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Documents of Synod:
Study Papers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (1965 to 1982)

154th GS MINUTES, MAY 21, 1976, pp. 65-112


Dr. James B. Hurley introduced the report, calling on the Rev. Stephen Smallman and the Rev. Herman Mischke to speak on the history of the report.


Time and distance have made the committee's labor difficult. The committee has been able to meet only by conference telephone call.
In order to assist members of Synod in evaluating this report, an outline of the full projected report is provided, indicating texts to be examined, conclusions reached, and recommendations. Members of Synod should be aware that owing to time limitations involved in mailing between committee members, a provisional draft is being published. The essential elements of the report and the conclusions have been approved by a majority of the committee but the actual text has not been finally approved by the committee. It is anticipated that by Synod time the remaining text will be complete, reviewed, and amended by the committee (and perhaps supplemented by a minority report).

I. Introductory and Methodological Considerations
A. Introduction: discussion of the committee's mandate and methodology.
B. Survey of the Current Situation.
C. Methodological Considerations.
II. Exegetical Foundations
A. Exegesis of Galatians 3:28
B. Exegesis of I Timothy 2
C. Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 11
D. Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36
E. Exegesis of Genesis 1, 2, and 3
F. Exegesis of 1 Timothy 3
III. Conclusions and Recommendations
A. Conclusions
B. Application
C. Recommendations to Synod
Supplement to the Majority Report, from the Minutes of the 155th General Synod, May 20, 1977
Minority Report Number One
Part I by Dr. W. Harold Mare
Part II by Rev. George C. Miladin
Minority Report Number Two by Rev. Herman W. Mischke
Final Action

Part I.

A. Introduction

The relation of men and women within society, within the church, and within marriage is the subject of much debate at the present time. The 153rd General Synod of the RPCES reconstituted the Study Committee on the Role of Women in the Church established by the 152nd General Synod with a mandate to provide exegetical support for the conclusions presented by the committee to the 153rd General Synod and "to enlarge the scope of the study to include the role of women teaching in the church, Sunday school, youth groups, etc." In an effort to fulfill its commission, the present committee has reviewed the materials passed on to it by the previous committee and examined additional documents.

In the light of the extensive literature now available regarding the relation of men and women, the committee initially felt it unnecessary and unwise to seek to present a comprehensive report such as that presented by the Christian Reformed Church. The role of women is a topic which could include extensive historical research into the role of women in the OT period, in the NT documents, and throughout the post-Apostolic period, extensive exegetical treatment of all relevant biblical texts, and extensive operational suggestions regarding the development of the role of women in both present society/ies and potential future societies. Obviously such a program is too broad and extends beyond the actual intent of the synod in the establishment of this committee. The focal concern of our churches has been the role of women in the offices of the church and within the more organized functions of the visible Body. In order to approach this task with precision and without endless volumes the report is divided into the following three sections:

I. Introductory and Methodological Considerations
II. Exegetical Foundations

A. Galatians 3:28
B. I Timothy 2
C. I Corinthians 11
D. I Corinthians 14:33b-36
E. Genesis 1, 2, 3
F. I Timothy 3

III. Conclusions and Recommendations

The report itself is designed to be read by both those with and those without a technical knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. Accordingly all Greek or Hebrew words are accompanied by their English equivalents. At certain places the discussion hinges on finer points of grammar. We have endeavored to explain such points, and beg the indulgence of those who do not have technical training.

B. The Current Situation

Surveying the present situation, Dr. George Knight remarks, that it has been questioned

"whether there are indeed any roles at all that the New Testament recognizes or prescribes. Certainly the church has thought that it ascertained such roles in the New Testament. It spoke of the role relations of citizens and civil authorities, of the church membership and those who ruled over them, of parents and children, even at times of servants and masters, and of husbands and wives. With the exception of servants and masters, which relation it has come to understand the New Testament was regulating as an existing situation, but not presenting as based on God's order, the church understood the other relationships to be roles established by God for which basic guidelines were given by the Lord and the apostles. Included in these role relationships was that of the male and female in the marriage relationship. This role relationship is still recognized as normative among evangelicals. Likewise, for the same considerations that pertain in the male-female relationships in marriage, the position of the historic Christian church has upheld a similar relationship between males and females in the ruling/teaching functions in the church. In particular, the passages of I Timothy 2:11-15, I Corinthians 14:33b (or 34)-38, and the arguments of the passage, I Corinthians 11:1-16, have been understood as normative for this area.

But this understanding of the historic Christian church, even though it has stood as the position for centuries, has in recent years been challenged and in certain cases set aside as erroneous.

