PAUL’S WORDS TO TIMOTHY EXPLAINED.
334. Verse 11: This verse is generally interpreted as teaching that all women are to learn God’s law “in all submission” to man’s law. If such be the case, why not at once learn man’s law wholly? If one were set to learn King George’s law “in all subjection” to the Kaiser, one might seriously question whether it would not be more sensible to move out of Britain into Germany and study there, not in England. Such teaching as this contravenes the Lord’s own warning, “No one [for so it should be translated] can serve two masters; for he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.” The husband has not been mentioned heretofore, nor in this verse. The assumption that woman is to learn God’s law in subjection to her husband’s law is quite gratuitous. Paul does not say this. Supposing the woman is not married, or is a widow, or has been divorced (as many were in those days), from a heathen husband on account of her religion, what then? Read again par. 299.
335. But for the fact that we have had a long drill in a misconception, or inference from these words would be, that the woman who is learning the Word of God must have a spirit of “subjection” to God; or, perhaps, a spirit of subjection to the teacher (man or woman); Paul enjoins subjection and even obedience to religious teachers (1 Corinthians 16:16; Hebrews 13:17). We believe Paul here directs that a woman who comes asking to be taught the Christian religion is to be allowed to learn, but in “quietness,” because, as we have shown, the teaching of women led to persecution,¾and it must be understood that she comes with the serious purpose of harmonizing her life to the religion she is taught,¾and that is all Paul’s words mean. The matter must be conducted “in quietness,” because the Jews would be angered thereby. The Jews had a different spirit towards the learning of women a this time: “Let the law be burned rather than committed to a woman;” “He that teaches his daughter the law, is as though he taught her to sin.” This is the teaching of the Talmud. Dr. Edersheim, in his book, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, says: “Women were interdicted engaging in rabbinical studies and a story is related to show how even the wisest of women, Beruria, was thereby brought to the extreme brink of danger.” Recalling then the fact that such teaching was angering to the Jews, and the aggressiveness of Christianity in making female converts angering to the Romans, we have a clear explanation why Paul would advise it to be done “in quietness,”¾and only to those who would learn “in all subjection,”¾not to those who might wish to learn merely on account of mental inquisitiveness.
336. The word “silence” should be translated “quietness,” and so it is in the R.V.The same word occurs in 2 Thessalonians 3:12, where Paul says: “We command and exhort . . . that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” No one supposed that in this latter passage Paul commands the men to be dumb when about their daily task, but only that they attend to their own business, and make no unnecessary fuss about it. And so here, women are to learn “in quietness,” not in absolute silence. The quietness may be as much enjoined upon the one who is teaching as the one who is learning. It is not to be told abroad, or boasted of, by either teacher or learner, that the woman is learning. But yet, the woman is to be allowed to learn. That was a step far in advance of the practice of the Jews. That women might do this teaching will appear plain to the unprejudiced who read Titus 2:3-4. In fact it is most likely that women taught the women.
337. Verse 12: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority,” etc., gives the impression that Paul forbade women, under all circumstances, to teach anyone whatsoever. This constitutes a contradiction of plain evidence. Paul did not forbid it, absolutely. He merely states here his own practice in times of fierce persecution and a fierce attack upon the moral reputation of the Christians,¾under those conditions he did not allow women to teach men. But he not only allowed but enjoined women to teach women, for at this very period, he wrote Titus. Therefore that comma after “teach,” in the A.V. and R.V.both, is out of place, and the verse should be read as though written: “I suffer not a woman to teach [a man] or to control a man, but to be in quietness,” that is, to teach women alone, and so even that quietly. Paul did not, at other periods in his ministry, forbid women to teach men. This is an exceptional, prudential measure to meet a dire necessity of perilous times. All are bound to agree that the order of the names, Priscilla and Aquila, proves that Priscilla was the more active and able of these two helpers of Paul. Their names should stand in this order, the woman’s first (see R. V.) in Acts 18:26, where it is stated that they taught Apollos. That is, Priscilla was his principal teacher (see pars. 195-196). Timothy, to whom Paul writes this Epistle, had a Gentile father (Acts 16:1), but a mother and grandmother who had instructed him in the Bible, and Paul congratulates Timothy on his good fortune in this regard, 2 Timothy 1:5. And yet, commentators who admit these facts freely, go on teaching us, by bad punctuation, that Paul absolutely forbids women to teach anyone at all. Then how could Paul say: “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband” (1 Corinthians 7:16)? The word “usurp” in the expression, “nor to usurp authority over the man,” does not occur in the original; and the word “the,” which also does not exist in the original text, is misleading. The insertion of “usurp” without warrant, in this translation, is an index of the spirit which has prompted the interpretation of this entire passage,¾an assumption, against proof to the contrary, that it is man’s exclusive right to teach woman and his right to rule her.
338. Verse 13: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” This verse is interpreted as meaning that Adam was first created, then Eve. But the word here employed, plasso, is not the word for “create,” the latter word is ktizo,¾nor does it mean the same. My Greek lexicon says the word means, “to mould, form, shape,¾to put in a certain form.” It is translated “fashioned” Psalm 119:73 and Job 10:8, in the Greek version (see par. 30). The lesson that Paul would teach is this; as Adam was first developed and then Eve, in the natural world, so must it be in the social world. There are social perils for women that men never encounter. The crime of all crimes¾far worse than murder¾cannot, in the nature of things, be committed against man; therefore, when woman’s virtue is threatened, as it was in the Neronian persecutions, there is no question but man must go first. He can carry the contest forward with more safety where woman would encounter the greatest peril; therefore he should be the pioneer, the “head,” in attacking and destroying social conditions dangerous to woman’s virtue. And again, the world over, apart from the spirit of Christianity, woman has been hampered and hindered in development. To the end that women might be controlled, the custom was early established of the male marrying a female of less mature years than himself; so that a habit of immaturity of mind and character has been cultivated in women. This was more the social condition in Paul’s day than now. Paul speaks here of that immaturity and inexperience which the rival sex has brought about, and the obligations it imposes upon Christian men to take the lead in time of peril. But Paul’s spirit is very different from the spirit of theology at this point. He promises another condition for the future of women, in the words¾”then Eve.” Eve, under the influence of Christianity, is to have her full social development. But theology has taught,¾”Eve never!” and reproved her aspiration towards full development, as though it were a sin against God and nature.
339. Verse 14: “And Adam was not deceived; but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” Bishop Ellicott declares the sense of this verse to be; “He sinned, quite aware of the magnitude of the sin he was committing. Eve, on the other hand, was completely, thoroughly deceived.” The word means more than “deceived,” as translated. It means “thoroughly deceived,” in Eve’s case (see par. 91).
(To be continued.)Lesson 45 Home