).

Schreiner, however, focuses on a word that I think plays an important part in how to interpret 1 Tim. 2:12—RESPONSIBILITY!! Notice that Schreiner uses Romans 5:12-19. I think this is a fitting passage to deal with the passage in 1 Timothy.

Let’s take a look at Romans 5:12-19--

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12, ESV)

It wasn’t through two men that sin came into the world, but one. In looking at the Greek text, the word here in Romans for “man,” the reference to Adam here is the word “anthropos,” referring to “human,” not the Greek word for “male” (aner). We can see from this that the emphasis of Scripture is on humanity as a whole, NOT gender. Romans 5:16 talks about “the man” Christ Jesus, but the reference uses the word “anthropos,” which stands for “humanity,” not a male. I don’t see how Romans 5 shows the “reality of male headship.”

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:45—

45Thus it is written,(BB) "The first man Adam became a living being";[e](BC) the last Adam became a(BD) life-giving spirit.

The word here for “man” in reference to Adam is “anthropos,” referring to “human,” not “male.”
Let’s look once again at 1 Timothy 2:5—

5For(H) there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus,

Christ is called “the man” here as well, but, like the others, the word for “man” here is not “male,” but instead, “human.”

The emphasis on Scripture seems to be that Christ is “human,” not “male.” Although Christ was circumcised, and is called “the Son of God” and “Prince of Peace,” this is not what’s most important about Christ; rather, it’s His HUMANITY that is most important.

As a result, therefore, nothing of Scripture confirms male headship EXCEPT that of Genesis
3:16. Even then, however, male headship is confirmed ONLY in the home, for “Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5).

Friday, January 23, 2009

An Inconsistent Hermeneutic

The more I study the text of 1 Timothy 2, I am convinced that the issue of women in ministry is not a matter of who adheres to God’s Word or not, or whether one believes the Bible to be the ultimate authority or not. As a theological conservative, I believe that God’s Word is the highest authority in the land—and nothing stands taller than God’s Word. However, the issue comes down to one thing in particular—HERMENEUTICS!

Hermeneutics is defined as “the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible).” Hermeneutics consists SOLELY of interpreting Scripture. The job of the teacher, preacher, or pastor is NOT to invent Scripture, or REWRITE what they believe the writer intended. Their job is to find the intention behind the text, and to interpret ONLY what is there.
This principle can be seen in the argument between complementarians and egalitarians over the issue of submission in the home. Ephesians 5 is the debated passage. Look at Ephesians 5: 21 (ESV):

“submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Now, look at Ephesians 5:22 (ESV):

22(AR) Wives,(AS) submit to your own husbands,(AT) as to the Lord.

There are some egalitarians who look at Ephesians 5:21 (which stresses mutual submission) and they use it to argue that husbands and wives must both submit to each other—hence, men do not have any authority over their wives in the home.

However, if that’s true, what do we do with Ephesians 5:22?

On the other side, there are the complementarians who say that Ephesians 5:21 applies to a different situation than does Ephesians 5:22. How are we to interpret these two verses? They say that we should look at context, the background of the letter, the flow of thought with these two verses. Looking at Ephesians 5:21, we see that the context, the verses prior to it, vv. 19-20, show us that the context refers to a gathering of people: “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The context here seems to involve “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (5:19). Ephesians 5:3 shows us that the letter is written among the saints. In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul refers to “one body and one Spirit” (4:4), a reference to the body of Christ, the church. The background tells us, then, that when Paul refers to mutual submission, he is referring to the church, not the husband and wife context.

But then, in Ephesians 5:22, Paul goes into a different type of relationship—he leaves the relationship of church members and goes to the relationships common in households—husbands/wives, then parents/children (6:1-4), and masters/slaves (6:5-9).

Verse 22 reads,

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

How do we know that this submission between husband and wife is different from the mutual submission of church members? Because of verses 23 and 24:

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in

everything to their husbands.”

Notice that the husband is compared to Christ in the two analogies. The husband has authority over his wife as Christ has authority over His Church. Secondly, Paul gives a command to wives: “so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” In Ephesians 5:21, Paul has just exhorted the church to submit to one another “out of reverence for Christ.” By submitting to one another in the body of Christ, we submit to Christ.

The fact that Paul compares the husband/wife team to Christ and the church and gives a command to wives (as he has just given a command to husbands right before it) indicates to us that there is a similar thought in mind regarding authority in the household as well as in the church.

As the biblical evidence shows us, there is simply no basis for the egalitarian claim regarding the household—there is “submission and love,” with the wife submitting to her husband and the husband loving his wife, possessing self-sacrificial love (with his example being Christ and His self-sacrificial love for the church).

Not only does context tell us that this interpretation is correct, but the rest of the canon does so as well. First, there is Genesis 3:16; then there is Eph. .5:22, 24; then there are Colossians 3:18 and 1 Peter 3:1. This is proof from the rest of the canon of Scripture. Yes, there is also proof of mutual submission—but when this occurs, it is in the context of the Body of Christ, the Church. Notice, however, that the complementarian considers context when determining how to interpret Ephesians 5: 21, 22.

However, when complementarians arrive at 1 Timothy 2, they take a different approach all together. Instead of considering the context and background situation, the complementarian scholar instead looks at 1 Timothy 2:12 and says, “See, women can’t be pastors or preach and teach in the public assembly. Why? Because Paul said that a woman can’t have authority over a man in the church.” And they do this without even examining context or background to find out how wrong their interpretation may be. The background of chapter 2 concerns abuses in the church—men are arguing doing prayer, and women are wearing very immodest clothing, and rising up against their male instructors in service. Instead of being submissive to their authorities (in this case, their teacher), they rebel and speak so confidently (1 Tim. 1:7) about things that they don’t understand or don’t know where they came from.

I have one wish: that the complementarians would be consistent in their hermeneutical approach; that, just as they use context to defend the submission of the wife in the home, they would use context to support women teaching and preaching in the church (while learning how to deal with those whose preaching and teaching are questionable). As the saying goes, “What’s good for the GOOSE is good for the GANDER."

Translations Gone Wrong?

1 Timothy 2:12 is a controversial verse indeed; its controversy is seen in how many translations of this verse exist. Kostenberger and fellow editor, Thomas Schreiner, translate the verb “authentein” in 1 Tim. 2:12 as “to have authority” (pg. 62, Women in the Church). The NASB, ESV, and the Darby Translation all record that “authentein” means “to exercise authority.” It seems as if most (if not all) translations have something to do with “authority” or “power.”

In my last post on “Authentein—the X Factor,” I used a mathematical equation to help solve the problem of what “authentein” means in 1 Timothy 2:12. In this post, however, we’re gonna look at different translations of the Greek infinitive (authentein) and see why they are inadequate to explain why Paul appeals to the Genesis account.
Here are a few definitions for “authentein”:

(a) To have authority
(b) To exercise authority
(c) To be the origin of
(d) To domineer

There are others out there, but these are probably the four most common interpretations of “authentein.”

First, let’s look at the meaning “to have authority,” placing it [and each of the definitions to come] in their proper context.

According to translators who stick with this definition (such as the NIV), this definition has a problem with the Law. If women are not allowed to “have authority” over a man, and then Paul gives the Genesis account as the reason for the prohibition, what does “having authority” have to do with Eve being deceived?

I have a possible idea that runs through the translators’ minds—“Although Adam was formed first and given authority over Eve, she took authority over Adam—and look at the disaster Eve caused. When the serpent went to Eve, he was undermining the leadership of the marriage and home given by God.”

