Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Husbands and Wives


This is a widely-held scholarly view among some scholars. Grudem, however, believes that this is not in view: “….the view that 1 Timothy 2:12 talks about a ‘wife’ and a ‘husband’ is not persuasive because all the other New Testament passages that use these words for husbands and wives have different contexts and different wording, and this context and this wording in 1 Timothy 2 contain several factors indicating that men and women generally are in view” (299).
Grudem claims that there are “several factors indicating that men and women generally are in view,” but he doesn’t give any evidence of these factors. He simply writes, “Should not single men pray without anger or quarreling? Should not single women dress modestly?” (298)
This serves as Grudem’s evidence for the idea that this passage would have referred to all women in general. But is this really so? What about Paul’s words where he says, “but she will be saved THROUGH CHILDBEARING” (v.15)?

Notice also throughout the Pastorals that Paul seems to be concerned with marriage and the managing of households. In 1 Timothy 2 he refers to “saved through childbearing” (v.15, English Standard Version); an overseer should be “the husband of one wife” (3:2) and should “MANAGE HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD WELL” (3:4). Paul’s emphasis on the household is apparent when he writes, “for if someone does not know HOW TO MANAGE HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD, how will he care for God’s church?” (3:6) For deacons, they must be “the husband of one wife, MANAGING THEIR CHILDREN AND THEIR OWN HOUSEHOLDS WELL” (3:12).

In chapter 5, Paul writes about the widows that “if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to THEIR OWN HOUSEHOLD and to make some return to their parents (5:4). Paul labels an infidel as one who “does not provide for his relatives, and ESPECIALLY FOR THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD” (5:8). Regarding younger widows, Paul desires that “younger widows marry, bear children, MANAGE THEIR HOUSEHOLDS” (5:14). Last but not least, Paul refers to the church as “the HOUSEHOLD OF GOD” (4:15).

Paul does not seem to be concerned here about single women who are out of control, but women who are part of households. Paul’s requirement of women deacons to be “faithful in all things” (3:11) may very well be a way of reminding the married women of the church to be faithful to their households.

Finally, to finish out Paul’s emphasis in the Pastorals, I’ll quote some from Paul’s letter to Titus, chapter 2:

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the younger women TO LOVE THEIR HUSBANDS AND CHILDREN, to be self-controlled, pure, WORKING AT HOME, kind, and SUBMISSIVE TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS, THAT THE WORD OF GOD MAY NOT BE REVILED” (Titus 2:3-5, ESV).

It seems that in Paul’s letters, he was concerned with the situations prevalent in households. After all, how one managed his or her household and children decided whether or not one could care for the “house” of God.

However, there is one more interesting piece of proof that may shed light on the “woman” of 1 Timothy 2. In verse 11 where Paul writes, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness,” the word for “woman” here in the Greek is “gune” (goo-nay)—which is the generic term for any woman. However, in verse 12, Paul refers to “a woman” with the Greek word “gunaiki,” which, in some cases, can refer to a wife (comes from the Greek word “gunaikos”). When Paul refers to Eve in the third person, he says, “The woman,” and he uses the word “gune” (goo-nay). The interesting thing about this is that Eve was a “wife” in Genesis when she sinned.

The only other times when Paul refers to “authority” between a man and a woman (mentioning both genders) is when he is referring to a husband/wife relationship. Another good example is 1 Corinthians 11, where he refers to wives wearing “a sign of authority” (1 Corinthians 11:10). Only married women wore a veil, a head covering, as a public sign of marriage (equivalent to married women wearing their wedding band today).

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