Answering Matt Slick’s agenda on 1 Timothy 2:12

Answering Matt Slick’s agenda on 1 Timothy 2:12

This is part 2 of answering the complementarian objections of Matt Slick on 1 Timothy 2:11-15. See part one here. My article laying out the original argument showing that 1 Timothy 2:12 is a specific woman that Paul forbids from teaching is here.

In Matt’s article on CARM 1 Timothy 2:11-15 here he is making an attempt at refuting my teaching, and in doing so he tries to deny that Paul is talking about false doctrine in the passage, by making a distinction that scripture does not make. Matt tries to prove that the word for false teaching (heterodidaskaleo) must be used when referencing false teaching but this will not stand up under careful inspection of the scriptures as Revelation 2:14, 15, and 20 have the word “teach” that comes from didasko (to teach) and this Greek word is used for teaching that is clearly situations regarding false doctrine. Once again Matt cannot hide the fact that Paul’s reference to the deception of the woman (1 Timothy 2:14) and the deceived false teachers in chapter 1 are the context of the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:12.

The next issue related to deception is Paul’s reference to the first creation of Adam and the fact that the second one created was deceived. Note that Paul does not tie in the first creation of Adam with leadership nor does he tie in the second creation of Eve with the one must be the follower. Yet Matt says that Adam’s first creation is probably a matter of primogeniture, that is the pre-eminence of the first born. But primogeniture has nothing to do with marriage or male and female issues. It has to do with inheritance of the Father’s estate and in Christ both men and women are inheritors equally. Scripture never says that Adam had preeminence over Eve or that Adam was the only one who had God’s inheritance. This would be reading into the text. It is much better to take the text for what it says not what we can read into the text.

Matt Slick further says that not only are women not to teach men because the man has primogeniture rights but because of Eve’s deception “a woman” is not to teach or exercise authority over “a man”. It is amazing to see that while he had been arguing that 1 Timothy 2:11-15 has nothing to do with deception, he is now arguing that deception is also the reason why “a woman” is not allowed to teach. Now that Matt has agreed that deception is the reason for the prohibition, we can go back and connect 1 Timothy 2:12 to the deceived teachers in chapter 1 who are to be stopped from teaching. There is no doubt from the context that deception is key to understanding the passage and the stopping of one teacher in chapter 2 is related to the stopping of other deceived teachers in chapter 1.

Matt also admits that it is a possibility that the “a man” and “a woman” from 1 Timothy 2:12 could indeed be a husband a wife situation in the congregation. It is good to see Matt agreeing that there is nothing in the passage that would rule out a particular couple that Paul is commanding Timothy to deal with. Matt does say, though, that it is only a theory and the fact that it is a possibility does not make it a fact any more than that “a woman” was a temple prostitute who had a crush on Paul. Matt’s fallacious reasoning amounts to a straw man argument and there is nothing in the passage that would attach such a meaning to a temple prostitute having a crush on Paul. However there is much in chapters 1 & 2 to show that deception was the problem in the congregation and false teachers were to be stopped. Also the grammar of 1 Timothy 2:15 shows that there is a specific “she” and “they” that Paul has been referring to. In a future post I will deal with Matt Slick’s attempt at identifying who the “she” and “they” are from 1 Timothy 2:15 and I will show how his identification is impossible from the text.

I would like to apply Matt Slick’s own words from his article. He says that it is alright to have an opinion, “but it is not alright to insist that is what the text means. If someone does, then he or she is pushing an agenda and not being faithful to the plain reading of the word.” I heartily agree. I would like to ask why Matt Slick has attached a Jewish rule of primogeniture to the marriage of Adam and Eve when God never used this Jewish rule for marriage nor for any male and female issues of teaching or leading? Also, why would Matt Slick deny that the Greek word for “teach” can be used to include false doctrine when a search of this Greek word clearly shows that he hasn’t told us the truth? Why would he deny that deception is the context of 1 Timothy 2:12 when the deception of the woman is clearly given in verse 14? Is it possible that Matt Slick is the one who has an agenda?