Let’s examine this: when did Adam have authority over his wife? Does he receive it when they marry in Genesis 2? According to the complementarian, he does. Genesis 2:19(ESV) says,
“19(S) Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed[f] every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and(T) brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.”

The Lord decides to let Adam name the animals. This shows that Adam has privileges as the first human. Adam is given authority in the Garden because of the decision from the Council of the Trinity in Genesis 1:

“26Then God said,(O) "Let us make man[h] in our image,(P) after our likeness. And(Q) let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;(R) male and female he created them.
28And God blessed them. And God said to them,(S) "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth"” (Genesis 1:26-28, ESV).

However, notice that the woman isn’t excluded. God said, “Let THEM have dominion over the earth,” not “Let HIM have dominion…” If God clearly wanted to establish Adam’s authority (since Adam was naming the animals) over his wife, then God could have done it here. Better yet, let’s look at the marriage of Adam and Eve:

18Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone;(R) I will make him a helper fit for[e] him." 19(S) Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed[f] every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and(T) brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam[g] there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the LORD God caused a(U) deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made[h] into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said, "This at last is(V) bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;she shall be called Woman, because she was(W) taken out of Man."[i]

Adam gets to name Eve, like he gets to name all the animals of the Garden. This shows, however, that Adam was given federal headship over the human race—he gets to name Eve, human #2, of the race. However, this is no demonstration of his authority over Eve; for where do we read that this is God’s justification for the wives to submit to their husbands? Never is there any reference throughout the rest of the canon to this moment (the moment of Adam naming his wife, Eve) to be the reason why the man was to “be lord” over his wife. Adam’s lordship over his wife does not occur until Genesis 3:16, where God gives Eve her punishment for her sin. So Eve didn’t have any authority over her husband. However, if Eve had any authority, Adam gave it to her. Notice what he says when God confronts him first (as the one who heard God directly) about his sin:

“17And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree(R) of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,'(S) cursed is the ground because of you;” (Genesis 3:17ff)

If Eve had any authority, it is because Adam made her the authority. God tells Adam when He confronts him that God Himself was the authority, but instead of listening to God, Adam listened to his wife, Eve.

Adam listening to Eve, however, was a sin because Eve wasn’t there in the Garden when God gave Adam the command. Adam, however, heard the voice of God and yet, listened to someone who didn’t hear God’s voice.

The next meaning for “authentein” is “to exercise authority.” Eve didn’t have any authority over Adam (as established above), so she couldn’t exercise any. After all, how can you USE power that you don’t HAVE?

The next definition of “authentein” is “to domineer.” How does Eve domineer her husband? Does she step over him when he’s talking to the serpent and answer the questions? Does she take the fruit away from Adam, make the decision, and then pass it back to Adam? No—she doesn’t do any of these things. Complementarians who argue this position argue that Eve took authority away from Adam—it was Adam’s job to make the decision, and he didn’t step in to correct his wife. However, this could have easily occurred had Adam been responsible for Eve’s choice. It’s clear that he wasn’t, because after the Fall in Genesis 3, God does not punish Adam for Eve’s sin, but instead, NATURE:

“ 17And to Adam he said,"Because you have listened to the voice of your wifeand have eaten of the tree(R) of which I commanded you,'You shall not eat of it,'(S) cursed is the ground because of you;(T) in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;and you shall eat the plants of the field.19By the sweat of your faceyou shall eat bread,till you return to the ground,for out of it you were taken;(U) for you are dust,and(V) to dust you shall return."” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Eve is not punished because Adam sinned, but nature is. Adam doesn’t bear responsibility for his family until Genesis 3:16, when he is called “lord” in his home. In the Greek Old Testament, called the Septuagint (LXX), the Lord said to Eve in Genesis 3:16, that “he [Adam] would rule over you.” The word for “rule over” here is “kureiuo,” meaning “to be lord over.” Adam was already “lord of creation,” but he was not “lord” of his family UNTIL God’s response to Eve’s punishment in Genesis 3.

And Eve is not punished for “domineering” her husband. She doesn’t take the decision away from him; rather, she is given the chance to choose because the serpent comes to trick her.
Finally, there is one last definition that solves the problem of why Paul appeals to the Law: that is, the word “authentein” means “to be the origin of,” or “to be the original.” This makes sense because of two reasons: (1) Paul appeals to Adam being born first (arguing genealogy, which was part of the nature of the false teaching); (2) secondly, Paul defends Adam not being deceived, and asserts “the woman was deceived.” The Law states that Adam was first formed (Genesis 2:7) and then Eve (Genesis 2:22).

For the second part of Paul’s justification, he says, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into the transgression.” Genesis 3 tells us that Eve was deceived (3:13), and mentions nothing of Adam’s deception.

It seems here that, based on the placement of Adam and Eve, both played their parts: Adam was formed first, but then Eve was approached by the serpent and was deceived. But if the women at Ephesus engaged in “endless genealogies,” then surely, they could have argued that Eve was created before Adam.

When the word “authentein” here means “to be the original,” it’s amazing how the events of Genesis seem to make sense here. Paul’s logic seems to fit when the disputed Greek verb relates to the origin of history (Book of Genesis). But when the other definitions are applied, complementarians (and even egalitarians) have to go into long, lengthy, complex analogies to argue their point. Paul, however, didn’t intend for such lengthy analyses to be applied to this verse. Paul simply told the women that they couldn’t teach that the woman was the origin of man because “Adam was formed first, then Eve.” The word “protos” here, meaning “first,” indicates order. When someone mentions a word related to “order,” the assumption is that the person is trying to recall events or a shopping list, or a schedule of things they did on a particular day, etc. Paul argues placement order to tell the women at Ephesus that Adam really was formed first.

I think the situation boils down to this: complementarians have got to stop using 1 Timothy 2:12 to justify their view of the role of women in the churches. Why? because the evidence for their position of women’s subordination simply isn’t there…

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Authentein-- The X Factor

Let’s say you found yourself in math class with the following problem:

3 + X = 5

How would you solve this problem? Well, first, let’s look at what we know:

(1) We know that we’re adding something (x) to the number 3. The number 3 then, becomes the number at which we count from THREE to FIVE.

(2) If something is being added to three to get five, we have to subtract three from five to discover what the unknown number (x) is.

Let’s subtract three from both sides:

X+3-3 = 5-3

X = 2

The missing answer to the math problem is two. If you start at the number three and count up two numbers, you will arrive at the number 5.

How did we start this equation? We took what we knew, the number 3 PLUS another number equaled FIVE, and we measured the distance between the numbers THREE and FIVE. Now, three and five don’t have a whole lot in common between the two numbers, but in finding their distance, we know that it is the same from THREE to FIVE as it is from FIVE to THREE.
The answer is going to be fixed (based on the numbers we do have), so we can’t get anything except the one true answer. We can’t make “X” equal to 12 just because we like the number 12. Adding twelve to three yields FIFTEEN, not FIVE. We have to stick to what is in front of us.
Using the above math problem, we can see that there is a simple way in which to discover the meaning of the Greek verb, “authentein.”

[I do not permit a woman TO TEACH] neither [“X” a man] = The affirmation of the Law.

TO NOT TEACH + AUTHENTEIN[a man] = the Law

Notice that we see Paul’s first prohibition—not to teach; we see that the Greek verb “AUTHENTEIN” is the “X” factor; and the Law is the solution to the problem. Paul uses the law to correct something about these women teaching.

