Paul's First Epistle to Timothy, Part 2: Gender Roles in Apostolic Christianity

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Paul's First Epistle to Timothy, Part 2: Gender Roles in Apostolic Christianity

This program is subtitled Gender Roles in Apostolic Christianity, which is a discussion for the end of the presentation. We wanted to subtitle it When All is not ALL, and that is a theme as we present the opening verses of 1 Timothy chapter 2. We opted for the subtitle which we did only because of the current war against traditional gender roles in modern society which is now coming to a crescendo. In the end, God will not be mocked. There are only two genders, and they are determined by the biology of one’s birth. Those genders are given peculiar roles assigned to them byt the Creator, and in the end they will once again assume those roles. Everything else is a sickness spawned by the minds of devils.

Paul of Tarsus having had both Timothy and Titus (the Titus Justus of Corinth) in his company for long periods of time, which is evident in Acts chapters 16 through 18 and in various of his other epistles, we may be confident that these men had learned first-hand how Paul believed that a Christian assembly should be organized, and how Christians should conduct themselves in their daily lives and interactions with one another and with the world outside. We may also imagine that these pastoral epistles among Paul’s letters are very likely not the only epistles which Paul had written to his younger companions, but rather, that they are the only ones which survived.

As we have already discussed at length, at the time that he wrote this first epistle to Timothy, Paul had recently written the pastoral epistle to Titus, who was in Crete, where he evidently reiterated certain things as a reinforcement for Titus to convey to the Cretans. Ostensibly, Paul may have known from others what things were lacking among the Cretans. Now here in 1 Timothy, Paul repeats certain things he had recently related to Titus, and in even greater detail. Evidently, the Christian assembly at Ephesus may have been in even greater disarray, after the trouble with the silversmiths, than Titus had faced in Crete. So with Paul’s instructions to Timothy, ostensibly reinforcing his teaching in areas in which he felt the Ephesians were wanting, are more comprehensive and of greater scope than what he had written to Titus.

We must also bear in mind that Paul writes Timothy here hoping that Timothy conducts his ministry in the city until Paul can return at some point in the near future, which we learn in chapter 3 of the epistle. It seems that Paul had planned on returning to Ephesus some time after his planned visit to Corinth. But for reasons which we may only conjecture, Timothy does not remain, and travels to Paul in Nicopolis the same winter. From here, Timothy remained with Paul until his arrest in Jerusalem, they avoided stopping in Ephesus during that journey, and Paul was ultimately sent to Rome. But Timothy was first released, as Paul stated in his epistle to the Hebrews, which we are confident was written from imprisonment in Caesareia.

Now we will explain some of the things that happened subsequently, which we did not discuss when we presented chapter 1 of this first epistle to Timothy: It is evident that some time while Paul was in prison, and after his own release, Timothy did return to Ephesus. But he evidently did not remain there. Several years later he went to Rome to visit Paul and stayed with him as Paul wrote his final epistles. When Paul wrote his epistle to the Ephesians from Rome, Timothy was not yet there with him. So Paul must have written his second epistle to Timothy just after this time, and Paul begs him to come to him. After Timothy arrives in Rome, together they write Paul’s final epistles to the Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.

When Paul wrote 2 Timothy asking Timothy to come to him in Rome, he indicated in chapter 1 that Timothy was knowledgeable of things happening in Ephesus, but not necessarily that Timothy was in Ephesus. When Paul wrote to the Ephesians themselves, just before writing 2 Timothy, Timothy was not mentioned in the epistle. Then in chapter 4 of 2 Timothy, Paul stated “Now I have sent Tychicus to Ephesos”, as Tychicus had delivered the recently-written epistle to the Ephesians. This does not seem to be a statement that Paul would make if Tychicus were sent to Ephesus while Timothy was there, so Timothy must have been somewhere else in Anatolia, as Paul then says to him “Coming, bring the cloak which I left behind in the Troad with Karpos, and the books - especially the parchments.” Now, Paul had already told Timothy a little earlier in that chapter that “You must be eager to come to me quickly.” So again, if Timothy were in Ephesus, he would go far out of his way to go through the Troad in order to make a voyage to Rome. It is more likely that Timothy was in the Troad, or in some place where the Troad would be along the necessary route to Rome. So from these several circumstances it seems that Timothy did not stay in Ephesus long after Paul wrote the first epistle to him, and that much later in their ministry, he was not in Ephesus at all when Paul wrote his second epistle to him. We say these things because these facts challenge the general belief that Timothy remained the bishop of Ephesus for his career, when in reality it seems that Ephesus was only a portion of Timothy’s concerns.

