Tag Archives: Curse of the law

Mishmash of a legal code but importance of mitzvah or commandments

Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, working in England, writes

Interestingly while Judaism teaches that mitzvot are divinely ordained and therefore not to be questioned or even necessarily understood, it does at the same time try to explain them as a rational force, and many commentators suggest reasons for our doing them.

We are told: – “The essential reason for the commandments is to make the human heart upright” ( ibn Ezra on Deut 5:18); or “Each commandment adds holiness to the people of Israel.” (Issi ben Akavia,  Mechilta on Ex 22:30); or even that “The purpose of the mitzvot is…to promote compassion, loving kindness and peace in the world” (Maimonides, yad, Shabbat) {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

English: The Covenant Confirmed, by John Steep...

The Covenant Confirmed, by John Steeple Davis (1844-1917), as in Exodus 24 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those who believe in the God of Abraham, should know that this God of gods has given the many commandments to help man find his way in this universe and to live in a proper peaceful relation with God’s creation.

The world has been given Mishpatim, which we may consider judgements by ‘laws’ or ‘rulings’ and they will govern the community who agree to accept them. But not all humans will accept them, that’s a fact. Also in the previous times people of God did not have it easy at all times with those Mishpatim, though just after Moses has finished relating all the various laws to the Children of Israel, we can see in the Old Testament how often those People of God went astray.

English: Moses Showing the Ten Commandments, b...

Moses Showing the Ten Commandments, by Gustave Doré (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Real lovers of God should agree “to do all the things that God has spoken” (Exodus 24:3). They should cling to the Word of God as the only Perfect Rule Giver and should go for keeping “miẓwah”, the divinely instituted rule of conduct. As such, the divine commandments are divided into (1) mandatory laws known as , and (2) those of a prohibitory character, the . This terminology rests on the theological construction that God’s will is the source of and authority for every moral and religious duty. Many of the old laws were given to and concerned only special classes of people, such as kings or priesthood, Levites or Nazarites, or are conditioned by local or temporary circumstances of the Jewish nation, as, for instance, the agricultural, sacrificial, and Levitical laws.

For us today some rules may be curious, and that is why at a certain moment in time some changes were allowed. It was not God Who changed, but the people who changed and God came closer to them by adapting His rulings. As such we may now face other food laws and about sanitation than at the early beginning, plus about how to relate to others, because certain concepts changed, like the position of slaves.

Torah scroll and silver pointer (yad) used in reading

Torah scroll and silver pointer (yad) used in reading

Of the more than fifty mitzvot to be found in the sidra, we have some that deal with the treatment of slaves, with the crimes of murder and kidnap, with personal injury and with civil damages through neglect or theft. There are rules about witchcraft and idolatry, about oppression and unfair business practise, about applying legal codes in a prejudiced fashion and not giving false testimony; laws about not mistreating widows and orphans, and about care for animals. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

When we look at those laws and regulations we may not forget that many still keep going and should be fulfilled by a lover of God. It is not because we have Jesus as our Messiah who liberated us from the curse of Law that the Law has ended. No, not at all. The Law still counts. Even now we have received a New Covenant, should we keep to those law covered in that covenant.

Too many Christians commit a mistake by thinking they do not have to do any works any-more. We still have to keep the works of faith, keeping to God’s Commandments.

In parshat Mishpatim, the Israelites learn that accepting the commandments is a 24/7 job. {Parenting by the Parshah – Mishpatim}

We also must be fully aware of the most frequent mitzvah in Torah, given at least 37 different times in the text,which  is repeated in the Mishpatim too –

“you shall not wrong a stranger or oppress them, for you were strangers in the land of Israel.”

It is a mishmash of a legal code but what comes through loud and clear to the reader is the importance to the Jewish people of mitzvot, commandments.

From Torah we see that for the ancient people there were particular reasons for observing the mitzvot – firstly and most importantly because God tells us to. Secondly there was in the ancient understanding an idea that people who obeyed them would be rewarded, and people who disobeyed risked punishment. Then there were two different types of reason given in Torah – that the mitzvot were intrinsically imbued with divine wisdom, and that they would lead us to achieving holiness.  {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

Each person who wants to become a Child of God, or to belong to God’s People shall have to resign oneself to the Will of God. But none can belong to the children of God when they do not accept others to be their brethren and sisters, and loving them as their siblings. The agape love for the others is a indispensible necessary part of belonging to God’s family.

In Judaism as in Christianity too there might be a tension in their tradition

– do we do the commandments (mitzvot) simply because there is a Commander (metzaveh) who told us to do this and this should be enough, or do we search out a meaning behind each mitzvah? And if we do the latter, what happens if we cannot find a suitable reason and meaning? Do we abandon the mitzvah as unreasonable or pointless? Or do we continue to do it in the hope that meaning will emerge? After all, at Sinai the people famously answered “na’aseh ve’nishma, [first] we will do it and [subsequently] we will understand”. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

The tension and balancing between holding a religious belief and a rationalist position was as great in the ancient world as it is today. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

For those who love God ‘blind faith’ was never a prerequisite, neither of a Jewish life nor of a Christian life.

Judaism tends to the position of na’aseh ve’nishma – doing in order to understand, blending faith and reason and giving neither the upper hand, but instead knowing that if we behave “as if” we believe, if we follow the way of mitzvot, then further understanding may come. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

From Scriptures we should come to understand there is no way of doing “as if” because God sees the heart and He does knows each of us. We can not hide anything from Him.

1 Samuel 16:7 The Scriptures 1998+  (7)  But יהוה {Jehovah} said to Shemu’ĕl, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him, for not as man sees, for man looks at the eyes, but יהוה {Jehovah} looks at the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:10 The Scriptures 1998+  (10)  “I, יהוה {Jehovah}, search the heart, I try the kidneys, and give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.

Moses with the Two New Tables of Stone (illust...

Moses with the Two New Tables of Stone (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our hearts may not be removed from God and by our way of living we should show to others how God is in our heart. Our heart, our feelings but also how we act should always be pure, full of love for God and His commandments. When we are willing to give ourselves into God’s Hands He will bring us where He wants us to be.

Proverbs 21:1-3 The Scriptures 1998+  (1)  The sovereign’s heart is as channels of water In the hand of יהוה {Jehovah}; He turns it wherever He wishes.  (2)  All a man’s ways are right in his own eyes, But יהוה {Jehovah} weighs the hearts.  (3)  To do righteousness and right-ruling Is more acceptable to יהוה {Jehovah} than a slaughtering.

Each day we have to work at ourself taking care we keep to the commandments of God.

