1 Timothy 2:12 "Domineering?"

B. Ward Powers bwpowers at optusnet.com.au
Sat Jan 11 14:54:11 EST 2003

Memo Joel.

At 08:56 PM 030110 -0500, Joel Thomas Banks wrote:
>In reading Carroll D. Osburn's "Women in the Church, Reclaiming the Ideal"
>(ACU Press, 2001) I noticed a different take on 1 Timothy 2:12 which has
>bearing on discussion on this verse in October, 1996. Quoting from page
>  "It is easy to understand how 2:12 could be read in English with the
>conclusion that a woman is never to teach a man or be in a position of
>authority over a man. However in the Greek text, the verb "domineer" (NEB,
>"have authority" RSV NIV) qualifies "teach" and specifies what kind of
>teaching is prohibited.(102) It is not that these women are "teaching" per
>se, but specifically that they are "teaching domineeringly" that annoys

There is an implication here that the passage in 1 Timothy 2 is referring 
to women in general in relation to men in general. This is indeed the way 
that most commentators and translators appear to take it. To the contrary, 
the conclusion which I am led to from assessing the Greek text in the wider 
context of biblical teaching is that 1 Timothy 2:8-15 is referring to the 
husband-wife relationship (the concept of headship/subordination) which is 
discussed quite extensively in the NT, rather than to the idea that it 
speaks about ALL women teaching ALL men (in any manner whatsoever). The 
words ANHR and GUNH used in this passage are in the singular, can equally 
well be translated and understood as "husband" and "wife", and are so 
translated in the parallel passage (which has much in common with this one) 
of 1 Peter 3:1-7, and the closely related passage (on my interpretation) 
Ephesians 5:22-33.

If one recognizes that 1 Timothy 2:8-15 is referring to the issue of 
marital headship and subordination, one finds many NT passages which 
further elucidate this issue and clarify its meaning. If one takes this 
passage as referring instead to men in general and women in general (i.e. 
relationship between the sexes in ministry in the church) one goes against 
the ANHR/GUNH parallel with 1 Peter 3, against the fact that both these 
words here in the Greek are in the singular, against the context (for there 
is nothing in verses 8-15 which indicate a reference to the church as 
distinct from home and family); and in what it is taken to mean it is left 
as unique in all Scripture. By this "everybody" interpretation, Paul's 
teaching in this verse is made to contradict 2 Timothy 2:2 where the 
apostle explicitly says to Timothy that "the things you have heard me say 
in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people (ANQRWPOS, 
both men and women) who will also be qualified to teach others".

I have set this out in full detail in my book "The Ministry of Women in the 
Church" (SPCK Australia, 1996); see also the article "Women in Church 
Leadership" in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol 4 page 1099.

There is much to be said in favour of understanding the Greek of 1 Timothy 
2:8-15 as referring to the husband/wife/home situation. Then verse 12 is 
seen as saying that the wife is not to "domineer" over her husband. It's a 
headship issue.

Ward Powers

Rev Dr B. Ward Powers        Phone (International): 61-2-8714-7255
259A Trafalgar Street          Phone (Australia): (02) 8714-7255
PETERSHAM  NSW  2049      email: bwpowers at optusnet.com.au
AUSTRALIA.                         Director, Tyndale College

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