What is the Point of 1 Timothy 2:12?

As a follow-up on last week’s post, I read an excellent blog about the Greek word “epitrepo,” often translated as “I do not permit” in 1 Timothy 2:12, but much better translated as “I am not allowing.” Thank you to Marg Mowczko for her invaluable help with my question, and for her careful scholarship in researching the uses of this word in the New Testament.

From here on in, I am going to use my own translation of 1 Timothy 2:12, regardless of whatever actual Bible translation I quote from, and I will always mark that I have done so:

And, I am not allowing a woman (or wife) to teach nor possess unrestricted force over a man (or husband), but to be in quiet disposition.*

Joanne Guarnieri Hagemeyer’s translation of 1 Timothy 2:12

In studying 1 Timothy 2:12, I recently came across a very interesting and new-to-me idea in a proposal put forward by a scholar named Jeremiah Vance. I asked him to give me a little bit of his background, and found out he’s been through seminary, having majored in Hebrew while in grad school.  But, as a little boy he had already started learning Greek at his father’s knee.

Vance suggests 1 Timothy 2 was written using a chiastic structure, saying that as a Hebrew reader, it’s a pattern easily recognized, even (I’m presuming) when seen in a nonHebrew text such as 1 Timothy, which was written in Greek. In fact, he added, “Every chapter is chiastic except the last which is a pattern in the 5 chiastic chapters too, to parallel every verse except the last verse/paragraph as a tag on the structure.”

But, before I could even think about whether this chiastic thing makes sense, I had to look up what “chiastic structure” even means!  According to Wikipedia, “Chiastic structure, or chiastic pattern, is a literary technique in narrative motifs and other textual passages. An example of chiastic structure would be two ideas, A and B, together with variants A’ and B’, being presented as A, B, B’, A’.”

Intriguing, right? It almost looks like poetry structure, where words are chosen in a particular way to rhyme, where the rhyming is just as important, and sometimes even more important, than exactly the meaning or nuance of the selected words.

For example, if I want to say, “the equine animal was the obvious option,” poetically (well, or doggerelly, but let’s not split hairs) I might say, “of course, I chose the horse.”


‘Course/horse,’ with a phonetically selected ‘chose’ as a nice transition.

The very basic way you can try this for yourself is to pull back far enough from the text to see patterns—matching words, phrases, and/or themes. Some are more hidden than others, but from what I understand, this was considered a time-honored and appropriate way to structure a letter or teaching narrative.

I found a site created by a retired software engineer that helps students to discover, identify, and understand chiasms in biblical passages, because, as the author points out, “The center point of a chiasm in the Bible usually points to the passage’s emphasis.”

So, is there another way to understand what 1 Timothy 2:12 was intended to get across, by applying this chiastic structure tool to the letter?

Vance says there’s every chance. (See what I did there?)

In his words, as we were IMing back and forth on this,

Each chapter in 1 Timothy except the last (chapter 6 by design) is chiastic in structure like much good Hebrew literature. When the structure guides interpretation, the chapter and book read completely differently and it becomes clear that Paul gives the same instructions to both genders and is using Adam in chapter 2 as example of a shepherd that didn’t manage his flock which is his point in chapter 3.

“Here’s the chiastic structure of 1 Tim 2. It’s clear that Paul is speaking the same instructions to both genders regarding submission. Submission and quietness is given to both genders in verse 2. Also there is an additional chiasm in verses 10-15 regarding the Adam and Eve analogy:

Text Box: A: I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people

     B: for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and    

          C: This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a 
               knowledge of the truth.

               D: For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

                    E: who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the 
                        proper time.

                         X: And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle

                    E': I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

                 D': Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or 
                       disputing. I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety,    
                       adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,

            C': but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

      B': A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. And, I am not allowing a woman (or wife) to teach nor possess unrestricted force over a man (or husband), but to be in quiet disposition.*

A': For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who   
      was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they     
      continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Jeremiah Vance: Chiastic Structure for 1 Timothy 2:1-15 (NIV)

It makes for a fascinating rereading of the passage when you match up each of the pairs: As, Bs, Cs, Ds and Es.

I decided I would do a little research of my own and see if other varieties of chiastic patterns were applied to 1 Timothy 2—I did find a few. Some split the chapter in half in order to (you guessed it) make 1 Timothy 2:12 the “X” of the structure, but that seems arbitrary to me, searching first for what one would prefer to be the “X” and working outwards from there.

So, I searched on and came across this site which arranged the entire letter of 1 Timothy into Chiastic Structures, and here’s what they did with chapter 2

Literary Structure of the Bible by Hajime Murai is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Citations of the Bible are from New American Bible, New Revised Standard Version and New Jerusalem Bible.

Finally, I found a scholarly paper written just last year (only 14 pages, so a relatively quick read) which arranges the whole letter of 1 Timothy in this way:

The author of this paper shows how the language used to describe elders is—for Greek—entirely gender neutral except for the saying that simply means “monogamous.” Paul stated being an elder as a good calling for anyone to desire, therefore must be granted only to those who live and teach truth in Christ.

The Implications of the Chiastic Structure of 1 Timothy on the Question of Women in Church Leadership
Mako A. Nagasawa
Last modified: June 1, 2018

If you notice, chapter 2 in the above paper houses 1 Timothy 2:12 in a discussion about how wives and husbands are to interact, not whether women are to be leaders in the church. In fact, he quotes two well-known complementarian theologians who admit 1 Timothy doesn’t necessarily preclude women from serving as elders, or in leadership positions. (Douglas Moo and Thomas R. Schreiner, look for the footnote on page 2).

The Chiastic Structure or Pattern shows a different emphasis in 1 Timothy, one in which proto-gnostic teaching was becoming a problem that must be addressed head on. Timothy was to make sure everyone was properly educated before they were entrusted with being deacons and elders, teachers and leaders within the church.

Next week I’ll be taking a deep dive into Bruce Fleming’s work

Catacombe Di San Gennaro Fresco | Wikimedia Commons

God’s Commission

God interacted with Noah’s clan at the altar, blessing them, commissioning them and covenanting with them. Our prayer life is where God is going to interact with us too, where you and I are able to hear the Lord’s voice speaking to us, blessing us, giving us God’s instruction and commission, and reassuring us of the Lord’s promises as we study God’s word.

