Friday, January 16, 2009

Definition-Twisting: "Epitrepo" in 1 Timothy 2:12

EGALITARIAN CLAIM 8.5: TEMPORARY LOCAL COMMAND: Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit…” use a present tense verb that shows it to be a temporary command. It could be translated, “I am not now permitting a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man (299).

Answer 8.5a: This argument misunderstands how Paul uses the present tense in commands (300).

Answer 8.5b: This argument would soon lead many people to avoid many of the commands of the New Testament. Here as elsewhere, egalitarians use a process of interpreting Scripture that will quickly nullify the authority of Scripture in the lives of Christians today (301).

In the last post on 1 Timothy 2, I attacked the idea that the pastor of a church is the “mediator” between God and the people. 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us that “the man Christ Jesus” is the ONLY mediator between God and men; therefore, we don’t need any other mediators to serve, which means that pastors can’t serve in that capacity. They can serve as “shepherds” in the footsteps of “The Good Shepherd,” but they can’t serve in His mediatorial role.

This post will continue studying 1 Timothy 2. Dr. Wayne Grudem has devoted an entire chapter to debunking egalitarian interpretations of 1 Timothy 2, but, as always, falls flat on his face and makes complementarians look bad in the process.

The egalitarian claim here states that because Paul uses the word “epitrepo” (to permit) in his letter to Timothy, 1 Timothy is a letter that is occasional in nature—referring to the situation at a local church rather than instituting a universal rule binding for all time. Grudem responds with the idea that egalitarians fail to examine how Paul uses the indicative and that their perspective will drag down the authority of Scripture in the lives of other believers.

It is true—Paul does use the indicative, and it does have meanings of timeless importance. Nevertheless, DESPITE the indicative, words do come with inherent meaning—otherwise, why would one word mean something different than another? For example, take the Greek word “dei,” which means “must.” Let’s say that all words were the same: now, “dei” (must) in the indicative form would be no different from its subjunctive form (which would mean “might be”). Now, for example, an overseer “MIGHT BE” the husband of one wife. Imagine what sort of implications that has for leadership in the church! “Dei” however, comes with inherent meaning, and it means “must” and is a word of necessity.

So is the word “epitrepo” (to permit). I looked the word up at and I found the following definition: “to afford an opportunity for.” The word “forbid” means “to ban, to hinder.” I looked up the word “epitrepo” from an online Greek New Testament ( and found these definitions:

1) to turn to, transfer, commit, instruct2) to permit, allow, give leave (Part of Speech: verb)
2) to turn over (transfer), that is, allow: - give leave (liberty, license), let, permit, suffer.

A definition that I recovered in my notes said that the word “permit” means to “give consideration to CIRCUMSTANCES or CONTINGENCIES.” These two words, “circumstances” and “contingencies,” indicate the occasional nature of Paul’s letter to Timothy. The definition of “epitrepo” from does the same: “to afford an OPPORTUNITY for.” These definitions indicate that, while “epitrepo” is an indicative verb, it is a verb that indicates a certain amount of time.

Proverbs 30:5 (ESV) tells us, “Every word of God proves true…” This means that every word is clean, uncontaminated, good and perfect in its essence. Because this is true, we have to examine every word (the jot and the tittle) to discover what God is trying to say. For instance, we can’t take the words “commit murder” and rewrite them to say, “kill.” There is a difference between committing murder and killing—for a person can kill an animal (a non-human). Genesis 9 allows humans to kill animals for food; but nowhere in Scripture is a person allowed to take the life of a human being.

These distinctions are very important; and the fact that Paul uses “allow” and not “forbid” shows that Paul wanted to give this restriction in a positive light—while these women couldn’t teach yet, they could learn and prepare for when the time would be right. Paul’s language in 1 Timothy 1 shows how encouraging Paul was in regards to these women:

“12I thank him(X) who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful,(Y) appointing me to his service, 13though formerly I was a blasphemer,(Z) persecutor, and insolent opponent. But(AA) I received mercy(AB) because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14and(AC) the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the(AD) faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15The saying is(AE) trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus(AF) came into the world to save sinners,(AG) of whom I am the foremost. 16But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17To(AH) the King of ages,(AI) immortal,(AJ) invisible,(AK) the only God,(AL) be honor and glory forever and ever.[d] Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:12-17, ESV)

1 comment:

  1. Very insightful and edifying!
    (I'm reading through your 1 Tim 2 posts)


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