To find the answer to the above equation (involving “authentein” as the X factor) we have to subtract “TO NOT TEACH” from both sides. We therefore end up with this:

X = ?????
Whatever “X” is (the verb authentein means), it will be determined here by the relationship between the Law and false teaching.

What did Paul appeal to in the Law? The creation story, the account of origin (Genesis). “To teach” was associated with the Law in 1 Timothy (1 Tim. 1:7, 8, 9). Teaching and the Law were both considered to be good. However, as Paul states in 1 Tim. 1:9, the Law was good—IF ONE USES IT LAWFULLY, which means that there seems to be a problem with the way the Law was being used in the church at Ephesus.

We can thus further derive this formula:


Paul has told these women NOT to teach, NEITHER to “authentein” a man, so, the word itself isn’t negative—just the context.

Next, we can figure out something about “authentein” because it has something to do with a teaching from the creation story of Genesis. Paul tells us what he dealt with in 1 Timothy 2: 13-14—

“13(V) For Adam was formed first,(W) then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but(X) the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

Paul defends the creation story as mentioned in Genesis—Adam was formed first, then Eve. Next, “the woman was deceived,” meaning that Adam was not deceived (as Genesis makes it clear). What can easily be seen in these verses can be found in verse 14. Paul refers to “Adam” in both verses, but when he gets to Eve he says in verse 14, “THE WOMAN…”

Why would he call Eve “the woman” who was deceived? It is clear from Genesis 3 that the serpent deceived Eve; but what isn’t clear is why Paul would have to defend what is already contained in the Law. The answer? The Law, as written, is being disputed. Why did Paul need to defend the Law if everything was being embraced in the Law as true doctrine?

The reason why he defends the Law is because it isn’t upheld—instead, it is being challenged by other teachings in the church (1 Timothy 6:3-5).
So whatever “authentein” is, it must be challenged by the false “teaching” that is connected to it.

What does Paul use to combat the women teaching? The Law. And what is the Law (Genesis) about here? The origin of creation, the origin of human history. 1 Timothy 1 already told us that the problems of speculations at the Ephesian church consisted of “myths and endless GENEALOGIES…” Genealogies, as I revealed in an earlier post on the Pastoral Epistles, defined what “genealogies” are—accounts of human origin (according to the Merriam-webster dictrionary).

From our formula




While "authentein" may not be negative in and of itself, it certainly was (based on the context of false teaching at Ephesus). The creation story was being twisted (used "unlawfully," reminiscent of Paul's words in 1 Timothy 1:9)-- and these things were being taught (notice the "to teach" in the equation as the summation of the situation). What were the women to teach? the opposite of the woman being the original man; in other words, they were to teach in accordance with Scripture (that Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into the transgression).

We can see that there was something being taught incorrectly about the creation story. What was this? The fact that Eve was created before Adam and that Adam was deceived instead of Eve.

Further context reveals the issue here. Look back at 1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV):

5For(H) there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus

There seems to be a reason behind why the phrase “the man Christ Jesus” has to appear here THE ONLY TIME in the New Testament, if not throughout all of the canon of Scripture!
To show us more of the context of the Pastoral Epistles, I did a keyword search at and found that the phrase “the knowledge of the truth” is used FIVE TIMES throughout Scripture, all five being in the New Testament, with THREE of the five times the phrase is used appearing in 1 and 2 Timothy! This is not a surprise. All the letters to Timothy (and the letter to Titus) are about the churches teaching and walking in correct doctrine.

Looking at the verse from that of a simple mathematical equation, we can find out what the problem with “authentein” involved—a falsehood or heresy of the creation story.

“Authentein” then, by working through the verse, turns out to have some connection to the creation story. In a future post, I’ll discuss why based on this mathematical, hermeneutical equation of “authentein,” we cannot translation the verb to mean “to have authority” or “to exercise authority.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Life Setting? Maybe...Maybe Not!

Andreas Kostenberger and Thomas Schreiner are co-editors of a book called “Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Tim. 2:9-15.” In Schreiner’s chapter, titled “An Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9-15,” Schreiner writes regarding the life text of this passage:
“In the case of 1 Timothy, IT IS CLEAR that the letter is written to counteract false teaching (1:3-11, 18-20; 4:1-10; 5:11-15; 6:3-10, 20-21). Indeed, the transition between 1 Timothy 1:18-20 and 2:1 indicated by “therefore” (oun) shows that the following instructions relate to the CHARGE TO RESIST FALSE TEACHING (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3, 18). The letter is designed to CORRECT THE ABUSES INTRODUCED BY THE HERETICS INTO THE COMMUNITY. Nevertheless, caution should also be the watchword in explaining the nature of 1 Timothy. Even though the presence of heresy is evident, it does not follow that every feature of the letter is explicable on the basis of the false teaching. Paul probably included some material for GENERAL PURPOSES THAT DID NOT ADDRESS THE DEVIANT TEACHING DIRECTLY…After Paul had functioned as a missionary and church planter for so many years, he likely had at least a general vision of how churches should be structured” (87).

Paul, as an experienced missionary and church planter, very likely had this. But even when Paul mentions the requirements for offices (and thus, organization) in the church, the requirements are always tied to the situation in Ephesus that the church was faced with in the first century—that of false teaching. For example, in 1 Timothy 3, when one reads about the qualifications for overseer, note that the overseer must “not [be] a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome” (v.3). In addition, the overseer was not to be “a lover of money.” This last mentioned qualification is important, because the false teachers were greedy for money. Regarding the false teachers, Paul wrote,

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:10).

Therefore, there were requirements for the offices Paul established whose roots came from the situation that the church was facing. Why? So that the leaders over the church could be “above reproach,” above the current situation, above being labeled a “false teacher,” above being influenced by the first-century heresy at Ephesus.

Along these lines, let me say that we still adhere to the requirements for the offices of overseer and deacon in 1 Timothy 3. However, in order to properly apply them in today’s time, we must place them back in their first-century context. Once we place them in their first-century context, in order to determine what God is trying to tell us in the requirements, we need to look at the rest of the canon of Scripture and see how these requirements line up. For example, Paul writes that the overseer [must] “not [be] a drunkard” (3:3). Now, while this requirement was placed there because of issues in the first-century, we have the rest of the canon of Scripture. We have, to attest to 1 Tim. 3 and its prohibitions on drunkenness, the words of Paul in Ephesians 5:18—“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT” (ESV).

The rest of Scripture speaks on drunkenness as well. For instance, there is Proverbs 20:1—

“1(A) Wine is a mocker,(B) strong drink a brawler,and whoever(C) is led astray by it is not wise.[a] ”

The verse tells us that wine and strong drink are deceivers, and that the foolish person lets them get the best of the individual’s own mental and physical faculties.

Then, there’s Proverbs 23:20—

“20Be not among(A) drunkards[a]or among(B) gluttonous eaters of meat…”

Proverbs 23:20 tells us not to invest great amounts of time with drunkards; do not be known as the closest friend of a drunkard.

Then, there’s 1 Corinthians 5:11—

“11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone(A) who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.”

The Bible, however, is pretty consistent in its view of drunkenness, despite the context of 1 Timothy 3. Nevertheless, the proper hermeneutic consist of placing the Pauline epistle (or any passage of Scripture) within its immediate context and, afterwards, using the immediate context of the ancient day to arrive at the proper modern-day understanding.

So, while there are universally-applicable principles in the book of 1 Timothy, those universal principles can only be interpreted upon deciphering the first-century context.