God’s Commission:

“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”

There is reason to believe that Adam and Eve’s descendants had so far failed to fill the earth, but had remained in the fertile crescent

The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered.”

If there had been such harmony in the early days of creation, there was a question that had to be answered: why do animals now fear and dread people? Maybe God’s lesson here, is that humankind is not what it once was—lords of creation, made to have the animal world in loving, obedient subjection to benevolent human rulership. Love and trust would now be displaced by fear because of sin.

“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” 

When you and I ask God to bless the food we are about to eat, and thank Him for His provision, maybe we can also thank Him for the lives that were given up in order for us to be nourished. This thought has often prevented me from wasting food and has drawn me into the world of sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry. Lives are being given so my life can be nourished and revived.

 “Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”

God had a purpose for the blood of sacrifice, that it would be recognized as the life poured out for sin. Life is God’s domain. He alone has created life, and He alone has authority over life’s beginning and end. God has shared a limited authority over life with humankind, but there are boundaries and requirements.

Even if an animal’s life is taken, as permitted by God, you and I still must recognize the sovereignty and authority of God over life. The first time I studied Genesis God convicted me about how carelessly I killed little lives, ants, flies, spiders, and such. My eyes were opened to how each of these creatures is a beautiful little life, created by God for His pleasure.

The Lord has given me permission to have dominion over this little life, and so if I take the life of a creature, it must be with honor and respect to its Creator, and for a purpose I can defend with a clear conscience before our Sovereign.

“For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.”

Initially you can read this as God giving to Noah and his descendants a way to govern human behavior and establish a barrier to the kind of murder and mayhem that Cain’s line had initiated in the pre-Flood days. But, it is not intended to be that alone, because an animal’s blood was also to be shed if it killed a person, even accidentally.

So, more importantly, this early commandment identified every person’s life as sacred to God; only God has the right to take it. If anyone violates God’s right in this, the Lord says He will require a reckoning, and it is a terrible price.

I’ve been told this is where our death sentence laws come from, and why the United States is the last western nation on earth to still use the death penalty. It is from this sentence, right here, in Genesis, spoken to an extended family who had just witnessed and survived the most horrendous loss of life the planet has ever experienced.

One would think Noah and his clan were, by now, so sickened and horrified by the loss of life, they would have readily agreed to this commandment. They might have thought to themselves, “Why would God ever need to say this? We are so tearfully grateful for life, life is so incredibly precious to us. How could we ever imagine the taking of a human life? We hate even the taking of animal life.”

Jesus would later teach that even hating one’s brother (or sister) is murder in God’s eyes. So, I will be held accountable for hating in the same way I would be held accountable for murder. Because I belong to God, I can trust the Holy Spirit will convict me, in order to draw me into confession of hating someone, repentance of letting go of that hatred, and the holiness of allowing God to cleanse me of all hatred through the pouring out of His love and forgiveness into me and through me to that other person. 

This is such a hard teaching in our polarized culture, where our computers and iPads, tablets and phones burst into flames on a regular basis, where every one of us—whether knowingly or unwittingly—has acted as a troll in another’s story, and where each of us has also been wounded and torn down by another’s callousness, cruelty, or cutting sarcasm.

Somehow, hate and rage appears to have become our culture’s leading edge. As believers in Jesus, filled with His beautiful pure life by His Spirit, we are to become the revelation of His goodness and grace, of his compassion and love, when we respond to hate and rage with graciousness, empathy, and wise love.

Acts Wednesday: Chapter 8, Simon the Sorcerer

The church had been growing steadily for five years in Jerusalem, in numbers, in spiritual maturity, in power, and in diversity.

But now, triggered by Stephen’s assassination, the fiery young Pharisee Saul was forging an intensive, ruthless, violent campaign against the church. It wouldn’t have been a surprise to read that the church went into hiding, went underground for fear of their lives. But instead, they did the exact oppositethose who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word.” the word for “scatter,” here, in Greek means “scattered in order to be planted,” like our word “sow,” like a farmer sowing seed.

It was a painful impetus, bringing trauma and tragedy to so many. Yet, though the Sanhedrin meant harm to Christians, God used this great wrong to bring about the saving of many lives.

Philip, like Stephen, was one of the seven Hellenistic deacons, selected because he was known to be full of the Spirit and full of wisdom. Bitter persecution now sowed Phillip to Samaria where he became an evangelizer.

Jesus had, in fact, laid the foundation five or six years earlier when He passed through Samaria Himself. Therefore, Philip’s mission was a very successful evangelism campaign, with a great response to the gospel, accompanied by many miracles and signs, and the signature joy that wells up in the hearts of those who put their faith in Jesus and receive Him into their hearts and lives.

God working miracles through Philip drew the attention of a powerful sorcerer named Simon. He was the proud resident magician of Samaria, even considered by many people to be divine, and he had a wide and loyal following. But now, Simon was losing many of his followers to the gospel of Jesus Christ, so he came to investigate this new phenomenon.

What he heard and observed prompted Simon to profess belief and be baptized. Yet it seems what really fascinated Simon wasn’t the resurrected Jesus. It was the power of the Holy Spirit. Scholars go either way, trying to understand what Luke was saying about Simon. Was he truly saved? Was he only pretending?

Meanwhile, news of the great revival happening in Samaria reached the apostles, still in Jerusalem. You see, though Jesus had been very clear about His intention for the gospel, so far it had remained a purely Jewish movement. With the gospel now going out to Samaria, there was a real danger there would be a split church, of Jews and Samaritans.

Peter and John, so often the leaders and forerunners among the disciples, were sent to investigate. When they arrived in Samaria, there was no question Jesus was at work among His beloved ones, and they joyfully acknowledged the Samaritans had been given the same gospel, the same faith and the same baptism. Now, Peter prayed they might receive the same Holy Spirit, being joined into the one church, the one body of Christ.

This was the kindness of God, to ensure Peter and John were there to see Him pour out His Spirit on these who were also His sons and daughters. They would return to Jerusalem as eyewitnesses to the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophetic instructions. Peter would be present again in Acts chapter 10 to see the kindness of God spread out ever further, embracing even gentile believers.

But, imagine Simon’s crushing disappointment when he did not receive the same rush of power and spiritual insight all those around him were experiencing with the baptism of the Spirit. What had always made him special, his renowned metaphysical potency, now seemed like parlor tricks compared to the work of the Holy Spirit. Envy began to seethe, like a dark flame, a craving stirred, and Simon found himself growing near desperate to have that spiritual energy, whatever it cost him.

