The Role of Women in the Church

We are going to be dealing specifically with 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in this teaching.

Let me clarify that the belief of Spirit & Truth Fellowship International is that the Word of God as it was originally given by God is inherent; it is perfect as 2 Timothy 3:16 clearly says, “the scripture is God breathed.” Nevertheless, through time errors are there that have been introduced into Christianity. Some of these errors come through misunderstanding and some come through mistranslation.

I hope I do not have to tell you as Christians and students of the Bible that when God originally spoke Scripture and men wrote it down, it was not written in English. It was written in Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic, various languages, and these were translated into English for us. Problems have been introduced into Christianity because of mistranslation, and problems have been introduced into Christianity through misunderstanding what God has said.

In this section of 1 Timothy, and in dealing with women’s roles in the Church in general, we are going to be dealing with misunderstanding and mistranslation.

What has happened in Christianity is that women have gotten the short end of the stick. Many Christian men and even sometimes other Christian women have treated women as “lower” on God’s totem pole, if you will. Women have not been allowed to express themselves and sometimes have not been allowed to take roles of leadership in the ministry. Various reasons are there for this, and as I have said, some of those reasons are built on misunderstanding and mistranslation.

We are going to start in 1 Timothy.

1 Timothy 2:11-14
(11) A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.
(12) I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
(13) For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
(14) And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

Now, I will be the first one to admit that if these verses are properly translated and if I can understand them just from the simple reading of the text, then I would say, “Wow, you know, God really has made women of less importance in the Church. He obviously does not want them to teach. He does not want them to have authority, and so God has placed women lower than men.”

Yet, when I read Genesis, I see that this is not the way God has designed things to be. God designed women to have a role. God designed women to participate. Please go back and read Genesis.

When God made Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He said, “Let them have dominion.” It was only as a result of the Fall that man began to rule over women. It is very important that when you go back and read the early chapters of Genesis, to remember the tension that exists between reading and understanding.

God said to Eve that, “Your desire will be to your husband, and he will rule over you.” That is a fact that occurred in history that men have ruled over women. Please note that the text does not say that I, God, have designed it for men to rule over you or for men to domineer you. This is a very important point because many women have reacted against God and have walked away from the Christian Church. It is like, “if God’s going to treat me this way, then I am going to turn my back on Him.” I do not think that I need to tell you that a tremendous number of Christians, both men and women, feel that God really does not like women or that God thinks much less of women than He does of men. I think that we are going to find that this is not really true.

Physiology shows that men are bigger than women, stronger than women. Through history, men have taken advantage of that fact and have ruled over women with the power of the fist. That does not make that God’s will. In the Garden of Eden, when they were created, God said, “Let them have dominion.”

What we are going to do while we are looking at these verses, is to think them through. We are going to translate them properly. We are going to understand them properly. To understand these verses in 1 Timothy chapter two properly, and indeed to understand any verse in the Bible properly, you have to have some idea of cultural context in which this verse was written. That is very important. This is a reason why Spirit & Truth Fellowship International continues to push study and learning, for God has spoken to mankind through words.

I guess it is conceivable that God could have created an animal, say some kind of cow or something, to go walking around on the face of the earth and talking in every language about God, or God could have written about Himself in every language in the heavens, so when you looked up to the sky, you read in your own language about God, or God could have made every rock a loud speaker, and blared out about Himself, but He did not. God meets us on His terms, and we must meet Him on His terms. God communicated to us through words in a book.

The Devil has sure done a great job of tearing down the importance of speech and language and grammar and syntax. It is amazing how many Americans in this great society do not read, and yet reading and understanding geography and understanding languages and how they vary in customs and culture is all very important. How could you read in the Old Testament about the Babylonians and how they were going to do this and were going to do that without understanding where Babylon was, or who they were, or what they acted like? You miss a huge section of the text if you do not know these things. The same is true in the New Testament. We must understand the culture and the customs in which this Bible was placed.

I am going to take these five verses of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and go through them bit by bit.

1 Timothy 2:11
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.

Right away you are thinking, “There see! Men, gee, they get to go into a learning situation, and they speak up, and they voice opinions and say what they believe, but the women, boy, God wants her to walk in there, sit down, and shut up and learn from the men.”

That is not at all what is going on here. Again, I would like to say that it is because of misunderstanding verses like these that many women have walked away from God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and many women have turned to other religions, ungodliness, or turned against God because they are bitter and upset.

Other women are in the Church and they have great ministries, but they are sitting not doing anything particularly because they do not want to offend God out of disobedience. They do not want to go against what they think He wants them to do. Sometimes, too, other men and other women jump on women if they try and get involved. Some of this comes from the fact that we misunderstand these verses.

You know if I was the Devil, and I thought, “How could I make Christianity less effective? How could I really hurt God and the Christian stand?” One thing that I would do is disempower women. I would take women out of the positions to which God raised them. When God gave them a ministry, God gave them an ability, I would say, “Well, you cannot use that ministry; you cannot use that ability.”

That has been very effective. If you look around at church services, and of course, all kinds of Christian organizations do surveys, and you should know that on any given Sunday more than half of the people in churches are women. That is right, more than half of the people in churches are women; yet, in many cases, their ministries have been restricted and constricted because of people who do not understand the text. This verse is a good one.

1 Timothy 2:11
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.

Right away we are thinking, “Women are way down there on the totem pole with God.” The first thing that we need to point out here is about the culture. When Paul was writing to Timothy, where was he? Where was Timothy? 1 Timothy Chapter 1, verse 3—“As I urged you [Timothy] when I [Paul] went into Macedonia,” Macedonia is Northern Greece, so Paul here left for Northern Greece. Paul says, “When I urged you, when I went into Northern Greece [Macedonia] stay there in Ephesus.” Now we know where Timothy is. He is in Ephesus.