Resuming our commentary on this first epistle to Timothy with chapter 2, Paul commences by reiterating many facets of sound Christian conduct, illustrating a general model of conduct for both Christians and the leaders of Christian assemblies. Paul had begun the instructions which he is about to give towards the end of chapter 1 with the statement “I commit this command to you, child Timotheos, in accordance with those prophecies which have led the way before you, that by them you may soldier a good battle,” so we see what sort of behavior it is that Paul deems necessary for a Christian soldier to conduct himself with. We also see that the Christian soldier is fighting the same battle that the Old Testament saints had failed to fight, having sold themselves into sin, and for which they were punished upon having gone astray, which is the only story that is found in the prophets. Paul then made a parenthetical remark concerning certain men that had fallen short in his time, and reminded Timothy of the suffering that they may also expect to face in this life for having also gone astray. Now he begins his exhortation:

1 I encourage [D has “you must encourage”] first of all to make supplications, prayers, petitions, givings of thanks in behalf of all men,

When interpreting the epistles of Paul of Tarsus, we must be very careful not to jump to conclusions about any specific phrase or passage, but instead to weigh the meanings of all of Paul’s statements against what things he had taught throughout his letters. For instance, here at the end of chapter 1 Paul had just prayed for Humenaios and Alexandros, whom he had “surrendered to the Adversary in order that they would be disciplined, not to blaspheme.” Likewise, in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul had asked the assembly there to pray on behalf of himself and his companions, “that we should be protected from those disgusting and wicked men, since the faith is not for all.”

Therefore it is evident here, that by “all men” Paul must be referring to all pious, god-fearing men, and not merely for any and every adult male. Paul shows in 2 Thessalonians that he would not pray for the enemies of Yahweh, but only for his own deliverance from them. This is something that he also exhibited elsewhere, such as in his first epistle to the Thessalonians where he referred to “those who killed both Prince Yahshua and the prophets, and banished us, and are not pleasing to Yahweh, and contrary to all men.” If this wicked race of men are not in the category of “all men” in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, then we should not imagine Paul to be including them here in 1 Timothy chapter 2. Where Paul speaks of men, of course he is referring to the Adamic race alone as he himself explicitly uses the term for man in Romans chapters 5 and 8, or in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Of course we cannot offer the entire proof here, but it is demonstrable from Scripture and history that the Adamic race is the White race, and only they alone are addressed in the promises and covenants of Scripture. To add anyone else is to use the term in a context other than Paul himself had consistently used it, and that is also dishonest. Paul then extends his call for prayer:

2 in behalf of kings and all of those who are in preeminence, in order that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all piety and reverence.

Note that Paul does not encourage prayer for worldly rulers for the sake of the rulers themselves, but only for the sake of the assembly of Christians, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all piety and reverence.” So Paul encourages prayer for rulers so that Christians are not persecuted. As it says in Proverbs chapter 29: “2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Paul had likewise explained in Romans chapter 13 that tyrannical government is a punishment from Yahweh God, so that He may punish the wicked.

For this Paul concludes:

3 This is good and acceptable before Yahweh our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be preserved and to come into full knowledge of truth.

Again, the term “all men” is fixed in its meaning throughout Paul’s epistles. In 2 Timothy chapter 3 Paul warns of certain men who for their sin and their pride are “7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The apostle Peter, in chapter 3 of his second epistle, made a statement similar to that of Paul here, but more explicitly narrows the intended scope where he said “9 The Prince does not delay the promise, as some regard delay, but has forbearance for us, not wishing for any to be destroyed but that all should have space for repentance.”

