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Topic 9: 1 Timothy 2:8-15: Part 3: Artemis


This is the third in a series of brief studies of 1 Timothy 2:8-15.  Some initial observations:

◆ “Note the paragraph following the above sentence: “Nascent Christianity was located within a religious environment in which female deities and significant female religious leadership were not uncommon”  (Commission on Theology and Church Relations’ September 1985 study on “Women in the Church,” pg. 15).

◆ “Johann Gerhard in his Locus XXIII under No. 186 understood the instruction of St. Paul which explicitly deny [sic] women the right to hold the preaching office in the church as thus: a necessary reaction to the matriarchal tendencies of various heretical sects” (Springfielder, page 49).

◆ “The theological matrix for the apostle’s inspired teaching on the silence of women in the church and the exercise of authority is, again, the order of creation” (CTCR-WIC, page 36).

The Artemis cult of Ephesus provides the socio-religious context which influenced and  adversely infected the Christian community.

(A) “At that time there arose no little stir concerning the Way” (Acts 19:23).

(1) The letter to Timothy is mailed to Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3), the site of the cult and worship of the goddess Artemis (“Diana” to the Romans) (Acts 19:23-41).

(2) The temple dedicated to Artemis, the Artemision, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and served as a strong economic factor in Ephesus.

(3) “The cult of Artemis reflected religious mixture (syncretism) but basically was an Oriental fertility rite, with sensuous and orgiastic practices” (Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, pg. 5).

(4) The Christian teaching of the apostles reacted strongly to the system of worship of Artemis (Acts 19:19).  The writer of 1 Timothy warns about myths (as opposed to divine training in 1 Timothy 1:4 and 4:7).

(5) Paul had a tough time in Ephesus, with doctrine and with life (Acts 20:31; 1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

(6) The silversmiths saw Paul’s teaching as undermining the political, economic and social fabric of the city (Acts 19:23-27).

(7) Apollos is corrected in Ephesus by Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:24-28).

(8) The effect of this pervasive Artemisian culture on the young church would be similiar in effect for a Lutheran pastor serving in a heavily Mormon-populated area such as Utah, or a pastor serving in Las Vegas or Reno and teaching the implications of the Seventh Commandment to members working in casinos, or a white pastor of a white congregation in the South in the 1960s addressing racism.

(B) “[vs 13]… for Adam was formed first, then Eve …”: Goddesses were central to Artemisian theology and worship.

(1) In 1 and 2 Timothy Paul constantly addresses the issue of false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 6:3-5; 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 1:15; 2:16-18; 3:6-9; 4:3-4; 4:14-15).

(2) “The church at Ephesus no doubt numbered former Artemis worshipers among its converts” (Gritz, Paul, Woman Teachers, and the Mother Goddess at Ephesus, pg. 31).

(3)   “The Mother Goddess represented the great parent of all nature.  She had responsibility for the health and well-being of both humans and animals … As Earth Goddess, her divine authority rested in her ability to create new beings continually.  Other deities were the daughters and sons of the all-creating Earth Mother … As a mighty and popular deity, the Mother Goddess held the power over life and death.  In mythology and later in cult practice, she often associated with a young lover-turned-devotee, the god of vegetation.  This male consort held a subordinate position” (Gritz, page 34).

(4) Another example, this from The Apocalypse of Adam (V.5.64.9-14): here Adam says about Eve: “I went about with her in a glory which she had seen in the aeon from which we had come forth.  She taught me a word of knowledge of the eternal God.”  In On the Origin of the World (II.5.115.31-116.9), Eve, the “instructor,” gives Adam life.

(5)  In Ephesus, the locale of the letter to Timothy, Artemis was associated with Eve.  The distorted idea taught in the church there saw Eve as giving life to Adam; motherhood was acclaimed as the ultimate reality.  Knowledge of one’s origin brought salvation (cf. Kroeger, I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence, pgs. 105-113).

(6) “Peter said to Mary, ‘Sister, we understand that the Savior (soter) loved [you] more than (para) the rest of the women.  Speak to us the words of the Savior (soter) which you recollect, those which you know and we do not, nor (oude) have we heard them.’  And Mary answering said, ‘I shall explain to you what has been hidden from you,’ and she began (arxesthai) to speak to them” (The Gospel of Mary, quoted in Kroeger, page 73).

Some additional comments reflecting Missouri’s position:

◆ “1 Timothy 2:13-14.  Paul appeals to the temporal priority of Adam’s creation (‘Adam was formed first’; cf. Gen. 2:20-22), as well as to Eve’s having been deceived in the fall (Gen. 3:6), to show that women should not teach or exercise authority over men in the church” (CTCR-WIC, page 22).

◆ “In 1 Timothy 2:13-14 (R.S.V.) man is ascribed a superiority in the worship services, because ‘Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.’  The woman has her origin and purpose in life in man ….In forbidding woman either to assume leadership or the teaching office in the church, Paul cites the order of creation, as establishing man’s natural leadership” (Surburg, “The Place of Women in the Old Testament,” The Springfielder (Vol. XXXIII, No. 4, March 1970, pg. 27).

