Inconsistency in the complementarian understanding of 1 Tim. 2:11-12

Again, it seems that if a traditionalist interpretation is taken, then 1 Timothy 2:12 is a clear blanket statement that prevents a godly Christian woman from teaching true doctrine to adult men. Where does the Bible have a law prohibiting this? I believe this is a large inconsistency in the complementarian understanding of 1 Tim. 2:11-12 and inconsistency is one of the signs of a failed argument.

Instead this passage is best seen as a complete story of ignorance, unbelief, false teaching and ultimate salvation through the correct teaching of biblical doctrine that leads to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (the promised Messiah through the woman see 1 Timothy 2:15 and Genesis 3:15).

After many years of study, this is what I conclude about the meaning of this passage. This is what makes sense to me given everything in the context of verses 12 and 15. I recognize that other sincere, godly people have come to different conclusions from mine, but I think that this interpretation deserves to be given a fair hearing. To this date no one has shown me any other valid option for the “she” in 1 Timothy 2:15, nor have they shown me any scripture where God prohibited his words from being spoken through a woman. As lovers of the incarnate Word and the written word we should always try to practice consistent, contextual interpretation. In my opinion, for us to take one verse and rip it from its inspired context is to refuse to rightly divide the word of truth...

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Tim said...

Dr Ann Nyland's explanation of this passage makes a great deal of sense to me.


Phil Almond said...

In the New Testament there are 34 instances (various tenses etc.) of the verb ‘hupotasso’ which is the word translated ‘is subject’ in Ephesians 5:24. One is Ephesians 5:21, “being subject to one another in the fear of Christ”. 4 are about wives being subject to their husbands (the correct understanding of which is at the heart of the disagreement), 1 is about women learning ‘in all subjection’ and the context of the other 28 makes clear that “being subject” involves the notion of authority and/or obeying or disobeying that authority.

The church collectively and Christians individually are called upon to be subject to Christ’s authority and to obey his commands. To say that Ephesians 5:21 is the framework for understanding Ephesians 5:22-31 and so to say that husbands should be subject to their wives in symmetry with wives being subject to their husbands cannot be right, because this understanding would, because the Christ-church/husband-wife analogy is so closely coupled, depend on Christ being subject to the church in symmetry with the church being subject to Christ. This is not so. The passages often given as examples that it is so are not cases of Christ being subject to the church. So this notion of male authority in the husband-wife relationship is, because of the analogy, as inescapable as the notion of Christ’s authority in the Christ-church relationship.

In 5:22-23 wives are exhorted to be subject to their own husbands because “a man is kephale of the woman”. It does not ultimately matter what we understand by kephale. What does matter is that male kephale is the reason why wives are exhorted to be subject to their own husbands. What also matters is that in 1 Corinthians 11:3, where the context is not marriage but the church, we find the phrase “and the kephale of a woman the man”, almost exactly the same words and exactly the same meaning as Ephesians 5:23. Assuming that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and 1 Timothy, and assuming that this is common ground for both sides in this disagreement, the notion of male authority must be part of Paul’s overall thought and present in 1 Corinthians 11 as well as in Ephesians 5. And because 1 Corinthians 11:3-9 is a connected line of thought and because 11:7b-9 clearly refer to the pre-Fall situation in Genesis 1 and 2, this notion is part God’s very good pre-Fall creation.

All this has to be born in mind when we seek to understand 1 Timothy 2:11-15, 1 Timothy 3:2 and 1 Timothy 3:12.

Phil Almond


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions