Monday, April 23, 2007

Complementarian Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15/ A Rebuttal

  • Complementarians believe that the coupling of “teaching” with “having authority over men,” in this passage, means that teaching of men is inappropriate for a woman in a setting or way that dishonors the calling of men to bear the primary responsibility for teaching and leadership. Complementarians affirm from this text as well (1 Corinthians 14:34-36; 11:2-16, ect.) as others that the office of pastor or elder is the responsibility of the man. Douglas Moo affirms that women are not to teach or have authority over men. They are not to do so because of the order in which God created man and woman and because of how man and woman fell into sin.[1] Moo goes on to assert that complementarians believe that 1 Timothy 2:8-15 imposes two restrictions on the ministry of women: “they are not to teach doctrine to men and they are not to exercise authority directly over men in the church.”[2] Only two restrictions of women in ministry in the local church are found in this passage; there are numerous other roles women can fill in their church.
  • First, the setting of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is very interesting. Thomas Schreiner affirms that if one could show that prohibition against women teaching men were explicable on the grounds of false teaching and its specific features, the egalitarian position would be greatly strengthened. [3] Kroeger do argue that Paul was speaking to false teachers who proclaimed the priority of Eve over Adam and that Eve enlightened Adam with her teaching. Paul’s words on Adam being created first were a direct response to this teaching. If Kroeger’s reconstruction is right, then this restriction for temporary use is enhanced. However, according to Schreiner, Kroeger constantly appeals to later sources to establish the contours of heresy, and the lack of “historical rigor is nothing less than astonishing.”[4] Kroeger is clearly looking at sources that are far past the time that Paul was writing this letter.
  • Second, when one looks at the 1 Timothy 2:11-13 he sees that a women should learn submissively and quietly, and she is not to engage in teaching or exercising authority because of the created order. When Paul states in 1 Timothy 2:11, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission,” the focus on the command is not on women learning, but the manner and mode of their learning.”[5] Paul wants women to learn in silence with all submission. Moreover, most scholars today argue that the word “silence” or “quietly” found here does not mean silence but rather refers to a “quiet demeanor and spirit that is peaceable instead of argumentative” (see 1 Tim. 2:2 and 1 Peter 3:4).[6]
  • Third, when looking at verse 12 where Paul says, “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence,” two things are forbidden: teaching and having authority over a man. Paul does not mean that once a woman has learned they can teach or that the word permit means just for a certain period of time. Bilezikian argues that in the verse the only reason for prohibition on women teachers was lack of education or the influence of false teachers.[7] If Paul wanted to say something about false teachers or lack of education he would. However, here teaching that Paul is describing involves the authoritative and public transmission of tradition about Christ and the Scripture” (1 Cor. 12:28-29); Eph. 4:11, 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 3:16, James 3:1).[8] Women can still privately teach other women, children, and privately. The key issue here is that women are prohibited from the function of public and authoritative teaching of men in this verse.
  • Fourth, a powerful objection against the complementarian position is that prophecy is just as authoritative as teaching (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 2:20; 4:11). Since it is clear that women could prophesy in the public assembly (Acts 2:17-18; 21:9: 1 Cor. 11:5), it is therefore concluded that women should be permitted to teach.[9] However Wayne Grudem asserts that prophecy is very different from teaching. Prophecy involves impulsive revelations in which truth is mixed with error.[10] Prophecy is more vertical in nature, while teaching is more horizontal. One could say that prophecy is much like a woman reading Scripture. In all the biblical texts where women are prophesying, they do not teach the Word that was given to them, they just proclaim it. Grudem also affirms that, “there is not one example in the entire Bible of a woman doing the kind of congregational Bible teaching that is expected of pastors/elders in the New Testament church.[11] This statement has huge implications. Even the prophets Deborah and Huldah prophesied only in private, not public. Moreover, Schreiner asserts that “1 Corinthians 11:2-16 shows that women with the prophetic gift should exercise in such a way that they do not subvert male leadership.”[12] This passage does mean that the gift of prophecy can be done without overturning male headship, whereas 1 Timothy 2:11-15 demonstrates that women cannot regularly teach men without doing so.
  • Finally, women are prohibited from teaching or having authority over men because of the created order. 1 Timothy 2:13-14 states, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” The creation of Adam before Eve, signaled that men are to teach and exercise authority in the church. Furthermore, the events in Genesis 3 confirm the need for male leadership. Eve took leadership and responding to the serpent and Adam just stood back and did not lead Eve. He allowed Eve to sinfully react to the serpent. However, even though Eve was the first to sin, the responsibility for the sin is given to Adam in Romans 5:12-19. Lastly, a woman, by performing her role in childbearing is not sufficient for salvation; women must also practice other Christians virtues to be saved.[13]

[1] Douglass Moo, “What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men? 1 Timothy 2:11-15,” in John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton: Crossway, 1991), 179.

[2] Ibid., 180.

[3] Andreas J. Kostenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner, eds., Women in the Church: An Analusis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids : Baker Books, 1995), 88.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., 97.

[6] Ibid., 98.

[7] Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles (Grand Rapids; Baker, 1985), 179.

[8] Kostenberger and Schreiner eds., Women in the Church, 101.

[9] Ibid., 102.

[10] Wayne Grudem, “Prophecy – Yes, but Teaching – No: Paul’s Consistent Advocacy of Women Participation without Governing Authority,” JETS 30 (1987): 11-23.

[11] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity, 1994), 942.

[12] Kostenberger and Schreinder, eds., Women in the Church, 102.

[13] Ibid., 120.

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