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

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.” (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

What does it mean that Paul did not allow a woman to “teach” or to have authority” over a man?

Does Paul forbid women from teaching any part of the Gospel? Obviously, that cannot be the case, for he points out that women in the first century church prayed and prophesied (1 Corinthians 11:5), and were his partners in teaching the Word of God (Philippians 4:2-3), even being sent out by the church to teach people the Scriptures (Romans 16:7).

Therefore, what does this text mean?

The answer lies in recognizing that the “teaching” Paul here prohibits is connected with the phrase “or to have authority.”

What does this mean?

The word that Paul uses for “authority” in this passage is not the normal words that were used for beneficial and godly authority in the church (exousia as in 2 Corinthians 10:8-9; 13:10; epitage as in Titus 2:15; and hegeomai in Hebrews 13:17).

Instead, Paul uses a particular word that is only used this one time in the New Testament: authenteo. He does not allow a woman to teach in such a way that she “has authority over” (authento) a man.

So, how does this apply?

“Paul is not placing a ban on females teaching or leading men but rather assumes both as legitimate while prohibiting a particular kind of teaching and leading—that which is disruptive, argumentative, and domineering….Paul’s word in 1 Timothy 2:12, authĕntĕ ō , is not used any other time in all of Scripture 286 and is used infrequently in ancient Greek literature outside the Bible. Neither is there an extensive number of usages in extra-biblical ancient Greek literature. Most scholars are in agreement that the word is rare and that in extra-biblical literature it is most often used with an undeniably negative meaning. Unless Paul intended a negative meaning for authĕntĕ ō , it is difficult to conceive what would motivate him to bypass the common and positive (or neutral) words that he used a number of times elsewhere in his letters and instead chose a rare word that clearly had a negative, even violent or criminal meaning in many if not most of its uses. It seems that the obvious conclusion is that Paul made an intentional choice so that his words would be understood as restricting women from commandeering an unhealthy kind of authority rather than restricting them from being commissioned for any authoritative role in the church….A lexicon is a catalog of words and their meanings, similar to a dictionary. Hubner cites eight standard Greek lexicons most of which convey the meaning of authĕntĕ ō as referring to autocratic, domineering authority. These lexicons designate the meaning of authĕntĕ ō as follows: “to assume a stance of independent authority, to give orders to, to dictate to;” “of one who acts on his own authority; hence have control over, domineer, Lord it over;” to “control, have authority over;” to “domineer, have authority over;” “to have full power over;” “dominate;” “domineer over.” 287 The Greek-English Lexicon, which focuses on the contextual aspect of words, likewise represents the meaning of authĕntĕ ō as “to control in a domineering manner . . . [example from 1 Tim. 2:12] ‘I do not allow women . . . to dominate men’ . . . ‘To control in a domineering manner’ is often expressed idiomatically, for example, ‘to shout orders at,’ ‘to act like a chief toward,’ or ‘to bark at.’” 288 Further, lexical usages indicate that inherent to the meaning of authĕntĕ ō is that it refers to authority which is self-appointed or even commandeered, rather than commissioned, granted, or assigned appropriately. Clearly those lexical definitions at the very minimum indicate that the pejorative understanding of authĕntĕ ō in 1 Timothy 2:12 is a strong possibility, but more likely, that its normal meaning is derogatory….I attempted to read translations and/or the original Greek of nearly all of the most relevant extra-biblical uses of authĕntĕ ō in their original contexts. At risk of failing to recognize my own biases, from my own examination of those extra-biblical uses at a time when I was not yet settled on either position, it appeared to me that this party line division is very much out of sync with the preponderance of evidence clearly supporting a negative meaning for authĕntĕ ō . It appears to me that unless one is determined to force the evidence to fit a complementarian understanding, it obviously supports the conclusion that authĕntĕ ō is primarily about domineering and abusive authority….Stanley Grenz states that “Recent studies indicate that in the first century authĕntĕ ō was more likely to carry negative than neutral or positive connotations . . . At the time of Paul, the verb carried two closely related meanings: ‘instigating or perpetrating a crime’ and ‘the active wielding of influence (with respect to a person) or the initiation of an action . . . Timothy J. Harris concludes from his study of the occurrences of the verb close to the New Testament period that it meant ‘to hold sway or use power, to be dominant.’ In itself it never meant ‘to be an official’ or “to be authorized.” 293…To be blunt: it is my hopefully well-informed opinion, based on the consensus of a seeming majority of contemporary biblical scholars and the ancient language tools available today for Bible students, those who continue to claim that authĕntĕ ō refers to ordinary, beneficial church leadership authority appear to be either uninformed, incorrectly taught, deceived, ignorant, blinded by bias, or dishonest regarding Paul’s instructions. This understanding of the vocabulary of 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 ( authĕntĕ ō and haysuxia ) makes it abundantly clear that Paul was not forbidding women to be teachers or to hold positions of authority over men in the church. Rather he was forbidding women from being a particular kind of teacher or leader—one who was unteachable, independent, rebellious, self-exalting, combative, controlling, domineering, argumentative, and abusive.” (Dr. Bill Rudd, Should Women Be Pastors And Leaders In Church? My Journey To Discover What The Bible Teaches About Gender Roles, 5207-5546 (Kindle Edition); Bloomington, Indiana; WestBow Press)

What Paul is forbidding in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 is a certain type of teaching, not all teaching in general. The type of teaching which he forbids is the type where a teacher bullies or domineer a person into submission, instead of gently instructing a person. This type of “teaching” Paul taught against constantly (2 Timothy 2:24-26; Ephesians 4:15; Galatians 6:1-2).

As we will see, this type of teaching was especially needed in the context of the Ephesians where Timothy was located.

