Friday, February 17, 2012

Overseers and Instructions to Women in the Pastoral Epistles

Below is a brief table that explores the various qualifications for leadership listed in 1 Tim 3:1-7, and the instructions to women.  I sense, given the similarities of instruction, that this is caused by the problems Paul and Timothy are dealing with in Ephesus, especially by the false teachers who have targeted women. 

Qualifications for Overseers (1 Tim 3:1-7)
Instructions to Women
καλὸν ἔργον, “good work”
ἔργον ἀγαθὸν, “good work” (2:10); καλὸν ἔργον, “good work” (5:10)
ἀνεπίλημπτος, “above reproach”
ἀνεπίλημπτος, “above reproach” (5:7)
μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, “‘one-women’ man”
ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, “‘one-man women’” (5:9)
νηφάλιος,”clear-minded” (3:11)
σώφρων, “self-controlled”
σώφρων, “self-controlled” (2:9, 15)
κόσμιος, “dignified”
κόσμιος, “dignified” (2:9); σεμνος, “dignified” (3:11)
φιλόξενος, “hospitable”
ξενοδοχέω, “to show hospitality” (5:10)
τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου καλῶς προϊστάμενον, τέκνα ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ, “must lead his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way” (3:4)
τέκνων καλῶς προϊστάμενοι καὶ τῶν ἰδίων οἴκων, “bear children, and manage their own households well,” (3:12); οἰκοδεσποτέω, “lead” (5:14)
ἵνα μὴ εἰς ὀνειδισμὸν ἐμπέσῃ καὶ παγίδα τοῦ διαβόλου, “so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil” (3:7)
μηδεμίαν ἀφορμὴν διδόναι τῷ ἀντικειμένῳ λοιδορίας χάριν, “giving the accuser no opportunity to slander us” (5:14)
διδακτικός, “able to teach”
καλοδιδασκάλος, “teaching what is good” (Tit 2:3)
ἐπιεικής, “gracious”
ἐπιεικής, “gracious” (Tit 3:2) – referring to everyone.
ἄμαχος, “not quarrelsome”
ἄμαχος, “not quarrelsome” (Tit 3:2) – referring to everyone.

One will also note that there is nothing specific within the qualifications listed for leadership, that does not equally apply to women.  This should give pause to those who would not allow women to function as overseers in Christian communities/churches.  Even Thomas Schreiner has noted that,  “The requirements for elders in 1 Tim 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9, including the statement that they are to be one-woman men, does not necessarily in and of itself preclude women from serving as elders.”[1]  What this helps us to realise is what Fee has long noted, that these instructions to leadership are ad hoc in the sense that they are shaped by the specific issues in this community that Paul/Timothy is dealing with.  These are not timeless leadership qualifications, but rather a framework and grid for analysing potential leaders who will not fall prey to the situations currently faced.  

[1] Thomas R. Schreiner’s “Philip Payne on Familiar Ground: A Review of Philip B. Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters.” JBMW (Spring 2010) 33–46, here, 35.

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