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1 Timothy 2:12                                 8/6/16

“... so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity.” One of the main themes in Pauls letter to Timothy is leading tranquil and quiet lives. This is what Paul wants for everyone, men and women. This theme is repeated in verses 11 and 12 for both men and women. In some translations, the same word translated as quiet when referring to "we" or all, both men and women, is translated as silent when referring to women. This should not be the case. The word has the idea of God produced calm, in it. This calmness comes from being yielded to the will of God.

1Timothy 2:12

"A woman in calmness let her learn, in all yeildedness teach. On the other hand a woman I don’t permit, nor a man, to be overbearing/murderous, but to be in quietness."

Ancient Greek has a relatively free word order, which makes translation into English difficult in some cases.
Another difficulty comes because sentence punctuation was added about two hundred years after the text was written. This means we have two possible ways of translating 1 Timothy 1:11-12. The word “not” usually precedes the verb, so why put it in front of teach? It refers to permit and should be translated "not permit."

The more sensible translation is the one I have done above, but it could also be as follows:

"A woman in calmness let her learn, in all servanthood. Teach, on the other hand, I don’t permit, a woman nor a man to be overbearing/murderous, but to be in quietness." However the "on the other hand," comes after the word "teach" so teach should be translated with the group of words before it.

Most translateors have ignored the word "nor." A woman nor ... what? Surely a "woman nor a man" is the only logical translation here.

The word αυθεντειν was the word used for an assassin who was hired to murder a woman’s husband so she could take her lover. It also meant to take up arms or to be an autocrat.

Paul goes on to say, "If anyone she desires to be a bishop, a good work he/she/it be desiring" (Timothy 3:1). (Translated literally.) Sadly some ignore the fact that the feminine form of the word is used. They change it to he.

These translations echo the words of Paul who said, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21).

They also echo the words of Jesus in Matthew 20, where Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave."

The word "bishop" is sometimes translated as "overseer" in New Testament writings. It was sometimes used interchangeably with "Presbyteros" or "elder" and initially referred to those who formed the governing body in the Jewish synagogues, which sometimes included women. The early Christian elders were leaders, overseeing and caring for the people God entrusted to them. They were chosen because of their ability to manage their own households and teach others.

Paul also says, "A bishop must be one that ruleth" (I Timothy 3:4).

Paul tells Timothy an overseer or bishop must be "above reproach" and able to teach." He speaks of the male Bishops and deacons "and the same thing goes for the women." When Paul says "likewise" he is referring to female bishops and Deacons. Paul doesn't say a woman shouldn't teach or be a bishop or deacon, but neither should be overbearing, which is what Peter also said to the elders (1 Peter 5:3). We know there were female elders even though some translators haven't translated "presbeteros" as "elder." Titus 2:3 speaks of them although some have translated the word as "older."

Paul commented on Phoebe's leadership qualities when he wrote that she was a "prostatis" [ruler] to him. The same word is used in I Timothy 3:4 when referring to a bishop.

"for she also became a ruler of many, and also of myself" (Romans 16:2).

If you think Paul is saying women shouldn't teach, then to call a woman an outstanding apostle is contradictory, as is calling Phoebe a ruler(prostatis) to him. The Greek word means someone who is set over another. The masculine form of the word is translated as "to put before, to set over, to rule." Saddly the meaning of the female form of the word is often changed to "helper" by some translators.

"Greet Andronicus and Junias, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was" (Romans 16:7).

Junias is feminine and there is no evidence of there ever being a male form of the name in the first century AD.

Do you think the letter to Timothy is for all Chriatians, or was it just for Timothy? If for all Christians, then shouldn't we all obey his command to "teach and command these things."

Many in the first century didn't allow women to learn, or men to talk much with them. It was an issue debated as recorded in the Talmud, page 179. Jose ben Johanan of Jerusalem said, "... and don't talk much with women-kind." He believed to do so was to bring evil upon a man (The Mishna). In later centuries women were even prohibited to write their name. Paul says. "Let her learn," which is what Jesus also said to Martha about Mary. They had both become Jesus disciples, but Martha was drawn away. "To sit at His feet" was a colloquialism for following a sage or rabbi wherever he went, in order to learn, not just his words, but his ways. The saying came from Yose ben Yoezer's words about powdering one’s self with the dust of the sage’s feet. He lived about two centuries before Jesus. He Only boys and men did this. They learned in quietness from a Rabbi, so when Martha got in an uproar about it, Jesus calmed her down and said Mary had chosen the God appointed portion - the good portion (Luke 10).

Jesus said, "whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother." (Matthew 12:48-49).

We are joint heirs with Christ and in Him there is neither male nor female according to Galatians 3:28. All can receive the Holy Spirit and all the gifts are to be earnestly desired according to 1 Corinthians 14:1. To be able to teach is a gift.

"Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days." Joel 2:29.

Surely these are those days. The Spirit has been poured out and all those who confess Christ in them are needed as labourers. Christ in us - this is dynamite enabling.

"You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others" (Hebrews 5:12).


© J K Phillips
References in brackets come from the Bible.

Bernadette J. Brooten, Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagoue: Inscriptional Evidence and Background Issues (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1982), 1.

"Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible Together with Dictionaries of the Hebrew and Greek Words of the Original with References to the English Words.". In Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, edited by James Strong. Mclean: Mac Donald Publishing Company, n.a.

Litt, A. M. D. (1968). The R.S.V. Interlinear Greek - English New Testament. London, Samuel Bagster and Sons Limited.

"ἐπιθυμέω," A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, n.p.

Phillips, Jennifer Kathleen. "Attitudes to Women Leaders in the Early Church." Canberra: Charles Sturt University, 2010.

The Mishnah.Third Hendrickson Softcover ed. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers Marketing LLC, 2015.p.446

Cohen, Abraham, ed.Everyman's Talmud. New York: Schocken Books, 1887-1957.