I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through childbearing children, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. (1 Timothy 2:15)


Scholars generally doubt that 1 Timothy is actually written by Paul, but the passage you cite has nonetheless generated significant controversy through the years.  But 1Timothy 2:15 doesn’t stand alone. It’s part of a larger passage.

It is, first of all, impossible to imagine Jesus agreeing with these precepts, since many of his most passionate and outspoken advocates were women. We’re told in the Gospel of John, for instance, that many Samaritans came to believe in Jesus because of the testimony of the woman Jesus addresses at the well. She didn’t keep silent; she taught men. And she’s just one example. So on the surface level, it would seem that this passage expresses one somewhat misanthropic view, and is directed at specific challenges and, probably, specific people in the church at Ephesus.

Certainly the interpretation offered of the Creation story in Genesis reflects the harsh judgment of someone who has clearly had his own issues with women in his life. There are actually two versions of the Creation in Genesis. In the first, “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27). There is no sense there of female inferiority, but of a divine equality.

The bottom line is that Jesus loved and respected women throughout his ministry and treated them as his equals. The author of this epistle sees women differently—as something of a threat. Given a choice between the two attitudes, I have no trouble knowing what to believe.


Rev. Ed


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