What Simon did not seem to fathom was the personhood of the Spirit, He is the Spirit of Christ, not simply a magical power pack to be used whatever way you want. He is God the Holy Spirit. Being indwelt with the Holy Spirit is about being in an intimate love relationship with the Lord. The power to live by faith, for God, to be the conduit of God’s love, healing, and restoration, is all part of this interrelationship.

The Holy Spirit gave Peter unusual discernment straight into Simon’s heart, to show Simon the way back into the light.[1]

And so, plans to exterminate the church actually led to a huge increase in the church, proving God’s purpose is never frustrated.

Great persecution only led to a greater propagation of the gospel.

To a certain extent you and I are also scattered (really, sown). We’ve been scattered into our families, into our communities, into all kinds of life situations, and we’re not always in the places we want to be. Where you and I end up we might be facing difficulties in health, discrimination, career, finances, children, and more.

Yet, we must see ourselves as scattered seeds of the gospel, to be planted wherever we have been sown.

[1] Interestingly, early church historians such as Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius claimed Simon the Great, as he called himself, started the gnostic heresies. He was further attributed with having opposed the teaching of the resurrected Jesus everywhere he could, even making it to the Roman court and turning the Romans against Christians.

Paul, Peter, Simon Magus and Nero | Sibeaster [Public domain]

1 Timothy 2:11-12

Okay, before we get underway, here’s the Greek text, for those of you who read Greek and would like to glance through the passage:

1 Timothy 2:11-12

11 γυνὴ ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ μανθανέτω ἐν πάσῃ ὑποταγῇ·

12 ⸂διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ⸃ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ’ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ.

When you look at verse 12, you see the word αὐθεντεῖν. If you follow the link I embedded, there, you’ll see last week’s post which summarizes the scholar Cynthia Long Westfall’s translation of what that word means. Her conclusion, after exhaustive research, defines ‘authentein’ as “to use or possess unrestricted force or power.”

Now, as a second year student in Greek (not an expert), looking at the text, here’s what I see, as I translate it:

11 (a woman | in | quiet disposition | let her learn | in | all | willing arrangement under)

A woman is to learn in quiet disposition, in a full and willing arrangement of herself under [the instructor, or perhaps under the instruction].

This word, ὑποταγῇ, there at the end of verse 11, is a form of what’s translated as “submission,” but doesn’t mean in Koine Greek what that word has come to mean in English. In Koine Greek it always carries a sense of willingness, and of cooperation, making ourselves receptive and available to, placing ourselves under the protection of, sometimes.

In this case, it’s describing how a woman is to be in the classroom—being of a quiet disposition, and willingly receptive to and cooperative with the teacher and what’s being taught.

The part people often miss is that Paul wanted women in the classroom, learning scripture, theology, Greek and Hebrew, reading and writing, and presumably teaching and evangelizing, right alongside the men.

Just sit with that for a minute.

Paul wanted everyone, all believers, to have seminary courses, and to become fully equipped, fully mature, lacking in nothing, when it came to handling the scriptures. Interestingly, not everyone in Paul’s day felt they needed that—for example, people who already thought they had all the necessary training and learning. (I’ll get to that in about three weeks, stay tuned, that’s Dr. A. Nyland’s compelling work on this chapter.)

Here’s the next verse:

12 (To teach | and/but | to a woman/wife | not | I am yielding to OR I yield to OR I would/may yield to | nor | [to possess unrestricted force or power] | of/over a man/husband | but rather | to be | in | quiet disposition.)

And, I would not yield to a woman (or wife) to teach nor possess unrestricted force over a man (or husband), but to be in quiet disposition.

I came across a surprise (to me) when I was working on the translation. The Greek Word Study Tool I was using gave me this for one of the words:


(Show lexicon entry in LSJ Middle Liddell Slater Autenrieth) (search)

ἐπιτρέπωverb 1st sg pres ind act
ἐπιτρέπωverb 1st sg pres subj act

This word, ἐπιτρέπω, in the middle of the verse, could be what Koine Greek grammar has as “present indicative,” which means I am doing this right now.

OR it could be “present subjunctive,” meaning it’s possible I do this, but it’s also possible I don’t. It’s in the “possibilities” box. It’s still hypothetical.

Here’s an example I got from grammarly, “We asked that he listen carefully to the directions.” It’s a suggestion for something to happen, but it isn’t actually happening, at the moment. Chances are it will happen. But, then again, it might not. It’s in the “possibilities” box. It’s still hypothetical.

Also, there are a ton of possible definitions for this word!

To overturn upon, turn over, transfer, bequeath, commit, entrust, leave it to, rely upon, leave to, entrust to, give up, yield, permit, suffer, give away, indulge, command.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That’s a lot of interpretation to choose “permit” or “suffer” instead of, say, “leave to” or “indulge.” A LOT of interpretation.

Okay , you Greek experts! Can we get to the bottom of this?

Also, there seems to be some idiomatic definitions surrounding the clause “not/nor” that might make it more emphatic? Like, “I would clearly not…nor” or “I would most certainly not…nor”? Would love to have you all weigh in on that.

What this second verse means is where we’ll camp out today, with Marg Mowczko.

First, here is how she interprets this verse 12 (I completely recommend you read the blog attached to that embedded link. I learned a lot, and it only took me about five minutes. Plus, you will get her very convincing reasons and translation/interpretation of the strange verses following this one, vv13-15.)

But I am not allowing a woman to teach (a heretical version of Genesis 2-3) nor to bully her husband (by denying him sex because of false notions of piety).


Mowczko has also spent a good deal of time researching the word αὐθεντεῖν. This time, the embedded link leads back to her technical analysis on ‘authenteo’ words, keying in on their meaning and usage during Paul’s time.

Many Bible translations will give ‘authentein’ some form of the word “authority” in its meaning, and it does seem, at first glance, that would make sense. After all, the Greek transliteration of the word and the English word look awfully similar, don’t they? Often there is a correlation like that between Koine Greek and modern English words, but not always. I’ve been fooled more than once trying to make that be an overarching rule while trying to memorize my Greek vocabulary words.

