If you embrace the theological position that God the Son is eternally (read “permanently”) subordinate to God the Father and then ground your belief that submission of the wife to the husband is permanently true because of this theological position, then what does Mt. 22:30 mean?
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.
What do we need to know about the Ephesians to better understand Paul's meaning in 1 Timothy 2:11? First, we need to know that the letter was written to address the influence of false teachers and second, we must understand the cultural background of the Ephesians.
What if Paul is saying something contextual, specific to a time and place and circumstance, relevant to the culture that he is speaking to? 1 Timothy is a letter from Paul to Timothy, a church leader in Ephesus. Paul is writing to Timothy telling him how to handle false teachers—teachers who are misrepresenting the gospel.
For most of my life, I thought I was biblically accurate in believing that men and women were made completely different and were meant by God to have different roles. This was especially true within relationships and families.
This paper was given by Kevin Giles at the Evangelical Theological Society annual conference on November 15, 2016 in San Antonio, TX. The other speakers on the plenary Trinity forum were Dr Bruce Ware, Dr Millard Erickson, and Dr Wayne Grudem. Dr Storms presided.
I was a junior in college when I first discovered biblical equality. Mimi Haddad had come to lecture in one of my classes. Almost a decade later, I still remember it vividly—my perspective from the fourth row of tables where I was situated, the blue and green background colors of Mimi’s PowerPoint slides, the Bible I was using as she directed us to look up particular passages. Most of all, I remember the rush of emotions—shock, which quickly turned to relief, and then to excitement, and finally to determination to do something about all I had learned. I had spent the previous few years wrestling with the idea that the God I loved preferred men over all the gifted women I saw around me. It was like a terrible itch that just wouldn’t go away. But now Mimi was guiding me through biblical passages that affirm the dignity and worth of women, showing me Phoebe the deacon, Priscilla the teacher, even Junia the apostle. The message was, as a CBE member described once to me, a healing balm for my soul. And how grateful I am to Jesus that it came when it did—as I was young and sorting out my gifts and calling and dreams.
Esther shows us that leadership is responsiveness to God and to those who are hurting. It is a readiness to self-sacrifice, and it has everything to do with character, intimacy with God, and closeness to those who are vulnerable.