This post is the fourth one of a simulated interview with the Apostle Paul taken from the position of what he might say if we could transport Paul from the New Testament account through a time tunnel into our present day.
Doug, a strong complementarian has still more questions for Paul on 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Let’s listen in.
Paul: Nice to see you again brother Doug. Are we ready to move on to another hard passage today?
Doug: Oh no! I still have more questions on the 1 Timothy 2 passage. I don’t quite understand what we are supposed to get from this passage if it was a local situation.
Paul: There are two important things that we should review to make sure that you clearly understand what I have been teaching you.
Doug: Okay, go ahead.
Paul: The first thing that is vital to know, and we went over this the last couple of interviews, is that it is impossible for the 1 Timothy 2 passage to be a new law the forbids women from teaching men. The principle of two or three witnesses rules out a universal law since there is no second witness. The second thing that you must remember is that the letter was written to Timothy and Timothy understood my letter to him.
Doug: Well that is fine to say, but don’t you think that we should be able to understand your letter too?
Paul: Yes, I do. However there are several issues that make my letter hard for those outside of the specific situation to understand. This is why Peter said that some of the things that I write are difficult.
2 Peter 3:15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
2 Peter 3:16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
When we started our discussions, I told you what my letter cannot mean. Once we can eliminate the false understanding, it is easier for you to understand what I did mean.
Doug: Why is that?
Paul: Because as soon as one tests 1 Timothy 2:12 against all other biblical laws and against the Old and New Testament principle of two or three witnesses, one must come to the conclusion that all women cannot be the subject of the prohibition in verse 12. Besides you will notice that I didn’t say that “God doesn’t allow…” I said “I am not allowing a woman to teach or authentein a man”.
Doug: Don’t you mean “exercise authority over”?
Paul: No, my son. I used the exact word that Timothy would understand. It was a rare word that fit perfectly the situation that we were dealing with. That should have been a red flag for you. After all, nowhere in the Bible is authentein ever given to anyone to do to another person. Do you see that?
Doug: I didn’t know that. I thought that men were given this authority many times in scripture.
Paul: Not at all. The action described by the word authentein is never ever given to a Christian to act on. No man is given permission to authentein a man or a woman and no woman is ever given permission to authentein even another woman. The meaning of this word is not related to Christian activity and this is why it is never used in scripture other than this one time where it is used as a prohibition.
Doug: Paul please tell me what this word means.
Paul: I am not going to give the meaning to you because I want you to learn a principle that goes beyond the use of this one unique word. Here is the principle: When a doctrine is based upon one unique word used only one time in the Bible, and this doctrine has no second witness, it is a doctrine built on sand.
Doug: Why are you so forceful on this issue?
Paul: It is because there are so many false doctrines that have crept into the church. When a passage is taken outside of its context and when a doctrine is established on a passage that has no valid second witness, the church can be greatly harmed.
When I was walking over here, I stopped to talk to several people who called themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses. They told me that Jesus is Michael the Archangel and they gave me the reference of 1 Thessalonians 4:16
1 Thess 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God …
They said that the only archangel named in scripture is Michael so Jesus is Michael the archangel. Now I could have have made comment to them that Jesus must also be a trumpet since “the Lord” is also coming with the trumpet of God, but I chose to ask them for a second witness, one that says that Jesus is the archangel Michael. I gave them the same spiel about the principle of two or three witnesses. Guess what? They had no second witness. I told them their doctrine was invalid.
Doug: What did they say back to you?
Paul: They said that this is what the apostle Paul meant and Paul didn’t have to repeat himself and I told them I was the Apostle Paul. I have never seen people run so fast in all my life! I didn’t even get a chance to tell them that I had been transported from the New Testament times to answer questions.
Doug: They probably thought you were a spirit. You are getting into your share of trouble while you are here.
Paul: That always happens when you tell the truth to someone who doesn’t want to know the truth. Such a shame. Well, let’s move on to the meaning of verse 12. Remember I told you that Timothy understood what I wrote him. It was a situation that Timothy was very familiar with and he didn’t need me to tell the whole story for him to get it.
Doug: So if the “a woman” in verse 12 doesn’t mean all women, what does it mean?
Paul: It means a particular woman.
Doug: Why didn’t you say “the woman” instead of “a woman”?
Paul: I did within the passage itself. Look at verse 14.
1 Timothy 2:14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
The grammar here is the perfect tense.
The perfect tense expresses perfective action. Perfective action involves a present state which has resulted from a past action. The present state is a continuing state; the past action is a completed action.
The fall into transgression is a complete state but the transgression is a continuing state. The woman I was communicating to Timothy about was still in this state and this was the problem.
Doug: But how does “the woman” from verse 14 connect with “a woman” from verse 12?