Meanwhile we are impacting on ourselves and on our world in a positive way as we are directed to behaviour that may not be our first instinct – to support the poor and downtrodden, to value life, to respect the boundaries of others, to rein in our own power and desires so as not to trample over the lives of others. The list goes on. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

As tradition says again and again in different words, the same message:  “the commandments were given only to refine God’s creatures…”(Midrash Tanchuma). They change us, they cause us to think about what we are doing and not to act out of immediate self interest, they shape our behaviour and ultimately they may help us to bring holiness into our world. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

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Preceding

When believing in God’s existence and His son, possessing a divine legislation

A Royal Rule given to followers of Christ

First man’s task still counting today

Whoopi Goldberg commandments and abortion

He who knows himself, is kind to others

Luther’s misunderstanding

January 27, 417, Pope Innocent I condemning Pelagius about Faith and Works

Our life depending on faith

Romans 4 and the Sacraments

Is Justification a process?

Letter to the Romans, chapter 3

Letter to the Romans, chapter 4

Additional comments to the 3rd Letter to the Romans

Additional comments to the Letter to the Romans 4

Comments to James remarks, about Faith and works

Which is worse–works without faith, or faith without works?

Christians remaining hidden not sharing the gospel

Witnessing because we love

Leading people astray!

Crisis man needed in this world

Preaching Christ Is Not Enough

Beautiful feet of those who announce the good news

Preaching by example

A Christian has to have eyes and ears and a tongue to use in good ways

Daring to speak in multicultural environment

Perishable non theologians daring to go out to preach

What Should I Preach ?

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Additional reading

  1. Bible in the first place #1/3
  2. Creator and Blogger God 3 Lesson and solution
  3. Creator and Blogger God 4 Expounding voice
  4. Creator and Blogger God 6 For His people
  5. God-breathed prophetic words written torah and the mitzvot to teach us
  6. Words God speaks unto all and the Spirit that quickens
  7. The Bible is a today book
  8. Statutes given unto us
  9. Necessary to be known all over the earth
  10. God’s design in the creation of the world
  11. Time passing away
  12. Best intimate relation to look for
  13. Let us not forget it was God who chose us
  14. Daily Spiritual Food To prepare ourselves for the Kingdom of God
  15. Engaging the culture without losing the gospel
  16. A god who gave his people commandments and laws he knew they never could keep to it
  17. Knowing where to go to
  18. I Only hope we find GOD again before it is too late !
  19. The inspiring divine spark
  20. A good idea to halt all activity for one hour some day
  21. Eternity depends upon this short time on earth
  22. Act as if everything you think, say and do determines your entire life
  23. Truth never plays false roles of any kind, which is why people are so surprised when meeting it
  24. Foundation to go the distance
  25. Preferring to be a Christian
  26. Aim High: Examples of Godly Characters to follow
  27. Purify my heart
  28. United people under Christ
  29. Honesty beginning of holiness
  30. Holiness and expression of worship coming from inside
  31. How we think shows through in how we act
  32. Object of first woe
  33. Think hard before you act today

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Further reading

  1. The Kotel Decision: The Parties at the Table
  2. Mishpatim פרשת משפטים
  3. Mishpatim – Who’s Serving Whom?
  4. Shift and Consolidation: Thoughts on the Torah Portions Mishpatim and Terumah
  5. Commentary for Mishpatim
  6. Mishpatim – Its just a White Lie
  7. When the plumbers stop society’s moral leaks
  8. Parashat Mishpatim /
  9. Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim 5776–Shabbat Torah Study at Adat Shalom Synagogue–Don’t Make Him Tell on You
  10. Mishpatim – Wholly Love
  11. Parshat Hashavuah: Mishpatim by Alex Gage
  12. Scripture for 2.5.2016
  13. Stole My Heart – Parshat Mishpatim 5776
  14. Parsha Mishpatim
  15. Shabbat Shalom! – Mishpatim
  16. Dvar Torah Parshat Mishpatim 5776 2016
  17. Mishpatim 5774 – Visión y Detalles
  18. Double Cry – Mishpatim 5776
  19. Il monoteismo etico – Parashat Mishpatim
  20. Mishpatim: Where heaven and earth converge
  21. Parenting by the Parshah – Mishpatim
  22. Parashat Kedoshim – What is it doing here?

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Additional comments to the 3rd Letter to the Romans

The Christadelphian Agora comments

Reading 3 – Rom 3:9,10

“What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’ ” (Rom 3:9,10).

“Our guilt is great because our sins are exceedingly numerous. It is not merely outward acts of unkindness and dishonesty with which we are chargeable. Our habitual and characteristic state of mind is evil in the sight of God.

“Our pride and indifference to His will and to the welfare of others and our loving the creature more than the Creator are continuous violations of His holy law. We have never been or done what that law requires us to be and to do. We have never had delight in that fixed purpose to do the will and promote the glory of God. We are always sinners; we are at all times and under all circumstances in opposition to God.

“If we have never loved Him supremely, if we have never made it our purpose to do His will, if we have never made His glory the end of our actions, then our lives have been an unbroken series of transgressions. Our sins are not to be numbered by the conscious violations of duty; they are as numerous as the moments of our existence” (Charles Hodge).

Peter Forbes comments:

3:2  If the Jews had a benefit simply because the Word of God was committed to them how do we view that same word? Do we feel privileged simply because we can read Scripture freely in our own tongue?

3:3 Paul (2Tim 2:13) develops the principles of this verse for the benefit of Timothy. – We have noted before that David’s Psalm (32) is used by Paul to speak of the way in which God forgives. Reflecting on what David had done – committed adultery and murdered a man – we probably cannot think of two more evil crimes. But it is these two crimes which God forgave which forms the basis of Paul’s encouragement to us.

David and Bathsheba, by Henry Bone (died 1834)...

David and Bathsheba, by Henry Bone (died 1834). See source website for additional information. This set of images was gathered by User:Dcoetzee from the National Portrait Gallery, London website using a special tool. All images in this batch have been confirmed as author died before 1939 according to the official death date listed by the NPG. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3:4 The quotation ‘that thou mightest be justified …‘ from Psalm 51:4 marks the beginning of an appeal to the repentance of David after his adultery with Bathsheba – see the title of the Psalm. This incident in David’s life, as terrible as it was, marks the magnitude of the Father’s forgiveness towards a repentant sinner. More notes on this in Romans 4.

3:4‘that thou … art judged’ is a quotation from Psa 51:4 That Psalm is a Psalm speaking specifically of David’s sin with Bathsheba. Paul highlights that the Psalm, though specifically speaking to David, actually has a general application to all.

