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Research on women in 1 Timothy

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Women of lower social rank in the East frequently covered their heads. But

the urban congregations of Ephesus would have included women of higher

social rank, who would flaunt their status by the ornate ways they

decorated their hair. To the poorer women, this would have been

intimidating.

Paul forbids women to 'teach in such a way as to take authority'

Background situation

. This is the most discussed passage in the Pauline Epistles today.

Interpretations of Paul range from him being an enemy of women to him

being their liberator.

. Male false teachers (1Timothy 1:20; 2Timothy 2:17) had been

introducing dangerous heresy (1 Tim 1:4-7; 6:3-5) into the Ephesian

church.

. This often happened by gaining access to its women - women were

uneducated (certainly in scripture) and more susceptible to error.

6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over

weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all

kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the

truth. (2 Timothy 3:6-7)

. Were these widows, and therefore less protected than married women?

. Most people in this society were functionally illiterate.

. Paul ranks prophets second only to apostles (1 Cor 12:28), yet assumes

the existence of prophetesses. (1 Cor 11:5)

. Paul plainly does not enjoin total silence on women, since earlier in

the same letter he expects them to pray and prophesy publicly along

with the men (1 Cor 11:4-5); he thus must enjoin only the silencing of

a particular form of speaking. [1]

. Because the women were still not well trained in the Scriptures they

were most susceptible to the false teachers and could provide a

network through which the false teachers could disrupt other homes (1

Tim 5:13; cf. 1 Tim 3:11).[2]

. Paul provides a short-range solution and a long-range solution. The

short range is that they should not take ruling positions as teachers

in the church. The long-range solution - let them learn. Quietly and

submissively was the way that all novices were required to learn.

. Eve is used as an example of the way these women in the church at

Ephesus were being deceived. It doesn't make sense that Paul is saying

here that all women are more easily deceived than men, because the

cause of the problem were deceived men! (Elsewhere, Eve is used as an

example of women and men being deceived - 2 Cor 11:3).

. Hair was an object of lust in this day.

. In Judaism, women were far less likely to be taught in the law than

men. . So here, it is Paul's advocacy of them learning the law, not

their starting as novices and so having to learn quietly, that was

countercultural.

. the clothing Paul is considering is not slightly expensive but

extravagantly expensive as suggested by the use of gold jewelry.[3]

. the issue is not clothing or braided hair, but excess, possibly

appearing to be immoral [4]

. Women in general should place a priority on pursuing good deeds (1 Tim

2:10), which might include bearing children (1 Tim 2:15) in contrast

to the ban Paul's opponents placed on marriage (1 Tim 4:3).[5]

. Some of the women are characterized as learning to be idlers, gadding

about from house to house, gossiping (or talking foolishly), and in

general being busybodies (1 Tim 5:13). They were anything but quiet.

Evidently the lack of constraint, also characteristic of the

Corinthian church, was a problem at Ephesus.[6]

. The verb kosmeo (cf. the English word "cosmetic") means first "put in

order" and then "adorn, decorate" (BAG). The adjective kosmios (in NT

only here and in 3:2) means "orderly, decent, modest" (A-S, p. 255).

. Phoebe, Lydia, Euodia, Syntyche, Priscilla, Junia), designated as

ministers (or deacons, Rom 16:1), fellow workers (Rom 16:3),

colaborers in the gospel (Phil 4:2-9), apostles (or messengers, Rom

16:7). [7]

. From the instructions given, we can conclude that the false teaching

led to a disregard for proper decorum and practices in the church (1

Tim 2:8-15) as well as to a rejection of the institution of marriage

(1 Tim 4:3). In light of this last aspect of the heretical teaching,

it is noteworthy that particular attention is directed to young widows

(in 1 Tim 5:9-15), who are urged to marry, have children and manage

their homes (1 Tim 5:14). When these normal, socially prescribed roles

and functions are neglected or rejected, these women are prone to

"gossiping" and being "busybodies, saying things they ought not to" (1

Tim 5:13).[8]

. women are and will be saved, even as they perform those domestic and

maternal roles expected of women in the social-historical context, but

rejected by the heretical teachers. It is possible that the heretical

teachers and the women who had been deceived by them saw a rejection

of normal domestic and maternal roles as evidence that they were truly

saved and spiritual. Such a situation makes Paul's strong and

difficult restrictive injunctions to the women in Ephesus absolutely

necessary, for the heretical teaching and its consequences represented

a comprehensive misunderstanding and denial of the gospel.[9]

.


[1]Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., & Reid, D. G. (1993). Dictionary of

Paul and his letters (590). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

[2]Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., & Reid, D. G. (1993). Dictionary of

Paul and his letters (591). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

[3]Mounce, W. D. (2002). Vol. 46: Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral

Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary (115). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4]Mounce, W. D. (2002). Vol. 46: Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral

Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary (115). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[5]Mounce, W. D. (2002). Vol. 46: Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral

Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary (116). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[6]Mounce, W. D. (2002). Vol. 46: Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral

Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary (118). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[7]Kaiser, W. C. (1997, c1996). Hard sayings of the Bible (666). Downers

Grove, Il: InterVarsity.

[8]Kaiser, W. C. (1997, c1996). Hard sayings of the Bible (667). Downers

Grove, Il: InterVarsity.

[9]Kaiser, W. C. (1997, c1996). Hard sayings of the Bible (671). Downers

Grove, Il: InterVarsity.

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