Paul: It is simple. The passage is one complete thought and a noun can be definite with or without the definite word “the”. Look at this example from my own writing:
2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows–such a man was caught up to the third heaven.
Do you think “a man” was all men or just any man at all or representative of all men, or do you understand that I was talking about a specific individual?
Doug: I know that it was a specific individual. In fact I have always understood this to be you. You called yourself “a man” because you were not wanting to boast about your visions.
Paul: And I am still not wanting to boast. But do you see that an indefinite noun can be definite depending on the context?
Paul: Let’s look back at 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in the ESV
1 Tim 2:11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.
1 Ti 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
1 Ti 2:13 For …
1 Ti 2:14 and … but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
1 Ti 2:15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
In verse 11 we have a noun without the article but it is still to be considered definite because the passage is connected together. Why is “woman” not allowed to teach? I stated the reasons and the outcome in the next verses. For.. and…but “the woman” was deceived (and the transgression is a continuing state) yet she will be saved…
The one who will be saved is the same one who is in a state of transgression and the same one who isn’t allowed to teach and the same one who is to be allowed and encouraged to learn. It is impossible to remove the connection between “the woman” and the anarthrous noun in verses 11 & 12 because the entire passage is connected together with conjunctions. The context is one woman who is deceived and who must not teach while she is in her state of deception. But she will be saved if she is allowed and encouraged to learn and she remains in the truth that she learns and has self-control to stay away from the deception.
Doug: But John MacArthur doesn’t agree with you. He says:
The salvation spoken of here is not salvation from sin. It cannot refer to Eve since the future tense is used (“she shall be saved”)” (see http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/sg54-17.htm).
Paul: Well brother John is half right. Verses 14 & 15 cannot refer to Eve. Eve is not continuing in transgression so verse 14 cannot be Eve. Verse 15 also cannot be Eve since the future tense is used just as John MacArthur said. That is all correct. But he is wrong when he said that the salvation I spoke about is not salvation from sin. In fact I made it very clear when I stated that she would be saved (future tense) through THE childbearing (definite article and the childbearing is a noun and not a verb). The unique and only birth of the (definite) childbirth that brought salvation was the birth of the promised Messiah. There is not even one reference of mine to salvation from anything else but sin in all of my epistles. So there is a 100% agreement in my epistles when I speak about salvation that it is from sin and 1 Timothy 2:15 is not an odd ball reference removed from all of the other references. It follows the same pattern. Salvation by THE childbearing is the person of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah who came through the lineage of the very first deceived woman.
Doug: But here is one more thing that I want to bring up. It is from a dear friend of mine – my friend Chris.
When ‘she’ in verse 15 refers back to ‘the woman’ in verse 14 it is not referring to the woman *as* Eve or *as* the woman herself but rather the woman as the representative of all women collectively. Using the singular ‘she’ is fine grammatically because ‘the woman’ in verse 14 is singular, but it should be understood that all women are meant because, conceptually, ‘the woman’ stands for all women. The plural ‘they’ in verse 15 refers to all women collectively.
Paul: This grammar is impossible. While “the woman” is certainly “she” (and the same woman from verse 12 with the use of the anarthrous noun) “she” can never be the same thing as “they”. In other words “she” cannot be “all women” while at the same time “they” is all women. Where is the second witness for such illegal grammar as this? Have you ever seen a second witness to this grammar error?
Doug: Well, no.
Paul: Secondly, let’s replace the “she” and “they” with this interpretation:
All women will be saved through THE childbearing if all women continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
Does this make sense?
Doug: That doesn’t sound right, does it? It kind of sounds like no women can be saved unless all women continue in faith.
Paul: This is the problem. It doesn’t make sense and a doctrine based on one passage without a second witness is harming the church.
Doug: But how can this passage harm the church?
Paul: It harms the church by creating a law that stops women from using their gifts of teaching for the benefit of the entire church. Do you think that only women are being hurt? Men are hurt too when they do not have the benefit of women’s gifts. The church needs every single saint and every single gift that God has given because we are knit together in love and it is when we serve each other that the whole body grows.
Oh dear, look at the time! I must be on my way.
Doug: Will you be back? I have so many questions! Wait…you were supposed to tell me what we are to get as a lesson from 1 Timothy 2:11-15.
Paul: The lesson? It is simple. Deceived people can be helped if they are nurtured by caring Christians who are willing to teach them solid biblical teaching. We should not just write off those who are deceived. They can be saved if they are taught proper doctrine and if they will embrace and love the truth and have self-control to stay in that truth and not wander off after the lie. Now brother Doug, don’t worry. I will be back. I am on my way to a Kingdom Hall to find myself some more Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am going to practice finding and teaching the deceived.
Doug: Oh boy, Paul. Just don’t tell any more of them that you are the Apostle Paul! They frighten easy.
Part 5 of this series is located here.