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Topic 15: 1 Timothy 2:8-15: Part 9: “teach…authority…”


This is ninth in a brief series on unpacking the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:8-15.  Part 9 deals with the relationship between teaching and “exercising authority.”

The Commission on Theology and Church Relations in its September 1985 document “Women in the Church” posits the following:

“The question now arises, what is the relationship between teaching, learning, and exercising ‘authority over man’? … In point of fact, however, a careful review of this passage indicates that the terms ‘teach’ and ‘exercise authority’ parallel each other.  They are intentionally linked.  The kind of teaching referred to in the passage is tied to exercising authority.  The authority forbidden to women here is that of the pastoral office, that is, one ‘who labors in preaching and teaching’ (1 Tim. 5:17; cf. 1 Thess. 5:12)” (CTCR-WIC, page 35).

We conclude that the terms “teach” and “usurp authority” are linked and are “parallel to each other” but not in the sense that “to teach” equals “to usurp authority.”  The passage does not forbid women the authority to teach; it forbids women “usurping authority” in order to teach.

(A) CTCR argument (CTCR-WIC, page 35) goes as follows:

(1) “… they [the terms ‘teach’ and ‘exercise authority’] are intentionally linked …”

(2) “The kind of teaching referred to in the passage is tied to exercising authority.”

(3) “Teach” equals “exercise authority” (Paul intentionally links these two).

(4) Ergo, “The authority forbidden to women here is that of the pastoral office…”

(5) [No detailed exegetical material is presented in the CTCR document.]

(B) Rather, what is forbidden is not teaching per se, but an individual’s domineering and aggressive process of obtaining a position of teacher within the faith community.

(1) See the previous part which provides a word study of authentein, indicating that this term suggests a domineering and self-appointed and aggressive flavor.

(2) See other references which speak of women in teaching roles and theological education (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:3-4, Acts 18:26, Romans 16:3, 6, 12).

(3) “[vs 12]oukoude”: usually in reverse order, these two are the equivalent of the English “neither … nor…”  They connect two present infinitives didaskein and authentein (two separate infinitives, listed in sequence).

(4) “ouden/‘and not’ joins the two words.  The use of de (‘and’), as well as its compounds ouden/meeden (‘and not’), in 1 Timothy always strongly suggests a move [sic] to a different topic or to quite a different aspect of a topic.  See, e.g., 2:15 and 1:4 … the grammatical construction of the verse and the argument in the context … seem to suggest that teaching is one thing and with the mention of authority Paul moves on to a new topic … )” (Convention Workbook, 59th Regular Convention, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, St. Louis, Mo, July 15-21, 1995, “Dissenting opinion on women in congregational offices,” page 313).

(5) And, “Paul gives two prohibitions here. oude simply joins these two words as a negative conjunction.  Although the second prohibition explains and qualifies the first, these exist as two separate interdictions.  In other words, didaskein does not equal authentein.  Since didaskein and authentein are linked by a co-ordinate conjunction, andros serves as the direct object for both of these verbs.  The nature of the two verbs requires a direct object in the genitive case instead of the accusative case” (Gritz, Paul, Women Teachers, and the Mother Goddess at Ephesus, pg 133).

(6) Or, “At this point one can see the relationship between didaskein and authentein.  Teaching in the first century did contain the idea of authority for both Jews and pagans.  For wives to teach their husbands gave the impression that they were ‘lording it over them.’  The problem intensified in Ephesus because of the attitude of the false teachers — arrogant and highhanded.  Some women, including wives, unfortunately adopted this unchristian disposition.  A further complication resided in the fact that the heretics forbade marriage.  As a result, some wives publicly demeaned their husbands.  Ephesian Christian wives had overstepped their bounds.  This behavior had to cease.  Paul’s instructions in this entire passage reveal his pastoral concern at this point to maintain not only order in church worship but also healthy family relationships in an environment hostile to the same” (Gritz, pg. 135).

(7) “The relationship and function of a woman in the congregation is to be seen in the light of the relationship between man and woman in the family” (Powers, pg. 59).

(C)  Didaskein has no modifier (as it does eleven of the thirteen times it appears in the New Testament).

(1) This suggests the emphasis here is on the act or the process, not on who is teaching or who is being taught or the content of the teaching.

(2) Therefore, the text can be translated, “I am not permitting (present tense: “currently”) women to teach in a way as to domineer (or seize authority) over men.”

◆ ‘However, when the apostle’s phrases are separated in this way and used to formulate a code of rules concerning the role of women, both the text and women are abused” (CTCR-WIC, page 35).

(D) No, the text is abused when authentein is translated with a neutral or benign flavor, “to have authority” or to “exercise authority” when the stress of the word is on a domineering and self-aggrandizing action.

(1) And women are abused when they are denied full use of their gifts which the Spirit distributes “as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

(2) The text does not indicate Paul forbids women teaching if it is done in a way that does not impose itself over others, nor does Paul say women cannot teach if this authority is granted by the faith community.  Paul is not saying women cannot “have authority” or “exercise authority.”

(3) “[vs 12] .. alla einai [present infinitive: “currently] en esuxia”: “but to be at this time in [a posture of] quiet receptiveness” (again the “rabbinic teaching model”).

(4) “…oude…alla...”: the opposite attitude of “usurping” is “quietness,” learning first, earning the community’s authorization, then teaching.

(5) 1 Tim. 2:8-15 is not a reference to the pastoral office.  Paul is not forbidding authoritative teaching; he is forbidding the arrogant action which assumes one can muscle one’s way into the community as a teacher.

(E) There is no express word herein which hints at or refers to pastoral office.