The word that means authority in the way you and I understand it in English is the Greek “exousia.” Paul used that word often enough in his other letters. He only used ‘authentein’ once, in this letter, in this verse, which already alerts us he meant something specific. In fact, this is the only place in the whole Bible ‘authentein’ shows up, and for the longest time, Bible scholars had to rely on “best guess” based on the context to figure out what Paul was saying, because the word itself was rarely seen anywhere else in ancient Greek texts.

In any case, Mowczko found that right around the 1st to 2nd centuries A.D., the meaning of ‘authentein’ was evolving into the sense of perpetrator or mastermind, from an earlier meaning that involved murder. A related noun, “authentia” was also coined around this time, that seems to have meant “sovereignty” or “absolute power.”

Mowczko did a deep dive with eight texts that contain the infinitive form ‘authentein,’ since that’s the exact word in 1 Timothy 2:12. It makes for some excellent reading, and her writing is very readable—she has the rare gift of making scholarly work engaging and accessible to regular people like you and me. And what she found, I think, is gripping.

I’ll give you her sum-up, in her words, but really, it will only take you a few minutes to read her research:

authenteō could have the sense of being powerful (P.Herc 220), of being the author (Aristronicus), of using force (BGU 1208), of rulership and dominance (in astrological texts), of self-determination or acting on one’s own (Moeris), and perhaps of murdering someone (scholion on Eumenides).

Belleville sums up and states that the meaning of the verb authenteō in Koine Greek is “to dominate, to get one’s way.” [Belleville, “Teaching and Usurping Authority,” 216.]


In her final summary, Mowczko quotes Cynthia Long Westfall from her 2016 book, “Paul and Gender,” with the conclusion ‘authentein’ means to override another’s will by force, in ways that could harm them, in order to serve the agent’s self-interests. She also points out the often de-emphasized fact that Paul was speaking of “a woman” not “women.” Was he referring to a specific woman? Was he speaking in the abstract? Did he mean a wife with her husband?

In her footnotes, (look for number [49]) Marg Mowczko offers an intriguing theory that would make sense in light of Gnostic teachings then starting to gain traction in Ephesus and possibly also Corinth. (for more on this theory, read her provocative treatise, “3 REASONS WHY IT’S A WOMAN, NOT ALL WOMEN, IN 1 TIMOTHY 2:12.”)

Marg Mowczko also wrote a much shorter blog called, “Authentein (in 1 Timothy 2:12), In a Nutshell,” which  provides about a half dozen different sources for ‘authentein’ definitions. If you need a quick resource, this one’s great.

Having now spent some significant time with ‘authentein,’ and having established a convincingly dependable definition for this word, we’ll spread out to the chapter as a whole, with Jeremiah Vance’s chiastic model, before drawing back in to look more closely at the remaining verses.  

Liber ethicorum des Henricus de Alemannia I Laurentius de Voltolina [Public domain]

Mercy and Grace

Think of all that Noah and his family had lost as they went through the flood of God’s judgment. They were utterly alone, without home or possessions, friends or family. Did they have some sort of writing system then, scrolls with instructions on how to farm, do carpentry and animal husbandry, how to weave and make clothing, tan hides into leather, chip flint into tools, and so on and so on? Did they just know those things? Were any of them creative with artistry, to beautify their homes, to make music, and tell stories, to paint and sculpt?

Think of all they had suffered and grieved over, their sense of loss, their profound loneliness in this immense, newly empty world. And yet, Noah and his family were deeply grateful to God, even to the point of sacrificing from among the few, and therefore particularly valuable, animals they had left. 

Giving thanks recognizes the reality of God’s presence in the midst of life, and his control over the affairs of life. 

Your life and mine depends on the kindness and goodness of our all-powerful Creator. Listen to yourself as you say thank you today—how often will you say it at all? How many times will you say it to God?

Noah and his clan’s humble thanksgiving was a desire to worship and please God for God’s

  • grace, His undeserved favor, that saved Noah and his family in the ark.
  • gifts, all the creatures that were saved.
  • groundwork, dry land and an opportunity to build a new life.

There is reason to believe God had explained about blood sacrifice to Adam and Eve when He made skins for them to wear. Abel and Cain understood God would desire blood sacrifice as a symbolic expiation for sin. When Seth’s descendants began “calling on the name of the Lord” it must have included the kind of sacrifice that pleased God, a return to their old ways as given to them through Adam and Eve. Noah accepted without question God’s instructions to bring seven pairs of clean animals, those appropriate for sacrifice, which seems to imply an understanding they were to be used for burnt offering.

This was not a developing idea of God’s, though it may appear that way from the developing details in these first nine chapters. God had a plan from before time to expiate for people’s sin with the ultimate blood sacrifice. Here in these first chapters, the redactors of the fifth century B.C. were faithfully laying down the foundation for explaining why the shedding of blood would be necessary. Their original sources—now lost to us—surely came through Moses, as their  traditions of old asserted.  

Through sacrifices, God provided a sort of visual aid to help people understand the awfulness of sin, the price that it exacts and what would eventually be exacted of God Himself in order to fully satisfy the penalty for sin.  A person had to take a yearling lamb, without any blemish of any kind, lay their hands upon the head of the animal, confess their sin, and symbolically, the sin would be transferred to this innocent and perfect living being. They then killed the lamb, pouring out its life blood in a symbolic pouring out of one’s own life in payment for the sin—the judgment of death transferred to the sacrifice along with the confessed sin.

The experience had to have shaken the confessor, creating an indelible recollection of every awful moment tightly knit with their repentance.

From this account, we know God delighted in Noah’s thanksgiving and praise, and approved the sacrifices made by Noah and his family. God promised to hold back His hand even though,

The inclination of the human heart is evil from youth.

Genesis 8:21

Noah and his family carried within themselves the inheritance of sin, there was no getting away from it. Even in a fresh new world, to be filled with a fresh new humanity, there would be sin. Some warm to the largely comforting and hopeful philosophy that babies are born pure and innocent, and it’s the morally unhealthy culture, the surrounding society, that inclines us to sin. Others argue that to believe such a theory takes a person off the hook, my sin is always someone else’s fault, rather than owning we are born sinful.

But honestly, either way, whether by nature or by nurture, we can’t escape this ancient declaration. Every person is capable of and indeed culpable of a heart with sinful inclinations.

This makes God’s proclamation all the more powerful. Despite the truth of our own deep-seated blemish, God will deal with us differently.

I will never again destroy every living creature as I have done.

As long as the earth endures,
    seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
    shall not cease.”

Genesis 8:21-22

No, instead of destroying sin in the earth, God will find a way to destroy sin by taking it within Himself, and by His very Godness make sin as though it never was. How?

By offering Himself as the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s sacrifice for sin.

You and I offer our thanksgiving to God by believing Jesus, putting our faith in Jesus, and by entering into the reality of Jesus’ faithfulness to us.  Our thanksgiving offering is to lay our hands upon Jesus and experience the transfer into Jesus of all the guilt and shame that our sin has built up in us. Jesus has taken it all, and He has made you and me free.

Our thank offering comes in our willingness to be humble, admit our sin, and then release it up to God. When you and I do this, Jesus fills that inner, newly emptied place with His Spirit, His life, flooding you and me with His love and forgiveness and making us absolutely, freshly pure and clean. 

Then God will say to us, as well,

Be fruitful” by allowing your character to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into Christ’s character.

Multiply and fill the earth” by giving this message of grace and freedom to everyone you meet.

Taken from God’s blessing to Noah and his family in Genesis 9:1

Image courtesy of PxHere.com

Acts Wednesday: Chapter 7, Stephen

The fulcrum of Acts’ cycle turns midchapter, as the explosion of growth in conversions began to affect even the inner sanctum of the temple mount itself. We read in Acts chapter 6 that “a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” That must have rocked the Sanhedrin to its core!

Stephen, one of the foreign-born Hellenistic Christians, was on fire, and on a roll, as powerful and persuasive as any of the original disciples. Luke described him as “full of grace and power” and doing “great wonders and signs among the people.” Anywhere you looked in Jerusalem, if there was a crowd gathering, chances are that was Stephen, preaching and teaching, with God authenticating his message by signs and wonders.

Now, look carefully at the kind of people who began to join these crowds to strenuously contend with him—Luke wrote they “stood up and argued,” and later plotted Stephen’s arrest.

Do you see it?

Though Jerusalem had the temple (the only place where Jews could bring their sacrifices) there were still lots of synagogues: the Greek stem simply means “to gather together.” The Synagogue of the Freedmen may have been Jews whose families had once been slaves or prisoners of Rome, and had later settled in Jerusalem after being freed. Synagogue members were from North Africa (Cyrene and Alexandria are in Libya and Egypt, respectively) and modern-day Turkey (Cilicia and Asia). They, too, were foreign-born Hellenists.

There is one person, in particular, though, who will occupy most of the rest of Acts, whose hometown was located in Cilicia. Know who?

So, here is the cycle’s swing, prayer over the seven Hellenistic deacons, powerful increase in church membership, then opposition through the persecution of Stephen. The whole drama focused into a typical day when Stephen was teaching yet another rapt and growing audience. Suddenly, scribes and elders who had been stirred up by lies and slander (coming from the Synagogue of the Freedmen plotters), began pouring through the massive temple gates, down the grand stairway and out onto the plaza, where they abruptly seized Stephen and hauled him back up the stairs, back through the gates, and into the private chambers of the Sanhedrin council for trial.

Picture the scene. They accused him of speaking against Moses, the greatest of God’s prophets.

We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God!”

Then, they dusted off the false accusations that had gotten Jesus crucified.

“This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.”

All eyes swiveled to glare at Stephen. With horror, they saw his face now radiated with supernatural light, purity, and power. Immediately, and ironically, it drew to mind the scripture’s record of how Moses’ face had glowed with the reflected glory of God, His Shekinah, whenever he had spoken face to face with the Lord of Hosts.

Then, with his face still shining, Stephen began his message. The charges against him were truths mixed with lies, so he began his defense by pointing out the great heroes of their faith. Abraham was a man of life-long faith who changed his whole life in order to obey God. Joseph was a man of faith who obeyed God regardless of his circumstances, even when his own family betrayed him.

Stephen spent most of his time talking about Moses, because his accusers had charged him with speaking out against Moses. Both Moses and Joseph had been rejected as deliverers, but they had persevered. The people rejected God, but God Himself persevered with them. Moses told the people to watch and wait for the prophet God would one day raise up for them. But what did God’s people really do?

Stephen accused the Sanhedrin of three things:

  1. They were resisting the Holy Spirit as they had always done.
  2. They were persecuting and killing the prophets, including The Messiah Himself, as they had always done.
  3. They were breaking the law of Moses, as they had always done.

The Sanhedrin was condemning Stephen for blaspheming against the law of Moses, but Stephen’s response was that God’s condemnation and judgment was on them for breaking the law of Moses and rejecting the truth about God’s Son.

It was not to be borne. “When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen.” So overcome with a sense of righteous rage and virtuous fury! Here, clearly, was a case of blasphemy and heresy all rolled into one, a foreign Jew daring to come here and preach religion to them, the holy anointed judges and spiritual guardians of all Israel. A Hellenist having the brazen arrogance to tutor them in Judaism. And worst, to fling Jesus in their faces, that ragged itinerant street preacher.

It simply was not to be borne. As Stephen gazed into the realm of heaven, and began to describe the glory of God, and of Jesus standing at His right hand, perhaps raising His hand to receive Stephen, they frothed to a frenzy, surged forward and stoned him.

It was only the beginning of an extended and horrendous time of persecution soon to be led by a young man named Saul, native of Cilicia, hailing from Tarsus, in fact, a fervent Pharisee and champion of God.

Again, carefully note what happens: “the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.” Why? Why did the false witnesses, with their trumped-up lies, leave their things with Paul as they joined in the stoning? Add together Acts 6:9-14 with Acts 7:58-8:1 and you have the whole story. Saul was most likely one of the members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen, his family having been granted Roman citizenship in Tarsus (a fact Paul would regularly return to throughout his life). When they sent their brilliant young gifted and talented son to Jerusalem, to study under the famous Gamaliel, they surely contacted their extended connections through the Synagogue of the Freedmen to secure a safe place for him to stay.

This fiery young phenom may have even led the delegation that “stood up and argued” with Stephen. His pride injured, and his sense of self-righteousness bruised at the unexpected failure of his arguments (I imagine Paul was not used to being outsmarted in a debate), the evidence supports Paul being the instigator of the secret plot to bring Stephen down.

And Saul “approved of their killing Stephen.”