Repentance was the offer made to the children of Israel to turn from their sins and return to God in Christ. One place this is made is in Ezekiel chapter 18, which was written long after the Assyrian deportations of the House of Israel: “29 Yet saith the house of Israel, [This is a dialogue between God and Israel:] The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal? 30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” Repentance is only relative to the children of Israel, as Paul explained in Romans that “sin is not imputed when there is no law”, and the law was given only to the children of Israel.

Likewise Paul wrote in 2 Timothy chapter 2 that servants of God must act: “25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” The devil to whom Paul refers are that same class of wicked men he condemns in his epistles to the Thessalonians. Peter also warned that “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

So the knowledge of the truth is a knowledge of the truth in God, which was promised to the children of Israel in the writings of the prophets. Thus we read in Jeremiah chapter 33 where the Word of Yahweh says: “6 Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. 7 And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. 8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.” Now Paul continues in that same light, to reveal the truth of which he speaks:

5 For Yahweh is One, and one mediator of Yahweh and men: a man Yahshua Christ, 6 who gave Himself up a ransom for all, the proof in proper times.

The last phrase here appears in the King James Version as “to be testified in due time”, however the word is not a verb but a noun, μαρτύριον (Strong’s # 3142), which may be a testimony, proof or evidence. The Mediator is the testimony, or proof, of which Paul speaks. The Codex Sinaiticus (א) has “and a proof in proper times”, the Codex Alexandrinus (A) wants the words rendered “the proof”; the Codex Claromontanus (D) has “who is the proof given in proper times”.

The proof in proper times seems to be an assertion that the appearance of the Messiah was in accordance with the 70-Weeks prophecy of Daniel, and therefore Yahweh God had deemed that to be the appropriate time of His sacrifice on behalf of the children of Israel, even though their seven-times period of punishment under worldly governments was not yet complete. As the prophets allude, and as the Revelation proclaims, a second manifestation is necessary for Him to take vengeance upon His enemies and secure Israel His bride for Himself. So Paul says that the incarnation of Christ was a proof, a testimony or an evidence of the purpose of God. He was the proof of the surety of the covenant.

As Christ Himself said, as it is recorded in both Matthew chapter 20 and Mark chapter 10, “45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Likewise the Word of Yahweh said concerning the children of Israel in Hosea: “14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” Here Paul informs us that Yahshua Christ is that ransom, and Yahweh being One, Yahshua Christ must be Yahweh God incarnate who said “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death”. In Isaiah chapter 45 the Word of Yahweh God referred to Himself as “a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.” If Christ is not God, then the entire Scriptures are false. If Yahshua Christ is God Incarnate, then the Scriptures are true and all of the contenders and trinitarians are liars.

Paul explained in Galatians, and several times in his epistle to the Hebrews, that Yahshua Christ was the mediator of the New Covenant. Certain Sophists attempt to use those statements to prove that somehow Yahshua Christ is not Yahweh incarnate. However they are placing their own worldly limitations on the concept of this Mediator. Yahweh God the Father chose to be His Own Mediator as He was incarnate as Yahshua the Messiah, and although in times past He had chosen to interact with men in different manifestations, there is nevertheless only One God. So Paul calls Him in chapter 1 of this epistle, “the king of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only God”, and in chapter 3 says that He “has been manifest in flesh, justified in Spirit, has appeared to messengers, has been proclaimed among nations, is believed in the Society, taken up in splendor.” Paul likewise wrote in Hebrews chapter 2, “16 For surely not that of messengers has He taken upon Himself, but He has taken upon Himself of the offspring of Abraham, 17 from which He was obliged in all respects to become like the brethren, that He would be a compassionate and faithful high priest of the things pertaining to Yahweh to make a propitiation for the failures of the people.” If, as Paul describes, Yahweh God made a conscious decision to “take upon Himself the seed of Abraham” and “become like the brethren”, then he must be Christ. All of these things refer to both God and Christ, and therefore they must be one and the same Entity.

Then in reference to Christ as “the proof in proper times”, Paul says:

7 For which I have been ordained [A has “entrusted”] a herald and an ambassador. I speak truth [א, H and the MT interpolate “among the Anointed”; the text follows A and D. See 2 Corinthians 2:17 and 12:19.], I do not lie, a teacher of Nations in faith [א has “knowledge”, A “Spirit”; the text follows D, H and the MT] and truth.