Vigorous discussions took place in Germany and the Scandinavian countries which led the majority of the Lutherans in particular to abandon the earlier position. Similar studies took place in the U.S.A. and resulted in a predominance of American Lutherans following the Europeans. On a broader level, most of the older American denominations have also altered their previous positions. The World Council of Churches studies indicate that a great number of the member churches have take this same position in principle. On the other hand, the Reformed Ecumenical Synod at its last two meetings, (1968 Netherlands, 1972 Australia) reaffirmed as the teaching of Scripture the historic Christian understanding of the passages in question. Also studies coming from the dominant conservative wing of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, have reaffirmed the normative character of the passages in I Timothy and I Corinthians. So one might be tempted to generalize that the more liberal wing of the church has abandoned the historic Christian position and the more conservative wing has reaffirmed that position, and that this reflects their respective views of the Bible, its inspiration, inerrancy, and absolute authority.

However, a new element has been interjected into the discussion. The editor of Christianity Today has taken the position in his latest book that the position of Paul is an expression of the culture of his day and not normative for today. This has been followed by a couple of editorials in Christianity Today seeking to implement such a decision. Two women writing a book setting forth their understanding of the Biblical basis for women's liberation have taken an even more vigorous position which would not only see Paul's view of ruling and teaching as culturally relative, but also affirm an "equalitarian" marriage. A majority of the invited participants of the Thanksgiving Workshop on Evangelical Social Concern voted to seek women's ordination in the teaching/ruling offices of the church, although there was a large dissent. The Permanent Judicial Commission of one of the older denominations refused to ordain an evangelical because he said that his understanding of the Scriptures would prohibit him from ordaining a woman to the teaching/ruling office. The divergence of opinion reflected, the intrinsic importance of the question and the existence of several passages that purport to deal with the subject inexorably draw us to ask again: 'What do the Scriptures say?!' "[1]

Discussions such as those of European and Scandinavian Lutheran churches proceed from a view of Scripture which is not acceptable within evangelical circles; other discussions, such as that of Lindsell, the editor of Christianity Today, proceed from a higher view of Scripture and come to conclusions which have caused much debate within evangelical circles. Most of the contemporary conservative discussion can be divided into two groups according to the starting point of their exegetical investigation. One group begins its consideration of the respective roles of men and women with Galatians 3:28, stressing oneness in Christ as the plumbline for NT ethics. Accordingly, those passages which seem to fall short of placing men and women in a par tend to be viewed as being somehow culturally conditioned. Lindsell and Jewett fall into this category. The other major group of conservative exegetes begins its consideration of roles with passages such as I Timothy 2:11-15, or I Corinthians 11:1-16, stressing the subordination of the wife and the prohibition of the elder/teaching role to women. Knight and a vast majority of traditional exegetes take this approach. The consequences of these starting points are strikingly different. The former leads to the appointment of women as elders, and, in some cases, to egalitarian marriages. The latter position leads to maintenance of sexual discrimination with respect to the eldership and marital headship, and, in some cases, to prohibition of the deaconate, Sunday school instructional roles, and vocal participation in worship to the women. Advocates of either side accuse adherents of the other with failing to deal adequately with Scriptural teaching. These accusations are, of course, serious ones. It is appropriate that this report begin with principial considerations relating to the choice of an exegetical starting point.

C. Methodological Considerations

It has long been held in evangelical circles that Scripture is to interpret Scripture and that we are to interpret the less clear passages by the more clear. Applied to the problem at hand these tenets require (a) that social considerations and historical "progress" not be made the first principles of interpretation, but rather that scriptural exegesis guide the selection of a starting point, and (b) that we carefully examine the texts which may be used as starting points in an effort to determine their precise intent and, if possible, which texts more directly address the issues at hand. We will examine Galatians 3:28 and I Timothy 2 to see whether either is a suitable starting point. Having reached a provisional conclusion with regard to Galatians 3:28 and I Timothy 2:11-15, it will be appropriate to consider other texts shedding further light on the issue.


A. Galatians 3:28: A Viable Starting Point?

Galatians 3:28 is perhaps the most appropriate place to begin our exegetical task. In it Paul proclaims,

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free,
there is no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

This declaration manifestly sweeps aside all distinctions within the number of those who are "one in Christ Jesus." It is crucial that the import of this be explored. Is Paul intending to imply that Jews and Greeks are indistinguishable, that no distinctions between men and women are to be observed, that elders and non-elders, apostles and non-apostles, bond and free, are indistinguishable? Does he mean to suggest that our ideal must be the elimination of all distinctions between believers, that we should eliminate such distinctions as soon as possible?