◆ “On the basis of 1 Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11-15, we hold that God forbids women publicly to preach and teach the Word to men and to hold any office or vote in the church where this involves exercising authority over men with respect to the office of the Keys.  We regard this principle as of binding force also today because 1 Tim. 2:11-15 refers to what God established at creation” (LCMS Convention Proceedings, Denver, 1969, quoted in Convention Proceedings, New Orleans, 1973, page 110).

(C) “[vs 13] … for Adam was formed first …”:

(1) Paul is not appealing to “the temporal priority of Adam’s creation” as the CTCR suggests.  This would be inconsistent with Genesis; it would fall into the same trap of finger pointing as Adam (“…the woman whom you gave to be with me” [Genesis 3:12]) and Eve (“…the serpent beguiled me” [Genesis 3:13]).

(2) That God is not concerned with “temporal priority” is indicated in that he held each one (man, woman, serpent) responsible for what each did.  God did not accept the finger pointing and blame casting.

(3) See also Romans 5:12-14, in which Paul shows his concern is not with “priority” (“Who sinned first?” — finger pointing: “It’s his/her fault!”) because instead of citing Eve, he cites Adam as prototype for all humanity.

(4) Paul here does not say specifically that “creation order” equals a timeless mandate or universal principle for male authority.  Rather Paul is stating a historical fact.  Groothius (Good News for Women) quotes John Calvin: “The reason which Paul assigns, that woman was second in the order of creation, appears not to be a very strong argument in favour [sic] of her subjection; for John the Baptist was before Christ in the order of time, and yet was greatly inferior in rank” (pg. 218).

(5) “The argument often made that the ‘order of creation’ precedes the Fall and is therefore eternally binding is neither made by Paul (nor Moses) nor relevant, since that is not his concern here.  Rather Paul is concerned with her subsequent deception and fall into sin” (Fee, page 40).

(6) “The Ephesian church had problems during worship.   False teachers had encouraged some women, including wives, to flaunt respected behavior and traditional roles.  Some women dressed indecently.  Some wives exalted their Christian freedom and denigrated their husbands in public.  They had been deceived by the wayward elders … Wives who did not submit to sound doctrine but to unorthodox notions and instructed their husbands in public reminds [sic] one of Eve’s behavior.  Paul wants to break a similar pattern at Ephesus.  With Artemis glorified as the giver of life and knowledge, it would not be too surprising if former devotees overturned the Genesis accounts and similarly glorified Eve.  Later Gnostics did this” (Gritz, Paul, Women Teachers, and the Mother Goddess at Ephesus, pg. 140).

(7) “Eve was not born after Adam, she was ‘born’ from Adam” (Groothius, page 221).

(8) “The grammar here does not require us to understand Paul’s reference to Adam and Eve as the causal basis for the prohibition.  The word ‘for’ does not necessarily mean ‘because’; it can be used simply to express a connection or continuation of thought, as it does in 1 Timothy 2:5.  If this is the case here as well, then verses 13 and 14 could simply be supplying an analogy that explains why women must, at this time and in this church, learn from the men who are in leadership” (Groothius, pages 216-217).

(9) The context would suggest that Paul is not arguing either from or for an “order of creation” theology; instead, he is offering correctives to mistaken theologies.  For example:

Artemis: “There are many gods!

Paul: “No, there is one God and one mediator … ” (1 Timothy 2:5).

(10) Paul is gently reminding the women in Ephesus that their emphasis on Eve’s primacy and female superiority does not square with the basic Biblical account. Thus:

Gnostic Artemis: “Eve, who pre-exists Adam and who is the source of all the living, gives Adam life and is primary!

Paul: “No!  Remember the Genesis account?  Adam was formed first, then Eve.

(11) Or, following Kaiser (“Shared Leadership…” [Christianity Today Institute]): “But how could Eve so easily have been duped unless she previously had been untaught?  Adam had walked and talked with God in the Garden during that sixth ‘day,’ thus he had had the educational and spiritual advantage of being ‘formed first’ (v. 13).  The verb is plasso, ‘to form, mold, shape’ (presumably in spiritual education), not, ‘created first’ (which in Greek is ktizo).  Paul’s argument, then, is based on the ‘orders of education,’ not the ‘orders of creation.’   Thus, when the women have been taught, the conditions raised in the ‘because,’ or ‘for’ clauses (vv13-14) will have been met and the ban removed even as the Bible illustrates in the lives of Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, evangelist Philip’s daughters, Phoebe, Priscilla, Junias, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Eudodia and Syntyche” (page 12-I).

(D) “[vs 14] ..and Adam was not deceived…”: Paul also offers a corrective here:

(1) On the surface, Paul can hardly mean this: Adam was deceived and was a transgressor.  Scripture teaches male and female were co-participants in the Fall; Adam is no less culpable than Eve (Genesis 3:6, Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

(2) The verbs in Genesis 3:6-7 are plural; both Adam and Eve were present at the temptation and fall.  Eve, biblically, is not primarily responsible for the Fall; she and Adam are co-participants.  Thus:

Artemis convert: “Eve gives life.  Adam was not told this; he was deceived about his priority by the gods.