What do we know about Ephesus? We know that it was in the Roman Province of Asia. Just like the United States has states, Rome was broken up into provinces. Asia was a province on the western end of what we today know as Turkey. Turkey was broken up into a number of Roman Provinces, and a province on the western end of Turkey was known as Asia.

When Paul writes that all Asia heard of the Lord Jesus in two years and three months. That is the Roman Province. That is like me saying all Rhode Island or all Connecticut or all Alabama heard of the Lord Jesus in two years and three months.

It is a state, and in the case of Asia, it is a Roman Province in what we know today as Turkey and what was known in ancient times as Anatolia. If you are unfamiliar with the word, Anatolia, it is geographical and refers to ancient Turkey. It is going to come up as we look at resource books in today’s teaching.

Timothy is in Ephesus. What do we know about Ephesus? We know that it is probably the fourth largest city in the world in its day. Scholars estimated its population as well over two hundred thousand people, some as many as five hundred thousand people. In other words, as many as half a million people could be in Ephesus. It was an extremely large trading city being both on the sea routes, Ephesus had a harbor, and on the land routes. In fact, some called it the second or third largest trading city in the world at the time of the Apostle Paul.

What does that tell us? It tells us that it was a very mixed population and a very mixed religious base. Some of the population you would find there would be people from the Far East that had come to trade, people from Egypt, Syria, Israel, the Anatolian Peninsula, all over Turkey, and traders from Greece, Rome, and the British Isles.

Many kinds of religions would be there. Egyptian religions, plenty of Jews there, obviously with the Jewish religion, but of course, you would have the ancient worship of the goddesses that come from Anatolia itself. You know what was the great temple? Of course, we know even from the Bible itself of the great temple of Diana—the worship of the mother goddess and Diana, of course Artemis. Diana was the Roman name, and Artemis was the Greek name. The worshipping of the goddesses was there.

Ephesus was a very mixed place, very cosmopolitan with many cultures and religions represented. One thing that was very common to both the western type of religion, which is the Roman and the Greek, or rather the social structure—the western social structure and Jewish, was that the women just did not get the education that the men did.

We will start by looking at the Roman culture. The fact of the matter was that there were well-educated Roman women, but usually that was because some rich father hired a tutor and sent the women to school—or rather had them tutored in their home. Ephesus had educated Roman women, but by and large your average Roman woman simply did not get the education that Roman men did. That was just a matter of course. Some of that was because the Roman women would be married by the time that the men were beginning to even get into some of their deeper schooling. This fact about the education of Roman women is easy to document from any number of sources on the Roman world, so I am not going to take the time to document this.

I would like to talk about the Jewish women from Alfred Edershien’s book Sketches of Jewish Social Life because one thing that we learn is the fact that it was not just the Roman women who did not get the education that men did. It occurred in the eastern culture as well as the western culture. The following is taken from Sketches of Jewish Social Life on page 132. Alfred Edershien writes:

“Before passing to an account of elementary schools, it may be well once and for all to say that the Rabbis did not approve of the same amount of instruction being given to girls as to boys. More particularly, they disapproved of them engaging in legal studies partly, because they consider women’s mission and duties as lying in other directions and partly, because the subjects were not necessarily suitable to the other sex and partly, because of the familiar intercourse between the sexes to which such occupations would have necessarily lead, and finally, shall we say it—because the Rabbis regarded the women’s minds as not adapted for such investigations. The unkindest thing perhaps which they said on this score was ‘women are of a light mind’.”

Here, the Rabbi is teaching that women are of a light mind. It is very important to recognize this attitude in the ancient world because it reflects upon this particular verse in 1 Timothy chapter two. You see, where it says, “a women should learn in quietness and full submission,” we think that the Apostle Paul [and God who is the author] is setting a distinction between men and women; however, the fact of the matter is that in the culture and the times in which the Apostle Paul was writing, the women did not learn. They did not get the education that men did, so Paul is saying by revelation “a woman should learn”—a woman should learn.

Let us talk about “quietness and full submission.” I do not like the translation of this word as “quietness.” One thing that I have noted when I deal with women’s studies in the Bible is that a bias occurs when it comes to the way things are translated. This word “quiet” is the Greek word “hesuchia.” The Greek word “hesuchia” means “quiet” or “tranquil” or “still.” It can refer to verbal silence, but it is a contextual call. You have to read the context. Primarily it refers to quiet or tranquility. In 2 Thessalonians 3:11, Paul is writing to the Thessalonian Church, again by revelation—all scripture is God breathed (2 Tim. 3:16), so this is really the Word of the Lord to the Thessalonian Church through Paul to whom the Lord is talking.

2 Thessalonians 3:11 and 12
(11) We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; They are busybodies.
(12) Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down [be tranquil] and earn the bread they eat.

Do you see that word “hesuchia” there? Do you see that word “quietness” there? No, it is not translated quietness here. It is “settle down.”

2 Thessalonians 3:12
Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down…

To be tranquil, to stop causing a disturbance,—to be hesuchia. Is Paul telling them not to speak? No, he is not. He is telling them, do not cause problems—be tranquil, settle down.

That is exactly what he is saying in 1 Timothy chapter 2:11. It interesting that in verse 11 and in verse 12 this same word, “hesuchia” is used.