The context provides some indication of Paul's thoughts. The letter of the Galatians revolves around the tension between the Judiastic legalism and Pauline salvation by grace. A review of its theological content provides a context in which to evaluate 3:28. The first part of chapter 3 develops at length the thesis that faith, not works, provides the basis of salvation and that those of them who approach God by faith will be blessed with faithful Abraham (vv. 6-14, cf. esp. 9, 11). It is Paul's manifest purpose to establish that the fact that God saves by faith makes it possible not only "that (Jews) might receive the promise of the Spirit by faith," but also, "that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham, by faith" (v. 14).

Having treated the law negatively to establish that "the one who is righteous (before God) lives by means of faith (not works)" (vv. 6-14, cf. 14), Paul goes on in vv. 15-25 to argue that the promise antedates the Law and that the Law is intended as a caretaker (paidagogos: slave who leads the child to his lessons) for a period lasting only until the children should be full sons through faith in Christ (vv. 25, 26). When considered in this fashion, of course, it is clear that the usefulness of the Law for this task fades with the maturity of its charge. This is the burden of the latter portion of chapter 3. Chapter 4 proceeds to develop the new sonship of those who are no longer children under the watchcare of the slave/tutor.

It should be clear from this summary that the central issue at stake in Galatians 3 and 4 is the role of the law in relation to faith. A strong, secondary theme is that of the basis upon which the Jew and the Gentile may come before God. Paul deliberately established that the Law is not a special avenue of approach to God, open only to Jews, but a statement from which God condemns Jews as well as Gentiles (v. 22). Because all are thus shut up to sin and can be saved only by faith, all come before God on equal footing, their race, sex, or state of bondage (Jew/Greek, male/female, bond/free) having no effect whatsoever on their right to stand before God. It is in this frame of reference that Paul declares, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ, for as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise" (vv. 27, 28).

Verse 26 defines clearly the scope of Paul's thought in this crucial section. The debate has been over the role of the Law in establishing our relation to God: Is is through the Law that we become Sons of God? Is it only those who keep the Law that can be acceptable to God? Paul's answer is clear and in the negative: You are all sons of God through faith in Messiah Jesus. . . and if you are Messiah's (by faith) then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise (not social origin) (vv. 26, 29). Set within this context, it must be concluded that Galatians 3:28 denies that racial, sexual, or civil factors play any role in deciding whether an individual may be acceptable to God and included among his people. We must now ask whether this text goes beyond saying that any human whatsoever may become part of Christ's body and that a full reception must be granted to all who do in fact belong to Christ.

Some recent exegetes have held that Galatians 3:28 is programmatic for the church, and that we should therefore strive to achieve a totally democratic church form, erasing all distinctions. Does Paul wish to teach this? It should be noted that Galatians 3:25-29 are in no way to be construed in the future tense. They were clearly present reality; albeit the Galatian practice was not consonant with this reality. Whether this indicative of equality has imperative consequences for behavior will be considered below. We conclude that, if Paul intended to present this text as a future goal rather than as a present fact, he has failed to communicate this fact. If we would infer that v. 28 is a future goal, we must justify our inference by exegetical consideration of other passages.

Other exegetes have held that Galatians 3:28 does indicate a present reality among the Pauline churches. With this conclusion we agree. Paul considered that at that moment they were all, regardless of race, sex, or state of bondage, sons of God. On the basis of this conviction he instructed them to cease doing those things which were a denial of the "sonship" of all believers. Chapters 4 and 5 are filled with commands regarding their freedom. The fact that Paul commanded them to act upon their freedom, upon the reality of that oneness which is pointed out in v. 28, is of great significance for our task.

We must carefully note that while Paul commanded the cessation of those Galatian practices which denied the reality of the oneness and the liberty pointed to in 3:25-29, he also commanded that his churches should establish or maintain practices which involve formal distinctions between apostle and non-apostle (I Corinthians 14), husband and wife (I Corinthians 7), parent and child (Ephesians 6), but not (as far as inclusion within the oneness of the body goes) between slave and free (I Corinthians 7; Philemon) or Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3:28). How are we to interpret Paul's commands to reject some distinctions and to establish others? Three central alternatives present themselves: (1) Paul was inconsistent, commanding various things which really cannot be integrated, (2) Paul's goal was the overcoming of distinctions, but historical circumstances caused him to delay implementing his goals in some areas for the sake of growth in others, i.e., Paul knew he was inconsistent but was willing to delay implementation of some implications of their new status in Christ, (3) Paul did not consider that the distinctions which he commanded prejudiced or rejected the oneness upon which he insisted.