Schreiner also seems to contradict himself. On page 90 of he and Kostenberger’s book “Women in the Church,” Schreiner writes:
“Nor is it clear that 1 Timothy 5;13 demonstrates that women were TEACHING the heresy.” But then, on the same page, Schreiner contradicts himself to bring in his presupposition and inherent gender bias:

“Perhaps women BEGAN TO ENGAGE IN TEACHING because they had fallen prey to an overrealized eschatology. They may have believed that the resurrection had already occurred (2 Tim. 2:18) and thus THE DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN WERE ERASED
since the new age had dawned.” Schreiner does admit that the evidence for this isn’t there, but it’s remarkable that he actually spends time trying to SUGGEST what a plausible explanation could have been. Notice that his presupposition shines through: “THE DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN” are not mentioned in ANY of the Pastorals, but yet, Schreiner throws this out as what he calls a “plausible” explanation for 1 Timothy 2. This idea of distinctions is Schreiner’s conservative presupposition. Quite naturally, this distinction refers to roles in the church (and also the home). The only problem with this is that Paul is writing to the churches in Ephesus, and, therefore, would give advice to the churches (this is why Paul calls the church “the household of God”).

When writing on the prohibition on page 101, Schreiner explains the prohibition in this manner:
“The prohibition against women teaching is not absolute and is probably given BECAUSE SOME WOMEN WERE TEACHING BOTH MEN AND WOMEN WHEN THE CHURCH ASSEMBLED.” What makes me laugh most is that Schreiner argues earlier in the chapter that women were not known for “teaching” a false doctrine, but instead, for being influenced by it. However, now, women WERE teaching in the church when Paul wrote the letter! I mean, which is it?
It seems that complementarians don’t know how to make an assumption and stick to it. However, Schreiner’s inconsistency on the life setting shows us something: if women WERE teaching when Paul wrote the letter, and they WERE teaching both MEN and WOMEN, then Paul’s prohibition to them must have a local, temporary reason or justification—and we must find out what that was. And once we know the reason for Paul’s temporary prohibition, women’s doors in ministry will be open before them.

After attacking various egalitarian views, Schreiner concludes,
“The COMPLEMENTARIAN view has the virtue of adopting the simplest reading of the text. Paul maintains that the Genesis narrative gives a reason why women should not teach men: Adam was created first and then Eve. In other words, when Paul read Genesis 2, he concluded that the order in which Adam and Eve were created signaled an important difference in the role of men and women. Thus, he inferred from the order of creation in Genesis 2 that women should not teach or exercise authority over men” (105, 106).

I have a question: if Paul inferred this from Genesis, why is it that he spent so much time acknowledging women, their giftedness, and their God-given positions in the church?
The truth of the matter is that the complementarians have the HARDEST explanation regarding this passage. And this is the reason why, for instance, when they refer to Eve’s deception, they justify their belief by saying that God gave women such biological differences so as to make them more relational and nurturing than men and less likely to combat error in the local church.

Correcting Abuses in Ephesus

Chapter 2 is where it all begins—the great debate concerning women in ministry. Verses 8-15 are the verses in question, but to determine the meaning of the passage, we must analyze its context: for, as I was taught in my hermeneutics class, “A text means what it means in its CONTEXT.”

Turning to verse 1, we see that Paul wants all those in leadership positions to be prayed for, “that we may lead a PEACEFUL AND QUIET LIFE…” Paul will use the word “quiet” several times throughout this entire chapter of the Book of First Timothy. In verse 3, Paul says that to lead such a life is pleasing to God, “who desires all people to be saved and to come TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH.” Paul mentioned in chapter 1 about the law being good if it was used “lawfully,” or “correctly” (1:8); he now goes back to this theme of “truth.”

In verse 5, Paul writes,


This is the only place in the canon of Scripture that the phrase “the man, Christ Jesus” is used. This will serve a purpose in vv. 8-15, the verses of our current debate on women in ministry. We will come back to this verse later.

In verse 7, Paul says that he was made an apostle and preacher because of the testimony of Christ. But then, he says something interesting:

“(I am telling the truth, I AM NOT LYING), a teacher of the Gentiles IN FAITH AND TRUTH.”

In verse 7, Paul uses the word “truth” TWICE! First, he has to defend his calling, his place in the body of Christ. He says, “I am not lying,” probably because Paul was assumed to be a liar in the church. This church had so much false teaching coming within it, that even Paul wasn’t trusted by everyone to be who he was.

Verse 8 is where the “exegetical camera” ZOOMS in on the situation:

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands WITHOUT ANGER OR QUARRELING.”

The problem he has here with the men is not that they’re praying—but that they’re praying with ANGER. Even times of prayer aren’t peaceful, which is why Paul prayed for peace for those in authority in verses 1 and 2 of this same chapter. The false teaching has had such an effect on the church that the hearts of men are angry and frustrated at prayer time.

In verses 9-10, Paul makes another request: “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, but with what is PROPER FOR WOMEN WHO PROFESS GODLINESS—WITH GOOD WORKS.”

First, we notice the word “likewise” (hosautos) in the Greek, meaning “in the same way” or “in the same manner.” When the women pray, they should dress modestly, clothing that isn’t too revealing or too indicative of a “loose” woman. This is why Paul says “Not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.” Braided hair, and gold and pearls were indicative of a rebellious woman, just as the women at Corinth were viewed as loose and rebellious because they refused to wear their marriage veils. In addition, notice that braided hair, gold, pearls, and “costly attire” are indicative of wealthy women. Paul later writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:17, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who RICHLY PROVIDES us with everything to enjoy.” In verses 18-19, Paul says,


These instructions were written to the well-to-do of the congregation. So we know that when Paul writes about “costly attire,” it is because there were a good many women in this congregation who were very wealthy. Paul said at the end of verse 10 that these women should not be wealthy in clothing and attire, but GOOD WORKS!

In verse 11, he goes on to what constitutes good work: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.” Notice that women are not just to LEARN, but to learn QUIETLY! Remember how at the beginning of the chapter, Paul prayed for the leaders to lead a “peaceful and QUIET life” (2:2)? Women are not just to learn quietly, but with submissiveness—to subject themselves to their teachers, to listen and take in what they are being taught. Why would Paul be telling them this if their teachers were teaching them wrong? He wouldn’t. So for him to tell these women to submit to their instructors, he is telling them to submit themselves to THE TRUTH.

Now, in this context of what constitutes “good works,” listening to one’s instructor, let’s head to verse 12:

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, rather, she is to remain quiet.”

I won’t go into the word “authentein” at this moment, since my task first involves showing the context of 1 Timothy. However, notice that Paul tells them “to remain quiet.” This is the opposite of teaching and to “authentein” a man. I am also not arguing this moment about the connection between ‘teaching” and “authentein.” I am simply saying that being quiet is how they submit, but this is the opposite of what they are doing. They are causing quite an uproar. Remember that the chapter starts with Paul’s prayer for leaders to have a “peaceful and QUIET life,” followed by the anger and wrath among the men who pray, and now, Paul chooses to focus on the problems occurring amongst the women of Ephesus. The rebellious behavior of these women students before their instructors was not an example of “good works” that they ought to be doing.

However, verse 13 can shed some light on “teaching” and “authentein”:

“For Adam was formed first, then Eve…” What happens in this verse is that Paul begins to appeal to Genesis to argue for women to “remain quiet.” However, Paul isn’t showing something new here—for Genesis records that Adam was the first human God made from the dust of the ground (Genesis 1:26-27). Paul is, however, arguing for the ORDER in which Adam and Eve were created. Why would he have to affirm something already recorded in Genesis—UNLESS the creation story was IN DISPUTE among the believers at Ephesus?