Of course, Paul’s ordination was to bring the truth of the Gospel to certain nations, which he describes in Romans chapter 4 as the nations which had come from the seed of Abraham, and in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 where he referred to “Israel according to the flesh”, who were the pagan nations in Europe. This same thing is expressed in Acts chapter 9 where the Spirit of Christ speaks to Hananias of Paul and He says: “Go! For he is a vessel chosen by Me who is to bear My Name before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel.” So Paul says in conclusion to describing his ministry:

8 Therefore I wish for men in all places to pray, raising hallowed hands without anger and argument.

If Yahshua Christ is the Mediator who ransomed the children of Israel, as the Word of Yahweh recorded in the Old Testament prophets had promised, and if Paul was ordained a herald and ambassador for that reason, then the purpose of Paul’s ministry is to announce redemption to the children of Israel, and nothing more. Paul wrote this same thing in Hebrews chapter 9 where he said in reference to Christ: “15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Likewise, in Galatians chapter 4 Paul professed “4 And when the fulfillment of the time had come, Yahweh had dispatched His Son, having been born of a woman, having been subject to law, 5 in order that he would redeem those subject to law, that we would recover the position of sons. 6 And because you are sons, Yahweh has dispatched the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Father, Father.” The Galatians, being descended from the Israelites of the Assyrian deportations, already were sons, and therefore they received The Son. They were redeemed because their ancestors were under the law. If one was not under the first testament, meaning that if one is not a descendant of the ancient people of Israel, one has no chance of being called, as Yahweh promised in Isaiah chapter 41: “8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. 9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.”

For this men in all places – meaning the men of the children of Israel – should pray: for the culmination of their impending redemption. In the epistle to the Romans, speaking of the singular creation of Adam, as opposed to other creatures, Paul had said in chapter 8: “20 To transientness the creation was subjected not willingly, but on account of He who subjected it in expectation 21 that also the creation itself shall be liberated from the bondage of decay into the freedom of the honor of the children of Yahweh. 22 For we know that the whole creation laments together and travails together until then. 23 And not alone, but also they having the first fruit of the Spirit, and we ourselves with them lament, awaiting the placement of sons, the redemption of our body.” Later in Romans 8 Paul compares this “whole creation” to angels and other creations, and even “any other creation”, where we see that the creation of which he speaks is the creation of the Adamic man, or as we see next in Isaiah, even the more narrow creation of the children of Israel.

Isaiah chapter 43 explains what Paul was referring to, and again sets the context for what he refers to here in 1 Timothy: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. [This is a reference to the scattering of Israel and most of Judah, which was accomplished 700 years before Christ.] 3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; 7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. [So Israel is the “whole creation” of Romans chapter 8.] 8 Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. 9 Let all the nations be gathered together [As we shall see further on, these nations must be the nations of Israel, the sons and daughters of Yahweh gathered from afar, contrasted to other nations, such as Egypt, Ethiopia and Seba which were given up by God], and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth. 10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God. 13 Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it? 14 Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships. [So even these, along with Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba, are not among “all the nations” of verse 9, showing that the reference there is to the nations of Israel.] 15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King….” This describes the redemption for which Paul asks all men everywhere to pray, referring to all the men of Israel: reconciliation with God, the forgiveness of sins, and the destruction of Babylon, which represents their captivity and punishment, and the destruction of other nations, represented here by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sheba, in exchange for the well-being of the children of Israel.

We find it necessary to explain all of this, for the fools who throughout the entire Christian age have read “all men” or “all men everywhere” in one of Paul’s epistles, and have used those phrases as an excuse to disregard everything else Paul had written concerning redemption, reconciliation, and the true mission of Christ according to the prophets in all of the rest of his epistles. We cannot force Paul to be a hypocrite or to contradict himself, so therefore where Paul says “all men”, the meaning must be restricted by all of his other explanations of the scope and purpose of God. So “all men” does not mean “all men” outside of those men to whom Paul was bringing the Gospel of Christ, “in accordance with those prophecies which have led the way before you, that by them you may soldier a good battle,” as he had informed Timothy earlier in this epistle. If it is not in accordance with the words of the prophets, then ostensibly one cannot be a good soldier in the Army of Christ.