Why is Matt Slick not being faithful to the plain reading of the word that lists the deception of the second one created as a reason for Paul’s prohibition? Matt’s final words are very appropriate “But isn’t that the case when people have an agenda? They find ways to make the scriptures fit their “cause”.” Indeed, Matt has tried to make the scriptures fit his “cause” by redefining a Greek word and ignoring the deception of the woman as a reason for the prohibition. His insistence that “a woman” must mean all godly Christian women just doesn’t fit the grammar of 1 Timothy 2:15. Finally after finding no way to refute the teaching that “a woman” is the specific “she” from verse 15, Matt Slick has had to admit that the grammar could include the possibility that Paul was referring to one specific woman. Should we restrict all godly Christian women from using their God-given gifts with the authority of 1 Peter 4:11 just because some have an agenda and want to place all women into the prohibition in a verse that has nothing to do with godly teaching? May it never be!

24 thoughts on “Answering Matt Slick’s agenda on 1 Timothy 2:12

  1. Actually, I would classify Slick’s objection to the “possibility” argument is not so much a straw man as a case of guilt by association. He is trying to equate your case with that of the atheists’ Flying Spaghetti Monster, where if an idea is to be believed just because it is possible, then any idea, no matter how absurd, is to be given the same weight. But the atheists err in committing the fallacy of exclusion, where pertinent data is removed from the syllogism to lead to a false conclusion.
    Likewise, Slick errs in implying that your argument has only possibility on its side. He dismisses the other facts you bring in, such as the use of didasko for false teaching, the general context of false teaching, the grammar of she/they, Eve’s deception, etc. as unimportant, yet they give much more than mere possibility, but strong probability. And, as you pointed out, he commits the very thing he accuses you of in arguing for the right of primogeniture as having any bearing on the discussion in question.
    The question for Slick is then, Exactly what does it take to go from possibility to strong probability? If we use the same standards he uses for the right of primogeniture, then certainly he must also allow your argument as being very strong. But if he wants to dismiss your argument as on the level of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, then his own argument must be dismissed as well. He can’t have it both ways. He is using a double standard.

  2. Excellent comments, Paula.  I’ll have to remember that flying spaghetti monster analogy!  Good going!!  The thing that has slipped Mr. Slick up is that he has nothing in the passage to link the Jewish practice of primogeniture to while I have much in the context of both chapters 1 & 2 to link the prohibition with deception.  The fact that he can’t see his double standard shows a “strong possibility” that he has approached this topic by viewing it through the eye glasses of patriarchy.

  3. Finally, Matt needs to acknowledge that the issue of primogeniture is of human construct. God did not authorize this tradition. Some would like to rest it on the promise of Christ’s birth who will of course be God’s “firstborn”. But the problem with that is that Christ is God’s ONLY BEGOTTEN Son. There never was to be another. Therefore, any concept of “firstborn” is a moot point and not one that God would be bringing up, which He didn’t. And that is the thing. God did not establish these patriarchal traditions that they attempt to impose on the rest of Christianity.

    Where is there any statement in the creation account where God is reserving certain privileges for Adam that He does not give to Eve. What happened before she was built from Adam’s side is not reserving something that she can never do, which is proven by the fact that Eve named their children. Naming was not reserved for Adam or men. He just got to experience it first.

  4. tiro3,
    Great points!  Excellent comments about primogeniture being of human construct.  We receive our rights through Christ alone as you have shown that he alone is the firstborn.

  5. I believe it is important to see these verses as part of a pericope, which I claim is 1 Tim 2:8-3:13 as this provides the immediate context.  A reason this is important is the generic terms used, indicating the possibility of males and females beging discussed, e.g. 1 Tim 3:1 (as you also pointed out occured earlier in 1 Tim).  Another is seeing “pistos ho logos” in 1 Tim 3:1 as referring to Christ, per Bruce Fleming and therefore the turning point of the whole pericope, before this are concerns and afer this is the vision of how things should be.

    Taking a verse out of its pericope is always dangerous, as one can lose the immediate context.

  6. Don,
    That is a great word about “trustworthy statement” of 1 Timothy 3:1 actually meaning in Greek the true word.  Yes, Jesus is referred to as the Logos (word) and he is the trustworthy word.  In him the ideal is faithfulness.  One may be passionate for the truth but be deceived in their ignorance, but through learning the truth, they then may become one of the ones who is a trustworthy witness because of Christ.  Good thoughts!