Verse 11
a woman should learn in quietness and in full submission

Verse 12
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be silent.

In verse 12 the word “silent” and in verse 11 the word “quietness” are both this word “hesuchia,” and it means that they should settle down, not cause a disturbance.

Let me ask you a question about the culturally ancient classrooms. You take a Jewish classroom, how did the boys learn? You get these little Jewish boys sitting in front of these Rabbis. How did they learn? Do you think that they caused a big disturbance in class? Do you think that they spoke up and waved their hands, threw spit balls, shot rubber bands, and did that kind of stuff? No. If you talked back to the Rabbi and caused a disturbance, you found yourself backhanded right out the synagogue door. You can read this in the Rabbinic writing—I am not going to document this, but you can document this for yourself. In the Jewish system, those boys learned in quietness and submission. They were tranquil and submissive to those Rabbis, and in the Roman schools, it was even worse. You can go back and check your Roman records; records are there where the Roman schoolmasters physically whipped the children for disobedience. You did not disobey in the Roman schools. You learned in tranquility and in submission.

The boys are already learning without causing a disturbance and in submission, if you will, quietness and full submission. So now what is Paul saying here? He is saying, “a women should learn in quietness and full submission.” If I were to put this into a modern English understanding so that the average street Christian could understand it, I would say, “a women should learn just like the men do, in quietness and full submission.”

You see, God is not making a distinction between men and women. God is coming against the culture which already makes a distinction between men and women, and He is saying, “I want it done the same way; stop not educating the women.” The women should learn just like the boys do, in quietness and full submission.

Now we have a 180-degree turn in the way this verse is usually taught because this verse is usually taught to put women down in the Church, and it should not be taught that way. That is a complete misunderstanding given the Greek and the Jewish culture of the time.

1 Timothy 2:12
I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent.

Again that word “hesuchia,” she must not cause a disturbance.

1 Timothy 2:13
For Adam was first formed then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

Right away from these two verses, I would hope that you can see there is a problem.

1 Timothy 2:12 and 13
I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was first formed then Eve.

So, the reason a woman should not teach is because Adam was formed first? That does not make any sense! And you know there is more crazy stuff that has been taught about this particular verse and the way to understand it because people say (and I have heard it said), “Well, you know women; if you let them teach, they mishandle the scriptures.”

First of all, to understand the verses and to understand what is going on, we have to go back to understanding the culture of the time. Think about the kind of people that Timothy is coming in contact with on a day-to-day basis. When Christian’s witness, who is being drawn into the Church? If you go out and witness today on the streets of your city, you are likely to run into a Newager—someone who believes in the New Age. You are likely to run into an atheist or agnostic—somebody who thinks that money is God or they are god or they ought to get to run their life their own way or there is no God. You might run into somebody who has had exposure to Eastern religions—they believe in transcendental meditation or whatever. If you know something about these religions, then you can dialogue with them. If you run into one of these people, and they are dissatisfied, and they are searching, and you tell them about salvation through Jesus Christ, and then they join in your Church, you are going to have to begin to educate them. When they first come and join your Church, they may have some pretty wild ideas about God and about life and about Jesus Christ. You know, they may have thought Jesus Christ was like the Passover Plot by Schonfield. Schonfield said that Jesus Christ never really died; he took a drug and went comatose. I certainly have read and talked to people on the streets that think that Jesus Christ really did not die; he just became comatose and then got up from the grave and ran off. You never know what people are going to believe in the fellowship—if they are new converts and if they have not studied Scripture.

It is no different now than it was over 2000 years ago. When Timothy is out on the street witnessing, he is bringing people into the fellowship, and they believe what they believe from the way that they have been taught since they were children.

What are some of those beliefs? Well, we have got two distinct strains of teaching that I want to go into today. One of those is the ancient mythology of the time. Part of the ancient mythology that Timothy was dealing with was that the original creator of the heaven and the earth was a goddess, not a god. That it was not really a creator but a creatress. That the original creatress of the universe, this goddess, was the supreme god and all deities were underneath her.

At this point, I want to quote from a book. A lot of the inspiration for this teaching and a lot of being spurred on to certain research and certain lines of thinking in this teaching came from this book. I certainly want to recommend it to you. It is by Richard Clark-Kreiger and Catherine Clark-Kreiger called I Suffer Not A Woman. It is published by Baker Book House. It was copy righted in 1992. On page 105 of their book, they write:

“In Anatolia, all life was thought to stem from the great mother.”

That is intriguing, remember our word “Anatolia.” That is Turkey. Where is Ephesus? It is in Turkey. Timothy is witnessing to people; he is bringing them into the Church. They are having their first contact with Christianity; they come to fellowship because they like the food; they like the fellowship. You know why people come to Christian Churches—some of them like the fellowship, and some of them need a friend. What are they bringing with them when they walk in the door? A number of them who come from the ancient religion of the place believe that the original creator of the heaven and earth is a goddess and that all life stems from her, even some of the imported goddesses this was true of. I am going to read an example of this from page 108 about Isis.

“The Egyptian mediator and savior goddess, Isis, at times became virtually indistinguishable from Artemis of Ephesus.”

Remember Artemis and Diana is the same god. Artemis is the Greek name and Diana is the Roman name.

“And was even addressed as Artemis-Isis. Both goddesses were lunar deities well acquainted with magic, an expert in delivery at childbirth. Indeed Isis was popular all over the Mediterranean world. She even claimed a shrine for herself at Ephesus. In Corinth, she revealed herself as “The Procreator of All That’s In Nature,” “The Mistress of All Elements,” “Her First Offspring of the Ages,” and “Paramount Among the Divine Powers.””

