Welcome to CBE’s Library

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Question: In 1 Timothy, the Apostle Paul says women are not to usurp the authority of men in spiritual matters. Doesn’t CBE’s view of women in ministry twist what the Bible says?

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QUESTIONI 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?

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To gain balance and perspective in understanding 1 Timothy 2:11-15, we lean back and consider how other writers from the first century used authentein. The answer is very helpful.

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Some of us come from traditions where you don’t ask questions of the text. If you ask questions, that means you are questioning God, and that’s not allowed. I want to expose you to the two typical ways this passage has been understood.

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To understand 1 Timothy 2, we need to overcome our blindness to women. We need to see Priscilla, a wise and strong leader and teacher; Artemis, the goddess whose female-centered religion would have normalized female religious dominance; the unqualified women usurping authority and spreading false teachings; and those being deceived by those teachings.

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It would appear those opposed to women’s equality in the church have the upper hand in interpreting “problem passages” like 1 Timothy, but egalitarians are actually better equipped to explain them. 

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When the curtain on male headship is pulled back, it shrinks from the light of logic and truth. Consider the most recent defense of male headship by John Piper. He offers three reasons why he believes it will endure, but in pulling the curtain back, we find each deeply flawed.

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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.

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“I'm okay with a woman sharing, but not preaching,” I said.

“Why?” the woman responded.

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What do we need to know about the Ephesians in order 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 (vs. 1:34) and second, we must understand the cultural background of the Ephesians.

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