Church (Part Nineteen)

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.” (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

What does it mean that Paul did not allow a woman to “teach” or to have authority” over a man?

Does Paul forbid women from teaching any part of the Gospel? Obviously, that cannot be the case, for he points out that women in the first century church prayed and prophesied (1 Corinthians 11:5), and were his partners in teaching the Word of God (Philippians 4:2-3), even being sent out by the church to teach people the Scriptures (Romans 16:7).

Therefore, what does this text mean?

The answer lies in recognizing that the “teaching” Paul here prohibits is connected with the phrase “or to have authority.”

What does this mean?

The word that Paul uses for “authority” in this passage is not the normal words that were used for beneficial and godly authority in the church (exousia as in 2 Corinthians 10:8-9; 13:10; epitage as in Titus 2:15; and hegeomai in Hebrews 13:17).

Instead, Paul uses a particular word that is only used this one time in the New Testament: authenteo. He does not allow a woman to teach in such a way that she “has authority over” (authento) a man.

So, how does this apply?

“Paul is not placing a ban on females teaching or leading men but rather assumes both as legitimate while prohibiting a particular kind of teaching and leading—that which is disruptive, argumentative, and domineering….Paul’s word in 1 Timothy 2:12, authĕntĕ ō , is not used any other time in all of Scripture 286 and is used infrequently in ancient Greek literature outside the Bible. Neither is there an extensive number of usages in extra-biblical ancient Greek literature. Most scholars are in agreement that the word is rare and that in extra-biblical literature it is most often used with an undeniably negative meaning. Unless Paul intended a negative meaning for authĕntĕ ō , it is difficult to conceive what would motivate him to bypass the common and positive (or neutral) words that he used a number of times elsewhere in his letters and instead chose a rare word that clearly had a negative, even violent or criminal meaning in many if not most of its uses. It seems that the obvious conclusion is that Paul made an intentional choice so that his words would be understood as restricting women from commandeering an unhealthy kind of authority rather than restricting them from being commissioned for any authoritative role in the church….A lexicon is a catalog of words and their meanings, similar to a dictionary. Hubner cites eight standard Greek lexicons most of which convey the meaning of authĕntĕ ō as referring to autocratic, domineering authority. These lexicons designate the meaning of authĕntĕ ō as follows: “to assume a stance of independent authority, to give orders to, to dictate to;” “of one who acts on his own authority; hence have control over, domineer, Lord it over;” to “control, have authority over;” to “domineer, have authority over;” “to have full power over;” “dominate;” “domineer over.” 287 The Greek-English Lexicon, which focuses on the contextual aspect of words, likewise represents the meaning of authĕntĕ ō as “to control in a domineering manner . . . [example from 1 Tim. 2:12] ‘I do not allow women . . . to dominate men’ . . . ‘To control in a domineering manner’ is often expressed idiomatically, for example, ‘to shout orders at,’ ‘to act like a chief toward,’ or ‘to bark at.’” 288 Further, lexical usages indicate that inherent to the meaning of authĕntĕ ō is that it refers to authority which is self-appointed or even commandeered, rather than commissioned, granted, or assigned appropriately. Clearly those lexical definitions at the very minimum indicate that the pejorative understanding of authĕntĕ ō in 1 Timothy 2:12 is a strong possibility, but more likely, that its normal meaning is derogatory….I attempted to read translations and/or the original Greek of nearly all of the most relevant extra-biblical uses of authĕntĕ ō in their original contexts. At risk of failing to recognize my own biases, from my own examination of those extra-biblical uses at a time when I was not yet settled on either position, it appeared to me that this party line division is very much out of sync with the preponderance of evidence clearly supporting a negative meaning for authĕntĕ ō . It appears to me that unless one is determined to force the evidence to fit a complementarian understanding, it obviously supports the conclusion that authĕntĕ ō is primarily about domineering and abusive authority….Stanley Grenz states that “Recent studies indicate that in the first century authĕntĕ ō was more likely to carry negative than neutral or positive connotations . . . At the time of Paul, the verb carried two closely related meanings: ‘instigating or perpetrating a crime’ and ‘the active wielding of influence (with respect to a person) or the initiation of an action . . . Timothy J. Harris concludes from his study of the occurrences of the verb close to the New Testament period that it meant ‘to hold sway or use power, to be dominant.’ In itself it never meant ‘to be an official’ or “to be authorized.” 293…To be blunt: it is my hopefully well-informed opinion, based on the consensus of a seeming majority of contemporary biblical scholars and the ancient language tools available today for Bible students, those who continue to claim that authĕntĕ ō refers to ordinary, beneficial church leadership authority appear to be either uninformed, incorrectly taught, deceived, ignorant, blinded by bias, or dishonest regarding Paul’s instructions. This understanding of the vocabulary of 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 ( authĕntĕ ō and haysuxia ) makes it abundantly clear that Paul was not forbidding women to be teachers or to hold positions of authority over men in the church. Rather he was forbidding women from being a particular kind of teacher or leader—one who was unteachable, independent, rebellious, self-exalting, combative, controlling, domineering, argumentative, and abusive.” (Dr. Bill Rudd, Should Women Be Pastors And Leaders In Church? My Journey To Discover What The Bible Teaches About Gender Roles, 5207-5546 (Kindle Edition); Bloomington, Indiana; WestBow Press)

What Paul is forbidding in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 is a certain type of teaching, not all teaching in general. The type of teaching which he forbids is the type where a teacher bullies or domineer a person into submission, instead of gently instructing a person. This type of “teaching” Paul taught against constantly (2 Timothy 2:24-26; Ephesians 4:15; Galatians 6:1-2).

As we will see, this type of teaching was especially needed in the context of the Ephesians where Timothy was located.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: