Using Paul’s authority

Using Paul’s authority

Using Paul's authority on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

 

Why did Timothy need Paul’s authority?

Paul’s use of “I am not allowing” in 1 Timothy 2:12 has caused a lot of speculation regarding his reasons for disallowing certain activities. In this post, we are going to look at this phrase very carefully.

The first thing that we can note is that Paul is not appealing to an existing law.  Paul does not say “God’s law is not allowing” as if God had already set up a law that restrained women from using their spiritual gifts.  Paul also does not say “God does not allow you to let a woman… ” as if Timothy is under a law that he may have been disobeying.  What Paul clearly says is “I am not allowing…”

What is even more curious is that there is no other verse in the entire Scripture like this one.  Nowhere does a man of God state that he doesn’t allow something. God’s prohibitions are never put in the personal will of the man of God. They are always by God’s authority. So why did Paul use his own authority in 1 Timothy 2:12? 

In 1 Timothy Paul tells Timothy ‘you do it’ a number of times.  In chapter 1 verse 3 Paul tells Timothy to instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines.  In chapter 5 verse 11 Paul commands Timothy to refuse to put younger widows on the widow’s list lest they later desire to marry and in chapter 5 verse 19 Paul commands Timothy not to receive an accusation against an elder except for the required two or three witnesses.  In chapter 5 verse 20 Timothy is commanded to rebuke an elder who continues to sin and in chapter 6 verse 17 Paul commands Timothy to instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited.

So why doesn’t Paul continue his pattern of commanding Timothy to “do” things and instead Paul lifts up his own authority in 1 Timothy 2:12 saying “I am not allowing”?  May I suggest that Paul is giving his own apostolic authority to Timothy to act in a very sensitive situation.

Timothy was a young man who in his youthfulness would have had a difficult time going past another man’s wife in order to stop her from teaching. In that culture, a man’s home and family were his own responsibility alone. If you were going to deal with a man’s wife, you needed to go through the husband. But if the man of verse 12 was another “Adam” character who was saying and doing nothing about his wife’s deception, who could interfere? Paul could.

In the church, Paul had the apostolic authority to go around the husband to stop the deception and false teaching of the wife.  By Paul saying “I am not allowing” Paul is giving his authority to Timothy to act on his behalf in one of the most uncomfortable tasks that Timothy had to accomplish. It was one thing to command the false teachers to cease and desist and to publicly rebuke elders who will not stop sinning, but how does this single young man rebuke another man’s wife? Paul takes the heat off of Timothy by making this one task a little easier by providing Timothy with the use of Paul’s authority. Paul is not allowing…

32 thoughts on “Using Paul’s authority

  1. “I am not” definately some of the most overlooked words in hierarchy world – especially that “I”… hmmm.
    Somehow it’s been twisted into “thus saith the Lord for now and for all time to come.”

  2. Kay,
    You are so right! The world of hierarchy has taken Paul’s words and made them into a law without Paul’s permission. Surely Paul who understood the two or three witnesses rule for legal cases (and he quoted the rule in 1 Tim. 5:19) would have done a better job of creating a legally binding law if he had the permission to create such a law. Paul never appealed to God Himself nor did he appeal to a second witness or an original law that was in existence set up by God. Paul’s statement is a helpful comment to Timothy on how to get a job done. Paul’s authority was to be used by Timothy. It was not given to all men to restrict all Christian women for all time! Those who think this is a universal law have never been able to explain why it fails the requirements of God’s law. But they also don’t want to let it go as a situational problem because frankly they like what this so-called “law” does for them. It gives them power and authority and all kinds of “rights” that make them very special…in their own eyes. Unfortunately they have failed in the Christian way of servanthood that is to be given towards the congregation in order to lift them up to serve not push them down to stop serving. To me this is the Christian way turned upside down for the benefit of those who have a felt need to be important. I find that very sad as that has never been the Christian way.

  3. I agree with Kay.

    Put another way, it seems that the New Testament (in many circles anyway) has become the new Sinai with Paul as the new Moses.

  4. Cheryl,

    The next post in my “Show Stoppers” series is going to be on 1 Tim 2. I certainly plan to include a similar scrutiny of “I am not allowing”. Maybe I’ll just point people to this post.

  5. There is a subtle circumstance at hand in this verse which is important not to miss. Cheryl does a great job bringing it to light in this post.

    Often, when it is pointed out that the teaching involved must be false teaching and the “authority” being exercised by the woman is domineering and even violent authority, people are prompted to ask the question “wouldn’t the same prohibition be true if a man was engaged in the same behavior? Why does there need to be special treatment for a woman?” They then conclude that this can’t be false teaching and domineering authority because there are such parallel instructions for men. They conclude it must be normal teaching and authority and therefore the prohibition is gender specific.

    But the circumstances would be different if a man was engaged in this behavior. Timothy would have direct authority to confront a man on these issues. He would not need to “name drop”. Because the circumstance here involves a woman who has a husband that Timothy must bypass, as Cheryl points out, it absolutely requires that Paul write what he has written.

  6. gengwall, I’m glad you brought that out.

    Greg, I have thought for some time that Paul is majored on more than the direct teaching/Words of Jesus in many circles. It’s really astonishing how many of the things Jesus said and did that must be overlooked/over-ridden to justify hierarchy among believers. Like for instance, Matthew 20 – “You know that the rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority. 26 This, however, is not the way it shall be among you. If one of you wants to be great, he must be the servant of the rest; 27 and if one of you wants to be first, he must be your slave– 28 like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.”

  7. Kay –
    I have often wondered if they have ever truly read that scripture, but I’m sure they have. I’m sure they have their own ‘twist’ to it as they do with other scripture as well.

    Cheryl –
    I’m glad you mentioned that 2 or more witnesses. Recently, I was reading an article about a fallen preacher that was sentenced recently. It seems his character was brought into question quite a few times, and Paige Patterson was contacted directly via the women. Each were told they needed 2 or more witnesses – per scripture – or he wouldn’t speak to them. He did in time distanced himself from the pastor, and then mentioned he didn’t have enough information to go on to act at the time. It showed – at least to me – how lowly some people truly view women. I mean a number of people approached him at different times, but because they were not together I guess it didn’t count. Talk about ignoring red flags due to being legalistic. I honestly don’t know how the man can live with himself.

  8. This perspective also may shed light on Paul’s use of indefinate nouns for woman and man. If Timothy did not provide names or specifics, but simply outlined a general problem in some families (or even in an individual family), Paul would not be addressing a specific woman but would be addressing wife/husband combinations. If that was true, then the indefinate “woman” and “man” makes perfect sense and would properly translated “I do not allow a wife to teach [false doctrine] or dominate her husband”. The later use of the definate article still works, as now Paul gets specific within each marriage. “the woman” (really, “the wife”) and “they” are each individual wife and couple. Just some food for thought.

  9. “It seems his character was brought into question quite a few times, and Paige Patterson was contacted directly via the women. Each were told they needed 2 or more witnesses – per scripture – or he wouldn’t speak to them.”

    So being an elder would be the perfect cover for a pervert because they can say unless there are 2-3 witnesses no accusation can be brought up. And sexual crimes never have witnesses.

    What about this, Cheryl?

  10. A witness can be a physical witness other than a person. For example a woman’s witness plus DNA evidence would qualify as two witnesses. Jesus claimed that the miracles He did were a witness and God’s word was a witness. So witnesses are other than just people.

  11. If a person had killed someone and there were no people as witnesses, the bloody knife in his backpack would be one witness, etc.

    The issue is that there has to be documented evidence, witnesses so that a charge of wrong doing can be confirmed.

  12. Cheryl,

    Thanks for the post. I’d be interested to know your take on 1 Cor 7:10ff where Paul correlates between the Lords command and his own to the Corinthians. I know it has nothing to do with 1 Tim 2 but it is somewhat similar as a ‘man of God command’ type scenario.

    Kay,

    I find your comments striking. You seem to imply that comps ignore the teachings of Jesus who teaches servant leadership, but yet agree with Cheryl that Paul is using his apostolic ‘authority’. Is Paul being unfaithful to the teachings of Jesus by exerting his ‘authority’. Interested to know your line of thought!

  13. Mark,

    1 Cor. 7:10 says:

    1Co 7:10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband

    Paul makes it clear that these are not his own instructions but God’s instructions. When Paul says that it is his own instructions and not the Lord’s, he is only affirming God’s desire for marriage without divorce and he makes application of this with an unbeliever. This of course has nothing to do with 1 Timothy 2:12 and contains no new “law” spoken in a man’s name.

    As far as Paul’s apostolic “authority”, Paul rarely used it but as a “father” to many churches, Paul encourages discipline. He usually didn’t do the discipline himself although he threatened those who were sinning with his own personal presence disciplining them. Rather Paul encouraged the church to discipline an unrepentant sinner and in the case of 1 Timothy 2:12, I believe that Paul was encouraging Timothy to discipline in his own name. I don’t recall any other case of discipline where the situation was so difficult that the apostolic representative had to name drop in order to set up a boundary against the actions that were ongoing.

    Other than discipline, I don’t recall any place where Paul takes authority over a believer. The gift of apostle was not about lording it over others but about laying down one’s life for the church. The initiating of discipline was not about lording over another believer but about erecting a boundary against sin.

    I hope that helps!

  14. Mark,
    Here are my last couple of comments – is this what you are asking about?
    >I am not” definately some of the most overlooked words in hierarchy world – especially that “I”… hmmm.
    Somehow it’s been twisted into “thus saith the Lord for now and for all time to come.”

    >gengwall, I’m glad you brought that out.
    Greg, I have thought for some time that Paul is majored on more than the direct teaching/Words of Jesus in many circles. It’s really astonishing how many of the things Jesus said and did that must be overlooked/over-ridden to justify hierarchy among believers. Like for instance, Matthew 20 – “You know that the rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority. 26 This, however, is not the way it shall be among you. If one of you wants to be great, he must be the servant of the rest; 27 and if one of you wants to be first, he must be your slave– 28 like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.”

  15. Yes Kay,

    You say some overlook Jesus words to insist on hierarchy, yet you agree with CHeryl’s exegesis that Paul is using that very authority himself. So just interested to know whether you think Paul was wrong here by exerting authority, or whether the two can work hand in hand?

  16. Mark,
    O.k., I think I see what you are getting to.
    Does being more knowledgable of Christian doctrine (or being an authority any subject) put one in a position to reign in hierarchy over those who know less? Isn’t it the responsibility of every Christian to correct error when we encounter it?

    Do we let error go on because we are not pastors or elders?

  17. Kay,

    you must not be understanding my questions. Let me try to re-phrase. You yourself said that many things Jesus said/did must be ignored to hold a doctrine of quote ‘hierarchy’ as you define it. You seem to emphasise an importance on servant leadership (as we should) but seem to imply that a comp position rejects this. Now if i have understood you properly this is somewhat your argument? PLease correct me if i am wrong.

    Now you agreed with Cheryl’s exergesis that Paul is asserting his authority in the so called Corinthian issue. But it seems like you contradict because when i say someone can be a servant leader and yet be in a position of authority it is called all but heretical. SO why are you inconsistent. Why can Paul (or Timothy) have authority and yet be a great example of a servant leader, yet no such thing can be true now?

  18. Cheryl,

    Can i ask you to comment a bit more regarding post 14. I’d like to know whether you believe verse 10 has more authority than verse 12 of 1 Cor 7 because Paul makes the different distinctions between his charge and the Lord’s charge? Or is verse 12 another example of Paul using his ‘authority’ to expand on a marriage scenario that Jesus perhaps didn’t comment on? Opinions???

    Thanks

  19. Mark,
    If correcting error is not hierarchy, then Paul’s giving Timothy the authority to use his name to stop the error cannot be considered hierarchy. Paul wasn’t taking authority over people but authority over error and false doctrine.

    It appears that you don’t really understand what people here are coming against. I suggest you read this post http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2008/01/22/the-husband-as-king-over-the-wife/ to see the comp teaching of prophet, priest and king position of the man. The position that I refute is a common comp position even though it may seem shocking to many. The place of “prophet, priest and king” follows the man into the leadership of the church as he takes authority over other Christians who become under his leadership authority.