The first alternative is to be rejected for various reasons. Those within evangelical circles are principally committed to the integrity of Scripture and to its sufficiency for life and practice. For such, the first alternative is principially to be rejected. Principial considerations, however, are not the only basis for rejecting the first alternative. It is methodologically unwise to accept so simple and shallow a conclusion if other options are available. Paul's letters show that the role of women arose as a problem within his congregations on numerous occasions. It is unlikely that the seeming tension between the position of Galatians 3:28 and that of I Timothy 2:11 would have gone without notice. It is surely best methodologically to work from the assumption that Paul was aware that he demanded some distinctions and forbade others and that some explanation or some rationale is to be sought. The contrary assumption terminates scholarly investigation before it begins; we make no progress if we plead inconsistency every time we cannot yet integrate what we have.

The second possible explanation has recently found increasing favor. Could it be that Galatians 3:28 expresses Paul's goals but that he considers cultural prejudice or social structures too great to take on? Does he leave some implications of his Gospel undeveloped? It seems at first that this may well be possible, yet various factors force us to reject this option. Least weighty among the factors is the fact that Paul offers no indication that he considered cultural issues as determinative of the situation. While it could be said that such thoughts were implicit, it is a weak argument from silence which makes unspoken cultural issues determinative.

More important and indeed decisive is the fact that Paul did not hesitate to reject utterly the prejudice of Jew against Gentile. It would seem strange that Paul would be bold to violate cultural perspectives regarding race and bondage (Phm) while fearing to challenge the cultural prejudice regarding sex. This reticence of Paul's becomes especially strange when we remember that Greek culture admitted women to the role of priestess and that Christian women were permitted an unusually large role both in worship and in Christian community,[2] at least as compared with Jewish practice. It is unobjectionable to Gentiles and was less offensive to Jews than worship of Jesus or the inclusion of the Gentiles. In the face of Paul's failure to give any indication of cultural determinants of his decision, and of his willingness to take on more serious cultural prejudices, we think it unlikely that the second option above is to be preferred.

The third option, that Paul did not consider that certain role distinctions within the body of Christ prejudice the oneness of believers, seems to us the most likely in that it, in contradistinctions to the other positions, offers an explanation of Paul's evident feeling of freedom to argue both distinctions and oneness without developing their relation. Our study below will seek to develop this, which appears to be Paul's view, at greater length.

In the light of the preceding discussion, we conclude that, while Galatians 3:28 is central to our understanding that any human whatsoever, upon credible profession of faith, may and must be received with joy and rejoicing into the fellowship of sinners saved by grace, we must reject it as a primary text when we begin to consider the distinctive role of women within the Church of the Lord Jesus.

Before turning to I Timothy as a possible starting point for a study of the role of women, it is well to comment somewhat further on the NT teaching concerning the equality of believers. Foundational to Paul's understanding of man are the twin teachings of the creation of man as the image of God and of the "recreation" of believers in the image of Christ (Acts 17:26; Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:10,11). Paul's discussion of personal renewal in Christ (Colossians 3), of the gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12), and even of marital distinctions (I Corinthians 7)[3], shows clearly that he saw an equality of the sexes with respect to their being and functioning as God's image. In this respect, then, Paul's teaching faithfully reflects that of Genesis 1:27: both sexes are the image of God.

Peter too discusses the equal relation of husband and wife with respect to redemption. I Peter 3:7 carefully identifies wives, women, as "joint heirs (sunkleronomoi) of the grace of life." It is of considerable importance to note that Peter's position resembles Paul's as described above in that Peter evidently feels no tension between the role distinctions upon which he insists in vv. 1-6 and the equality of sexes proclaimed in v. 7.[4]

B. I Timothy 2: Normative?

With the exception of the Methodist, Revivalist, and Pentecostal branches of the church, the Christian church has historically viewed I Timothy 2 as normative with respect to the role of women in the church. In recent years these historical conclusions have been questioned by various persons within Evangelical and Reformed churches. It has been held that Paul's instructions in I Timothy 2 are not properly made normative, but must rather be viewed as counsel for a given historical, cultural setting. If this view is adopted, it is, of course, appropriate to consider afresh whether women may serve as elders and pastors. Let us consider the setting and content of I Timothy 2 with the specific intention of discovering not only what is says, but also whether and/or in what respect(s) it should be viewed as culturally limited.

The Content of I Timothy: Culturally Limited?

It is generally accepted within conservative circles that Paul wrote I Timothy with the intention of providing Timothy with a clear statement on certain topics which were either specifically at issue or were typically at issue within his churches. The letter thus forms something of a "spiritual will" left by Paul for Timothy. Paul indicates that he hopes to come to Timothy, but fears that he may be long delayed (3:14-15a). Recognizing the possible delay, Paul writes, "I write these things to you. . . .that you may know how it is appropriate to behave in the household of God (pos dei en oiku theou anast rephesthai) which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth" (3:14a, 15b). It is not altogether clear whether these remarks are intended to refer to the letter as a whole, or to their immediate context. The former appears the more likely as the latter as a whole discusses conduct within the Body of Christ. However extensive the scope of the remark, it is clearly intended to include chapters 2 and 3.

Paul's word choice in 3:14 has direct bearing on the problem of the normativity of chapter 2. Paul wrote, "pos. . . .dei anastrephesthai" (how. . . . it is fitting to behave oneself). Dei is an impersonal verb, generally translated "it is necessary," "one must," "one has to," "one should/ought." The New Testament use of the word always indicates a strong degree of necessity and generally indicates divinely based moral necessity. Paul uses it 24 times, the majority of which refer to historical necessities required by divine rule over history (e.g., Romans 1:27; I Corinthians 11:19; 15:25,53; II Corinthians 2:3; 5:10; I Thessalonians 4:1; I Timothy 3:2; 3:7; I Timothy 2:6, 24; Titus 1:7, 11). Paul's use of it in I Timothy 3:15 is presumptive evidence that he considered the information concerning conduct in the household of God normative. It remains, however, to be asked whether he considered this advice permanently normative or contextually normative.

Anastrephesthai (to conduct oneself) offers some help here, as does an examination of other subjects which Paul included as necessary conduct in God's household. Anastrephesthai (to conduct oneself) is a present infinitive, taking no person or number. Its use here lends a gnomic, abstract character to Paul's instructions. Owing to the lack of person and number, interpreters have had to decide whether Paul was referring to Timothy, or whether he intended a more general reference. Thus they have translated either "how you (sing.) ought to conduct yourself" (KJV), or "how men ought to conduct themselves" (ASV, Beck, NEB, NIV, Phillips, Williams); or "how one ought to conduct himself (NASV, RSV). The latter is perhaps to be preferred as it maintains Paul's ambiguity. With the exception of the KJV, translators are agreed that Paul's language is cast in a general form, that he instructs Timothy concerning how to conduct oneself in the family of God.

What sort of instructions does Paul have in view as necessary for the household of God? Are they of a culturally relative nature? Chapter 2 deals with prayer for rulers, manner of prayer for men, teaching functions for women. The first part of chapter 3 touches on qualifications for the eldership and the diaconate. Chapters 3b and 4 consider the mystery of the faith and its future rejection. Chapter 5 turns to relations between classes of persons in the church (widows and elders). It should be obvious from this subject matter that Paul did not consider his letter simply occasional or cultural limited. Prayer for rulers, qualifications for the eldership, the mystery of the faith, classes such as elders and widows are hardly passing issues. The subjects concerning which Paul wanted to instruct Timothy were not temporary, nor have his instructions in other areas than that of women been taken as culturally restricted. It must be concluded that the context of the letter does not support the argument that I Timothy 2 is culturally bounded.

Although the general context of I Timothy 2 does not suggest cultural limitation, it may still be that the immediate context will suggest that Paul's discussion is culturally limited. The chapter reads as follows:

1. I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--
2. for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
3. This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
4. who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
5. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
6. who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time.
7. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle--I am telling the truth, I am not lying--and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.
8. I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.
9. I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,
10. but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
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 deceived; and the woman, quite deceived, was in transgression.
15. But women will be safe through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
[NIV, slightly altered]

Verses 1 and 2 set the tone for the chapter: Paul wishes to discuss prayer in the church. Appropriate subjects for prayer is his first topic (vv. 1, 2). He directs that prayers are to be made for "all (kinds) of men, for kings and all who are in authority that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life." Unless this be taken as establishing kingship as the only legitimate form of government, it would seem that Paul's instructions are transcultural. Verses 3-7 go on to explain that such prayer is appropriate and is pleasing to God, who would have all men saved, and who has appointed Paul to teach the Gentiles. Verses 3-7 thus constitute a theological rationale for the practice of vv. 1, 2. It would be possible to contend that the command to pray (vv. 1-2) is limited to the time of Paul and his ministry, but we suspect none would wish to take such a position. The church prays for those in authority with confidence that this is pleasing to God, that Paul's instructions in
I Timothy 2:1-7 are not culture-bound.

I Timothy 2:8-10: Problems Marring Prayer

Verse 8 continues the discussion of prayer and leads on into a discussion of behavior appropriate to the sexes. It is unclear from the context whether Timothy was facing a particular problem or whether Paul considered these topics important for some other reason. Despite our uncertainty we are able to reconstruct the sort of situation Paul had in view. Verses 8 and 9 could be generic, but vv. 11 and 12 clearly make reference to a situation of public instruction.. If we assume that the passage from v. 8 through v. 12 is a single unit, we conclude that Paul has in view public worship situations in which there is prayer and teaching.

Verses 8 and 9 address men and women respectively. Some have interpreted these as directing that men should (and women should not) make public prayer and that women should dress modestly as befits their role. These verses are then lined up with I Corinthians 14:34,35 (commanding silence from women) against I Corinthians 11:1-5 (permitting women to pray and prophesy) to show that Paul silenced women entirely in church in order to preserve proper authority structures.
I Corinthians 14:34, 35 will be discussed below. We will restrict our present attention to vv. 8, 9. Close examination suggests that this plausible explanation is to be rejected because it does not actually present Paul's intended contrasts but treats v. 8 (men praying with holy hands) as if it stood next to vv. 11ff. (women learning in silence). It is not clear, however, from v. 8 whether Paul intends to stress that men should do the praying everywhere, or whether Paul intends to concentrate our attention upon attitudes which should accompany prayer. In the former case we should paraphrase: "I want the men to do the praying everywhere, and, as they lift up their hands to do so, they should not be filled with wrath and dissension." In the latter case we should paraphrase: "As the men everywhere pray they should be sure that the hands they life up are holy, without wrath and dissension." The former alternative focuses on the contrasting sex roles; the latter focuses on a weakness to which men are prone when they gather in the assembly. Which is Paul's intent? The following considerations suggest the latter.

(1) If the intended comparison is the sex roles, the comment on "holy hands without wrath or dissension" as well as v. 9 which builds upon it become a parenthetical aside which seriously obscures Paul's central but unspoken point, that women should not pray.

(2) A close look at v. 9 strongly indicates that Paul's intention in vv. 8 and 9 is not to announce the prohibition of women's prayer, but to speak to the manner in which it should be offered. Verse 9 reads: hosautos (kai) gunaikas en katastole kosmio meta aidous kai sophrosunes kosmein heautas me en plegmasin kai krusio e margaritais e himatismo polutelei all'ho prepei gunaixin epaggel omenais theosebeian di'ergon agathon ([and] likewise I desire the women to adorn themselves in modest/respectable clothes, not with braided-hair-and-gold-or-pearls or costly garments, but [I desire women to adorn themselves] with good works, which is appropriate for women professing godliness.) Hosautos (likewise) introduces an elliptical construction. Translators must supply a verb. At first glance it looks as though the ellipsis might be boulomi proseuchesthai (I want. . . to pray), specifically instructing that women pray. A closer examination, however, prohibits this as there is an infinitive in v. 9, kosmein (to adorn), which is most likely a supplementary infinitive attached to boulomai (I desire) rather than epexegtical of the woman's prayer. Thus we can supply only boulomai (I desire).

Interpreters have debated the relation of Paul's command for women to his command for men. Many have come to the conclusion that the two are not really parallel at all, that the command to men is intended to instruct that they only should pray, while the command to women instructs them to wear modest clothes at worship. On this basis the second half of v. 8 and the whole of vv. 9 and 10 are incidental on the thrust of v. 8, breaking the flow of Paul's thought. The following interpretative paraphrase draws out the implications of this interpretation:

Wherever Christians meet, I want only the men to pray. In addition, I want the men who pray to be sure that the hands they lift up are not marked by wrath or dissension. And women, who may not pray, must attend worship in proper clothes, modestly and discreetly dressed. . . ."

This reading of the text, although very common, fails to take adequate note of Paul's connective, hosautos (likewise). The reading above reduces hosautos (likewise) to the status of kai (and). While various commentators have proposed such a weakening of the force of hosautos (likewise), it is without precedent in Paul, NT usage, or the lexicons. Without fail, hosautos (likewise) refers back to an antecedent and sets it parallel to its own referent. In Paul's usage it refers back to a central element of the preceding passage. We must therefore ask which element of v. 8 is being referred to. There are, in fact, only two options. Either Paul refers to prayer by men (v. 8a) or to the lifting up of "holy hands" (v. 8b). Let us consider these two options from the "men-only-should-pray" perspective.