3:5 This is the first of a number of occasions when Paul asks a question which he then answers himself. The others are Rom 4:1,  6:1, 7:7

Painting by Rembrandt of Paul, one of the most...

Painting by Rembrandt of Paul, one of the most notable of early Christian missionaries, who called himself the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Paul, a Hellenistic Jew, was very influential on the shift of Christianity to Gentile dominated movement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3:7-8   The “lie” that Paul is thinking about is the charge laid on him by others that he said “Let us do evil that good may come”.

3:8  The charge laid on Paul is similar to the hypothetical question he asks in Rom 6:1.

3:9     The teaching of Paul that we ‘are all under sin’ is quoted by Paul later – Gal 3:22–This is one of many times where Paul quotes elements of this letter to the Romans to other churches. Thus we see that Romans seems to be a letter that many of the other churches were aware of.

3:19 The phrase ‘every mouth may be stopped’ echoes the sentiments of Psa 107:42 thus demonstrating that the teaching that all men are sinners is not confined to the New Testament but is a clear Old Testament teaching.

3:23,24 These adjacent verses are at the opposite ends of the spectrum as far as the mind of man is concerned. One has to recognise the situation outlined in v 23 before one can be in the state described in v 24. Justification is only available to those who recognise their own personal need for salvation.

3:25-26        We should reflect carefully on the fact that God’s righteousness is seen in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our God is not a vindictive cruel God. Rather, as shown by the way He responded to Jesus’ obedience, He is merciful – which we should appreciate anyway because of the way in which He describes Himself –Exo 34:6-7

3:31   To the Jew the idea that the Law of Moses was no longer the route to pleasing God (if it ever was) was a major problem. So they needed to know that ‘faith’ did not remove the need for obedience

Peter Cresswell comments

English: manuscript of the Epistle to the Roma...

manuscript of the Epistle to the Romans (fragment) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3:4 – Here we see a principle that we cannot ignore.  Let God be true is a clear instruction to us not to make God into what we think He should be – not to impose on Him what we feel are the qualities of a god, but instead to open our minds to let Him show us what he really is in truth.  We are still on the theme from the previous chapters which tell us how to avoid being like those whose worship is distorted.  Let us take heed, as through this we can be justified by faith, as we are being prepared to learn next.

3:20 tells us that the law can’t save because by it there is knowledge of sin.  This shows us that the law is inextricably tied up with the original curse – that we should know good and evil.  At the end this curse will be removed and we will know only good.  We do well to remember that this knowledge of good and evil is a curse, not a privilege.  One day, those who are saved, will leave it far behind.  One could argue that by God’s grace, we already have – 5:21, 6:7 – but in that day it will be actual.  Evil will no longer be remembered or contemplated or come into mind.  We must ask ourselves: Are we ready to leave behind the choice to do evil, without looking back, or do we still consider it a privilege?

Cliff York comments

Romans 3:9 – “for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin” – in chapters one and two. Paul painted a word picture, first of the Gentile world – Romans 1 – then the Jewish world, which was even worse, for they had access to God’s righteousness – Romans 2.

v12-18 – Paul describes the cadaver of sin. As Paul’s scalpel opens up the body of sin, first the throat, then the tongue, lips, mouth, feet, and eyes are laid bare and examined – Hebrews 4:12-13. And Paul’s conclusion is given in v23 – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  What does this tell us? We all need Jesus Christ. No-one will be in God’s Kingdom who has not entrusted his life and his salvation to the only name given among men whereby they might be saved – Acts 4:12.

John Wilson comments

Rom 3:25  “to declare his  righteousness.” Christ, the bearer of the sins of the people. Not that Christ might be punished for others, but that God’s righteousness might be declared for others to see that they might be forgiven.

David Simpson comments

Rom 3:9-20 has at least 7 quotations from the Psalms, and one from Isaiah. Then in Rom 4 we can find 7 times when Abraham’s name is written.  There is no doubt, is there, where the Gospel’s foundation is laid?

Valerie Mello comments

Rom 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

A reader writes: “even though our Lord did not commit one single sin – even of omission, he still Came Short of the glory of Yahweh – by his very mortality that he inherited by his birth of a mortal woman – meaning he had to make atonement by his death for his ‘falling short’ of the glory of Yahweh by reason of his birth by a mortal woman who, wonderful as she was, still possessed a sin-prone nature herself.”

My reply: In Rom 1, Paul pointed out mankind’s refusal to acknowledge God and God’s truth and how God gave mankind over to their lusts and the practice of sin. Then in Rom 2, Paul describes God’s judgment on both the Gentiles and the Jews. In Rom 3, Paul sums up his argument and makes it clear that all of mankind is under sin and that “every mouth will be silenced and the whole world will be held accountable to God.” With regard to God’s judgment there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, rich or poor, priest or beggar, businessmen or drunk, churchgoer and atheist, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It does not say or imply that Christ because of his human nature fell short of God’s glory!

In Rom 3:22, we read that the righteousness of God is by faith in Jesus Christ to “all” – that is, mankind in general, Jews and Gentiles, “unto all and upon all that believe: for there is no difference” (cf. vv. 21,23). To fall short of the glory of God is to be in need of righteousness, a righteousness imputed to us by God through Christ (2Cor 5:21).

In Matt 5:20, we are warned that our righteousness must exceed those of the Pharisees. What Jesus is telling us is that it is not enough to submit to mere outward conformity as characterized by the Pharisees, but that it must be of both inward and outward conformity. Obeying the Law was more than just abstaining from killing, or stealing, etc., it also dealt with our inward being. So it is with us under the Law of Christ, and we can only exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees if we submit to Christ. Our own righteousness will never be good enough no matter how hard we try (cf. Isa 64:6).

Jesus was the only one who could lead a perfect life to the law of God in thought, word, and deed. Jesus’ mission was not simply to die on the cross. He had to be the Lamb without blemish, without sin. He had to live a life of perfect obedience, which he did and became the righteousness of God and, thus, could not have fallen short of God’s glory. Irrespective of Christ’s human sin-prone nature, he did not fall short, but continued in all things that were written in the book of the law to do them, otherwise, how could his righteousness be imputed to us, irrespective of our human nature (cf. 1Pet 5:10)? Christ was the perfect sacrifice and we can be made perfect only in him. We are to be Christ-like (cf. 2Cor 3:18).

Christ’s passive obedience (Isa 53:7) pays our sin debt and his active obedience of a sinless life gives us the perfection required by God if we submit (cf. Matt 5:48). What is required of us is active and passive obedience to Christ. Jesus came to undo what Adam did in committing and omitting, by which his character was tarnished and sin entered the flesh and passed on to his descendants – his sin was imputed to us (Rom 5:17-19). This was man’s fall from glory and made him in need of glory.  Man was created in God’s image for God’s glory (1Cor 11:7; Isa 43:7). Christ came to restore for us what Adam lost. We must have Christ’s righteousness, active and passive, transforming us from sinners who fell short of the glory of God to saints of God who fulfill the glory of God in Christ, or God will not accept us.

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Preceding articles

Elul Observances

To find ways of Godly understanding

Luther’s misunderstanding

January 27, 417, Pope Innocent I condemning Pelagius about Faith and Works

Our life depending on faith

Romans 4 and the Sacraments

Is Justification a process?

Letter to the Romans, chapter 3

Letter to the Romans, chapter 4

Continue reading: Additional comments to the 4th Letter to the Romans

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Additional reading

  1. Creation of the earth and man #4 Of the Sabbath day #2 Days 1,7,8 and 50
  2. Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 4
  3. Necessity of a revelation of creation 3 Getting understanding by Word of God 1
  4. A god who gave his people commandments and laws he knew they never could keep to it
  5. Imprisonment and execution of Jesus Christ
  6. The seven last sayings of Christ discussed in the new edition of the Christadelphian
  7. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #15 Exposition before the Creator
  8. God’s wrath and sanctification
  9. Condemnation of the World and Illustration of Justification
  10. Theologians and a promised Spirit to enlighten us
  11. Atonement and the race been bought
  12. Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does
  13. 138) Cheap Grace
  14. Christianity without the Trinity
  15. Not trying to make the heathen live like Jews #2
  16. A Living Faith #7 Prayer
  17. Growth in character
  18. Love is like playing the piano
  19. Forgiveness is a blessing for the one who forgives
  20. He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass
  21. Forgiveness always possible
  22. A man who cannot forgive others
  23. Answering a fool according to his folly
  24. Why we do not keep to a Sabbath or a Sunday or Lord’s Day #5 Not law binding
  25. When not seeing or not finding a biblically sound church
  26. Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  27. Breathing to teach

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Further readings

  1. The creation of Earth and Man, the fall of Man, the cursed Earth, the redemption of Man, the resurrection of Christ, the resurrection of Man, the New Earth
  2. The Justification of Abraham
  3. Joseph and the justification of evil/sin
  4. Law and Grace
  5. Justification, Sanctification and Perseverance – By Grace through Faith
  6. Justification is by faith
  7. Why Justifying yourself is Destroying you!
  8. Are Good Works Necessary for Salvation?
  9. Faith itself not the cause of justification – Louis Berkhof
  10. Theories of Atonement: Recapitulation Theory
  11. Practical Theology
  12. Michael Horton Differentiates Law and Gospel
  13. Old and New Perspectives on Paul: A Third Way?
  14. Why the Law? Part 2
  15. The Justified Dead
  16. It’s not about you
  17. Reflective Paragraphs Week 4 – Romans 3
  18. Romans 3
  19. Daily Devotional – Romans 3:1-8
  20. Romans 3:9
  21. Daily Devotional – Romans 3:9-20
  22. Daily Devotional – Romans 3:21-31
  23. “And where does that leave our proud religious claim of having a corner on God? Canceled.” ~~Apostle Paul
  24. The Best Way to “Stand Up” For Jesus: Revisiting Romans
  25. What works was Paul talking about in Romans?
  26. Nullify the Torah?
  27. Under The Law
  28. Psalm 57 – As a Deaf Adder; A Sermon Preached at the Amarillo Primitive Baptist Church – Sunday, October 18, 2015
  29. Apart From The Law Of Righteousness
  30. Confessions of a Hypocrite
  31. You are without excuse
  32. Are we good?
  33. More Fashionable Fig Leaves
  34. Elihu – A Word for young leaders
  35. Salvation & Obedience
  36. Would Your Faith Save You?
  37. Let Go of the Ladder
  38. The Playing Field Is Level!
  39. My Utmost For His Highest: The Nature Of Reconciliation
  40. Obedience apart from Christ won’t justify
  41. That One Sin!
  42. The Only Martyr
  43. we’re all “heirs according to the promise” – but we all fall short
  44. Everybody needs Jesus
  45. Rub Your Eyes (Rondel Grande)
  46. Romans Devotional- Day 25
  47. The Anatomy Of God
  48. When Perfect Is Not A Good Thing – Part 1
  49. When Perfect Is Not A Good Thing – Part 2
  50. Is just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned the true meaning of justification?
  51. My Sinfulness
  52. If you love yourself….
  53. Good Behavior
  54. God is righteous and just (God is good 4)
  55. PT. 9 (The end) You are justified in Christ
  56. Day 11: I Declare My Righteousness Is In Christ Jesus
  57. Subjected For Our Sake.
  58. Guilt & Shame Misapplied
  59. God Glories in Making You Righteous
  60. Our Comforter is our Peace
  61. We Distinguish…(Part 5) — Active/Passive Obedience
  62. We Distinguish…(Part 6) — Moral/Ceremonial/Civil
  63. Those Who Practice Such Things Will Not Inherit the Kingdom of God
  64. Do I seek approval?

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Filed under Being and Feeling, Crimes & Atrocities, Lifestyle, Religious affairs

Silencing Women – Of God or Men ?

There are 2 passages in the Bible which  appear to say that women should be silent in church.

1 Cor. 14:34-35  & 1 Tim. 2:11-12

A closer look shows that they are talking about different things and use a different Greek word for silence.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (KJV)

“ Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted to them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

Notice that it doesn’t just say that women can’t speak – even if they have a question they must ask their husbands at home. This implies that husbands are able to answer their wives spiritual questions.

Notice also that Paul appeals to the law, but he doesn’t say where he’s quoting from.

What’s also interesting is it seems to be the ONLY time Paul says he’s quoting the Old Testament, and he doesn’t back it up with the quote.

Let’s take a look at Paul’s normal writing style when he says he’s quoting scripture.

CITING QUOTES – (Thanks to Ian McHaffie for his research on this)

Paul introduces an Old Testament quote by “It is written” about 30 times and Includes full quote

Paul says “it says” or “the law says”  about 25 times and includes the quote.

Sometimes Paul just quotes with no introduction about 36 times

So that’s a total of 91 times where Paul gives the actual quote.

The only where he says he’s quoting scripture, but doesn’t say where, seems to be this verse .

1 Cor. 1:1–2a from the 14th century Minuscule 223

1 Cor. 1:1–2a from the 14th century Minuscule 223

It seems strange that if this is a weighty passage intended to stop women speaking for all time – that Paul doesn’t back it up with the exact scripture in the way he normally does. There’s another possibility. Corinthians was written to mostly Gentile believers living in a Roman city.  Maybe it’s Roman Law mentioned here.

