I started a post months ago and then life became so complicated I had to set my blog aside to cope. This post will now be the new “home” on the discussion on whether 1 Timothy 2:12 has two prohibitions or one. As a review here is what I originally wrote:
Complementarians typically say that Paul is prohibiting two things (teaching and exercising authority over a man) while many egalitarians are taking the position that there is only one thing that Paul has prohibited. The prohibition is listed as God is against women assuming authority for themselves to teach men. This view has been brought out by Philip B. Payne in “Man and Woman One in Christ” pg 338.
I do not agree with complementarians that there are two entirely separate prohibitions that are not connected. But I do not agree with Philip Payne either that there is only one prohibition and that this prohibition is to be defined as the forbidding of women to assume authority for themselves to teach men without a properly delegated authority from men.
As I have been reading through Philip B. Payne’s book, I have been paying special attention to his process of reasoning. First of all, I should say that I really appreciate the fact that Mr. Payne has written this book in an effort to affirm women’s place in the body of Christ. I know that many have found his work very compelling even though I have some serious disagreements with his work. I want to affirm him as a dear brother in Christ at the outset and I appreciate any man willing to stick his neck out to support his sisters in Christ.
Philip B. Payne’s thesis starts in chapter 19, as he asserts on page 338 that the Greek term “oude” (English “or”) is typically used by Paul to join together expressions that reinforce or make more specific a single idea. Here it is in context:
1 Timothy 2:12 (NASB95)
12But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
Rather than the conjunction “or” connecting two related terms, Payne concludes that it must be the type of teaching that is forbidden thus it is one prohibition and not two. His view is that “authentein” means to “assume authority” so that the one prohibition that is forbidden to women is to “assume authority” to teach men. Payne writes:
Since false teaching is the occasion of this letter (1 Tim 3:1-11), and since false teaching influenced the women in Ephesus particularly, Paul first commands that women learn in silence and full submission in order to turn deceived women away from the false teaching and to encourage them to embrace the true gospel. Combined with this, he institutes a present prohibition against any woman seizing authority for herself to teach a man. Paul’s goal is to exclude any unauthorized woman from teaching men in the church. This prohibition does not, however, restrict teaching by authorized women, such as Priscilla, (2 Timothy 4:19), since just such teaching might be critical in influencing deceived women to reject error and embrace the truth.
Paul’s prohibition of women with self-assumed authority teaching men does not imply that he approves men teaching with self-assumed authority, particularly if they also promote false teaching. Indeed, he had already commanded certain men not to teach false doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3, 20).
There are several problems with Payne’s view. The first problem is why Paul would restrict women from teaching men but not restrict them from teaching women. No such prohibition exists against a woman from “seizing authority for herself” to teach women. Why is it that a woman must have an authorization to teach men but not have to have an authorization to teach women? It also doesn’t make sense that men are not generically forbidden to “assume authority” to teach men. Payne states that men are not approved of teaching with self-assumed authority because they had already been commanded not to teach false doctrine. The problem is that the quote from 1 Timothy 1:3 that Payne gives is not a term specific to males but an inclusive term used for people. Also the quote from 1 Timothy 1:20 that he gives was also not a command to men in general but a statement about delivering over of two specific deliberate deceivers so that they will be taught not to blaspheme. Those who do things defiantly, such as teaching error deliberately with full knowledge of the truth, are said to be blaspheming the Lord. We see this clearly in Numbers 15:30 –
Numbers 15:30 (NASB95)
30‘But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people.
Paul saw the false teaching of two specific men as blasphemy and their defiant teaching against the truth was cause to turn them over to satan. Paul did not turn those who had been deceived over to satan, but the defiant false teachers were treated in a special way. So even though Payne says that men were specifically told not to teach with self-assumed authority, the verses that Payne quotes are generic verses for false teachers, and two specific men who are teaching error in a defiant manner such that they are said to be blaspheming. There are no specific commands to males not to “assume authority” to teach men or women.
The assumption that Payne brings to his view, is that only women need to be authorized to teach males. This brings a very serious problem for Payne’s position because it makes women less than “one” with men. How are man and woman “One in Christ” if one must be authorized to teach, while the other needs no authorization? Payne shows no difference between the women who were teaching the truth and the women who were teaching error. All were required to be authorized first before they could teach men. This provides a less than “oneness” with men who are never said to need authorization to teach the truth.
Was there really a need to authorize women to teach men? Jesus speaks in Revelation 2:20 about a woman teacher:
Revelation 2:20–22 (NASB95)
20‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
21‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.
22‘Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.
Notice that Jesus said that He has this against the Church in Thyatira, that they allow the woman Jezebel, as she teaches and leads Christ’s bondservants astray. Notice that there are two things that are tolerated from Jezebel and although one is normally a good thing (to teach), in the context both “to teach” and “to lead astray” are related as evil acts. The teaching is listed as teaching Christ’s bondservants to eat things sacrificed to idols. This act of teaching error implies that she is teaching men to go against their conscience. Her related activity of leading astray is defined as leading Christ’s bondservants into sexual immorality so that they commit adultery with her.
If we took Philip Payne’s view, Christ would only be saying that Jezebel has done one thing wrong with teaching error, while the list of what she did involves two things: teaching error and leading into sexual immorality. While the two are related, they are two problems not one.
We can also notice from Jesus’ words that the Church at Thyatira is not being corrected because they allow a woman teacher. They are being corrected because they tolerate a teacher who is teaching error and they are tolerating her leading Christ’s servants into immorality. The Church is not corrected because Jezebel is teaching without proper authority from the men.
Notice also in verse 21 that Jesus gave Jezebel time to repent of her sexual immorality. He did not say that He was giving her time to repent from teaching truth to men nor did He say that He was giving her time to repent for the sin of not getting proper authority to teach. It is what she was teaching and what she was leading into that was the cause of the problems. The problem was not the fact that she was a woman nor the fact that she had not received an authority to teach men while men were home free not needing to obtain authority from men before they taught other men.
Philip Payne also states that Priscilla was able to teach because she had received the proper authority to teach and she had not taken this authority upon herself, yet he gives no verse that would show this needed authority that was given to her. The fact is that Priscilla taught because she had truth that someone else needed to hear. Apollos had a need for an expanded view of the truth and Priscilla did not withhold from him the knowledge of the truth that she had. The Bible shows that having the knowledge of the truth requires us to use this information for good.
Luke 12:48 (NASB95)
48…From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
Priscilla had the knowledge of the truth and she used it for the glory of God as she corrected Apollos. She did not need to ask men for the authority to teach Apollos since she had been entrusted with the truth by God. She used what she had been given for Apollos’ good and she used her knowledge without prejudice.
I will go through more of Philip B. Payne’s writings sometime in the future and I hope that this post has been helpful.