    More later.

  20. Mark,
    You asked:

    I’d like to know whether you believe verse 10 has more authority than verse 12 of 1 Cor 7 because Paul makes the different distinctions between his charge and the Lord’s charge? Or is verse 12 another example of Paul using his ‘authority’ to expand on a marriage scenario that Jesus perhaps didn’t comment on? Opinions???

    The authority of both the verses comes from the authority of God’s word. While verse 10 is a directly worded command of the Lord, verse 12 is an application of Paul’s on the command not to divorce. The underlining authority is the same on both. The only difference is that one is a direct command with God’s exact words and a command with Paul’s interpretation based on the command. We can readily note that Paul is not giving his own command in verse 12 that would have Paul creating his own law. That is not the case. Paul appeals to God’s law in both instances with one appeal directly and the other indirectly.

    So what is your trouble with these verses? Do you see a hierarchy here?

  21. “SO why are you inconsistent. Why can Paul (or Timothy) have authority and yet be a great example of a servant leader, yet no such thing can be true now?”
    Mark,
    Somehow, it appears to me now that we are trying to compare apples to oranges. It seems to me that maybe you are not understanding what Cheryl has written – as in her use of the word ‘authority’. It’s not Paul’s own personal authority obtained from God. It is the authority of God’s Word. The authority is God’s. To quote Cheryl: “Paul wasn’t taking authority over people but authority over error and false doctrine.”

    Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

    Noticed here what it does *not* say – it does *not* say,
    “You have all the authority now. Go and make disciples of all nations taking authority over them, baptizing them and teaching them to obey you.”

    Before replying to you again, I am going to wait for you to read the post Cheryl linked in comment #24.
    Also, I would really appreciate it if you would list some of the books, tapes, teachers, etc…from which you have learned about this “servant leadership.” Perhaps it would help us understand your view if we could read or hear one of your teachers.

  22. Why do complementarians/hierarchists want to place personal authority and obedience to themselves (or what they term their “servant leadership”) in these passages?

  23. “What is Apollos, really? Or what is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, and each of us in the ministry the Lord gave us. I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth.” 1 Cor. 3

  24. I find your comments striking. You seem to imply that comps ignore the teachings of Jesus who teaches servant leadership

    Jesus does not teach servant leadership for humans. He teaches being a servant. We are not to be like the Gentiles who want power over others.

    Servant leadership was coined by Blanchard about 30 years ago because up and coming mega church pastors needed a gentle slogan to help them consolidate powert. It was being used in business/. And the church people bought it and are good little followers of men now. Follow Christ. Not men

    It is an oxymoron

  25. Correct Lin! The bible never even proposes the concept of a servant leader either in marriage or in the church. It is the supposition of comps that when service is being discussed it is being discussed in the realm of leadership. But biblical teaching never says “husband’s lead yoru wives” or “males lead the church”. The only component of the “servant leader” label that is positively taught is the servant component. Conversely, “leading” (the exercise of authority by one person over another) is expressly forbidden as Kay and others point out repeatedly!

  26. I’d like to offer the term ‘servant example’ instead of ‘servant leader’ – since we all have One Leader.

    “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:12-17

  27. Kay and others,

    Regarding ‘servant leadership’ i don’t have a great deal to say. I do believe it is a biblical principle. John 13 which Kay quoted above clearly indicates this. Jesus as our supreme leader set us an example to follow. Now regardless of peoples distain for mega churches or terminology, the principle behind servant leadership is biblical. It is biblical because we have leaders in the church. It is biblical because Jesus sets an example of how these leaders should act.

    I’d like to suggest contrary to Lin that the majority of leaders within the church do not want to lord it over other people. The fact is simple. In the early church, leaders were established to govern and protect the church. It is true that we should not lord it over others, yet that does not remove the authority that these early church leaders had. For example Timothy is commanded several times to deal with false doctrine, establish elders. Now none of this can happen without leadership authority.

    Kay i haven’t read that post yet

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