  7. Just to be clear, Bruce Fleming points out that “pistos ho logos” occurs 3 times in 1 Tim, the first time it is ambiguous meaning either “Trustworthy is the saying” or “Faithful is the Word (meaning Jesus)” but the latter 2 times just the latter is meant,  except as perhaps a backwards ref. to the first ambiguous ref.
    Many translations do not show this, and look for a saying in the 2nd and 3rd instances, when there is not one to find. 

  8. Don,
    This is very helpful.  There is so much in the scripture that is a reference to Jesus and there are times that we need to go to the original instead of the translation to see these things.  This has been good reminder to all of us.

  9. Gen 4 and 5 discuss the man and woman and for someone who is supposed to lead, as the non-egals claim, the man does very little leading.  The woman makes 2 statements praising God, how many does the man make? 

  10. I look some of Matt’s analysis of “a woman” or more correctly gune. 

    He misses one in 1 Cor 7:10 where it is general, but is then made specific to A woman in 1 Cor 7:11, which some translations miss.  It is aorist verb, when means an instant in the past, which implies reality, not theory, that is, an actual woman is being referred to by Paul, but not named.  This is important to establish as a concept that Paul was willing to refer to a woman in a way that would identify her to those in the know, but did not name her.

  11. Don,
    That is a powerful example!  I see Paul as being very respectful and many times he did not name names.

  12. In his article “The use of the phrase “a woman” in the entire NT” the title is not even accurate.  What he is trying to examine is the term gune with an article or more formally anarthrous gune.  He thinks this means “a woman” or “a wife” but that is just one of the possible meanings.  It also migft be definite, the absence of the definite article does not require the noun to be indefinite, however, the presence of the definite article does mean the noun is definite.  It might also be referring to a class distinguished by the attribute, in this case, womenly people or more simply women.  It is up to the other context to provide clues as to which is meant.

    So he has a fundamental misunderstanding of Greek from the start.

  13. On closer reading I see he used the NASB translation and apparently searched for all occurances of “a woman” IN ENGLISH.  This is a flawed methodology, he needs to start from the Greek text, say UBS4.  That is apparently why he missed the 1 Cor 7 ref. And there may be others, that is one I knew off the top of my head.

  14. That is great detective work.  Of course it makes sense.  He was looking at the English “a woman” instead of the actual Greek word so he would miss a place that “wife” is listed.  That shows faulty research on Matt’s part.

  15. Same thing Grudem does, start with English and read it into the text.

    We need to get more Greek experts into this, who are not prejudiced. This was Bushnell’s lament over 60 years ago, that those who control translation and dictionaries have gotten away with murder all these years. They rely on the ignorance of the masses and forbid any to question them. At least most of our opponents aren’t Greek experts either, so we’re all in the same boat, gleaning what we can from available sources.
    We are at a decided disadvantage due to the outdated dictionaries and biased commentaries, since those are the “authorities” people look to when deciding who is to be believed. Even the UBS texts have not been free of tampering, as in the case of the name Junia. So we need scholars to come forward and correct these foundational authorities and put an end to this uneven playing field.

  16. I find it AMAZING that anyone would think that finding all references to a phrase in the NASB is scholarship. To be fair, I could see it as a helper TO scholarship, but not as actual scholarship.  As you say, it is similar to Grudem claiming that the NT has the word “man” in it, when this is not even possible, as the NT is in Greek.

  17. Yes, and Grudem and Piper do the same thing with the Hebrew in Genesis, claiming that since God called Adam and Eve “man” that this indicates male supremacy! And yes, they call themselves scholars.

  18. And besides them doing this, some believe it IS scholarship and accept their claims.  Never underestimate the power of seeking personal advantage when interpreting Scripture.  And this includes me also.

  19. “claiming that since God called Adam and Eve “man” that this indicates male supremacy”
    It always amazes me when they do something like that, and call themselves scholars.  It is understandable when a new Christian or someone who has no knowledge of how to study Scriptures makes that kind of mistake.  But it is such a basic kind of mistake that they have no excuse to keep proclaiming it as accurate.  We have to start at base one with them and keep patiently explaining that the meaning in the original language has nothing whatsoever to do with gender, but is a name for our species.

  20. ESV Gen 5:2


    Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.

    The ESV translation team stated it believes in male-only leadership in church and home.  The point is that names are not translated.  A name may have a meaning, but no one thinks the meaning is the name, EXCEPT in this case where they had a masculinist agenda.

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