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.”

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