ROMAN LAW

The word “law ”in 1 Cor. 14  can mean  any law whatever -not just the law of Moses.  For example Rom.3:27 “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith – so here the word law refers to a law of works and a law of faith.  It’s possible the word Law in 1 Cor. 14  could be referring to yet another Law – the Roman Law. Under Roman law a woman was subject to a man all her life.  The Romans had a law called Patria Potestas -power of a father – absolute authority – power over life and death.  When his daughter married this power could either go to her husband to have control over her, or stay with the father, whichever way, she was always controlled by a man.

But the traditional church argument has been that Paul is referring to Genesis and a Law that women must submit to men.  Let’s see if such a law exists.

GENESIS 3:16 is where the traditional argument takes us back to – the events in Eden.

“Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

What is the context of this verse ?  It’s often been interpreted through Paul – but let’s think about it again realising that we don’t know if Paul was referring to it.

What happened in Eden was a breakdown of relationships, especially with God, and it lead to sin.  When Eve was tempted she didn’t turn to God, she turned to her husband.  It was a mistake to turn to her husband, she should have turned to God.

It’s also interesting that the term, “cursed”, arur, is absent from God’s announcement to Eve. The serpent is cursed above all the animals and punished, and because of Adam’s sin, the earth is cursed. But nothing is cursed, using the word ‘arur ‘because of Eve. 

Let’s compare this verse in Gen. with Paul’s verse in Corinthian –

“Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

“They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as also the law says. If they want to learn something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” 1 Cor. 14:34

Notice that The verse in Genesis isn’t a commandment, it’s a statement  -That men WILL rule over women – a prophecy. The verse in Cor. says that women MUST be submissive to men – this is a commandment to obey, two different things.

The question is – is Paul really referring to Genesis?

The traditional view is that Paul expanded what was said in Genesis, that he in fact gave it a different meaning than we would otherwise take from it.

But why would Paul appeal to the Law in this verse, when he says so many times we are no longer under the law?

LAW QUOTES

“Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Galatians 3:13

“If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:18

This Law of sin and death that we are set free from goes back to Eden.  Paul is clearly referring to it and saying we are no longer under it – we still die, but if we are in Christ it doesn’t have a hold over us in a spiritual sense.

So what is this law that Paul is referring to?  It’s inconsistent to say we’re NOT under the law and then to enforce it in 1 Cor. 14. Could it just be the Roman Law?  Or could there be a fuller explanation?

When Jesus was tempted to take a passage of scripture at face value during his temptation in the wilderness, His response was to say “IT IS ALSO WRITTEN”. He considered the broader picture of what else the scriptures had to say.   So now I’d like to do the same.  Let’s think about the rest of the Bible and what it has to say about the silence of women.  Let’s start by looking at some women in the Old Testament.

The Bible provides examples of women who led, spoke out, and gave wise instruction to both men and women.

I’ve heard it said that men shouldn’t listen to women because Eve deceived Adam – more about that later- but we have  the  example of David hearkening to the voice Abigail and it was a good thing. She stopped him from sinning.   There’s the example of Deborah who judged and led Israel.

Esther who saved the nation by having the courage to speak out – A Jewish girl who married a foreign King at a time when other Jews were forcing men to divorce their foreign wives. (more about that in next post)

Huldah the prophetess  -The King and priests – the most important men in all the land – went to her to hear God’s word.

Miriam was chosen by God to lead Israel along with Moses and Aaron.

NO -There weren’t as many women as men in leadership roles but there’s enough to show they DID have God’s approval. I don’t believe it was God  who told women to be silent but the prophecy of male dominance taking effect.

RABBIS –Let’s  have a quick look at Jewish thinking by the time of Jesus and Paul.  As well as the Law of Moses they had all the interpretations of it by Rabbis known as the Mishnah and Talmud. These are some examples of what they said.

“Out of respect to the congregation, a woman should not herself read in the law.”

“It is a shame for a woman to let her voice be heard among men.”

“Even the sound of a woman’s voice is lustful.”

Josephus summed them up:

            “Thus says the scripture, a woman is inferior to her husband in all things.”

So clearly these Rabbis thought women were inferior to men and made statements to say that the scriptures backed them up.  There’s definitely no scripture which says that a woman is inferior to her husband in all things –it was a story going around because of how the Rabbis re-interpreted scripture.

Let’s compare these sayings with what Jesus said.

WHAT JESUS SAID

“For you have one Teacher, and you are all brethren (includes male and female).  And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.  Nor are you to be called instructors (Rabbi, Master), for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.  The greatest among you will be your servant.”Matt. 23:9-11 NIV

So we are not to call anyone but Jesus our instructor or leader. It’s Jesus women turn to for ultimate guidance, not their husband, nor people who wrongly interpret scripture. Likewise it’s Jesus men should turn to, not their wives. Jesus is our leader.  How can women ask spiritual questions of their husbands at home if they don’t have a husband?

Let’s think about a woman with no husband. In John 4  Jesus broke the protocol of the day by talking to a woman alone. She had no husband to ask questions of.

The disciples left their nets to follow Jesus, but she left her water pot to go and preach.  She was the first person to be told by Jesus that He was the Messiah

She spoke to the people (including men), of the town and “many came to believe because of the words she spoke.

She was the FIRST to hear Jesus words and go out preaching the good news.

This was clearly an example of a woman preaching the good news of Jesus to men.  This woman grasped the message of Jesus and ran with it – she didn’t need a husband to know what the right thing to do was.

Jesus TRAVELLED WITH WOMEN we are told in Luke 8:2

He went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women.” Luke 8:2

After His resurrection He APPEARED FIRST TO A WOMAN & TOLD HER TO PROCLAIM HIS RESURRECTION – just as we should be doing now.

In John 20:17 Jesus said to Mary

“Go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.”

We are told in Luke 24:11 that “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.”

Mary became known as the “apostle to the apostles” because Jesus chose her to give the news of His resurrection to the other disciples.  We are told that the 11 men didn’t believe her.  We are also told that Jesus rebuked them sternly for this.

Mark 16:14  “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven … he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen”.

Jesus wasn’t impressed when the men refused to believe these women who were proclaiming the resurrection, especially when they had been instructed by Jesus Himself to proclaim it.  This is a powerful point and warning to men who refuse to listen to women proclaim the gospel.

The  New Testament is full of examples of women preaching alongside  men.  Just a few examples here.

Acts 2 says ALL received the holy spirit, ALL spoke in tongues.”  This is what was spoken by Joel the prophet in chapter 2:

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,  your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”
It was an exciting time for the church – men and women were working together  to proclaim the gospel.                      

We are told that Phoebe (a woman) was a servant/deacon of the church in Cenchrea in Romans 16:1-2,  and that Priscilla and her husband Aquila were a preaching team “When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Acts 18:26, 1 Cor. 16:9

Priscilla and Aquilla taught Apollos, they are mentioned together about 5 times and usually it’s Priscilla who is mentioned first.   So in the New Testament  we hear of  women speaking and preaching together with men.

But what of the two difficult verses by Paul which seem to say at face value that women are to be silent???

CONTEXT

–Before we look at the quote in 1 Cor. 14 Let’s think about the context within the rest of 1 Corinthians.  Paul doesn’t expect women to be silent because –

1 Cor. 11  discusses what men and WOMEN will wear when PRAYING AND PROPHESYING– both spoken activities.

1 Cor. 14:5 says “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy”.

1 Cor. 14:26 says “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.”

1 Cor.14:39 says Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy” (NIV)

In the IMMEDIATE CONTEXT  – Paul approved and encouraged both men and women speaking in the ecclesial meetings.

In the WIDER CONTEXT – Women spoke, judged, prophesied, led.

EXPLAINING 1 COR. 14:34-35

It seems to me that 1 Cor. 14:34-35 can’t be saying the opposite of what is established by the rest of the Bible.  Women did instruct and speak both in the Old Testament and New Testament WITH GOD’S APPROVAL.

The difficulty with 1 Cor. Is that Paul is answering a whole series of questions.  We have the answers but not the questions, nor the punctuation in the original Greek to make the questions stand out.  We know that all through 1 Cor. Paul is answering questions that have been written to him. 1 Cor. 7:1  makes this clear when Paul says Now for the matters you wrote about”.

I believe that the strongest explanation for this puzzling verse is that it’s actually Paul quoting one of these questions that he’s been asked .

1 Corinthians 14 is a QUOTATION of the matters they wrote about.

This is what it looks like if we put the words of Paul in italics

                                    QUOTATION  1 Cor. 14:34-35

Paul’s words Italics

And the spirits of  prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”

“As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for women to speak in  church”.(PART PAUL IS QUOTING THEY HAVE WRITTEN TO HIM ABOUT)

 What?

Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?” (Paul dismisses the idea as nonsense)

I think this passage is the outcome of the Rabbis re-interpreting Genesis 3:16, something that was the thinking of the day, and is one of the “things you wrote about” which Paul refers to.

This theory makes sense of the strange exclamation of “What” at the start of verse 36 -It’s Paul’s dismissal of such an idea that women can’t speak. If we understand it like this, then Paul’s message takes on the opposite meaning to the traditional view. It’s dismissing the silly idea of women not being able to speak. Let’s look more closely at Paul’s dismissal of the idea.

If we understand that the passage is something quoted – then this response from Paul makes sense.  The problem verses would be a whole new teaching that contradicts Jesus.

Women to be silent and ask questions of their husbands? Paul challenges this new teaching with two questions.

  1. “Came the word out from you?”  – The word came out from Jesus not these men.
  2. “Came it unto you only?” “only” =  alone –  without a companion.  Were these men alone receiving a new teaching and not the women?

In Jesus women are “Sons of God”. Being male or female doesn’t matter, they are born of God’s will not men’s will, nor a husbands will.

“To all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12

Let’s move on the Paul’s other difficult quote in 1st Timothy

What was Paul’s Purpose of Writing to Timothy?

Paul tells Timothy to stay in Ephesus – so that he could command certain people not to teach false doctrine.  So our setting is Ephesus in the 1st Century and there is a problem with wrong doctrine. Lets’ try and go back in time to ancient Ephesus, and try to understand the wrong doctrines that were in circulation.

ANCIENT EPHESUS –   Was the home of the Temple of Artemis – one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.

Ephesus was the trade centre of the ancient world. It was a melting pot of myths.

Trying to understand these myths is useful when thinking about the problems that Paul is addressing in his letter to Timothy

Archeological site Ephesus at the time of Marcus Ampe's 1992 visit

Archaeological site Ephesus at the time of Marcus Ampe’s 1992 visit

Besides the cult of Artemis, there is evidence of various mystery religions, the practice of magic (Acts 19:19), worship of Egyptian gods as well as a large number of other gods.Legend has it that the city of Ephesus was founded by the Amazon women who also built the first temple to Artemis.  Ancient Statues of the Amazon women still exist. Artemis, according to Greek mythology, is one of the virgin goddesses who remained independent and free of any man. She is the Goddess of pregnant women and childbirth, Goddess of all animals and Goddess of the hunt.

Let’s think about the Amazon women who supposedly founded Ephesus.

AMAZON WOMEN – According to Greek mythology the Amazons were a nation of all female warriors who originated from Northern Turkey. They were skilled warriors who rode horses, enslaved men and forced them to build the city of Ephesus. They also worshipped Artemis.  By the time of Paul Artemis had merged into Diana of the Ephesians.

DIANA of the Ephesians

We know from Acts 18 that Diana was worshipped all over the Roman Empire, and this is confirmed by ancient coins which even call her “Saviour”. From Acts 19:27 we have the quote

“The goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world.”

She had many titles, one of them was PROTECTOR OF WOMEN IN CHILDBIRTH

The Roman Diana had evolved from the Greek One.  The idea of powerful independent women was reinforced in the Artemis cult because unlike other Greek goddesses, Artemis had no need of a male partner. Images of the Amazon women also lined her temple in Ephesus.

Philosophers, Myths -As we’ve seen Ephesus was a breeding ground for myths and also attracted philosophers.  Paul said –

“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified.” 1 Cor. 1:20-25

Ephesus, library of Celsus - Photo by Marcus Ampe

Ephesus, library of Celsus – Photo by Marcus Ampe

Here in Ephesus the thinkers of the age came together.   There was a statue in the library in AD 117 where wisdom or Sophia was personified as a woman.

At some stage there were the Gnostic stories going around.  It’s hard to date the origin of the Gnostic stories as they evolved over time, but it seems likely that the ideas that fed them would have been present in Ephesus at the time of Pauls writings. This is one of the Gnostic texts which mentions Eve as the daughter of Sophia (Wisdom) who wakes Adam from sleep.

Myth – Eve made first (difficult to date the origins of these myths)

Sophia sent Zoe, her daughter, who is called “Eve,” as an instructor in order that she might raise up Adam, in whom there is no spiritual soul so that those whom he could beget might also become vessels of light. When Eve saw her companion, who was so much like her, in his cast down condition she pitied him, and she exclaimed: “Adam, live! Rise up upon the earth!” Immediately her words produced a result for when Adam rose up, right away he opened his eyes. When he saw her, he said: “You will be called ‘mother of the living’, because you are the one who gave me life.“  from ‘On the Origin of the World’

We’ll keep these ideas in mind while we look at Paul’s other difficult passage.

