A Difficult Passage

There are some passages of Scripture that make us scratch our heads and wonder, “What does that mean?”  Today’s passage makes me do just that.  What is meant by Paul’s words to Timothy at the end of chapter 2?  I’ve done some research into the various interpretations of this passage and let’s just say that there are quite a variety of opinions.  The majority view is that Paul is talking about traditional roles within marriage and how those roles translate to the church.  Remember that when Paul was writing, the church was a brand new thing.  There was newly found freedoms that came from following Jesus.  People discovered that everyone was equal at the foot of the cross as it says in Galatians 3:28 (NIV):

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

This soon led to difficulties in a male-dominated culture.  Women were exercising freedom that went contrary to the culture and this was hindering the spread of the Gospel.
The context of Paul’s writings in 1 Timothy 2 is within the worship assembly.  Women were to learn quietly and in “full submission” (vs. 11) to the teachers and leaders of the church.  They were not permitted to teach or positions of leadership over the men of the church in a worship gathering.  Women were permitted to teach children and other women, but as far as corporate times of teaching, they were not allowed to teach men.  In Acts 18:24-28, we see that a Christian woman (Priscilla) helped to instruct a man (Apollos) privately.
Paul’s reasoning behind these instructions regarding women goes all the way back to Genesis 3.  Paul was not a chauvinist.  He was pointing to the order of creation and the events of the fall of humanity.  Eve was created second and yet she sinned first.  Men and women have roles within the marriage relationship that have been defined by God.  The husband is the head of the household.  The wife is the helper created as a gift from God to the husband as his helper in life.  When a woman respectfully fulfills her role as the wife in the marriage relationship and lives a life of faithfulness to Christ, she will be saved.
There are a couple of takeaways from this passage of Scripture that I think are very important in light of our culture versus Paul’s culture.  First, the Bible trumps culture.  We have lost our respect for and submission to God’s Word in our churches and in our culture.  We may not like everything that the Bible says.  The world will not like everything that the Bible says.  That makes no difference as to the Bible’s claim to be the living and active Word of God.  God’s Word is God’s Word.  What He says is Truth and what He says goes.  We obey God’s Word because it is the Word of God.  To disobey the Bible is to disobey God and sin.  Interpretation of God’s Word must be done carefully and with fear and trembling.  We must not allow the culture of our world to dictate our interpretation of the Bible.  This goes for many, many issues.  God’s Word is living and it speaks eternally for all generations.  We must be careful and wise with it.
Second, I believe that men have been abdicating roles of teaching and leadership in the church for far too long.  This passage may be difficult for Christian women to hear in the 21st century.  It should also be hard for men to hear.  Why?  Because just as women are called to learn in “quietness and submission” (verse 11), it means that men are called to step up and lead and teach in the church.  Men are to be setting the example for the congregation.  Yet men are lazy and they are content to sit back and let women fulfill roles that God did not intend for them to fill.  Praise God for the women of our churches who have filled the void left by lazy, contented men!  Without the women of our churches, there would be no churches!  The women of our churches work tirelessly and faithfully while men idly sit by and do nothing.  This passage should remind the men of our churches that God has given us a job to do and we are not doing it!  Men, get your lazy selves out of the pews and take the leadership reins of the churches again!  Lead and teach the way God intended you to do.  Give the women and children godly role models to respect and from which to learn.
1 Timothy 2:11-15 (NIV)
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

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