Monday, April 23, 2007

Egalitarian Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15

  • Overall, egalitarians see the declaration found in this passage to be a temporary ban that involves just the women in Ephesus. Egalitarians look at the historical reconstruction and find that Paul is intent of silencing the Ephesian women because they are involved in some sort of heresy or they were just not educated. Stanley Grenz and Denise Kjesbo assert that when Paul says that women are to “learn in silence,” the word silence does not actually mean “not speaking” (compare Paul’s use of the word in 1 Tim. 2:2).Grenz and Kjesbo state, “rather it implied respect or lack of disagreement”(as in Acts 11:18, 21:14).[1] Furthermore, the phrase “with full submission” does not mean that women have to be in submission to either their husband or church leadership because Paul does not explicitly state that they have to in this passage. Rather Paul is suggesting an attitude of receptivity with regard to submission and to silence. To whom are women supposed to submit if they are not submitting to their husband (Ephesians 5) or church leadership?
  • Egalitarians see the phrase “I permit no woman to teach,” as a temporary command to a specific situation. Grenz and Kjesbo explain that it is on the basis of Paul’s choice of the present active indicative (epitrepo) rather than the imperative that gives strong evidence for Paul not voicing a timeless command. They conclude that this statement really means, “I am not presently allowing.”[2] However, complementarians cite other present active indicative verbs which do have the power of an ongoing rule (1 Cor, 14:34; 1 Tim 2:1, 8). Additionally, when Paul prohibits women from exercising authority over men, Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger conclude that Paul’s directive should read, “I do not permit woman to represent herself as originator of man.”[3] Aida Spencer takes the interpretation of this verse a step further when she states that “Paul here is not prohibiting women from preaching nor praying nor having an edifying authority nor pastoring. He is simply prohibiting them from teaching and using their authority in a destructive way.”[4] Moreover, whatever the results of Eve’s sin it is no longer in effect now that Christ has come and established a new community. Spencer, like most egalitarians, believes Paul, even though he does prohibit women from teaching or having authority over man, means that this prohibition only pertains to the women in the church in Ephesus who were probably acting disruptive or preaching heresy.

[1] Stanley J. Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo, Women in the Church A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry ( Downers Gove, Il: InterVarsity, 1995), 128.

[2] Ibid., 130.

[3] Richard Clark Kroeger and Catherine Clark Kroeger, I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence (Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Book House, 1992), 103.

[4] Aida Besancon Spencer, Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1985), 88.

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