Paul’s other difficult passage

SILENCING WOMEN ?  1 Tim 2:11-15

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. And she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

At face value Paul appears to be silencing women because Adam was made first and wasn’t deceived like Eve was.  He appears to be giving Adam an elevated status and endorsing a MALE HIERARCHY.  Let’s see how these ideas compare to the teachings of Jesus.

                                                 Would Paul contradict Jesus?          What did Jesus say?

NO HIERARCHY

“Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.  The greatest among you will be your servant.”

Matt.23:11“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”  Mark 10:43

“Whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:35

ORDER DOESN’T MATTER

“But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Matt. 19:30

Younger brothers chosen: Jacob not Esau, Isaac not Ishmael, Joseph ruler of older brothers, David the youngest son

WHAT PAUL APPEARS TO SAY

MALE HIERARCHY ?

  “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” 1 Tim. 2:12

  “They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.  If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” 1 Cor. 14:34-35

   “The head of the woman is man” 1 Cor. 11:3

DOES ORDER REALLY MATTER ?

     “She must be quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” 1 Tim 2:13

Conclusion – At face value – the words of Jesus and the words of Paul don’t seem to agree.

Let’s compare Paul’s words in here to some of his other words.

Would Paul contradict himself?
The question is – Would Paul really command all women to be silent when
he has encouraged them to speak?

1 Cor. 11  discusses what men and WOMEN will wear when PRAYING AND PROPHESYING– both spoken activities.
1 Cor. 14:5 – “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy”.
1 Cor. 14:26 – “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.”
1 Cor.14:39Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy” (NIV)

Would Paul say order matters in one place when he said it doesn’t in another?

1 Cor. 11:11-12 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. And everything comes from God.”

Compared to

‘Women are to be silent for man was formed first.’

So once again – at face value – Paul’s words are very puzzling. Let’s think about Timothy the young man Paul is writing to.

Timothy’s Background

Paul begins his letter by saying –

“To Timothy, my dear son…

I thank God, whom I serve… I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” 2 Tim 1

Let’s compare this to our difficult passage

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” 1 Tim. 2:12

Again the passages seem to clash.  Would Paul really silence Timothy’s mother and Grandmother? In 2 Timothy he commends them, he even seems to say that Timothy’s faith had been nurtured by his mother and grandmother. It would seem very much that they had in fact been teachers to Timothy

Let’s think about another part of the difficult Timothy Passage.

Verse 14

“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” 1 Tim 2:14

A misunderstanding of 1 Tim 2: 12  has caused  Eve to be blamed for the original sin which brought down mankind – yet Adam and Eve were together in the transgression.  Eve turned to Adam when she was deceived. Adam knowingly sinned.

It’s interesting that in Eden God had given the command not to eat of the tree of knowledge to Adam – before Eve was made.  It would seem that Eve was told about the command via Adam, and  what Eve told the serpent was not quite what God Told Adam.

After they ate the fruit it was Adam that God spoke to- the one given the original command from God.  Adam’s guilty verdict starts with “Because you listened to your wife,” which gives the impression that listening to his wife is his main misdoing;  this is NOT what it’s about at all.
The point of Adam listening to his wife was not about listening to a woman, and therefore all men should never listen to women- the point was  about  Adam messing up and disobeying the direct and  clear command from God.  Adam deliberately sinned by eating the fruit, he knew it was wrong and still did it anyway. Eve had been deceived by wrong doctrine, she wasn’t sure if it was wrong anymore.

Paul said repeatedly that is was ADAM who  brought sin into the world.

     IT IS ALSO WRITTEN

            “For as in Adam all die”1 Cor. 15:22

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin” Rom. 5:12

It’s very likely that the church in Ephesus would have read Paul’s letters to the Romans and Corinthians Letters which stated that Sin came into the world by one man – Adam.  It’s very likely that the women were questioning whether Eve was part of the original sin of Adam.  In 1 Timothy Paul is emphasising that women were drawn into the transgression by being deceived, that is the point here – to correct wrong doctrine.  It seems likely that some women were saying that Eve was not part of Adam’s sin.

Different Greek words for silence

Next let’s compare our difficult verse in Cor. with our difficult verse in Timothy.

The translators have used the same English word “SILENCE” in these 2 passages.  But in Greek the  words are different with different meanings.  The word for silence in the Cor. passage means silence as we understand it – without sound.

But the word in the Timothy passage doesn’t necessarily mean to be without sound – It has more of a slant to meaning stillness, or behaving in a quiet way, or settling down.

COMPARE -So let’s compare our Timothy passage with another passage which uses the same word for silence – only this time the translators decided to call it quietness.

1 Timothy 2:11-15

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”

2 Thes. 3:11

“We hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread…14And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”

So in this passage the same word takes on the meaning of quietness.  It’s the Greek word hesychia, it’s not the word sigan, “refrain from speaking”, used in 1 Corinthians 14  when speakers in tongues, prophets and the women are told to be silent. “Quiet” in verse 2 of the same chapter in Timothy means “free from disruption or persecution”, and it has been suggested that Paul meant the same in verse 11, i.e. that no attempt should be made to disrupt the process of a woman being taught.

Traditional Interpretation

Let’s compare the traditional interpretation with an alternative one

Traditional interpretation

Women are to be silent because Adam was made first. A universal rule from Paul to apply to all women for all time.

Alternative interpretation –

Deceived women teaching wrong doctrines are to stop teaching and learn in quietness. Advice for a local situation to women who still needed to learn and were leading others astray. Other women like Priscilla were ready to teach and  they did.

1 Tim 1   What was PAULS PURPOSE OF WRITING TO TIMOTHY?

1 Tim 1:3  says

“Stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.”

NOTICE:  Paul’s command was only for ‘certain people’ – the ones teaching wrong doctrine. 

FROM THE CONTEXT OF 1 TIM. 2 The Wrong Doctrines appear to be

– Doubts about Jesus being human

– Angry men

– Women overdressing

EVE MADE FIRST and not part of Adam’s transgression

– HAVING CHILDREN WAS BAD or women hoped Diana would saved them in childbirth

Paul’s comments – Wrong Doctrines

I want to try to explain this passage by comparing what Paul is saying, to what appears to be the wrong doctrines  he’s referring to.

Remember that in chapter one Paul told Timothy to stop some of the people from teaching – the people to stop teaching were the ones spreading wrong doctrine.

“Stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer  or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.”

Then in chapter two he goes on the say who those certain people are he is not allowing to teach – it is directed at a woman or perhaps a group of women.

I don’t allow a woman (with wrong doctrine – who is still following the myths and genealogies) to teach nor to “usurp authority”  (act of herself – independently of the men) but to learn quietly.

For Adam WAS formed first.  Remember we know that there were ideas circulating in the Gnostic writings that Eve woke Adam.  It’s not unreasonable to suppose that those ideas were forming at the time of Paul’s writingsPaul is not saying

“Women must be silent because Adam was made first”

He’s saying that women with wrong doctrine must not teach and the fact is that Adam WAS made first, and that Eve WAS in the transgression.

Paul warned of those who claimed to have true knowledge but had a false knowledge (gnosis “Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge (gnosis)” 1Tim.6:20

WOMEN HAVING AUTHORITY

The Greek word for “AUTHORITY” that Paul uses in this verse is unique – it’s the only time it appears in the Bible.

1 Tim 2:12  “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence (meaning quietness).”

Authority – authenteo –means “to act of oneself” a SELF WORKER

The  most common word used for authority in the New Testament is

– exousia– means power or authority – used 103 times

We know from the context of 1 Timothy that there were women in Ephesus who were trying to dominate but they were lead astray by wrong doctrine and still needed to learn. We know there was a culture in Ephesus of Diana worship  and of the worship of independent women who had once dominated men – according to myth.

 Paul is saying that women with wrong doctrine were not to be self workers, not to be independent of the men.

It should also be noted that Paul is not saying that men can have authority over women or be  self workers – MEN  can’t work independently  of women – JUST AS WOMEN CAN’T WORK INDEPENDENTLY OF MEN.

Saved through childbearing?

            What does Paul’s statement mean that women will be saved through childbearing?

            I don’t believe this verse is saying that women are saved by the birth of Jesus.

            It’s not saying “through the childbirth” there is no “the” in the Greek.  It is in the same sense of childbearing that he uses in chapter five.

1 Tim. 2:15  “And women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

1 Tim. 5:14  “So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.”

Women are not saved by a different process  MEN AND WOMEN are saved by grace – by belief in God and Jesus.

            But idle widows at Ephesus were being deceived by wrong doctrine (turning after Satan). Perhaps they were following the wrong teaching of abstaining from marriage.  Perhaps Paul suggested that marrying, having children and keeping busy would save them from being led astray as Eve had been by wrong teaching.

             Paul silences Men

Paul didn’t only silence women, he also silenced men.  He silenced anyone with WRONG DOCTRINE !

That’s the real point here.  It’s not a matter of gender – it’s a matter of stopping those who teach wrongly whether they are male or female.

Titus 1:10-14

SINNING PEOPLE (men included) DECEIVING  OTHERS WITH JEWISH FABLES TO BE SILENCED

  For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;  Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.

            ANOTHER WOMAN WHO TAUGHT WRONG DOCTRINE

Rev 2:24 “Notwithstanding I have a few things against you, because you suffer that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols….. But to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you no other burden.”

POINTS

There was no other burden put on the men & women of Thyatira The only one told to be silent is the one with wrong doctrine.

            Jezebel was not condemned for speaking – but for speaking wrongly, for turning after Satan.

Eve’s undoing was that she was deceived by wrong doctrine.  Adam’s undoing was his deliberate sin.

ADAM WAS GIVEN God’s word first – presumably Adam told it to Eve.  After the sin it was Adam who God confronted with the question Have you eaten from the tree that I COMMANDED YOU not to eat from?”Gen 3:11 God didn’t ask this question of Eve.

Adam sinned knowingly, he should have saved Eve when she was deceived.

JESUS -the second and greater Adam – didn’t give in to sin and died to save his bride. Being first didn’t make Adam better than Eve – he sinned.

           Jesus the 2nd Adam is greater that the 1st Adam.  The fact that Adam was formed before Eve doesn’t make him greater.  Paul was more likely correcting wrong doctrine when he made the point that Adam was made first. Probably some were saying that Eve was made first.

MEN are GIVEN the SAME WARNING

2 Cor. 11:3  to both MEN AND WOMEN

 “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray”

So Paul warns MEN as well not to be deceived and fall into sin like Eve.

The point of the passage in Timothy about deception is DON’T MAKE EVE’S MISTAKE – don’t be deceived – turn to God not people

 What about Paul’s advice to young widows? Is Paul’s giving  advice in a Local Context or making a rule for all women for all time?

1 Tim 5:14    “So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, rule their households”

            Compare this to

1 Cor. 7:8  ”Now to the unmarried and the widows

I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.”

(Anna had been a young widow  – SHE DIDN’T HAVE TO MARRY AND HAVE CHILDREN. She spoke to “ALL (men and women) who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem”.)

Man as the Head –is  A symbol to show Christ’s relationship with the church… it’s a marriage symbol.  By not understanding this symbol some people have fallen into the “men domination women” relationship of Eden that Christ freed us from.  Man as the head is not about male domination but a relationship in marriage that echoes Jesus saving his bride.

MARRIAGE

THE WIFE- the church

She is presenting a picture of how believers submit to Christ.

THE HUSBAND -symbol of Christ. He is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.

Someone looking at a believing husband should be able to see a picture of how Christ loved the church.

JESUS & HIS BRIDE – He didn’t tell His bride to be silent – He told her to go into the whole world and preach the gospel

It is also written

We began by looking at 2 quotes that many people have taken at face value.

But Jesus didn’t just take verses at face value, He  also weighed up everything else that God had said.  So Jesus didn’t isolate verses  to mean something that was incompatible with the rest of scripture.

So when we see a verse that says “Women are to be silent for Adam was formed first”

We should also remember the verse that says that man also comes from woman and everything is from God, and the multitude of verses which encourage women to speak, pray, teach.

There is neither Jew nor Greek

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal . 3:28

PAUL’S FINAL COMMENT ABOUT TEACHING

 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”        “reliable people” = men & women
2 Tim. 2:2 New NIV © 2010

SUMMARY
1 Cor. 14:34-35
Paul was quoting one of the matters that he had been asked about before dismissing it as nonsense.
1 Tim 2:11-15
Deceived women teaching wrong doctrines are to stop teaching and learn in quietness. Advice for a local situation to women who still needed to learn and were leading others astray .  Other women like Priscilla were ready to teach and  they did.

Robin Jones

PPT presentation at  oneinchrist.yolasite.com

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Additional reading:

  1. Be still and listen
  2. Patria Potestas and Ancestor worship
  3. Patria Potestas and Pater familias

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