Some egalitarians suggest that the object “a man” in 1 Timothy 2:12 should rightfully be connected to only one verb “authentein” and that the infinitive form of the verb “to teach” was not meant to be connected to the object “man”.
Let me first state that I am an egalitarian and I appreciate men who passionately contend for women in ministry. At the same time, I am more interested in knowing what God intended in the text rather than hold to a particular party line so I am free to disagree if I believe that a view is not correct. In this post I would like to examine the view that denies that two verbs are connected to the same object in 1 Timothy 2:12. The view that I will be examining is presented by Philip B. Payne in his book Man and Woman, One in Christ An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters.
Payne’s view presupposes the view that Paul is not giving out two prohibitions, but one. I have blogged on my disagreement with that view here. On pages 354 and 355 Payne gives 5 reasons why “a man” cannot be the object of “to teach”. Payne uses a comparison to Acts 8:21 as the basis for his reasoning.
1. In point #1, Philip Payne writes that unlike Acts 8:21, the phrase I am not permitting a woman to teach does not require an object as it:
…makes sense without any addition and indeed corresponds with conventional wisdom at that time. So a typical reader would feel no need to look for a personal object for “to teach”.
In the footnote on page 354 Payne writes:
Within first-century culture, it was commonplace to prohibit women from teaching and even from being educated…Consequently, “I am not permitting a woman to teach” in its cultural milieu does not invite the addition of any qualifier, such as “a man”.
While this may be true regarding the human traditions of that day, it was not true about God’s Word. There is no such precedent in the Scriptures where God forbids women from teaching. Since this is the first time that these words are ever found in the Scripture, a reader would naturally want to know what is it about teaching (or who the teaching is to) that is forbidden. Payne points out that nowhere else in Timothy does “to teach” have a personal object, but that isn’t a relevant argument. The examples that Payne gives from 1 Timothy where additional instances of “to teach” are found, show that there are two verbs that share the same object. While Payne points out that other instances the object is not a personal object (i.e. the object of teaching is a what not a who), this means relatively little since the Scripture gives many examples of what to teach and almost no reference is made to who one is to teach, so a unique prohibition would not follow the norm. Just because the object in 1 Timothy 2:14 is a who (a man) does not disqualify the verb to teach from sharing the object.
My view is that a prohibition that is completely opposite to the freedom that we have in Christ to use our gifts would need to be qualified so that the prohibition can be understood. If a woman is forbidden to teach, the object of her teaching is important to know in order to make sense of the passage.
2. Philip Payne contends that two infinite verbs do not need to share the same object unless the two verbs are synonyms and they convey one idea. Payne gives no reference for his claim.
3. Payne contends that the verb to teach and the object a man are at opposite ends of the clause and that this reduces the likelihood of the transfer of the object to the first infinitive verb. But what Payne fails to relate is that in the Greek, words at the beginning of a sentence or clause have more prominence than words at the end so separating one of the the verbs from the object has an effect of making the verb more prominent rather than making it less likely to share the object with the second verb.
4. Payne states that the grammatical form for a man is genitive and that this is the wrong case to be attached to the infinitive verb to teach. He states that to assume that the two go together would be to assume that a genitive can be understood as an accusative and that this is disallowed in the Greek. What Payne fails to document is that in the grammatical case of a verb that shares a common object with another verb, the nearer verb is the one that will demand the case of the object. See page 364 paragraph 1634 of Greek Grammar for Colleges by Herbert Weir Smyth
5. Payne says that if we add a man to the prohibition for a woman to teach, then it is in conflict with the rest of the Bible. This is true but Payne doesn’t go far enough. If the prohibition is a universal against teaching, it is also in conflict with the rest of the Bible with or without the object. But on the other hand, if the prohibition is not universal but is specific to a specific person, the object gives more information about what is prohibited just as the following verses give the reason why there is a prohibition for the woman and lastly the expected outcome of her learning and remaining in the faith.
In the next post I will go through each part of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 to show why I have come to the conclusion that Paul’s concern is for a specific woman and a specific man and that the grammar is so specific that Paul leaves us with only one conclusion that is consistent with the grammar and the inspired words. I strongly believe that the object “a man” is to be attached to the prohibition “to teach” as the situation was not a public teaching but a private instruction by one deceived teacher.