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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.

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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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All Scripture is by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Let us therefore seek the positive message in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 which God has for the believer — a message which both traditionalists and egalitarians have too long ignored.

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Snow falls gently
like little promises accumulating over the years,
piling into great mounds of failed commitment.
Too large to ignore,
it stands grim sentinel in the chill of resentment,
but it slowly melts away under the sunshine of mercy.

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My mama allows it could've been rape
and it might've, you know, unsettled her mind.

Grandma, who's lived with us since grandpa died,
declares she's just a little whore,
probably with some low-ranking Roman,
who's trying to hide her dirty skirts behind blasphemy.

Either way, my mama says, I should watch and remember
how easy a girl becomes trash and has to leave town,
probably for good,
and you can bet her little bastard won't be around
to take care of her when she's old.

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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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The king was desperate. He was a God-fearing man and from his youngest age he had sought God. Now, trying to rid God’s people of idols, he had undertaken major repairs in the Lord’s temple but he had just realized that his efforts were insufficient. His secretary had just brought back a book from the temple—a lost book found by the high priest during repairs. After reading the book, the king realized that despite all his religious training, all his faith, all his attempts at doing what he thought was right, he had been wrong. His priests had been wrong. His people had been wrong. This was the book of the law of God which said “You shall have no other God before me” and warned of the curses against Israel if they did not obey the law. The king was now aware of the remaining idols in the temple and all the false gods around the country to whom Judah was making offerings. The Lord’s feasts such as Passover were barely celebrated, and the covenant was forgotten. The king was appalled. This could mean terrible disaster for his nation because, having forgotten God’s law, they were under his wrath. The king convened his highest ranking officials: his secretary, his attendant, the high priest, and a couple of others. He ordered them to inquire of God for himself and the people of Judah to find out what, if anything, could be done.

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Being married to her is the greatest happiness a man could feel. I could never love anyone more. My only desire is to love her and provide for her. I have made sacrifices for her, but she is worth every single one. I always want to be there for her. I want to save and protect her. I want to shield her from worldly dangers. She is my woman, and I want to be her man.

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God of Hagar, Tamar, and Mary Magdalene | Of Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel
 
 
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God of Hagar, Tamar, and Mary Magdalene | Of Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel | God of Ruth, Esther, and Rahab | Of the Woman at the Well and the Woman They Would Have Stoned

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