The occasion for writing the following article is this: at a recent summer convention [probably 1893] a young lady missionary had been appointed to give an account of her work at one of the public sessions. The scruples of certain of the delegates against a woman’s addressing a mixed assembly were found to be so strong, however, that the lady was withdrawn from the programme, and further public participation in the conference confined to its male constituency.
One of the most hotly contested passages in the New Testament these days is 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The cultural reason for this is clear: The ordination of women in the Church is a major issue of debate among traditional and evangelical denominations. Biblically-minded Christians are rightly concerned about the meaning of this passage for ministry today. And, in response to that concern, a large number of scholars have written articles, commentaries and now even entire books on these few verses.
QUESTION: I have no problem with Galatians 3:28 or with equality concerning salvation and spiritual gifts. I do have a problem with headship. Can you please tell me where any of the writers of the New Testament gave women the OK to be in authority over men?
Context matters. I heard it all the time in seminary. It’s no small thing to translate biblical passages from Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek into English. This requires getting into the minds of the biblical authors to figure out what they intended to say to specific people in certain situations at a specific time in history. Academics call the science of interpretation hermeneutics. The goal is to know what God is saying about faith and practice in a certain context.
In the first installment of this series, we noted and illustrated the importance of the presence or absence of the article (the) in Greek grammar. Presence of the article usually indicates identity and absence of the article generally stresses quality or character. We showed how this grammatical difference (not usually present in English) affects our interpretation of verses 1 through 7 in I Timothy 2.
This passage in I Timothy has caused much confusion about what women can or cannot do in church services or in teaching. In the oft-heated discussions, a verse or two, or even a single phrase is sometimes selected and the rest of the passage ignored.
There are two main groups within evangelicalism debating the issues of subordination (lesser authority) among the members of the Trinity and subordination among male-female relationships. Complementarians believe, among other things, that women should be under the authority of male leaders in their churches, and wives should be under the authority of male leaders (their husbands) in their marriages.
In this series, I will address and support the necessary qualitative distinction between the eternal inner life of the Trinity and the temporal inter-relationships of women and men in church and marriage.