As we all know, Jacob (also called Israel) had twelve sons. You probably also know from the tragic story in Genesis 34 that Jacob had a daughter as well, Dinah. But did you know that Jacob had other daughters?
Most evangelical egalitarians know that the Bible has words that mean “man/men” and words that mean “person/people, human(s).” Many egalitarians also know that some Bible translations use “man/men” to translate words which aren’t limited to men.
In studying the Old Testament, we uncover the unmistakable narratives of women who took leadership and teaching roles among God’s people. Deborah, Miriam, and Huldah stand out as impressive examples of these OT women leaders. Similarly in the earliest days of the Christian church, women were teaching and proclaiming Christian doctrine to men. Anna, Priscilla, and Mary were listed as outstanding among the apostles (Junia). Women even prophesied before the congregation of God’s people (the daughters of Phillip).
Paul is concerned with gender in 1 Timothy because the women at Ephesus were individuals whose leadership did not demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. Paul is objecting not to their gender, but to their leadership that domineered over men. We understand this because of the unique verb Paul selects for “authority” (1 Tim 2:12).
Rather than using the most common Greek terms for authority or oversight, like exuosia or proistemo, Paul uses the term authentein—a term that would have caught the attention of first century readers! Why? What does this word mean?
This is the first in a series of four blogs that demonstrate common Bible word study fallacies and why they are important for egalitarians studying Scripture to know. Word studies are a common part of Bible interpretation.
How do we know what a word means? A linguist could spend a career answering this question, but here’s the simple answer: Words do not have meaning outside of context. It is the context that makes meaning.