“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.” 1 Timothy 2:11 (NKJV) Surely this has to settle the woman question once and for all? Or is it an unbiblical man made interpretation of the truth? After all, one half of the Body of Christ is told to be quiet and listen, and if she doesn’t like it then she should just submit. Is that what God really wants?
If women are to learn quietly and submissively, how should the men learn? Loudly and rebelliously? Is this command uniquely for the women whilst the men are free from such restraints, or was Paul once again addressing a local issue?
I really want to rant!
I do really, about how a presupposition of male superiority has corrupted our Bible translations, but I need to keep the word count down.
Pray for a quiet and peaceable life
This is Paul’s advice in verse 2 of this chapter in 1 Timothy. But what does quiet mean? Does quiet mean silent? Should we all walk around in silence? I know some church meetings can seem that way, but the smallest amount of common sense tells us that quiet is quiet, a low level of noise. Silent on the other hand is no noise, no speaking, seen but not heard.
The above being true, then why is the word quietness translated silence in verse 11 when it is being applied to women? It is the same word ‘hesuchia’ in both verses. It appears in other places in the New Testament where it is always translated… You guessed it, quietness!
The women must learn in quietness, just like the men.
Timothy had powerful women in the church who, because of the Diana cult (see previous blogs) had been raised to believe that they were superior to men, who were fighting with him over the truth of Scripture. Perhaps it went like this: Timothy calls the church together to speak about the person of Jesus and what He has done for us. However, as he starts to pass on what he has learned from the apostle Paul, some of the women start to shout him down, disagreeing on some point. Perhaps they were arguing about the equality that the Gospel brings or the greatest among us being the servant of all. Whatever it was it shook young Timothy enough to ask Paul for advice.
What about ‘all submission’?
Traditionally that has been interpreted as, fully submit to the bloke out the front. It has in fact been used to silence women over rape, beatings and even incest. After all it does say “all submission”. The problem is that the text doesn’t tell us specifically what they should submit to, we could argue that it means submit to the teacher, but in the wider picture that makes no sense. What if the teacher is speaking rubbish? This is ‘Markology’ (a deep, personal and difficult form of hermeneutics) but I would suggest that Paul was telling the women to submit fully to the message of the Gospel and all its implications.
On the phone again
Let’s listen to Paul’s end of our imaginary phone conversation, we can’t hear Timothy but we hear Paul giving this advice.
“Timothy listen to me, don’t let them despise your youth. You must tell those women that if they are serious about being believers, they must learn quietly, and submit fully to the teachings of the Lord Jesus”.
For those of you who have been following this series we are back to a familiar place. Was this a universal command or was Paul handing out a specific directive to a local problem? It was without doubt a local issue, it was never meant to bring God’s beloved daughters in to bondage and oppression. That is solely the work of mislead and often hateful men who have lost their love for the truth. Sorry sisters…
Go well my friends 🙂