Taking A Careful Look At The Ministry Of Women In The New Testament Church (Part Eighteen)

It is written:

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12  And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13  For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:11-14)

Paul was adamant that the women in the church be allowed to learn God’s Word alongside of the male disciples. There was, indeed, a very specific reason for this, and it involved the history of Adam and Eve.

In verses 13-14, Paul refers to the common knowledge of Creation and the Fall in order to make a very important point: the reason why the Creation fell was specifically the fault of Adam.

Why was this the case?

First, because Adam (having been created before Eve) had failed to properly instruct her about what God had said regarding the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-17). Some of the Jewish rabbis picked up on this and expounded it:

“Some of the rabbis did, however, explain Eve’s sin at the tree as partly the fault of Adam. He had added to God’s words when he relayed God’s commandment to Eve; this was why she told the serpent that God had forbidden her not only to eat of the tree, but also to touch it.[ 110] In other words, the woman was deceived in part because she had not received the commandment directly from God, and the one who had passed it on to her had misrepresented it. This point may be significant to our discussion below….The third possibility is that Paul intends to connect Eve’s later creation to why she was deceived: she was not present when God gave the commandment, and thus was dependent on Adam for the teaching.[ 117] In other words, she was inadequately educated—like the women in the Ephesian church.” (Craig S. Keener, Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage And Women’s Ministry In The Letters Of Paul, 2176-2202 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic)

Second, Paul reminds us here that Adam bears the greater condemnation in the Fall in the Garden of Eden. The woman was deceived by Satan (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3), even though Adam was present at the Temptation (Genesis 3:6), and knew better (as this passage reminds us). The reason why Adam chose to sin was because he chose his wife over God’s command (Genesis 3:17).

For these reasons, sin entered into the world, and man (specifically, the males) have the greater accountability. Therefore, Paul insists that the woman in the church be taught God’s Word alongside of the men. This instruction of women in the Scriptures was in many ways “counter-cultural” to the environment of Paul’s day and age.

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