It would be most natural to assume that when Paul says "likewise women," he is setting them parallel to "men." Such an assumption would set his direction to woman parallel to his direction to men. This is impossible if the central (unspoken) thrust of v. 8 is the exclusion of women from prayer. The meaning of hosautos (likewise) is destroyed and the sentence rendered meaningless if we read, "I want men (only) to pray. . . . likewise I want women (who cannot pray) to dress modestly. . . ." Only by a grammatically unjustifiable reduction of hosautos (likewise) to kai (and) can such an interpretation be sustained.

The second possibility for the "men-only-should-pray" position is that Paul refers back to his instruction that men who pray should have holy hands. If this is the antecedent of hosautos (likewise), the parallel of other Pauline uses of hosautos (likewise) suggests that "holy hands" is not an incidental element of v. 8 but a central one, which in turn suggests that Paul's point was not the (unspoken) exclusion of women from prayer, but the regulation of the manner in which men prayed. If, contrary to other Pauline usage, we assume that Paul used hosautos (likewise) to refer to a minor element of the preceding verse, his train of thought in chapter 2 is essentially disjointed, discussing in sequence topics for prayer, who should pray, incidental thoughts concerning how men should pray and how women should dress, and the prohibition of women teaching at worship. While this is of course possible, the chapter is better integrated if the men-only view is discarded. On the regulating-prayer-by-men-and-women view, the train of thought moves from topics for prayer in public worship to deportment of men and women who pray and from these (via the mention of women and public worship) to the deportment of women with respect to proclamatory authority in the worship service.

Let us now consider the problem of an antecedent for hosautos (likewise) from the regulation-of-prayer-by-men-and-women perspective. On this basis, v. 8 is not to be divided into two segments. Instead of seeing Paul's remark about holy hands as incidental, it is to be seen as central to his purpose. The verse may be interpretatively rendered:

I want men everywhere to be sure that as they pray they lift holy rather than stained hands, hands not soiled by wrath or dissension.

Verses 9 and 10 become the complement of v. 8, directing that women, as they pray, not seek to ornament themselves with fancy clothes, but rather with good works. The parallel force of hosautos (likewise) is this perfectly guarded in that Paul first identifies his audience, then addresses them with respect to a fault: men--wrath; women--unbecoming dress.

If we adopt this view, Paul's focus in v. 8 is on a problem which has marred the prayers of his churches: men have had wrath and unresolved hard feelings toward one another as they prayed. As David and the Lord before him (Psalm 24; Matthew 5:23, 24), Paul considered that unholy wrath and unresolved hard feelings were not appropriate to those who would approach God in prayer. If v. 8 discusses an issue which is important with respect to men as they pray, a besetting sin, it would be natural to infer that hosautos (likewise) is intended to introduce a similar conviction, a besetting sin typical of women. Such appears to be the case. Women, as they pray, are not to dress as the loose or ungodly women do. As we have seen, it could be argued that Paul was not thinking that women should pray but rather that, being present, they ought to be dressed in a godly fashion. We have rejected this position because it destroys the thrust of hosautos (likewise) by making v. 9 incidentally related to the central theme of v. 8. A second reason to be noted below is the fact that the related passage in I Corinthians 11 discusses precisely the question of women's adornment as they pray. It is only in the light of I Corinthians 14:24 and I Timothy 2:11ff. that exegetes have rejected the inference, clear in I Corinthians 11:5 and implicit in I Timothy 2:9, that women prayed and prophesied in the Pauline churches.

We conclude then, concerning vv. 8 and 9, that they are a continuation of Paul's discussion of prayer and are best understood as discussing problems particular to the sexes as they attend worship. Men must be careful about wrath and dissension; women must be careful about using fancy clothes as adornment instead of a godly life. While it may be argued that the verses are compatible with a situation in which women are silent, it is only by the questionable inference that Paul meant (but did not say) that men only should pray that we can construe vv. 8, 9 as prohibiting prayer by women. In the light of I Corinthians 11, which parallels I Timothy 2 by discussing both prayer and adornment of women, we must question whether it is at all a tenable inference that women were silent at all times in the Pauline assemblies.