So Paul has described what he expects to be the general deportment of Christian men, and now he goes on to discuss women:

9 Likewise women in moderate attire are to adorn themselves with modesty and discretion, not in braids and in gold or pearls or in very expensive garments, 10 but that which is fitting with women professing fear of God, through good works.

We originally had wreaths in verse 9, rather than braids. The phrase ἐν πλέγμασιν is a preposition with a dative plural form of the noun πλέγμα (Strong’s # 4117), which is ambiguous and refers to a plaited work of any sort, where it may be either wreaths or braids. In ancient times Greek women, and on occasions Greek men as well, frequently wore wreaths in their hair. However it was not until we learned that in first century Rome elaborate braids were a very popular fashion item amongst women, that we were certain that Paul was referring to braids here. Most often these braids were worn in piles atop a woman’s head, exposing her entire head to view. We are also now persuaded that Paul referred to this same practice where he warned in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 that a woman should not have her head uncovered, and stated that her hair was given to her for a covering.

Gold and pearls and very expensive garments are obviously outlandish and immodest for Christians who should despise such worldly riches. The apostle Peter, in chapter 3 of his first epistle, gave very similar advice where he said “1 Likewise the wives being subject to their own husbands, in order that if some then disobey the Word, through the conduct of the wives they shall have advantage without the Word, 2 observing in fear your pure conduct, 3 of which the dress must not be outward with braids of hair and applications of gold or putting on of garments, 4 but the hidden man of the heart with the incorruptibility of the gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious before Yahweh. 5 For thusly at one time also the holy women who have hope in Yahweh had dressed themselves being subject to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah had obeyed Abraham calling him master, whose children you have been born to do good and not fearing any terror.”

Modesty may be considered relative, but when Christian men see it, they know what it is, and when Christian men see immodesty they know what that is. An immodest woman is not subjecting herself to her husband when she is dressed in a manner which can be sexually alluring to other men. We would not condemn a woman or a girl for modest attire, modest hair decoration, or even modest jewelry. But one example for immodesty is found in Isaiah chapter 3, and many women are found in this same state today, where we read: “16 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: 17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. 18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, [evidently a reference to some sort of crescent-shaped ornaments] 19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, 20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, 21 The rings, and nose jewels, 22 The changeable suits of apparel [or better, “costly festive robes”], and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, 23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. 24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.” Seeing what these women were condemned for, it is evident that Christian women should not seek to make such spectacles of themselves when they dress. A woman who dresses in a manner so as to make a sexy spectacle of herself is not subject to her husband, but is rather rebelling against her husband, and against God. Paul continues to speak of the behavior expected of women:

11 A woman must learn in quiet, in all submission, 12 and I do not permit a woman to teach, nor to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Where Paul says “I do not permit”, he is admitting that there is no specific law, so he does not say that God does not permit, or Christ does not permit. Often in his epistles, when there was no explicit law governing a situation, Paul gave his opinion, which was nevertheless grounded in the examples of Scripture. Here also, Paul is following the example of the Scriptures, as the Old Testament Scriptures teach these things by example, but not by law. Where we see words such as teacher or scholar in the Old Testament, the forms are always masculine. There are no female scribes, no female heads of household or tribe, and a special law had to be made so that women could even retain the property of their fathers in case there were no surviving brothers. Where there was a queen in Judah, it was a usurpation by a wicked woman with evil intentions, when Athaliah seized the throne and attempted to have all the male heirs slain. Deborah was a prophetess, and that is an office which women may hold, as they were also recognized in the New Testament. But she was nevertheless not a leader of men, and when Barak insisted she go with him to battle he was punished and put to shame for his insistence. Deborah was also a judge, however that status combined with the attitude of Baruch is only a sad reflection on the men of her time. There is no other mention of a woman sitting as judge in Scripture, so Deborah was an exception. There are roles which women should not assume, and even though there are exceptions, the exceptions should not be taken advantage of to undermine the rule of a normally functioning and Godly society.

In Deuteronomy chapter 22 we read the following in the law: “5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” We do not believe this is talking about mere clothing. Men did not even wear pants in those days, but rather, the garments worn by men and women typically reflected occupation and social status and not merely gender. Therefore we are persuaded that a woman putting on a man’s garment represented the assumption by the woman of a man’s function or station in society, and the same with men for women. That would indeed be an abomination.