Here is a belief in Isis—a female goddess, who is the creator. The original creatress, if you will, of the heavens and the earth. This belief was definitely there in the ancient world.

I am going to quote from another book. This book is from Marilynn Stone, and it is entitled When God Was A Women. I read Miss Stone’s book and I think her research is compromised; her study leaves something to be desired. Miss Stone started out as a Christian, and according to what she writes in this book, she was turned off by what she was taught in churches about Eve and about what happened to Eve and about how women are low on God’s totem pole. She was turned off by that teaching. She revolted against it. She turned against God. She does not exactly say what her personal religion is, but it is definitely not Christian, definitely not biblical. In this book, she writes about her personal search. She is looking for a relationship with the creator.

She writes on page 2:

Most astonishing of all was the discovery of numerous accounts of the female creators of all existence. Divinities who were credited with bringing forth not only the first people but the entire earth and the heavens above. There were records of such goddesses in Sumer, Babylon, Egypt, Africa, Australia, and China.

Miss Stone discovers, what I guess ancient archeologists have known for some time, that many cultures believed in a goddess that created the heavens and the earth—a goddess who brought forth Adam and Eve. This was very much a part of the ancient mythology, and it is important for us to know this.

Some of this mythology was preserved and kept in the world in which Timothy lives. For example:

1 Timothy 4:7
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be Godly.

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales, rather train yourself to be Godly. Even the translation on this verse seems like a slap on women—like, old wives’ tales. What has happened in our culture today is anything that seems superstitious or behind the times or maybe does not quite make sense we say, “Oh that is just an old wives’ tale.” We get that expression from this verse, and yet, that is not at all what this verse is talking about. The first thing I would like to say is to translate the word “greodais” as “old wives” is really a mistranslation. It should be “old women” not “old wives.” It should read “old women’s tales.”

Quoting from the Kreiger’s book on page 64.

“In 1 Timothy 4:7, Timothy is told to avoid stories by old women. In antiquity, old women had a reputation for story telling. From earliest times in Anatolia,”

Again, that is where Timothy was, Asia. What we know as the Province of Asia or Turkey.

“…female religious officials known as old women kept alive the ancient myths.”

Why did Paul tell Timothy to stay away from “old women’s tales”? Because the old women were the official representatives of the ancient religions. It was the job of the “old women” as a title, an official position. It was the job of these official old women to keep alive the ancient myths. Paul writes to Timothy, “Stay away from the tales—we translate it as myths. It would have been much more accurate if this verse (1 Tim. 4:7) had been translated, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old women’s myths or mythology.” That is what he is referring to here. Stay away from this “mythology.” Again, much of this mythology that was perpetrated by these religious officials known as old women, was that the creator of the world was a women god. The creator of people was a women god, so Paul is saying, “Stay away from this.”

Another thing that we have that is part of the background of the New Testament was this mythology stuff. Part of it was Gnosticism. Gnosticism was extremely varied in its beliefs. Gnosticism was kind of like talking about Eastern religion. Gnosticism comes in a lot of different forms with a lot of different Gnostic beliefs. Some Gnostics counted themselves as Christians, and some Gnostics did not.

Gnosticism basically taught that an unknowable God existed who created everything. An unknowable God in the beginning lived alone, and this unknowable God created a hierarchy of gods. In this hierarchy of gods was the God of the Old Testament. The God of the Old Testament was a mistake, if you will. He was an evil God.

What I am teaching is from one kind of Gnosticism, please do not think that every Gnostic believed exactly this, but this is some of the basics. As Christians would have Gnostics come to Christianity, then you would end up with (even in the second century) Gnostic churches. Like today you can find gay, lesbian, and homosexual churches. You see as they react against orthodox Christian teaching that homosexuality is wrong, they make their own churches. Well, Gnostics did the same thing. They would say we want to be Christians, but we want to have our own churches.

When I talk about Gnostics, I am not saying that every Gnostic believes exactly this. You need to understand that, and if you want to understand all the in’s and out’s of Gnosticism, you can go and read several good books on it. It is very variegated and very complex, but basically you have this unknowable creator god who creates a hierarchy of gods underneath it. One of these created gods is the god of the Old Testament.

The word Gnostic comes from gnosis. Gnosis is a Greek word for knowledge. The Gnostics believed that salvation came through divine knowledge; that is why they called them Gnostics.

1 Timothy 6:20
Timothy guard what has been in trusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledg [Greek-Gnosis].

Notice how the Apostle Paul is not talking about knowledge in general. He is specifically talking about what is opposing Christianity at the time, and what was opposing Christianity at the time? One of the big opponents was Gnosticism. “Oh, salvation is not through Jesus Christ alone; it is through knowledge. Christ came to give knowledge that then we could be saved through that.” Again, this Gnosticism was a huge opponent to Christianity at the time; thus, it is important for us to learn something about Gnosticism.

I would like to quote from Mark Mattison’s book The Making of a Tradition.

“Gnosticism made its appearance at about the same time as Christianity and was its main competitor for the first few centuries. The word Gnosticism comes from the Greek work gnosis, which means knowledge.

The Gnostics or knowing ones, believed that no one else shared their special knowledge. This knowledge was not just the knowledge of given facts; it was the intimate knowledge of God, the self, and the universe. The Gnostics claim to know God as no one else did.

Bentley Latten has suggested that the word gnosis should be better-translated acquaintance. Though there were many forms of Gnosticism, only three of them concern us.”

Of course, he is writing about his book, and now he talks about various types of Gnosticism that may have been rooted in early Christianity. This was Gnosticism; it was a competitor of early Christian thinking.

While we are thinking about Gnosticism, remember that this creator god created a hierarchy of other gods. These are called Aeons. Various Greek names for these exist, like I say, many strains or varieties of Gnosticism existed, but Aeons is good for our purposes here.

By the way, many forms of Gnosticism taught that the creator god was a woman, just like the ancient mythologies taught that the creator god was a woman. A number of Aeons were taught. One of these Aeons, or spiritual beings, in this hierarchy is the God of the Old Testament.

I would like to read to you about this because it is very important that you understand how devilish Gnosticism is and what Gnosticism was bringing to the table as far as Christian theology was concerned. I am going to read again from Mark Mattison’s book The Making of a Tradition. He says on page 37:

“Gnostics speculated about numbers and enumerated several beings begotten by the heavenly triad and its parent. For example, in The Secret Book of John we are told that the Parent of the Entirety produced Forethought, who in turn requested that ten other beings be made. Christ, the Divine Self-Originate, was also produced, and he begat the four Luminaries, who begat twelve other divine beings. One of these beings was Wisdom, who accidentally produced an imperfect son, the arrogant Creator of the earth and God of the Old Testament. A second century writer, Irenaeus, tells us more about this Creator God.”

I am going to quote from Irenaeus, but first let me say that because Gnosticism became such a thorn in the side to the early Christians, many of the early Christian writers wrote about Gnosticism to try and defeat it, if you will, to try and warn Christians about it.

Irenaeus writes
Moreover they [the Gnostics] relate that it stole great power from its mother…

Now remember that the mother of this creator god is known as Wisdom.

Irenaeus writes
…And that it retreated from her into the lower region, and made a firmament of heaven, in which—they say—it also dwells. And since it was in (a state of) lack of gnosis, it made those which are in its charge—authorities, angels, and firmaments, and all earthly things. Next—they say—it united with arrogance, and bore evil, jealousy, envy, discord, and desire.

Do you see what is going on here? Agnosticism is making the creator god a lesser god and an evil god. I am going to quote from Mystery Religions of the Ancient World by Miss Godwin. She writes on page 84:

“The most radical tenant of Gnosticism is that the world is a stupendous mistake created by a foolish or vicious Creator God. This Creator or Demiurge is a God of very low grade on the celestial hierarchy. Himself being the result of an error, who thinks that he is supreme. His pride and incompetence has resulted in a sorry state of the world as we know it and in the blind and ignorant condition of most of mankind. The Gnostic however is not fooled…”

Remember, Gnostic is the knowing one. He is not fooled by what the Bible says about the wonderful Creator God.

“Although like every man he suffers under the tyranny of this monster. He knows that far above the Demiurge there is another God. He believes more-over that humanity is not without hope of reaching this True God, whom the Demiurge does his best to hide both from his self and from his subjects.

In respect to Judaism, the Gnostics turn the whole Old Testament upside down. Jehovah is the wicked Demiurge and the whole testament is the story of his tyranny and egotism as conferred upon a people who were tricked into worshiping him as the supreme God. An emissary of the True God appeared to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as the serpent and taught them what wisdom they could learn before Jehovah expelled them into utter darkness of ordinary life.”

Do you see what is going on here? According to Gnosticism, the Old Testament God is wicked and the serpent is the hero.

“Thereafter, all the villains of the Jewish history, Cain, Esau, the Sodomites, etc… become heroes for resisting his persecution. The advent of Christ was recognized by the later Gnostics as a cosmic event of the utmost magnitude. For at the baptism, there entered into the body of Jesus of Nazareth the direct influence of the True God. Christ is his son, not Jehovah’s.”

You get that Christ does not become the Son of God of the Old Testament; he becomes the Son of this True God.

“And a God in his own right from a level far above the Demiurge. He descended to teach men the only thing that will get them out of their appalling predicament, knowledge of the true state of affairs.”

From Gnosticism, what we understand is that a high God exists, and he creates a hierarchy of gods. The God of the Old Testament, what we call Jehovah, is the wicked horrible God, and the serpent was an emissary of the True God coming to bring knowledge, so when Eve listened to the serpent, she was not tricked. Adam who listened to the True God was tricked, but Eve who listened to the serpent was not tricked.

This is very important. This is Gnosticism turning Christianity upside down.

This idea about the True God entering the body of a man, or the True God sending an emissary who entered the body of a man was one way the Gnostics handled Jesus Christ. Another way was that Jesus Christ was a phantom, a plasma, like a ghost. He just looked like he was real. He wasn’t really real. And it’s believed, and I believe accurately so, that that’s why John is opening the Epistle to 1 John which says:

1 John
That which we have seen and heard and our hands have handled…

Many Gnostics believe that Christ was like a phantom. He looked like he was there, but he was not really there.

Or why John writes also
If you do not say that Christ has come in the flesh, you are not of God.

Many Gnostics would never say that Christ would come in the flesh.

It is very important to understand that what is happening here in Gnosticism, in the Garden of Eden, is that the serpent is supposed to be this wonderful good representation of knowledge, and again, I will let you read more on Gnosticism about that aspect.

We need to know some other things. Some Gnostics believed that life came from the female, and the Kreigers’ write about this on page 110 of their book. It is important that you get a feel for this and remember also that salvation in the Gnostic world came through knowledge. On page 122 of their book the Kreigers’ write:

“Most Gnostic accounts show Eve as pre-existing Adam. In one account, she’s actually the hermaphrodite from whom Adam is drawn.”

It is important for you to understand that in ancient mythologies many of them taught that women created men. Even Gnostics believed that women created men, and these people were being witnessed to, and they were brought into the Christian Church.

Salvation was by knowledge, and again by special knowledge. Remember that the creator god created a hierarchy of gods and then above the earth because this evil Demiurge had created his own staff—remember arrogance, evil, and all that stuff, that when you die and your soul is released—remember that it was a very common belief in the Greek world that the body was simply like a shell that housed the real you that was the soul, and that the soul would, upon your death, then migrate out of your body.

Gnostics believed that the soul tried to get back to this True God. That salvation then would be by getting back to this True God, and you would have to pass through, it would be like going through layers of an onion, because all these different gods control different positions above the earth.

On page 174 the Kreigers’ write:

“We’ve already noted that most Gnostics viewed the material universe as evil and the result of mistaken activity. Light from the highest God had descended through lower powers sometimes known as Arcons or we called them Aeons who would entrap the divine spark in human beings. The human soul was surrounded with a series of vestments which must be shed as one passed through the realms between earth and heaven. These realms were viewed as concentric rings each controlled by an Arcon. In order to pass through a sphere guarded by a particular Arcon, one must know its name and the proper magic charm by which to gain passage through its domain. The objective was to return the divine light particles to their original source to restore completeness to the high God.”

Paul writes:

1 Timothy 1:3 and 4a
(3) As I urged you, when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrine any longer,
(4) nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.

Why would people devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies? If you believed that your soul could not be saved, that your soul would not be allowed to pass through the realms where the Arcons control to get back to the high God, if you believed that you could not ascend through these shells to the realm of the high God unless you knew the magical incantations and the genealogies of the Arcons, if you really believed that you needed to be saved to know that, then you would set about memorizing. Look what people do now all over the face of the earth to be saved, all the different kinds of works that they go through. People do all kinds of wild things to get saved, and if you believed that you could not be saved unless you knew what to tell these various Arcons and their genealogies, you would devote yourselves to that too.

Talking about women, verse 14 says:

1 Timothy 5:14 and 15
(14) I counsel your widows to marry, to have children, to manage their own homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.
(15) Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

They have turned away to follow Satan. This could very well be, and I believe that it is a reference to the fact that in a lot of these female religions, and in a lot of Gnosticism, Satan became a benefactor.

Remember, the Old Testament God is this mean-nasty God who tries to hide the truth, but Satan is the great emissary of the Lord, the true God. All this wrong doctrine entered because of Gnosticism.

We need to cover one more thing about Gnosticism, and then I am done, and you can research much more about it on your own.

Gnostics were opposed to childbearing—not every Gnostic, but many Gnostics were opposed to childbearing. Why? Because when you became pregnant, then what happened is that you created another body. But where did the soul come from? Where did that life spark come from? Well, that life spark had to come from the true God—way up there at the top, so that what happens is that you, through your ignorance in childbearing, have caused a piece to break off the true God, if you will, so many of the Gnostics believe that women could not ascend back to the true God until they gathered up all the sparks, if you will, or pieces that they were responsible for breaking off the real God. On page 175 the Kreigers’ write:

“This group [the Gnostics] also told the story of the prophet Elijah. When he was taken up from the earth, he was rejected and thrown back into the evil world. Dyamon took hold of him and insisted that she had had children from him. And you cannot go up and leave our children here. The holy man protested that this was impossible in view of his chaste and religious life. The Dyamon replied, “Indeed frequently, when you had an emission in your dreams, I received sperm from you and bore sons to you.”

Of course, this is footnoted in the Gnostic literature.

“Thus it is that the procreating of children may keep even Elijah from entering in to heaven. Though he was taken up in a chariot of fire, he was cast aback because his purported children still anchored him to the earth. To bring a child into the world was to create a serious spiritual impediment.”

Many Gnostics believed then that if you brought children into the world that you were not free to ascend to the true God once you died, but your soul would be kept down here by the evil Arcons.

With this background and understanding of the mythology of the time that Paul was writing and of the Gnosticism that was running around at the time that Paul was writing, we can now go to 1 Timothy and take another look.

1 Timothy 2:11
A women should learn just like the man without causing a disturbance and in full submission.

1 Timothy 2:12
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

The word silent is the word hesuchia, and it means tranquil. She is not to cause a disturbance.

1 Timothy 2:13
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

Now the problem in verse 12 is the phrase “have authority over.” This is the Greek word “authentane.” Authentane is translated in every version that I have looked at something like, “have authority over, dominion over, not to usurp authority from.” This is the way authentane is usually handled. In deference to many people who have tried to study these verses on their own, I will say that it has been very difficult to get to the truth.

You see, lexicographers, people who build lexicons like Bullinger, like Vine, like others, many times when they are studying a word they do not include all the definitions of the word. They only include the definitions of the word that they think actually fit. For example, if you try to study this word in Bullinger or Vine, you do not get all the information that you need to be able to handle it.

This is from the Expanded Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament Words. When you look up authentane, which starts on page 81 of his book, and it is actually authenteo, which is the verb root or the “lemma,” as we say.

They say:

Authenteo:
– To usurp authority, revised version, to have dominion
– In the earlier usage of the word, it signified one who with his own hand killed others or killed himself.
– Later it came to denote one who acts on his own authority, hence to exercise authority or dominion.

