Friday, September 14, 2012

my new daily prayer

O God, the fountain of all wisdom, in a deep sense of my own ignorance, and of that great charge which lies upon me, I am constrained to come often before You, from Whom I have learned whatever I know, to ask that help without which I shall disquiet myself in vain; most humbly beseeching You to guide me with Your eye; to enlighten my mind, that I may both see for myself and teach others the wonders of Your law; that I may learn from You what I ought to think and speak concerning You.

Direct and bless all the labours of my mind, give me a discerning spirit, a sound judgment, and an honest and faithful heart. And grant that , in all my studies, my first aim may be to set forth Your glory, and the salvation of humankind; that I may give a good account of my time at that great day, when all our labours shall be tried.

And if You are pleased that by my ministry sinners shall be converted, and Your kingdom enlarged, give me the grace of humility, that I may never ascribe the success to myself, but to Your Holy Spirit, Who enables me to will and to do according to Your good pleasure.

Grant this, O Father of all light and truth, for the sake of Jesus Christ.


Thomas Wilson
J.W. Doberstein (ed.) The Minister’s Prayer Book (Fortress, 1986), pp. 154-55 (slightly adapted).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Contextual Summary on Why Paul Prohibited Women Teaching in 1 Tim 2:12

Paul’s letter to Timothy and it’s various instructions must be understood within the context within which it was written. The letter itself provides most of the evidence needed to reconstruct the problem, and understand Paul’s instructions within that context. Paul is writing to Timothy to deal with a serious problem of false teaching and those who are spreading it (1:3-4; 6-7; 19-20). A careful reading of the letters to Timothy reveal that Paul describes these false teachers in strikingly similar ways to the way certain women are described.

In 1:4, the problem is various “myths” (μύθοις) and in 4:7 “myths” (μύθους) characterise some of the old women. In 1:4, the false teachers “promote controversies” and in 5:14 the widows are instructed not to give an enemy opportunity for slander, with 3:11 stating “women must … not be malicious talkers.” Then in 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.” While in 2:14 Paul notes that, “the woman are thoroughly deceived.”

The problem is acutely stated in 1 Tim 5:13 which describes certain women as, “going about from house to house… talking nonsense, saying things they ought not …” The same situation is described in 2 Tim 3:6-7, where the writer notes that there are those, “who make their way into households and take captive ignorant women.” In 4:1: “some persons (τινες) will follow deceiving spirits of things taught by demons” and in 5:15 “already some [younger widows] have turned away to follow Satan.” They have, according to 5:11 “set aside their first faith.”

Thus when Paul states the problem in the opening verse 1:3: “certain persons (τισὶν) teach false doctrines” he has in mind that there are false teachers who have persuaded certain women to believe their false teaching and they are now spreading that false teaching. Paul’s response to this is clear in 2:11, “let a woman receive instruction with submissiveness … without disruption” and 2:12: “I am not permitting a woman to teach.” The reason for this is abundantly clear: Women have been deceived, just like the example of Eve in 2:14. Paul’s instruction is that they should receive instruction and not be allowed to presently teach because what they are teaching is false and dangerous. Paul offers a temporary injunction on women teaching so that they can learn the truth of the gospel.

I imagine that after they have learned, they would resume normal teaching responsibilities as did Phoebe in Romans 16:1; Priscilla in Acts 18:26; and implied in her apostolic status, Junia in Romans 16:7.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Social-Prejudice Against Early Christians

Stephen Mitchell in his important book on Anatolia, describes the pressures faced by the audience of 1 Peter and other Christians residing in Asia Minor. 

One cannot avoid the impression that the obstacle which stood in the way of the progress of Christianity, and the force which would have drawn new adherents back to conformity with the prevailing paganism, was the public worship of the emperors... In the urban setting of Pisidian Antioch where spectacular and enticing public festivals imposed conformity and a rhythm of observance on a compact population, where Christians could not (if they wanted to) conceal their beliefs and activities from their fellows, it was not a change of heart that might win a Christian convert back to paganism, but the overwhelming pressure to conform imposed by the institutions of his city and the activities of his neighbours.[1]
1 Pet. 1:6; 2:19, 20; 3:14,17; 4:19; 5:9, gives evidence of Christians facing severe social prejudice and Mitchell's quote alerts us to some of the historical facets that caused such social-prejudice. 

[1] Mitchell, Anatolia, II.10.