Here was Saul, chief persecutor exulting over the demise of Stephen, faithful martyr. But who really had reason to celebrate?

Every trouble that it is met in the power of the Holy Spirit will result in spiritual victory.

Stephen, who had been steadily growing into the spiritual gifts given him by the Spirit of Christ, reached the apex of his spiritual maturity in those last moments, when the overlap of physical and spiritual realms became visible and real to him. He saw the glory of God, he was even reflecting the very Shekinah of Lord Most High, and he was personally received by Jesus.

It was his worst ordeal, his final ordeal, yet also his best, most glorious earthly moment. I think, for me, that means determining to see adversity and ordeals as opportunities to see the spiritual realm more clearly, and to expect God’s glory to be revealed in that moment, even in me. Growth is not the goal, it’s simply the side-effect. The goal is to incarnate Jesus, reveal Jesus, and to become ever closer to Jesus. This is life’s finest victory.

Image courtesy https://pxhere.com/en/photo/830634


What does it mean?

I’m spending a bit of time on 1 Timothy 2:12, and especially on the word “authentein,” the infinitive form of “authenteo,” because this is one of the chief—or maybe even the chief—passage cited in support of the disqualification of women from leadership and teaching roles in the church. There are several broad issues that come under scrutiny because of this, including:

  1. How “literally” do complementarian theologians apply the rest of what’s written in 1st Timothy, the pastoral letters in general, Paul’s other letters, and the New Testament overall?

(The answer is, as you might have guessed, they don’t in a consistent manner).

  • How “literal” are translations of the Bible?

(None are exactly literal, for a variety of reasons, and all are translated in a somewhat biased manner, depending on the translation team’s biases.)

  • Is the complementarian reading of 1st Timothy the only accepted reading in the evangelical landscape?

(Though complementarian theologians are the most familiar, they are not the only voice in evangelical Christianity.)

  • How “new” is the view that women are to be seen as equal with men in terms of teaching and leadership in the church?

(The Quakers and Dissenters were outspoken on this issue fully four hundred years ago, and the 1st through 4th century church had women teachers and leaders.)

  • How did the early church read 1st Timothy?

(Because women leaders and teachers are documented in the first few centuries of Christianity, what we can surmise, before we take a deep dive, is that whatever they understood Paul to mean, they didn’t think he meant a unilateral and permanent disbarment of women from these roles.)

Before we wade into those issues, though, let’s start getting a feel for what the last 50 years’ worth of archaeological finds have discovered—that is to say, what the hundreds of newly unearthed inscriptions and papyri containing various forms of the word “authenteo” have to offer.

This week’s scholar: Cynthia Long Westfall in her paper, “The meaning of “authenteo” in 1 Timothy 2:12

This is a 36-page paper, exhaustively studying 80 of the 329 instances this word has been seen, so far, in the ancient record. The 80 instances she chose to study occur within the timeframe of Paul’s letter to 1 Timothy, therefore offer the most accurate renderings known to Paul, and used in his day.

Her research carefully delineated in what “register” this word was used, such as legal registers including lawsuits and enactments of law, astrology, philosophy, the political arena, and specifically the register of church leadership. She outlined how the word was used in relationship between the “actor” and the “goal.” She spread her research to take note of other words that tended to be used in conjunction with variations of “authenteo,” and what situations “authenteo” words found themselves in.

What she discovered was fascinating!

The “basic semantic meaning” of the Koine Greek verb “authenteo”

Can be described as the autonomous use or possession of unrestricted force.”[1]

Autonomous: The actor takes matters into their own hands.

Unrestricted: The actor uses whatever means necessary to accomplish their goal. No boundaries, including use of force, and railroading over resistance.

Force: The actor uses whatever powers they have to exert their will, including violence.

In fact, the only person who can legitimately claim authenteo in any positive sense is God Himself. Anyone else who might want to apply this word on their own behalf would indicate they are legitimizing the above definition of a person over other persons.

Westfall suggests a comparable English word to “authenteo” might be the word “eradicate.” Other possible definitions might be “put an end to,” “destroy,” or possibly, “tear out by the roots,”[2] with the basic “semantic meaning of an ‘autonomous user or possessor of unrestricted force/power.”

Study of this word used in the register of church leadership revealed it was never used in a positive way, but rather described activity in which a person was forced against their will in a destructive way.[3]

Here is one possible scenario which might have prompted Paul to write to Timothy, as outlined at the end of Westfall’s paper,[4]

It is likely that a woman, particularly a wealthy widow, would be present in an Ephesian house church with at least one male, who might be a slave if she was not accompanied by a husband or male family member. Furthermore, the worship services were most likely held in the largest homes available, and women who owned such homes (such as Lydia) would be the masters of male slaves who would be under their direction in serving the agape meal—and this would even be the case with women in their husband’s homes, because men were not involved in the overseeing of this kind of domestic arrangement.

Cynthia Long Westfall, The meaning of “authenteo” in 1 Timothy 2:12

This prohibition might be broadened to have included any time women in antiquity might have occasion to abuse a man within her power.

Stay tuned! Next week, we’ll take a look at another theologian’s close study of the word variations associated with “authenteo,” (Marg Mowczko)

Below is a short (7 minute) video of the well-known and eminent Bible scholar, N.T. Wright, offering his view on this passage in 1st Timothy.

N.T. Wright on 1 Timothy 2:11-15

In two weeks, I will offer some thoughts from another theologian, Jeremiah Vance, on groundbreaking scholarship he has done concerning the way to read 1st Timothy as a whole letter.

If you would like to get a head start, see what happens when you divide chapter 2 in this way:

Text Box: A: I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people

     B: for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and   

         C: This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a 
              knowledge of the truth.

              D: For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

                   E: who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper 

                       X: And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle

                   E': I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

               D': Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or 
                     disputing. I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning 
                     themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,

          C': but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

    B': A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to    
         assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

A': For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Jeremiah Vance, Chiastic of 1 Timothy 2

There is a similar “chiastic” structure for verses 10-15—see if you can come up with it on your own before two weeks from now.

In three weeks, I hope to offer some further thoughts from another theologian, Bruce C.E. Fleming.