Well now, all of that is true, but it is not all that there is in the truth. Again, I have to credit the book by the Kreigers, I Suffer Not A Woman, to opening my eyes to the expanded definition of authentane; however, I will say, for example, like Thayer in his lexicon, it has a more complete definition of authentane.

As I read the Kreigers’ book, they listed the definitions of authentane as these four:

(1) to begin something, to be primarily responsible for a condition or action
(2) to rule or dominate
(3) to usurp power or right of another
(4) to claim ownership, sovereignty or authorship

Of course, when I saw this definition, immediately, I went to my Bullinger and my Vine, and I looked it up, and of course they did not agree. I was like, “Where in the world did the Kreigers get this definition for authentane?” Here I am looking in two of my lexicons, and they do not agree.

When I went to my Thayer’s Lexicon, Thayer had a little more of an expanded understanding, and Thayer among his definitions includes:

(1) one who with his own hand kills others or himself
(2) one who does a thing himself, the author
(3) one who acts on his own authority, autocrat
(4) to govern one, exercise dominion over one

Thayer includes in his definition the understanding that authenteo [authentane] includes the understanding of “being the author of,” so what I did then was that I went to my Liddel and Scott Greek-English Lexicon. Now at this point, I left biblical lexicons. Biblical lexicons specifically deal with biblical words, but as you know, many secular books are written in Greek, Homer and Xenophon, all these guys who wrote in Greek. We have lexicons that are not biblical lexicons, and some of the definitions listed in Liddel and Scott for authenteo were…

(1) to have full power or authority over
(2) to commit a murder, to murder a family member
(3) to be the perpetrator of
(4) to be the author of
(5) used when something was original or authentic

Of course, that is usually what we think when we think of authentic or authenteo; we think of something original or authentic. Now, all of a sudden when I look at verse twelve:

1 Timothy 2:12
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

Now I have got a much broader range of meanings from which to choose.

Let me ask you a question. When you are reading the Bible and a word comes up that you do not know what it means and you need a reference point, where do you get that reference point? You get it from two places:

(1) You can study other places where this word has been used in the Bible to try and get a basic understanding of the word.
(2) You can get it from the context.

Authenteo or authentane here in 1 Timothy 2:12 is an interesting word; it does not appear anywhere else in the Bible. It does not appear anywhere else in the New Testament. It does not appear anywhere in the entire Greek Old Testament. This word is a true one-time occurrence. It appears only here, so from Greek usage then I would have to go to my Liddel and Scott Lexicon and find all the different possible usages of the word, and then I have to read the context to determine which meaning fits. It is true that authenteo means, “to have dominion over.” It is also true that authenteo means, “to claim authorship of.” Which one of these two would fit?

Of course, I will turn you to the Kreigers’ book for a much more lengthy discussion. We are just going to take a look at the two main interpretations—the one that almost every Bible takes, and the one that I am going to take.

If I’m going to use the definition “to exercise dominion over,” then something in the context ought to validate that decision, and what I state is that nothing is present in the context to validate that decision. It says that a woman should not have authority over a man. Why, because a man was created first? That does not make any sense, but what if I take the definition “to claim authorship of”? What if I say that I do not permit a woman to teach or claim authorship of man; she must be tranquil; she must not cause a fight, for Adam was first formed. Now, I have something that fits.

What were the women teaching that were brought into the Christian Church? They were teaching that a woman was the creator of man. First of all, a woman god created the whole world, and then in many cases both in Gnostic and ancient mythology, they believed and taught that Adam, himself, was created by Eve, and you can document that yourself in the Gnostic writings.

We have these pagans and Gnostics being converted into the Christian Church and what do they teach? They teach that Adam was created by Eve, and Paul says, “Look, I want the women to learn just like men do, but I do not permit a woman to claim authorship of man, for Adam was first formed then Eve.”

Now, if you see where this is flowing, what I want to do at this point is I want to anchor in the part about “teach.”

1 Timothy 2:12
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority…

Again, I am not going to take the time here to do all the Greek work for you, but the word “or”—to teach or, the word “or” is the Greek word “uday,” and it can be disjunctive or connective.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. This is very common; this is the way language works. We do this in English all the time. If I say to you, “I do not permit you to teach or jump off high buildings,” then I am forbidding two things. I am forbidding you to teach, and I am forbidding you to jump off high buildings.

However, if teach and another word are linked in your understanding, then I can forbid one thing. Let me make this clearer. If I say to you, “I do not permit you to teach or discuss higher mathematics.” In that phrase in English, I am not saying that you cannot teach and you cannot discuss higher mathematics as in two separate things. I am saying you cannot teach or discuss higher mathematics. You can go out and teach something else. You can discuss something else, but you cannot teach or discuss higher mathematics.

We have a situation where the word or has almost become conjunctive in the sense that it connects teach and discuss into one idea. That is what is happening here in 1 Timothy when Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach uday authentane.” What he is saying is that I do not permit a woman to teach or claim authorship of man. He is not saying that women were not allowed to go into a church and teach. No, there were women who taught in the Church.

Let’s look at translational bias. I will give you an example of translational bias. Let us go to Romans Chapter 16. We are going to come back to 1 Timothy 2:12, but it is important to understand that women had authority in the early Church.

Romans 16:1
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the Church in Cenchrea.

Your version probably reads something like that.

If you have an NIV, like I do, then you have a text note on the word servant which says, “or deaconess.”

You know what is intriguing about this? It is the exact same word that in Timothy is translated “deacon.” Phoebe is a woman. It is a female name. In this verse, the translators say she is a servant, but the Greek word is the word for deacon. By the way, it is not even feminine in the Greek texts. It is masculine.