Looking to the greater Greek society, of which Judaea had long been a part, and which also had most of these attitudes in common with both ancient Hebrew and Roman culture, we see a patriarchy in which most women had very little to say in public. The following is from a paper I had written some years ago, titled Paul was not a Misogynist. Paul has often been accused of such women-hating for his remarks here. But if he was only upholding Godly standards which had been in place in society for many centuries, he was actually a lover and protector of both women and families, and not a hater at all. Here is what I wrote, which Clifton Emahiser first published in December, 2005:

The opinions which are formulated in and acted on by society today are not correct simply because a majority of people here are persuaded by them. Christianity is not a democratic institution, but rather a Theocratic one. A woman’s place was to be subject to her husband, as with Paul (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 3:18), also with Peter (1 Peter 3:1-5) and so with Yahweh (Genesis 3:16).

We have already cited 1 Peter chapter 3 through verse 6, where Peter had used the Scriptural example of Sarah’s subjection to Abraham as a model for the daughters of Sarah, the Christian women of Anatolia whom he was addressing. Here are the relevant passages which we had cited from Paul’s other epistles:

1 Corinthians 11:3: “But I wish for you to acknowledge that of every man the head is the Anointed, but the head of the woman is the man, and the head of the Anointed, Yahweh. ”

Ephesians 5:23: “21 Subject yourselves to one another in fear of Christ: 22 wives, to their own husbands, as if to the Prince, 23 because the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the assembly: He is deliverer of the body.”

Colossians 3:18: “Wives, subject yourselves to the husbands, as is proper with the Prince.”

In Genesis 3:16, after Eve was led away into sin by the serpent, Yahweh says to her, in part: “... and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” This was not her punishment. Rather, it is a command for her to be restored to her rightful place. Examining the account of the creation of woman in Genesis chapter 2, the woman was made to be a helpmate for the man (verses 18 and 20), and the woman was presented to the man, not the man to the woman. So Eve’s subjection to her husband was her restoration to her natural place in God’s creation.

Continuing with our 2005 paper:

A woman’s place was to keep the household, as it was in Greek society (i.e. Euripides’ Alcestis 304 ff., Electra 54 ff.) and so with Paul (Titus 2:5), and so in the Old Testament, i.e. Proverbs chapter 31. Those who doubt the validity of Paul’s instruction here contend not with Paul, but with the entire Bible! [Proverbs chapter 31 describes the ideal model of a woman managing her husband’s household, but we will not recite it here.]

In Euripides’ Alcestis, the title character was portrayed as a noble woman who for various reasons chose to give up her own life in place of her husband, Admetus. Later, for her bravery and sacrifice, the Greek idol Heracles was said to resurrect her from the dead and restore her to her family. Here we see her exhortation to her husband before her death, beginning from line 299: “Well, then. Remember to show your gratitude for this. [300] I shall not ask you for the return my act deserves (for nothing is more precious than a life), but for what is right, as you will agree. For you love these children as much as I do, if you are in your senses. Keep them as lords of my house [305] and do not marry again, putting over them a step-mother, who will be less noble than I and out of envy will lay a hostile hand to your children and mine. No, do not do it, I beg you. For a step-mother comes in as a foe [310] to the former children, no kinder than a viper.” (Source: Perseus Digital Library)

Euripides’ Electra is about the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, who with her brother Orestes had plotted revenge against their mother and her lover for the murder of their father after his return from the Trojan War. Here we shall read from line 54: “O black night, nurse of the golden stars, [55] in which I go to the river's streams, bearing this pitcher resting on my head – not because I have come to such a point of necessity, but so that I may show to the gods Aegisthus' insolence – and send forth laments into the wide sky, to my father. [60] For the deadly daughter of Tyndareus, my mother, has cast me out of the house to please her husband; since she has borne other children in her union with Aegisthus, she considers Orestes and me secondary in the home.”

