Thursday, February 16, 2012

False Teachers and Women in 1 Timothy

There seems to be a relationship between what is said about the false teachers in the Pastoral Epistles, and what is said about the women in these writings.  Below is a table that will help us to better understand the situation in Ephesus that Paul/Timothy is dealing with.  

The False Teacher’s Description
Similar statements concerning women
1:3: “certain persons (τισὶν) teach false doctrines”
2:12: “I am not permitting a woman to teach”

1:4: “myths” (μύθοις)
4:7 “myths” (μύθους) characteristic of old women
1:4: “promote controversies”
5:14  giving an enemy opportunity for slander
3:11  “women must … not be malicious talkers”
1:6 “some persons (τινες) want to be teachers of the law but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.”
2:14  “the woman being thoroughly deceived”
2:11  “let a woman quietly receive instruction with submissiveness … without disruption.”
5:13  “going about from house to house… talking   nonsense, saying things they ought not …”
4:1: “some persons (τινες) will follow deceiving spirits of things taught by demons”
5:15  “already some [younger widows] have turned away to follow Satan.”
4:2: “hypocritical liars whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron”
6:20: “opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge”
3:11  “women must … not be malicious talkers [but be] … trustworthy in everything.”
6:21: “which some have professed (ἐπαγγελλόμενοι) and in so doing have wandered from the faith.”
2:10  “women who profess (ἐπαγγελλομέναις) godliness”
5:11  “they have set aside their first faith.”

While we must not conclude that the false teachers are entirely women, it is likely that the women have become the focus of the false teachers, and that some women have fallen prey to the false teachers and are now part of the problem that Paul/Timothy is to deal with.  These parallels are instructive as they help us to understand better why Paul was offering his injunction of submissive and non-disruptive learning in 1 Tim 2:12-15.  

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