Paul and Women Teachers:
2. I let learn
3. to teach
I am allowing
5. to sexually seduce
1. “Gunee” can be translated either wife or woman, Strong’s Greek Hebrew Dictionary, 1135, “a woman;·a wife.” For example, it is translated “wife” in 1Cor. 7:3 and 27.
2. let learn The w ending indicates “I” as in “I am allowing” two lines below, and expresses his practice. Basic Greek in 30 Minutes a Day by Jim Found, Page 84.
3. Jesus uses a form of the same verb, “didasko” 1321: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching (“didaskontes” 1321) them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.
4. In Greek usage the particle “de” modifies the word that comes directly before it, and becomes “but to teach” in this case.
5. Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament I Tim. 2:12,“The King James Version ‘usurp authority’ is a mistake.” Strong’s, to dominate. In the fourth century John Chrysostom used the same word, authentia to express “sexual license” or wrong sexual practices! Clement linked the word with women involved in sexual orgies.
6. The male form of the same word is translated “peaceful” or “peaceable” in 1Tim 2:2.
“A wife, in peacefulness, I let learn in all obedience (not causing disputes), but I am not allowing (a) wife to teach, nor to sexually seduce (a) man but to be in peacefulness”
Paul uses the Greek verb form that indicates present action, not a command verb form, for the present he is not allowing these women or wives of Ephesus to teach.
“Paul does not command the women not to teach. He employs the present active indicative for “allow.” The present tense in Greek principally denotes continuous present action. It can refer to present necessity and obligation and to potential action. Greek has its own imperative mood which is not here employed. Commands can also be phrased in the aorist or the future indicative. Neither of these tenses is here used. Nor does Paul use the perfect tense to denote an action in the past which has changed the state of affairs. Paul is saying: ‘I am not presently allowing a woman to teach.’” Beyond the Curse, Aida Besancon Spencer, Pg. 84-85.
An already established universal rule on women not teaching would already be understood by Timothy. Paul would not be writing in the present active indicative mood.
“Paul does not assume that Timothy already knows this rule. Had this rule been established and universal, is it possible that Timothy, who had worked many years with Paul, would not have known it already? Paul often reminds readers of traditions they should know by saying, ‘You know,’ or ‘Do you not know?’ or ‘According to the traditions which I delivered to you.’” Paul, Women and Wives, Craig S. Keener, Pg. 112.
The fourteenth Greek word in this passage, “authentein” is used only this one place in the entire New Testament so there is much controversy about its rightful interpretation. Several sources say that the KJV “to usurp authority over a man” is not accurate. Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament states of 1Tim. 2:12,“The King James Version ‘usurp authority’ is a mistake.” Strong’s defines “authentein” 831, “to act of oneself, to dominate”.
In his book, Who Said Women Can't Teach, Charles Trombley argues convincingly that “authenein” had a sexual meaning. He states on page 176 that at the time of Paul “Authentein had not yet taken on the meaning 'to usurp authority'.” He links the word to temple prostitutes that “believed fornication brought believers into contact with deity”, page 177. He argues the word “authenein” meant to engage in sexual immorality as in a pagan religious setting and quotes John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, (345-407) who used “authentia” to express “sexual license”. Clement of Alexandria (d. 215) used the same word, “authentia” for a group of women who turned Christian love feasts into sexual orgies! Our passage uses authenein– a verb form of this same word.
Remember, the entire phrase “to usurp authority over the” is translated from one mystery word–authentein, a rare word which is used only once in the entire New Testament. If Charles Trombley and others are right, Paul's use of “authentein” is urging these women (or unconverted wives) not to teach others nor “to sexually seduce” men!
So Paul is either saying that wives shouldn't teach “to dominate” husbands or he is saying that they shouldn't teach “to sexually seduce” men! Paul is also arguing against the teaching that Eve was formed before Adam, and that Eve received “special knowledge” by eating the forbidden fruit. Both were bedrock Gnostic beliefs and were widely known.
Remember that Artemis, “Safe” in the Ephesian language, promised wives protection during the dangerous process of childbirth? Paul deals with this next in 1Tim. 2:15, “But women (literally “she”) will be saved through (dia) childbearing (actually, safe throughout the childbearing)....“ Wives will be kept safe throughout the dangerous process of childbearing– “if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” The Greek word Paul uses normally translated “saved” is “sozo” and means literally “safe”! Paul is using a play on words to allude to God keeping the woman “safe” rather than the “safe” goddess! The Phillips Bible translates this, “Women will come safely through childbirth...”.
Note also that the word translated “through”– “dia” is translated “throughout” in “Acts 9:32, and would be better translated “throughout” here also. Also Paul uses “the” which doesn't get translated. Paul promises “she will be safe throughout the childbearing if they (both the husband and the wife?) continue in faith, love, holiness and sobriety”.