These passages show the importance of women in Greek society as keepers and rulers of a man’s household. Alcestis was afraid that her children would be displaced if Admetus took a new wife. Clytemnestra cast her own children out in order to please her new husband, since the man was the master of the woman. Likewise Paul had written in Titus 2:5 of older women “4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Later, in 1 Timothy chapter 5, Paul instructs him to support widows upon certain conditions, one of them being “if she have brought up children”. Ostensibly, if a woman chooses to be a career girl or to whore around rather than raising a family, she does not deserve the support of the Christian community in her old age. This is why it was so important for the noble women of the Scriptures to bear children, and it was considered a reproach if they did not. The foremost examples are Sarah, Tamar the mother of Pharez and Zarah, the unnamed wife of Manoah, the mother of Samson, Hannah the mother of the prophet Samuel, and Elisabeth the mother of John the Baptist.

Continuing again with our 2005 article:

Paul instructs that a woman is never to have authority over a man (i.e. 1 Timothy 2:12), and in the Old Testament at Isaiah 3:12 we see that it was a reproach for women to rule over men in that time also. Whether it was the noble Deborah, or the wicked Athaliah, doesn’t matter. Neither situation says much of the men of those times. Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Janet Reno, Diane Feinstein, et al. are certainly a reproach to all Saxon men today, along with the millions of women who have forsaken childbearing and normal household life for love of lucre and status. Those who feel otherwise contend not against Paul, but against Yahweh! And Judi Nipps and Nellie Babbs are among their number. [I was criticizing two women who claimed to be Identity Christians, but who were harsh critics of Paul of Tarsus. One of them is a former wife of James Wickstrom. I would rather not mention these people now, in 2017, but this has been online for 12 years, so I am obliged to explain the reference.]

Only men participated in the “democracy” of Athens. Women were excluded from politics, did not speak publicly, and as Euripides’ character Aethra in his Suppliant Women says at lines 40-41 “It is proper for women, if they are wise, to do everything through their men.” So Paul’s admonition to women, not to speak in the assembly but to learn and inquire by their husbands (1 Corinthians 14:34-35), was surely not a novel contrivance, but already a part of Hellenistic culture! In fact, Athenian life was stricter yet: For in Euripides’ Hecuba at lines 974-75 the title character states that “custom ... ordains that women shall not look directly at men.” The word translated “custom” in the Loeb Classical Library edition of Euripides is νόμος, [which is] “law” everywhere in the New Testament. Paul’s admonition against women “wandering from house to house ... idle ... tattlers ... busybodies, speaking things they ought not” was a normal concern long before Paul wrote such words, and in Euripides’ Andromache lines 930-953, the poet through his character Hermione expressed very similar concerns.

Andromache was the name of a wife of Hector, a slain Trojan prince, who was enslaved and taken as a concubine by Neoptolemus, a son of Achilles, with whom she had a son. Some time later, Neoptolemus takes Hermione as his wife and although Andromache is marginalized and continues to lament for her first husband, Hector, Hermione is very jealous of her and plots against her and her child. Hermione is described as being barren, an apparent source of her jealousy.

The following words are placed in the mouth of Hermione by Euripides: “[930] My undoing was bad women coming into the house. They puffed me up in folly by speaking in this vein: ‘Will you put up with this wretched captive in your house sharing in your marriage-bed? By the goddess, in my house she would not [935] have taken her pleasure of my husband and lived looking on the light!’ I listened to these Sirens' words [these clever, knavish, deceitful chatterers] and became inflated with foolish thoughts. What necessity was there to keep such a watch on my husband when I had all I needed? [940] I had great wealth, I was mistress in the house, and I would have borne legitimate children, while she would have borne bastards with half-slave parentage to serve my children. [The Greeks, in this case the Athenians, would have considered children of mixed Greek-Trojan parentage to be bastards.] But never, never (for I will say it more than once) ought sensible men who have wives [945] to allow women to come to visit their wives in the house. They are the ones who teach evil. One corrupts her marriage with an eye to gain, while another who has slipped from virtue wishes for company in her vice, while others act from mere lewdness. That is the source of the disease [950] in the houses of men. In view of this guard well with bolt and bar the gates of your houses. For visits of women from outside are the cause of nothing that is sound but of much trouble.