[1]The meaning of “authenteo” in 1 Timothy 2:12, Cynthia Long Westfall, pages 166-167

[2] Ibid, page 169-170

[3] Ibid. page 171

[4] Ibid. page 172

Hand with a scroll | Needpix, Circe Denyer (publicdomainpictures.net)

Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Noah’s wife, sons, and daughters-in-law all helped in choosing the best from their small herds and flocks. Only seven pairs of each kind of clean animal had come with them into the ark, those creatures that chewed the cud and had completely cloven hooves. There were only ten of this category, oxen and sheep, goats and deer, and all the varieties of antelope and gazelle. They selected one from every group, all yearlings, the best males from those born within their cavernous boat. Each creature had come easily, naively, without hesitation, for they had been fed their whole lives by these human hands.

All stretched their necks to be patted and caressed, leaning in with their affection, as animals will do. Once the yearlings had been assembled, Noah took the first sacrifice, a beautiful ram with fine horns and a thick, creamy fleece. Solemnly, Noah raised his obsidian knife, as the guileless creature looked up with innocent interest. Only when the sharp blade bit into its trusting flesh, did the ram’s first bleat of terrified betrayal and pain crack the air, spraying out with it the acrid smell of fresh blood. Fear swept through the other creatures as the sacrifice’s cry echoed up and down Ararat’s canyons. Acting as a catalyst of frenzy and dread, a rapid wave moved undulating through the disembarking beasts. The stampede grew, animals running, galloping, swarming, teeming, spreading out of the ark and down the sides of the mountain.

Only the clean creatures were left, and perhaps the dogs. Two camels, which had been roped to a tree, now bucked and tugged at their moorings, coughing and screaming. Oxen and goats, deer and sheep, all the small flocks and herds, corralled in their makeshift fences, could only throw themselves at their enclosures, terror shaking their sides, and ululating from their gaping jaws.

One by one, Noah solemnly sacrificed the clean yearlings, beautiful as they were, without any mark or deformity. Some of his family wept. Others looked grim, as they gathered from the plentiful fallen wood, to build up the fire Noah had started on his heap of unhewn rocks.

“We are not giving from our poverty,” he had told them, assembled before him, his little clan. “We are offering back to the Lord from the abundance of His faithfulness to us.”

Ham had shifted uncomfortably. It did not seem like abundance, to try to grow all the earth’s herds from these few dozen cattle and sheep. On what would they live? They had already spent over a year in scarcity, carefully husbanding their dwindling supply of food, patching their clothes from even more ragged clothes, living in near squalor with nowhere to go but out the window with all the manure.

“We will give to the Lord in humble thankfulness, for He has given us a new earth, and a new chance to live in peace and prosperity, goodness and joy, in righteousness.”

Noah had then paused to look intently at each of his beloved family members, his wife and sons, and their wives already heavy with their own sons and daughters soon to be born. “We are the new humanity,” he had said quietly, his voice catching. “God has given us Shalom, and we will praise Him with all our hearts.”

His wife had brushed a strand of hair from her eyes and tucked it behind her ear. It felt so good to feel the dry ground under her feet, to breath the fresh, sweet air. She had looked out over the stands of trees, climbing up the mountains’ sides, the birds gliding and wheeling in the sky, the beautiful clouds, the beautiful sun, the beautiful outside of the ark. She thought briefly about how they would restructure it to become a home for their growing tribe.

She did feel thankful, overwhelmingly so. But…she also felt angry. God had not answered their questions, nor explained His long silence. And she felt scared. God had not given them any reassurances about the days ahead, nor offered any comfort for the long and difficult sojourn they had just endured. What did lie ahead? Their hope had come only by faith. God had sealed them within the ark as His act of grace, to save them. Surely, she thought to herself, surely He would complete what He had begun? Finally, underneath all those feelings was a deep, soft, heavy sorrow, mourning for the life she once had, her home, her family, her friends.

And now, they were celebrating their new life with more death. She felt her throat tighten, and tears push through her lashes. She bit her lip. Salvation had come at such great cost.

How their hearts had broken as they watched Noah open neck after neck, as each creature yelped in panic and pain, then convulsed in its death rattle, blood spurting onto the altar, onto Noah, onto his wife, and sons, and their wives…

How their arms had ached, their bodies wearied, their stomachs sickened, as they lifted each animal onto the altar, the fire crackling and spitting with each new carcass, the reek of burning hair and hide, the fetor of muck as the sacrifices’ bowels had emptied.

“This is the stench of death,” Noah finally said. For they had offered up each animal unto the Lord in silence. “This is the wretchedness of sin, the horror of sin. We must let these images burn themselves into our eyes, and our minds. We must never forget this day.”

And they would not forget. The screams of terror and horror from those who had perished in the flood. Their own sense of pervading guilt and survivor’s shame, for they knew they too had done wrong things, and thought wrong things, even while in the ark, even while being saved from the destruction of the entire earth. And now it was all symbolized in their offering of thanksgiving, which was also a reminder that, though they were the new humanity, their condition was unchanged, their hearts still had the capacity to conceive of evil.

Again, Ham had shifted uncomfortably, looking away with a furtive fear. He had dark longings, darkness itself was lurking within him, he could feel its oily tendrils uncoiling, winding round and round his soul. Would the others see?

Noah and his family offering sacrifices | Joseph Anton Koch [Public domain]

Acts Wednesday: Chapter 6, Hungry Widows

Phaidra turned to study the woman standing beside her.

“Have we met?” she asked.

The older woman shook her head. She seemed worn, sad, resigned. Phaidra tried again.

“Were you there when the one named Peter, friend and disciple of the Risen Lord, spoke in our language with such power?”

The older woman smiled a little and gave a small nod.

“Did you believe and were you baptized on that day? I myself was one of those who thought they had been drinking wine all through the night, all those people pouring out of that house. ‘You’re drunk’ I shouted! Yet, when Peter began to speak, I was pierced to the heart. I joined the Lord’s assembly that very day!”

The older woman’s smile had grown as Phaidra told her story.

“I, too,” she said, quietly.

“What’s your name, sister?”


The older woman ducked her head. She had been named “Wisdom,” by parents who had rejoiced at the birth of a daughter. How she had loved her name, especially when spoken in the voice of her husband, Aeneas. “Come, Wisdom my love,” he would say, then quote from the Proverbs. They had been a good match. Times had been very hard with him gone.

Phaidra and Sofia had been waiting in the temple complex with many of the other believers, to pray, worship together, and break bread together. They had come empty-handed, as they most often did, for as widows their means were meager. Finally, one of the Hebrew-speaking believers approached them to say the bread had already been broken, the meal was over. Both of their faces fell, and Phaidra could feel tears well up inside her.

