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Does 1 Timothy 3:8-13 discount the possibility of women deacons? Not at all.

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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of the delegates against a woman’s addressing a mixed assembly were found to be so strong, however, that the lady was withdrawn from the programme, and further public participation in the conference confined to its male constituency.

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Gary Hoag revisits the topic of wealth in the letter of 1 Timothy, asking whether the teachings found there are consistent or inconsistent with other teachings in the NT, or whether it might be a mixture of the two. Scholars are divided on this question. Hoag’s findings rest on cross-referencing the terms in 1 Timothy with a novel, Ephesiaca by Xenophon of Ephesus. 

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In every corner of the world, religious teachings on gender and power have an enormous impact on human lives, especially those of girls and women. For this reason, Christians have a responsibility to accurately critique biblical teachings on gender. 

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While it is now generally agreed that 1 Tim 2:8–15 is directed against the heresy that had taken hold within the Ephesian church, the key question is whether the passage is directed against the content of the heresy or is concerned to establish a process that will eventually see the victims corrected and the heresy expunged. If concerned with the content of the heresy, the instructions may be directed at restoring a hierarchical framework. If the passage is concerned with process, however, Paul’s demands are shaped by the particular nature of the heresy and its form of transmission in Ephesus.

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Those who forbid women pastors on the basis of 1 Tim 2:12 illegitimately give the passage the weight of a “clear” text while ignoring the implications of its notorious difficulties.

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In the women-in-ministry debate, the verb authenteō in 1 Tim 2:12 has played a crucial role. As a result, a plethora of scholarly efforts have aimed at uncovering what exactly the term meant during Paul’s time and what it meant specifically in 1 Tim 2:12. Despite such painstaking work, there remains considerable disagreement about what the term means. 

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A correct interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 within the context of the epistle as well as the historic and cultural situation does not support a restriction of women.

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For today’s “traditionalists,” 1 Timothy 2 mandates the subordination of women to men in the church because the headship/submission principle is grounded in the created order, an order that Christianity redeems, but does not alter. Today’s traditionalists/male hierarchists also claim to be upholding the historic interpretation of this passage. New research on early Protestant beliefs concerning natural law and the spiritual and civil kingdoms, however, brings their claim into serious question. 

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