Some believe that this passage refers to spiritual salvation, or is an analogy to the church bearing converts, but Paul taught that we are saved only through Jesus Christ, and never referred to the church as Eve! The literal translation is “But she (the wife) shall be safe throughout the childbearing, if...” Paul is encouraging these women, “You don’t need a 'Safe' goddess during childbirth, God will keep you safe if both husband and wife stay in faith, love and holiness!” This reference to a safe childbirth is another strong proof that he is dealing with wives influenced by Artemis whose name meant “safe”.
Notice that childbirth was normally for wives, not for all women. Paul is concerned with wives who were teaching wrong concepts of female superiority and teaching others pagan sexual practices. Since he says in verse 10 that the women in question “professto worship God,” Paul has misgivings about their real intentions. They claim to worship God, yet he implies that these particular elaborately dressed women with the ornately braided hair may not really be worshipping God. Paul seems to be dealing with problems arising from unconverted wives still clinging to pagan myths and teachings, and these wives are passing myths and false doctrines on to others in the congregation. It is important to remember that Greek uses one word for both “wife” and “woman” as explained earlier. Those receiving his letter would know exactly whom he meant!
There had been an angry dispute in the Ephesus church causing Paul to urge the men in 1Tim 2:8 “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” Paul has obviously been asked to mediate in a fight over women in Ephesus teaching female domination and even sexual misconduct, and his answer was to stop allowing those Ephesian women or wives to teach! At the start of Paul’s letter he had urged “command certain ones not to teach false doctrines any longer”. Some of these false teachers were female–either teaching formally or teaching behind the scenes.
Yet in Titus 2:3, Paul tells Titus that elder women should be teachers of the right way of life,
“Likewise, teach the older women (elder women) to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good,” (or, to be a “teacher of the right” way of life).
Paul says elder women are to be “teachers of the right” in the original Greek phrase “kalodidaskalos” Strong's 2567, a teacher of the right. He suggests they start with instructing the younger women, but he does not limit them to teaching only females!
Paul was not against all women everywhere teaching, he was against Ephesian women teaching pagan concepts. Paul argues that Adam was formed before Eve, and thus Eve wasn't created first as Gnostics taught, and being deceived she didn't receive special knowledge. Also he reassures either a worried local pregnant woman or each woman, “she will be safe throughout the childbirth” if “they” live righteously.
Paul is reacting to a local problem of false teachers who may have been unconverted wives. The Greek language of Paul's day had no way to differentiate “wife” from “woman” as one word was used for both. Obviously he is not dealing with dedicated Christian women teaching the Ten Commandments and true doctrines.
Paul's second recorded letter to Timothy, 2 Tim 2:2, states, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable 'anthroopois' (men and women, Strong's 444– defined by Thayer's Greek Definitions as 'a human being, whether male or female') who will also be qualified to teach others.” If a person, male or female, is reliable, sound, qualified– then Paul says he/she should teach others God's truth!
There are many instances of Paul praising women who teach the truth such as Priscilla, see Acts 18:2,18,26; 1 Cor. 16:19; and Romans 16:3; Phoebe, a “diakonon” servant/minister in Romans 16:1, Junia in Romans 16:7, “outstanding among the apostles” Nympha, and “her house church”– the only leader mentioned by name in Laodicea, Col. 4:15. Also Euodia and Syntyche who “contended at my side in the cause of the gospel” verbally wrestling with unbelievers, Phil. 4:1-3. He hails many other women as co-workers in Christ Jesus. If Paul had issued a blanket edict against all women teaching everywhere Paul would have reprimanded these women instead of praising them!
Jesus tells us “...whoever practices and teaches these commands (the Ten Commandments), will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:19. Jesus put no gender restrictions on teaching, but said “whoever” and promises greatness for both men and women who teach the commandments. Women who practice and teach the Ten Commandments of God look forward to greatness! That is a promise from Jesus himself!
Paul was not in opposition to Jesus Christ! He was not dealing with dedicated Christian women teaching the true gospel– he repeatedly praised such women! He was dealing with false teachers teaching myths and pagan ideas learned from the religion of Artemis and Gnostic false doctrines.
Jesus praised the woman of Samaria that publicly preached the words of Jesus to the men and women of her village. He did not tell her to stop teaching the men because she was a woman! Jesus praised her and told the disciples that they were harvesting where she had sowed. As a result, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, ....” John 4:39. Her public witness –her teaching– resulted in conversions, and Jesus praised her and held her up as an example for the disciples!
The words of Jesus are clear commands for all of us to teach the true gospel, and we must never be misled by anyone who contradicts Jesus Christ.
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