Verse 14 completes the thought started in verse 13:

“and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” In addition to having to DEFEND Adam’s designation as the FIRST human, Paul now has to also defend Adam from not being deceived, and argue that “the woman” was the one deceived. Adam’s name is mentioned in verses 13 and 14, but Eve’s name is only mentioned in verse 13. In verse 14, Eve becomes “the woman.”

Why does Paul have to label “the woman” as being deceived? Because there was a false teaching going on that involved the creation story. Remember chapter 1? The nature of false teaching at the church at Ephesus consisted of “myths and endless GENEALOGIES.” I provided a definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which said that a genealogy is an “account of origin.” So here, one of the genealogies of the false teaching seems to be the problem—the idea that Eve was created before Adam, and that Adam was deceived instead of Eve. Paul has to defend Adam’s headship over the entire human race, as well as Eve’s deception. The verb “authentein,” an infinitive, will be translated to the effect of “to be the original” or “to be the author of” man. As a result, “teaching” and “authentein” will be connected because of Paul’s appeal to the Law; authentein, then, will refer to the nature of the teaching, not the common idea of “having” or “exercising authority” over a man. The word “over” is nowhere in the text, so the word itself does not refer to someone being “in authority” over someone else: it consists of women claiming Eve is the original man instead of Adam.

Verse 15 concludes the argument:

“Yet, she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control.”

Who is the “she” and “they” of verse 15? The “she” refers to Eve, for “the woman” of verse 14 is “Eve” of verse 13. The “they” of verse 15 refers to the women. So, Eve’s reputation would be saved or preserved through the women bearing children, IF they should continue in the faith and live godly. It seems then, that the attempt of the women to claim that Adam was deceived and that Eve was created first was an attempt to salvage Eve’s reputation, to save her from being the epitome of the scorned female gender.

Paul’s appeal to the law here to give this prohibition against women is because these women “desired to be teachers” (1:7) but were speaking false doctrine in ignorance. Before they could teach the law, they had to learn the law and correctly interpret it (“rightly divide the Word of truth”, 2 Tim. 2:15).

There’s more to go into about this passage—such as the fact that this teaching about Eve was a Gnostic teaching that fully organized itself in the second century AD. However, all the other details surrounding this passage will be saved for another time.

1 Timothy 1:12-20-- Paul's encouragement to the Congregation and Timothy

Returning to chapter 1 of 1 Timothy, I’ll pick up where I left off. In the last post on the Pastorals, I analyzed the first eleven verses of the chapter, demonstrating that false teaching was the major problem at Ephesus, and that the nature of this teaching was “myths and endless genealogies.”

In verse 12, Paul gives his testimony. His testimony follows the logic of the letter, since he has just talked about the ignorance of the students in the church (v.7) in regards to the law. In verse 12 he said, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service.” Paul says here that the Lord examined him and found him to be “faithful,” that is, dedicated and committed. Notice that right after his comment about his faithfulness, he writes the following:

“though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy BECAUSE I HAD ACTED IGNORANTLY IN UNBELIEF…” (v. 13, ESV).

Paul admits that he himself was once IGNORANT of the truth, CONFIDENT of his own wrong, sure that by persecuting Christians he was doing God service. However, he makes the point that, despite his ignorance, God gave him mercy.

Paul calls himself “the foremost” of sinners in verse 15; in verse 16, Paul tells how God used Paul’s ignorance and God’s mercy:


Paul states here that he serves as an example, a standard, for all those who, although ignorant, will come to faith in Christ. Because of Christ’s long-suffering nature and enduring patience, He will stick by those who initially are ignorant and unaware of their ignorance. This is a message of hope for the “ignorant” students at Ephesus: for all those who believe in Christ, He would help them grow in grace and knowledge of Himself.

In verse 17, Paul gives a benediction of praise to the Lord God Almighty, calling Him “The only God.”

In verse 18, Paul tells Timothy why he has said all that he has said here in chapter 1—“that by them[the prophecies made about him] YOU MAY WAGE THE GOOD WARFARE, HOLDING FAITH AND A GOOD CONSCIENCE.”

Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is now placed alongside the current situation: “By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (vv. 19b, 20). Some have deserted the faith, and some have been handed over, so that, should they hear the truth, they could someday return to the faith.

I can now summarize chapter one like this: chapter one paints the scene at Ephesus—false teachers are teaching false doctrine, the doctrine consists of myths and genealogies, and these false teachers have gained a following—much of it from the women in the church, who are ignorant of the truth. Paul encourages Timothy and the students by saying that, just as the Lord had patience with him in his ignorance, so would the Lord be patient with these women. May the Lord be patient with His children as we seek to understand the whole counsel of God.

1 Timothy 1:1-11-- The Situation at Ephesus

Chapter 1 starts with Paul’s greeting to Timothy (vv. 1-2). Paul always started a letter with greetings to the persons or people he knew.

Verses 3 and 4 are where we get the scoop on Ephesus:

“3(G) As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not(H) to teach any different doctrine, 4nor(I) to devote themselves to myths and endless(J) genealogies, which promote(K) speculations rather than the stewardship[a] from God that is by faith.”

Timothy’s sole purpose for staying in Ephesus (according to Paul) was so that he would deal with the false teachers (“certain persons not to teach any DIFFERENT doctrine”).
In addition, the false teachers not only taught false doctrine, but spent time studying how to deliver such heretical teaching: “nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies” (v.4). Notice here that there is a sentence construction here very similar to what we will find in 1 Timothy 2. In 1 Timothy 2, we have a negated finite verb + noun + infinitive verb + oude + infinitive verb + noun; in 1 Timothy 1:3-4, we have a similar structure. There are two infinitive verbs negated with “not…nor.”

It seems here that the teaching at Ephesus concerned “myths and endless genealogies,” made-up stories, legends about creation accounts. This is what I found regarding genealogies in the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary online (

“Etymology: Middle English genealogie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin genealogia, from Greek, from genea race, family + -logia -logy; akin to Greek genos race
14th century
1 : an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or from older forms 2 : regular descent of a person, family, or group of organisms from a progenitor or older form : pedigree 3 : the study of family pedigrees 4 : an account of the origin and historical development of something.”

Tracing the word “genealogy,” we see that genealogy refers to descent, or, as the last definition tells us, “an account of the ORIGIN and HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT of something.” As we can see, then, the false teaching INCLUDED origin accounts, while also containing myths. What are myths? I also looked this up in the Merriam Webster dictionary online (

Etymology: Greek mythos
Date: 1830
1 a: a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon b: parable , allegory 2 a: a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone ; especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society b: an unfounded or false notion 3: a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence 4: the whole body of myths

These myths and endless genealogies (numerous) constitute the nature of the false teaching pervading the church at Ephesus. Therefore, the attack on teaching, from the beginning, is due to the NATURE of the teaching, not the teaching itself.

What do the genealogies and myths do? What is the end of these things? “…which promote SPECULATIONS rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (v.4b). The word for “stewardship” here in the Greek is “oikonomian,” meaning “good order.” The word “oikonomian” is a compound word consisting of “home” (oikos) and “law” (nomian). Perhaps this word in and of itself shows us the problem at Ephesus: the law of the home was being violated by women who were claiming that the current law in the home was wrong. This is what my research has shown me—that the teaching at Ephesus, consisting of origin accounts, trumped that recorded in the law: the women were claiming that Eve was created before Adam, and that Adam was the one who was deceived; thereby, Eve was given headship in the home.

In verse 5, Paul tells us the goal of correcting the false teachers: “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Notice that he is saying that the reason why Timothy is to correct the false teachers is because it is being done out of a “pure” heart, good motives, with the intention of aiding the house of God; a “good” conscience, one who is certain that what they are doing is true; finally, a “sincere” faith, one that is practiced with honest intentions, and an honest desire to please God.

Verses 6 and 7 show us the pupils of the false teachers: “Certain persons, by swerving from these [characteristics], have wandered away into VAIN DISCUSSION, DESIRING TO BE TEACHERS OF THE LAW, WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING EITHER WHAT THEY ARE SAYING OR THE THINGS ABOUT WHICH THEY MAKE CONFIDENT ASSERTIONS.”
The Greek word for “vain” is the word “kenos,” meaning “empty.” Paul is saying here that the discussion is worthless, of no spiritual gain or profit—just a waste of time. And this has happened because so many have gotten away from a “good conscience,” a “sincere faith,” and love that comes out of a “pure heart.” Staying away from spiritual integrity has driven them into this almost-reprobate state, where they keep “going in spiritual circles,” throwing themselves into profitless pursuits that have no spiritual benefits.

These persons are also shown to be pupils by the fact that Paul describes them as “persons…desiring to be teachers of the law.” These are not just those who desire to teach, but those who desire to teach THE LAW. What would the Law have consisted of? The law at least consisted of the Torah—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. We believe, however, that the Law could also have consisted of the rest of the Old Testament, since Paul often quoted the Old Testament in his New Testament letters.

Does Paul chide them for having a desire to learn? No. Paul says nothing here against their desire. It is not the desire he knocks about those who DESIRE to be teachers: instead, it is what they are SAYING ABOUT THE LAW that disturbs him: “without understanding either WHAT THEY ARE SAYING or the THINGS ABOUT WHICH THEY MAKE CONFIDENT ASSERTIONS” (v.7b). They lack “understanding,” which means that they are IGNORANT of the truth, they don’t know any better. They seem to be bold with what they say (they make “confident assertions”), but they do so in ignorance.

Paul has voiced his perception of those who desire to teach the law, but, up until this point, has said nothing about the law itself; here, though, Paul takes time to voice his view of the law: “Now we know that the law is good, IF ONE USES IT LAWFULLY” (v.8) Although the English Standard Version translates the word “de” as “now,” a better translation of this word would be “but.” The reason why I stop to make this point is because “but” shows contrast, whereas the word “now” shows a time shift. I don’t think Paul’s point is to move on to a new subject, because he’s just talked about the teachers of the law. Therefore, to use the word “but” is to contrast the law from those who speak of it. The speakers are doing that which is bad (although ignorant of it), but the law in its essence is GOOD—if a person uses the law properly, or RIGHTLY.

Verses 9 and 10 show the groups of people that the law exists for. But the one that gets me the most is when Paul says at the end of verse 10, “and WHATEVER ELSE IS CONTRARY TO SOUND DOCTRINE…” There are so many other things that count as ungodliness, but Paul uses this one phrase to include all those things he doesn’t explicitly mention.

This is the only discussion of the Law Paul deals with in chapter one. However, chapter one serves as an important marker for the rest of the book. We seem to find that these first eleven verses of the FIRST chapter of the book are permeated with discussion surrounding false doctrine. The problem is, I see nothing in chapter one that deals with women who desire to teach who don’t know their place, or who are rebelling against God’s good order by DESIRING to teach. In addition, complementarians are stuck in their deception; for, since they acknowledge that women were not teaching in the church, they have to acknowledge that women are included in those who “desired” to be teachers of the law. It’s funny, but why would these women clamor for something that they weren’t ever supposed to aim for in the house of God IF women not teaching was a universal rule in all the churches?

I will cover the rest of the chapter in the next post. But the issue of women is one that will get tackled as we go along.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chapter 13-- The Church as Family: Why Male Leadership in the Family Requires Male Leadership in the Church

The title of this chapter of “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”( has always intrigued me, for it sums up the complementarian position in a nutshell. Since the church is given the analogy of a family, it is to be run like one, with men in control and women in submission.
The writer of this chapter, Vern Sheridan Poythress, goes to great lengths to make his case; however, he flaws on two major points. I will discuss these below.

First, he flaws in his analysis of the book of 1 Timothy. In his section of the chapter entitled “God’s Household in 1 Timothy, Poythress writes, “The overseers or elders ought to be respectable family men: ‘Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife…he must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect…’ (1 Timothy 3:2-5, pg. 238).”

There is a fundamental flaw in Poythress’s analysis. 1 Timothy 3:1 states the following:
“1The saying is(A) trustworthy: If anyone aspires to(B) the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Timothy 3:1, English Standard Version).

Verse 1 of chapter 3 begins with “anyone” who desires the office of an overseer. The word here then, surely does not mean “a male,” but “a man,” anyone, someone, whoever. The word “tis” in the Greek then, is inclusive of everyone, not exclusive. When the requirement “the husband of one wife” is listed (v. 2), this shows the masculine hermeneutic at play. Notice at the end of 1 Tim. 3:1 that “he” desires a good work. The “he” used here isn’t in the Greek; instead, the word in the Greek for “desires” is “epithumei,” a word in the third person singular—which refers to “he” or “she”! Piper and Grudem begin their book with discussions about how the race of humanity was named after “Man,” not “Woman.” That is why we are called “mankind” and not “womankind.” But if this is so, then when the word “someone” is used, and the masculine pronoun is used, the usage of the masculine does not discount the feminine but rather embraces it. “Tis” is inclusive of the female gender and the Greek word for “desires” (in the third person) further confirms this thought.

In the quoted passage of 1 Timothy 3:2-5 (pg. 238), we see the words “He must MANAGE his own family well…” There is a problem, however: the word used here for “manage” also refers to the woman as well. In 1 Timothy 5:14, we see these words:

“14So I would have(U) younger widows marry, bear children,(V) manage their households, and(W) give the adversary no occasion for slander. ”

The word for “manage” here in the Greek is “oikodespotein.” This word is coined by Paul here in 1 Timothy 5 and is a combination of two Greek words: “oikos” (house) and “despotein” (to be the despot). While “oikos” shows the sphere of influence, what is of particular interest is the second word, “despotein.” The word “despotein” literally means “to be the despot.” What is a despot? A despot is a dictator, a tyrannical ruler. So young widows were not just to remarry and have children, but to “rule the home,” to be despots of the home. The word used here, “despotein,” comes from the parent word “despoteis,” which is used of “Christ” in Jude:

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4, ESV).

The word here for “Master” is “despoteis.” So when the younger widows are told to marry, they are told to be “rulers” in their homes. The idea of “ruling” takes us back to the qualifications of the overseer in 1 Timothy 3:

“4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity(J) keeping his children submissive, 5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for(K) God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:4-5, ESV).

There is a clue located in these two verses that give the woman a greater inclusiveness into the office of overseer itself. Notice that the person who desires the office of overseer must “manage his household.” The woman is to manage her household as well, so this includes her. But there is something else: in addition, the candidate for the office must “keep his children submissive.” Notice that it says NOTHING about keeping the woman submissive. Surely, if Paul wanted to keep women out of this office, he would have included the submission of the wife, for he does it throughout his letters (Ephesians 5:22, 24; Colossians 3:18). Peter mentions this as well in 1 Peter 3:1. The fact that Paul doesn’t use it, combined with his idea that women were to “be the despot” of their households indicates what Paul thought of women—they, like the men, were just as capable of serving in the office.