“But, this is the fourth day running.”

She spoke in a soft, hurt voice, entreating him in Greek, second language to them both, but the tongue everyone could speak. Rome had been trying to make Latin the language of their sprawling empire, but Greek was rooted deep.

The messenger simply shrugged, palms up.

“Be blessed, sister,” he said, and walked away.

The church was growing rapidly, having now surpassed a membership of five thousand, including people from several language groups and cultures. But, there appeared to be racial, or at least cultural, discrimination in the distribution of food. A number of the Hellenistic Christians went to the twelve disciples of Jesus, now called apostles of the Risen Lord, with their unhappy report that Hebrew widows were getting preferential treatment in the sharing of food.

This complaint had to have cut the twelve to the quick. Had they not been a part of Jesus’ miraculous feeding of five thousand Jewish men (not counting their families)? And had they not later been with Jesus for His miraculous feeding of the four thousand in the Decapolis, many of whom were gentiles? How could they fail to feed all whom the Lord had now brought into their care?

Peter, especially, must have felt deeply troubled. The Lord had asked him three times, “Do you love Me, Peter?” How that question had pained Peter, especially after his betrayal of Jesus during His darkest hour.

“Yes, Lord, of course I do!”

“Then feed my lambs, my sheep.”

Yet, if the apostles succumbed to the pressure of personally overseeing the daily distribution of food, then their ministry of prayer and teaching and preaching would be undermined. They needed the Spirit of Jesus within them to guide them in wisdom.

The church still struggles with this balance. Social work often tempts churches to stop concentrating on the more inward practices of prayer, teaching, contemplation, depth of spiritual growth and connection with God, in order to serve the people. Sometimes churches go in the other direction, and make the mistake of letting the government and charities deal with social work while they concentrate only on Sunday school and sermons.

But social programs and spiritual practices are both needed. So, God gave the apostles a solution that would allow the church to concentrate equally on feeding hungry hearts as well as hungry bodies.

Notice what happens – after praying and following God’s guidance, there was another explosion of growth! Even many priests were now being won over by the gospel. Here’s the cycle again: a great problem of inequitable treatment among the brethren, prayer over the newly appointed deacons, powerful increase in church membership … and then opposition through the persecution of Stephen, which we’ll look at more next week.

Image | courtesy Biswarup Ganguly [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D

“Twisted Scripture”

At the end of today’s blog is a lecture on 1 Timothy 2:12, delivered about five years ago by Greg Boyd and Nikole Mitchell. It’s 48 minutes long, so definitely a commitment to watch! Here are some bullet points about the points being made:

(1) When approaching a teaching, it is important to gain perspective on that teaching’s place within the body of all our teaching. In other words, what basic category does this teaching fall under (in this descending order)?

  • Salvation (in other words, teaching that describes and explains what it means to become a believer in Jesus)
  • Character and Attributes of God
  • Timeless Truths and Principles
  • Life Application

Another way to categorize teaching might even be: is it salvific, or not?

(2) Is the teaching consistent throughout the scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, or is the topic treated differently in various parts of the Bible? Here’s an example: What does the Bible teaching about alcohol?

  • Consistent teaching: Use alcohol in moderation, do not drink to the point of drunkenness.
  • Variable teaching:
Proverbs 23:29-32 (Anti) Deuteronomy 14:25-26 (Pro)
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
    Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who linger late over wine,
    those who keep trying mixed wines.
31 Do not look at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup
    and goes down smoothly.
32 At the last it bites like a serpent,
    and stings like an adder.
25 then you may turn it into money. With the money secure in hand, go to the place that the Lord your God will choose; 26 spend the money for whatever you wish—oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever you desire. And you shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your household rejoicing together.

(3) Is the teaching a timeless truth, or does it speak to a cultural circumstance? Our best example has to do with how scripture speaks about, and teaches on, slavery. From earliest human history, slavery was a cultural and societal reality.

Therefore, God instituted commandments and judgments that necessitated the humane application of slavery. Particularly in the New Testament, the apostles gave life applications that encouraged both the slave to submit to their master as to the Lord, and the master to view their slave as their brother or sister in Christ.

Finally, 150 years ago, the demise of slavery was won in the west, due to the right understanding and application of the deeper, timeless truths of God’s love and grace, and the equality of all people under God, as taught in the scriptures.

Now, teaching on how to comport oneself as a slave or a master is, in one sense, anachronistic and no longer applicable, and in another sense, valuable only when spiritualized, or contextualized.

(4) What is the historical and textual context of the teaching? This speaks to what scholars call

exegesis”—the critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture.


eisegesis”—the process of interpreting a text in such a way as to introduce one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases. It is commonly referred to as reading into the text.

The way to properly “exegete” a text is to include an understanding of

  • the historical context it was written in.
  • the cultural context it was written in. (Add in politics, economics, ethnicities.)
  • the language it was written in.
  • the words surrounding this particular passage, in other words, its textual context.
  • the audience who received these words.
  • the author who wrote the words.

That’s a tall order! Which is why scholars understand how important it is to not only do their homework, but to hold their interpretations with humility, because new information may change how the text is to be understood.

Okay! So, here’s the lecture, below, and next week I’ll weigh in on the Geek word transliterated as “authentein,” which has traditionally been translated as “have authority over” or “usurp authority.” Since the 1970’s hundreds of new inscriptions and papyri have been unearthed which shed a whole new light on what this word means.

Before the 70’s, there were only a few extrabiblical references to this word, and none of them came from the 1st century, Paul’s time. In the whole Bible, “authentein” appears only once, right here in 2 Timothy 2:12, so “doing our homework” means getting a solid understanding of what this word actually means.

Greg Boyd and Nikole Mitchell speaking on 1 Timothy 2:12

First Ordained Woman | https://www.flickr.com/photos/mlcas/ | Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In 1970, the former Lutheran Church in America (LCA) of which Messiah was a part ordained The Rev. Elizabeth Platz at the University of Maryland’s Memorial Chapel. The first woman ordained a Lutheran pastor in North America, Platz has served her entire ministry as UM Lutheran campus pastor. On Nov. 22, 2010, the ELCA marked the 40th anniversary of her ordination. She has since retired.

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