Women in Ministry: A Hermeneutical and Historical Approach Part 5

Yesterday, we left off with discussing the proper hermeneutical interpretations of some of Paul’s controversial passages. Paul in 1 Tim. 2:8-9 is correcting specific issues with the Ephesian church—one prevalent with males (lifting hands—free from anger and controversy), the other prevalent with females (a modest appearance). The more controversial verse, however, is verse 11: that women should listen and learn quietly and submissively.

The ‘what’ is to occur is that the Ephesian women are to learn. The ‘how’ is that they are to do this learning quietly and submissively. Neither of these stipulations restricts women; to the contrary, both provisions open privileges to women that were previously the sole domain of men.[1]

Properly translated from the Greek, here Paul is actually commanding that women must learn, and in the manner of rabbinical teaching as well as in basic education. Brown believes this lack of education is the reason why Paul restricts women to teach in the following verse. It should be noted that the Greek implies a temporary restriction, therefore signaling permission for women to teach once they have been adequately educated.[2]

For Paul to present this command was a slap in the face to his Jewish upbringing. “The Jewish male of Paul’s day was expected to thank God daily that he was not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.”[3] Greeks had similar sentiments. For women to be educated was forbidden in the Jewish tradition. However, the cultural setting of the Roman Empire was changing. “The Roman laws on the rights of women were advancing over the traditions of the Jewish rabbis, and they affected the environment in which Paul, but not Jesus, preached.”[4]

Considering his upbringing then, it is likely Paul himself needed a learning curve to the acceptance of women in ministry since, “his own background as a Jew who strictly observed the law intrudes upon his belief that women and men are all full participants in the baptized community.”[5]

We will pick up with more next week.


[1] Judy Brown, Women Ministers According to Scripture ( Kearney, NE: Morris Publishing), 291.

[2] Ibid. 297-298.

[3] Barbara J. MacHaffie, Her Story: Women in Christian Tradition (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press), 19.

[4] Ruth A. Tucker and Walter Leifeld, Daughters of the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan ), 53.

[5] Barbara J. MacHaffie, Her Story: Women in Christian Tradition (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press), 18.

[6] Ruth A. Tucker and Walter Leifeld, Daughters of the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan),  71.

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6 thoughts on “Women in Ministry: A Hermeneutical and Historical Approach Part 5

  1. Pingback: Women in Ministry: A Hermeneutical and Historical Approach Part 6 | A Closer Look

  2. Pingback: Women in Ministry: A Hermeneutical and Historical Approach Part 7 | A Closer Look

  3. Pingback: Women in Ministry: A Hermeneutical and Historical Approach Part 8 | A Closer Look

  4. Pingback: Women in Ministry: A Hermeneutical and Historical Approach Part 9 | A Closer Look

  5. Pingback: Women in Ministry: A Hermeneutical and Historical Approach Part 10 | A Closer Look

  6. Pingback: Women in Ministry: A Hermeneutical and Historical Approach Part 11 | A Closer Look

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