So Euripides is really making a social statement through the mouth of his character Hermione. Of course, we would not account Euripides as Scripture, but his writing reflects the economic and social structure and expected gender roles of the time.

So where Paul spoke in 1 Timothy chapter 5 about so-called “younger widows” [we shall discuss his terminology there in greater depth in the weeks to come] who would not remarry “13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not”, we can see from Euripides that he was addressing an ages-old concern.

Continuing again with our 2005 article:

I have cited Euripides here, having his writings at hand and having recently read them, yet may refer to a plethora of Greek writers, even those closer to Paul’s own time, to show that Paul was not being novel to the Greeks concerning the treatment and conduct of women. Strabo, speaking of the Cantabrians of Iberia and some of their customs, where women have influence over their kinsmen, says: “The custom involves, in fact, a sort of woman-rule – but this is not at all a mark of civilisation” (Strabo, Geography, 3.4.18, Loeb Classical Library edition). Diodorus Siculus, speaking of the mythical Amazons, says “The men, however, like our married women, spent their days about the house, carrying out the orders which were given them by their wives; and they took no part in military campaigns or in office or in the exercise of free citizenship in the affairs of the community by virtue of which they might become presumptuous and rise up against the women”, and so of course in reality, in the Greek world women kept the home, having no voice in the community, nor role in government. The very role described in Proverbs chapter 31!

As [it was] in the book of Numbers, so [also] in Matthew (14:21, 15:38), women were not counted. It is not that women do not count, Yahweh forbid! Yet the woman’s role in a proper Christian society is clearly defined, and Paul explains that role properly. Pity those who doubt the truth of such matters. Nothing Paul says is contrary to Old Testament instruction or practice….

That concludes our citation from my 2005 article, which primarily sought to put Paul’s admonishments concerning women into a correct historical, social and scriptural context. There should be little doubt as to why feminists and all those who despise Christian traditions hate him today. Paul continues by giving the first example of his opinion towards women:

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman had been thoroughly beguiled when the transgression occurred.

The Majority Text has only ἀπατάω (Strong’s # 538), or beguiled, where our text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), and Claromontanus (D) which all have ἐξαπατάω (Strong’s # 1818), a strengthened form of the word, and therefore thoroughly beguiled, or perhaps completely seduced. To us this indicates that Eve was seduced beyond a mere mental seduction, as there was certainly an associated and sinful act resulting from that seduction. Being completely seduced, she was seduced in every way, mentally and physically, where in chapter 2 of the Wisdom of Solomon we see that “through envy of the devil came death into the world”, and not through envy of some mere thought or some literal piece of fruit.

The phrase ἐν παραβάσει γέγονεν may even more literally have been rendered as the transgression happened. The verb γέγονεν refers to the transgression, not to the woman, as Adam and Eve had both clearly sinned. As we read in Job chapter 31: “33 If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom”, and again in 1 Corinthians 15:22: “For as in Adam all die...” the greater weight of sin was placed upon Adam, not upon Eve, as she was deceived but Adam had no such excuse. A transgression occurred, a sinful act took place well beyond some mere thought crime, or mental seduction, and Adam then took part in it purposefully.

Here Paul uses the comparison that Eve was deceived, but that Adam did willfully, to illustrate one reason why women should not be allowed to teach men, as he evidently makes a statement that women are more easily led astray. Of course, that attitude would also be met with resistance today. However it must be known, that men and women were designed for their particular intended functions by the Provenance of God. For example, the woman, with her greater empathy and tendency to nurture, is designed for her natural role as mother and comforter of children. But that same empathy and tendency to nurture leaves her not so fit to command armies and kingdoms. However only when women perform that first duty is the latter even made possible, since the family is the most basic necessary component of the kingdom.

So Paul concludes:

15 But she will be delivered through child-bearing, if they abide in faith and love and sanctification with discretion.

As Paul explains in 1 Timothy chapter 5, “if any widow has child or grandchild, they must first learn piety at home and to return compensation to their ancestors”, so the woman is instrumental in the transmission of Christian ethics, culture, and racial awareness to future generations. In this last century, that role has been relinquished to public school systems, and any objective observation of the result of that policy is the best defense of the opinions of Paul of Tarsus.

This concludes our commentary on 1 Timothy chapter 2.

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