Finally, with our favorite passage, 1 Tim. 3:2-5, there is one last thing to point out—the question Paul asks:

“If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”

I need to focus on this part of the passage above for a few moments.

This verse, placed on page 238 of Poythress’s chapter, is a mistranslation of the Greek text. The text does not read about the man who “manages his own family.” In the Greek, the text literally says, “if someone does not know how to MANAGE ONE’S OWN HOME, how will he care for God’s church?”

With the idea of managing the home comes the idea that these verses of 1 Timothy 3 are inclusive for both man and woman. If Paul used such a strong word to refer to women “managing the home,” then surely, this verse would apply to them as much as to a man. The ending of the question as well is inclusive: “how will he care for God’s church?” Notice that the person in line for the office does not RULE God’s church, but instead, CARES for the church. Because the church is the “house of God” (1 Tim. 3:15), God is the ruler of the church, the head of the church (Eph. 5). A man or woman as overseer can only CARE FOR the church, can only be a steward for the church. This truth doesn’t place the man any more in the position than it does a woman.

To finish a critique of this article, we have Poythress’s comment and a Scripture text to support his supposed “family theme” throughout 1 Timothy:

“14I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:14-15, ESV)

Poythress writes,
“In fact, these verses SUMMARIZE THE THRUST OF THE WHOLE LETTER. The phrase ‘these instructions’ is most naturally understood as referring to the contents of the letter as a whole. Thus the letter as a whole has the purpose of indicating ‘how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household” (239).

But these words trump the complementarian argument; for, if Paul is writing to restore order to the house of God, then why does 1 Timothy 2 have to refer to women not teaching over men when it could, instead, show us the chaos in Ephesus? If the letter rests on these words, then 1 Timothy 2 would be more about Paul correcting abuses in the church at Ephesus, not about church leadership (after all, he doesn’t tackle leadership until chapter 3).

The only thing in the letter that the complementarian can use to advocate male leadership is 1 Timothy 2. But what’s sad about the complementarian interpretation is that there is NO OTHER PLACE in the Pauline epistle where women having spiritual authority in the church is mentioned. In fact, Paul doesn’t write about women not having spiritual authority in any more of his letters.

I could say more about the analogy of the church as family, but I’ll finish this discussion soon.

Chapter 5-- Head Coverings, Prophecies and the Trinity

I started some new reading today. In studying the material on the debate regarding women in ministry, I’ve stumbled across references to the book “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” (John Piper, Wayne Grudem, numerous times—so much so that I decided I couldn’t argue for women in ministry without exposing this book’s weak points. I have a goal of reading all the books (at least all the important ones) on this issue and debating them here on my blog. As I’ve stated with Grudem’s book, “Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth,” he is as guilty as other complementarians are with playing the “1 Timothy 2” card. The issue is no different with this passage of 1 Corinthians 11. I’ve already given some thoughts on this passage with Andreas Kostenberger’s blog post revolving around male headship. Here, however, I’ll exegete this passage again. It seems that Piper and Grudem have both given me another reason to re-examine this passage to argue a convincing case for women. As the saying goes, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Regarding 1 Corinthians 11:5-6, Thomas Schreiner writes, “Paul objects to men wearing head coverings in verse 4…because that is what women wore (11:5-6), and thus a man who wore such a head covering would be shamefully depicting himself as a woman. Conversely, if women do not wear head coverings, their failure to be adorned properly would be shameful (11:5) because they would be dressing like men” (122).

Paul does not object to men wearing head coverings because that is what women wore. The answer to why Paul objects to men wearing head coverings is found in verses 7-9:

“7For a man ought not to cover his head, since(K) he is the image and glory of God, but(L) woman is the glory of man. 8For(M) man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9Neither was man created for woman, but(N) woman for man.”

A man shouldn’t wear a head covering because he is “the glory of God,” meaning that he is the first of creation, the first human God created to be “like Himself.” Because man was created first, he was given authority and power by God and Adam (specifically, the first human) became responsible for all of the human race. Next, “man was not made from woman, but woman from man…neither was man created for woman, but woman for man” (vv.8, 9). The man was literally formed from the dust of the ground by God, while the woman (Adam’s wife, Eve) was formed from a rib in Adam’s side. She, bearing similarity to the male, the source of humankind, should wear a head covering to demonstrate that she is “under” authority.

For men to wear head coverings would look as if they were not the ones in authority, but the ones under authority. The wife was to wear a head covering to demonstrate that she was under authority, the authority of her husband. Paul then, does not tell men to avoid wearing head coverings because to do so would make them seem like a woman. Paul’s writing had nothing to do with preserving gender distinctions, but instead, to show the biblical importance of the tradition itself.

I desire to take time here to show that the “man” and “woman” mentioned here are not just EVERY man and EVERY woman—instead, the two referred to in this passage are husband and wife. The English Standard Version, of which Wayne Grudem served on the Oversight Committee of its translation, writes at the bottom of the page (regarding a footnote in verse 5):

“In verses 5-13, the Greek word ‘gune’ is translated ‘wife’ in verses that deal with wearing a veil, A SIGN OF BEING MARRIED in first-century culture.”

So, for women to wear a head covering was to show authority to their husbands. This clearly does not include single women. Every single woman, in addition, is not forced to show submission to EVERY SINGLE MAN.

As if this response isn’t terrible enough, Schreiner goes on to state (regarding the woman),

“Thus, we can conclude that Paul wants women to wear head coverings while praying and prophesying because to do otherwise would be TO CONFUSE THE SEXES AND GIVE THE SHAMEFUL IMPRESSION THAT WOMEN ARE BEHAVING LIKE MEN” (123).

Wearing head coverings for women had nothing to do with confusing the sexes; it did, however, have everything to do with a woman recognizing that she was under the authority of her husband. Schreiner gives a rather weird interpretation of verse 6:

“A woman’s failure to wear a head covering is analogous to her having her hair cut short or shaved. Every woman in the culture of that day would have been ashamed of appearing in public with her head shaved or her hair cut short, because then SHE WOULD HAVE LOOKED LIKE A MAN” (122).

Yes, for women to appear in that culture with short hair would have been contrary to the normal expectation, but, it was not “looking like a man” that concerned Paul, but instead, it was contrary to nature. This is why Paul writes in 1 Cor. 11:14-15 (ESV),

“14Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”

Nature is the reason why a woman should wear a head covering, not because if she doesn’t she looks like a man. Imagine what a woman would look like if she cut her hair short, or even shaved it all off! She just doesn’t look “normal,” which is Paul’s point. Women were made to have hair on their heads, because it is comely for a woman to have long hair. Schreiner mentions “looking like a man” as the reason for Paul’s words because of their bias to maintain one sex over the other. There are passages that pertain to sex distinctions, such as Deuteronomy 22, and we should honor those passages; but let’s not add more to the text than is there. Paul’s opening words involve the created order and the purpose of woman’s creation—for the man. The man was not created as the woman’s helper.