Is it true that a deacon is a servant? Yes, but I would say, “look” if you are going to translate the word deacon of the men in Timothy and Titus, then translate it deacon here.

You are seeing translational bias, we translate this servant in Romans because we do not want to say, “Well, surely she did not have the full authority of a deacon, so we will translate it servant.” It is the exact same word translated deacon over in Timothy and Titus, and it is even in the masculine despite my NIV text note reading deaconess, of course, they do that to let you know, I guess, that she is a woman, although it says “our sister Phoebe” which is clear enough.

What is my point? Women did have authority in the Church. According to Corinthians, they did speak up; they did prophesy in the Church, so they would have taught in the Church.

The Apostle Paul is here, and he is trying to get the women involved. He is trying to break the mold of the culture, both the Jewish culture and the Roman culture. He says, “Look, I want the women to learn just like the men, but I do not permit a woman to teach or claim authorship of man. She must be in conformity. She must be tranquil.” Do not go around teaching that Eve created Adam. Why? “For Adam was first formed then Eve.” That is very clear in the biblical account. “And Adam was not the one deceived.”

Who is teaching that Adam was deceived? Gnostics—the Gnostics were teaching that Adam was deceived by this wicked, mean, horrible Creator God of the Old Testament, but Eve was not deceived. She believed the serpent, the emissary of the True God. You see, Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

1 Timothy 2:15
But women will be saved through childbearing…

The word “through” here could be better translated “in the circumstance of.” It is not that you are saved through childbearing like the way you are saved is by childbearing, but it is, dia in the genitive is “in the circumstance of.” I think some versions do translate it “in childbearing,” which may be a better translation; in fact, it would be a better translation than “through childbearing” because what were the Gnostics teaching? Uh-oh, you have had a child; you cannot be saved now. Why, because you have had a child, and that is going to anchor your soul to the earth.

Can you imagine the distress that some of these women were feeling? “Oh gosh, I have just recently learned this, and now look, I have made a mess of my life; I have had all these children! Who knows what will happen to my soul?”

That was Gnostic teaching that was prevalent in the Church. That is why Paul has to write things like, “Do not devote yourself to endless genealogies and avoid Gnosis.” 1 Timothy 6:20 and 21 – avoid it, stay away from it, and avoid the mythology of the old women’s myths.

You see, Paul says, “Look; women will be saved even in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with propriety, so childbearing is not something that anchors your soul to the earth.”

At this point, we should have a completely different understanding of these verses, and a completely different understanding of what Paul and God are trying to do, and it is important to understand this for a number of reasons.

First of all, women should have an active role in the Church. Remember, this teaching is on women’s role in the Church. They should stand up and fulfill their ministry in the Church. God gave every Christian a ministry—Ephesians 4 and Romans 12. Every Christian has a ministry, and women are Christians. The Scripture is clear. There is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus, yet all over Christendom women are put down by men, put down by other women, and in many cases feel badly about God, and then many of them unfortunately even turn away from God, become very angry, become bitter against God and attack the Bible and attack God and attack Jesus Christ. A lot of this is through mistranslation and misunderstanding. Misunderstanding, like we misunderstand that when the Bible says that women should learn in quietness and full submission—we do not see that statement as an elevation of the situation because women were not learning; instead, we see that statement as a put down to women that they should learn differently from men. Also, when it comes to translating as we see here with the various choices that the translators had of authenteo, they chose “have authority over,” instead of “claim authorship of,” yet I think the context of Timothy and the culture from which Timothy came would dictate that “claim authorship of” is a much better translation of authenteo then “to have authority over.”

I want to take one final look at these scriptures. Even the translational bias that we saw in Romans chapter 16 where Phoebe is not called a deacon; but called a servant. In this teaching, I want to encourage you men who have thought that women cannot teach and have kept women from positions of authority in the Church. I want to encourage you to rethink your position and take a good look at Scripture here. I want to encourage you women to take a stand forward and realize that God has given you a ministry. God wants you to learn. God wants you to teach. God wants you to stand on the Word of God—stand up in the churches as you represent more than half of the people who come to churches anyway, so you stand up and start working for the Lord and obeying the voice of the Lord doing what he tells you to do. Understand this kind of mistranslation and what has happened and do not be angry at God or the Lord. It is not their fault. The Greek is fine; it is we who have mistranslated it and misunderstood it through time.

Again in reading these verses—

A woman should learn just like the men do without causing a big disturbance in the Church and in submission to their teachers. I do not permit a woman to teach or claim authorship of man. She must be in conformity, for Adam was first formed then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner, but women will be saved even in the midst of childbearing (even in the circumstance of childbearing) if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety.

This, I believe, is the way these verses should be translated, and I trust that the proper understanding of this translation will produce a tremendous freedom in women to step forth and teach and speak up and fulfill the ministry that God has given them.

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2 comments

  1. I am a believer of the Bible and this issue is being currently discussed in my local church here in Nigeria, West Africa. I should say that your investigative discuss here will help many like me who have been confused for long now on this issue. Though I believe that there is a limit to the office of a woman in the church. Yet women have ministries they ought to fufil in the vineyard of God. As we shall all give account of our works before God whether man or woman. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful teaching. I’ve wanted to lead my family in fellowship as my husband is uncomfortable with this and he would like me to. I’ve always felt like I’m not supposed to because I’m a woman but also felt that this can’t be right. You explained it so well. My family craves learning more about God but there are no fellowships anywhere near here so our only option is this. I feel like God just keeps putting it on my heart to lead a family fellowship time.

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