Paul: “No, the biblical accounts make clear the woman, too, was deceived, and became a transgressor.

(3) “Certain persons by swerving from these have wandered away into vain discussions, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions” (1 Timothy 1:6-7).

(4) “Yet, ‘Adam was not deceived’ (1 Tim. 2:14): He deliberately partook of the transgression.  He knew exactly what he was doing” (Lepper, “A Fresh Vision of a Woman’s Glorious Heritage in Christ,” pg. 4).

(5) We must let the “clear” passages help inform this “dim” passage. Genesis shows that God’s intention is equity-with-differences.  Domination comes in with the Fall (Genesis 3:16).  The pattern of exegesis usually interprets Genesis in the light of 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2.  We need to let Genesis help us with the Pauline verses.  Genesis 3:6-7 is instructive in interpreting the obscurities of 1 Timothy 2:13-14.  1 Timothy offers a corrective to Ephesian heresy.

(6) “We believe that the verb here forbids women to teach wrong doctrine, just as 1 Timothy 1:3-4 and Titus 1:9-14 also forbid false teaching.  An alternate translation for 1 Timothy 2:12 provided is ‘I do not allow a woman to teach nor to proclaim herself author of man.’ … The writer of the Pastorals was opposing a doctrine which acclaimed motherhood as the ultimate reality.  Our Bible maintains that God, who far transcends all limitations of gender, created the heavens and the earth, and that all things are of God” (Kroeger, pg. 112).

◆ “Paul appeals to the temporal priority of Adam’s creation (‘Adam was formed first’; cf. Gen. 2:20-22), as well as to Eve’s having been deceived in the fall (Gen. 3:6), to show that women should not teach or exercise authority over men in the church (“CTCR-WIC, page 22).

◆ “Turning from creation to the Fall, Paul adds that Adam was not deceived but that the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  The conclusion drawn is that the leadership of the official, public teaching office belongs to men.  Assumption of that office by a woman is out of place because it is a woman who assumes it, not because women do it in the wrong way or have inferior gifts and abilities” (CTCR-WIC, page 36).

(E) “[vs 14] … the woman was deceived …”:

(1) Does this mean woman was more gullible, culpable?  Note these quotations from Missouri Synod literature that demonstrate a poisoned bias that infects our theological blood stream:

“The New Testament constantly points to the Genesis record.  Adam … is told, after the fall, that his mistake was to listen to the voice of the woman. Because he thus relinquished his leadership he is to find that he can no more rule in the way he did before the fall.  The sin of both is disobedience, but Paul calls attention to the fact that the attending circumstances of the fall point to Eve as the ‘adjutrix Satanae,’ the agent of Satan [emphasis added]. Eve usurped first the Lordship of God by taking matters into her own hands, the second step was almost a natural consequence, she now also entices Adam to be obedient to her or Satan” (Nauman, “Natural Orders,” The Springfielder (Vol. XXXIII, No. 4, March 1970, pg. 6).

“Woman, when speaking in the congregation, not only revolts against the clear command of God, but also usurps authority over man, subverts the divine rule of order, and entails upon the Church the perils of false doctrine and general disorder and confusion, through her amenability to fraud and deception [emphasis added].  It is for these reasons that Paul forbids women to speak in the churches — an injunction to remain in force at all times” (J.T. Mueller, “The Service of Women in the Church” [Touchpoint Series] pg. 43).

“The point of Paul in these two references of 1 Tim. 2 to Adam and Eve is the subordinate position of Eve: she was created second, i.e., to help and serve [emphasis added] Adam —  the mere succession of time is surely not the point — and she is mentally (morally?) inferior” [emphasis added] (Hamann, “The New Testament and the Ordination of Women,” pg. 7).

(2) Note the biblical record which instead speaks of the wisdom of women (Proverbs 1:20-33; 8:1-9:6; 31:26; Judges 4:4-5;  1 Samuel 25:33-35; 2 Samuel 14:1-24; Esther 4:14, 8:17, 9:11-12, 29-32; Mark 7:29).

(3) Paul here is not placing the blame on Eve and leaving Adam unscathed.  Rather he is offering a corrective to heretical teaching.

(4) The original sin was “disobedience” (Romans 5:19).  Here Paul is emphasizing not the sin, but the process, “was deceived.”  Both Adam and Eve are culpable.  Thus:

Convert from Artemis: “Eve, as goddess, is the source of enlightenment and knowledge!

Paul: “Au contraire! Eve, too, was completely deceived, just like Adam.”

(5) The fact of Eve’s deception is a relevant illustration of the current problem in Ephesus.

1 Timothy offers Gospel centered pastoral advice to a congregation struggling to integrate new converts from Diana worship into its community.  We must first go to what is happening “then” so that our applications “now” keep a Gospel understanding in our pastoral approach.