I want to take time here to complement Thomas Schreiner for one thing: he does, however, acknowledge that women are exercising their gifts here publicly in the assembly:

“Some scholars have thought that women’s prayer and prophecy were permitted only in private…but the praying and prophesying were probably IN THE PUBLIC ASSEMBLY for the following reasons: (1) the context favors the idea these chapters describe public worship. The subsequent topics focus on the Lord’s Supper (11:17-34) and spiritual gifts (12:1-14:40), and these relate to public worship. (2) Prophecy was given to edify the community when gathered (1 Corinthians 14: 1-5, 29-33a); it was not a private gift to be exercised alone” (123, 124).

Yes, the exercising of gifts occurred here in the public assembly. Women were actually using their gifts before the mixed congregation! This should already make a person suspicious of 1 Timothy 2, since complementarians like Schreiner, Piper, and Grudem, who affirm public exercise of gifts here, deny women public exercise of teaching (a gift) in 1 Timothy 2.

However, there are major problems with other parts of his argument. For instance, his summing up of this section on 11:4-6—

“Women can pray and prophesy in public, but they must do so WITH A DEMEANOR AND ATTITUDE THAT SUPPORTS MALE HEADSHIP because in that culture wearing a head covering communicated a submissive demeanor and feminine adornment” (124).

Paul’s arguing of headship here, according to Thomas Schreiner, has to do with wives wearing a sign of submission to their husbands. That, then, doesn’t involve EVERY MAN, for no one woman is married to EVERY MAN! Schreiner here just ASSUMES that male leadership is the key here—however, that is the thing to be proven! If submission to male headship is in Scripture, this is not the passage in which to find it.

When discussing Paul’s use of Genesis 1 and 2 in 1 Cor. 11:8-9, Schreiner writes,

“Nevertheless, Paul OBVIOUSLY interpreted Genesis 2 as revealing a DISTINCTION IN ROLES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN” (125).

Where does this come into play? As I stated earlier in this post, men AND WOMEN were praying and prophesying in the public assembly (vv. 4, 5). The only distinction in the text is between men and women wearing head coverings. There was a belief here in showing honor to authority, but that honor to the husband did not mean the woman could not exercise her gifts in the public assembly. Exercising gifts in the public assembly is not tied here to roles, for, notice that Paul does not prohibit women from praying and prophesying here (as he prohibits women from teaching in 1 Timothy 2).

In regard to verses 13-15, Schreiner records,

“The function of verses 13-15 in the argument is to show that the wearing of a head covering by a woman is in accord with the God-given sense that WOMEN AND MEN ARE DIFFERENT. For a woman to dress like a man is inappropriate because it violates the distinction God has ordained between the sexes” (128).

Paul does not argue head coverings because of a distinction of the sexes, but in order for women to show honor to their husbands, and, ultimately, honor to God’s word (Genesis where the husband is given authority in the home and marriage).
Regarding verse 16,

“Paul concludes his argument by saying, ‘But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.’ Now, some have said that Paul actually rejects the wearing of head coverings by women with these words because the Greek literally says ‘we have no such practice’, and thus they conclude that the practice of wearing head coverings is renounced here by Paul. But SUCH AN UNDERSTANDING IS SURELY WRONG. Paul in this verse is addressing the contentious, who, the previous context makes clear, do not want to wear a head covering. The practice of certain Corinthian women who refuse to wear a head covering is
what Paul refers to when he says ‘we have no such practice’” (128).

In order to determine what verse 16 is all about, we have to look at verses 14 and 15:

“14Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”

The argument about long hair for women and short hair for men refers to the idea of women having “a sign of authority” on their heads, from verse 10. However, notice something: before verses 14 and 15 comes verse 13 which reads,

“13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?”

Here, in verse 13, he makes the point that a woman praying with her head uncovered is against rules of propriety; therefore, he is arguing for women wearing a head covering here. In verses 14 and 15 he uses nature as proof that women should wear head coverings (seeing that to do so is the same thing as a woman having long hair). Taking this into account, we march on to verse 16:

“16(Q) If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do(R) the churches of God.”

The English Standard Version begins verse 16 with the word “if”; but this is a mistake in translation. Looking in the Greek, the first word of the verse should be the Greek word “de,” meaning “but.” The word “but” shows a contrast to something previously mentioned.

For instance, I could say, “I like the summer, but the spring has the best temperature.” While I still affirm that I like the summer, I am saying in this verse that the spring is the season I like most. Paul is doing the same thing here. He is not doing away with the idea of wearing head coverings to show authority between husbands and wives; however, what he is saying is that, in contrast to the practice of head coverings, should someone want to protest this idea, there is no custom or practice of so doing among the churches. In the words of Schreiner, “Indeed, the other churches already adhere to the practice Paul recommends here” (128), but the problem with this statement is that Paul is not writing to correct their lack of adherence to a tradition, but to answer the question of the Corinthian church regarding this response of the church to women taking off their head coverings. How do I know this? Look back at 1 Corinthians 11, verse 2:

“2Now I commend you(B) because you remember me in everything and(C) maintain the traditions(D) even as I delivered them to you.”

Paul commends the Corinthian church here because they are performing all the traditions “even as I delivered them to you,” as Paul gave the traditions to them. Verse 3 begins with, “But I want you to understand,” which, as the word “de” indicates, is a transition to something new. This, then, is not a tradition practiced in all the churches, but a question that has been brought up by those of the Corinthian church. 1 Corinthians 11 serves as part of the list of concerns the church had, for Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:1, “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote.” The issue of women wearing head coverings is an issue which the church at Corinth wrote Paul about.

Paul does not do away with the husband’s headship being acknowledged in the assembly; but what he doesn’t do is remove women and their exercising of their God-given gifts to make room for male headship. Schreiner states this in his conclusion: “More specifically, if women pray and prophesy in church, they should do so under the authority of male headship” (129). Schreiner believes that “we should affirm the participation of women in prayer and prophecy in the church” (129). Sadly though, in many conservative churches I’ve been in, either the male deacon or the preacher, elder, pastor, or any other man MUST ALWAYS pray the prayer over the congregation, while the women sit on the sidelines. If the churches clearly believed this, why do they affirm something different in exegesis than they do in their practice? There is an inconsistency there that complementarians must answer to God for.

While the church would have believed the creation order vouched for their position (vv. 7-9), Paul argues that, the creation order is reversed since Adam, for every man is now brought into the world through a woman (vv.11, 12). This being so, the custom is not one the churches have in operation, although, there are good grounds for implementing such a custom.

The issue of women and head coverings should show complementarians such as Schreiner, Piper, and Grudem that one can wear a sign of authority and still be allowed to publicly exercise their gifts (women). If this is so, women would not “have authority over a man” by teaching, because 1 Corinthians 11 doesn’t surely advocate this position. If a WIFE is having authority over her HUSBAND by teaching him, then, according to 1 Corinthians 11, “a sign of authority” such as head coverings solves this issue.

I’ll leave you with this final note: notice that the gender creation is reversed in the time of Paul and today, for women bring men into the world through birth. Yes, Paul here affirms the equality of men and women. But the creation order (that Adam came before Eve) is trumped by the fact that every daughter of Eve must give birth to every son of Adam and thus, comes before the sons of Adam today. Because of this reversed creation order in humanity, then, wearing a head covering is not a NECESSITY, although it could be a good idea for wives to wear a veil to submit to their husbands. If 1 Corinthians 11 does not use creation order to MANDATE head coverings (with the exercising of gifts), then what makes complementarians believe that 1 Timothy 2 prohibits women from exercising their gifts on the basis of the original creation order? 1 Timothy 2 has to be about something more—a Gnostic heresy in the church at Ephesus. 1 Timothy 2, of course, will be saved for another time.