I Timothy 2:11-15: Women and Ecclesiastical Authority

Verses 11-15 have often been taken as indicating that the conclusion just reached is in error. In them Paul commands:

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.
15. But woman will be kept safe through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

Paul's instructions are very strong. Their strength must not be sidestepped; nor must it be misdirected. We must ask how v. 11 is related to vv. 8-10. It is manifest that Paul's attention has moved from the topic of prayer to the topic of teaching and learning (manthanein, didaskein). The context of the activity is presumably still a public worship service. Most commentators note the sudden introduction of this topic. As we try to determine whether v. 8 prohibits prayer by women, it is important to consider both the flow of Paul's thought from vv. 8-10 to vv. 11-15 and the abrupt transition between v. 10 and v. 11. If we assume that vv. 8-10 are stressing that men only should pray, vv. 11-15 not only reinforce the point but preclude the possibility of other than men praying. For if women cannot speak (vv. 11, 12b), they cannot pray, nor can they teach! It is often assumed that vv. 11-15 are intended to strengthen the implicit directions of vv. 8-10 that women must not pray. They certainly would accomplish this end, but, perhaps, too much on the traditional interpretation.

On the traditional view the burden of vv. 8-10 is that men rather than women should pray. Verses 11-15 are interpreted as closing off to women not only the teaching but indeed all speech in the assembly. It is difficult on this basis to understand why Paul took so many words and so indirect a path to achieve his simple end. If he had simply said that women are not to speak in the assembly (which, on some readings, he appears to have said in I Corinthians 14:34 in contradiction of himself in I Corinthians 11:5) he would not have had to spend so much time with his hints that men should pray, or that women may not teach. These difficulties lead us to question once again whether the center of Paul's thrust is indeed the silence of women or whether it could be that he intended to regulate various sorts of behaviors in the assembly. Paul's abrupt transition between v. 10 and v. 11 suggests that he was aware of moving to a new topic. We would propose that the transition at v. 11 ought not to be understood as a return to the oft-supposed, implicit-but-never-explicit topic of v. 8, the forbidding of women to pray, but rather that it ought to be understood as a transition from the topic of the first portion of the chapter (prayer) to a new topic (the manner in which women are to relate to authoritative teaching [preaching?] ). This point of view has much to commend it. Firstly, it better maintains the integrity of chapter 2. Instead of having vv. 1-8a deal with prayer, vv. 8b-10 as an aside, and vv. 11-15 a discussion of women and authority, this view presents vv. 1-10 as a integrated discussion of prayer turning in vv. 11-15, via the discussion of women's vocal role within public worship of the congregation by means of prayer, to consider the silent role of the women during the teaching portion of public worship. Secondly, this view explains the incidental role of the topic of silence in the passage. We have noted above the traditional view's problem of the indirect manner of Paul's approach to what has often been taken as a blanket insistence upon the total silence of women. Why did the problems of prayer, prophecy, and teaching arise if he never permitted women to speak in his churches? Is it not strange that this topic should need such elaborate, circuitous discussion at this late stage in Paul's career?

If, on the other hand, vv. 9-10 regulate women's vocal role in prayer, vv. 11-15 may be understood as making it clear that permission to participate in the corporate prayer is not to be interpreted as permission to teach or to rule over men. (Individual participation in public prayer has sometimes been interpreted as an exercise of ecclesiastical authority [i.e., leading the congregation in prayer]; it need not be so viewed, but can be simply viewed as participation). Verse 11 thus stresses that, in contrast to her vocal participation in prayer a woman must learn (receive teaching) in quietness and with all submissiveness. The necessity of such explicit instruction is easy to understand when it is considered that the Jewish portion of Paul's churches was used to women not only being silent, but even to their not attending at all. The great jump from such a role to participation in prayer must have seemed a discarding of all barriers and all distinctions! I Corinthians 11 appears to reflect just such a situation in which the congregation was uncertain which distinctions remained.

Verse 12 goes on to further develop Paul's thought concerning the role of women in the teaching portion of public worship. In v. 12 Paul shifts from the learning side of the matter to the teaching side. He stresses that he will not permit women to teach or have authority over men. It should be noted that v. 11 talks of learning (manthaneto) and subjection (en pase hupotage). Verse 12 picks up the same two concepts, but from the other side, stressing teaching (didaskein) rather than learning (manthaneto) and exercise of authority (authenthein) rather than subjection (hupotage). Paul's repetition of hesuchia (silence) at the end of v. 12 completes the parallel (in silence, learning in subjection/not teaching, not exercising authority, but in silence) and shows that his thought pattern is still the same as that of v. 11. An interpretative paraphrase of the verses might read: A woman's role in teaching portions of the public worship service contrasts with what we have just said of prayer. Let a woman take her proper role of godly subjection to proper authority. She should be a silent learner. I do not permit a woman to stand over men by teaching them in the worship service, nor otherwise to exercise ecclesiastical authority over men. She must rather be in silence at time when these things are done.[5]

We conclude with regard to vv. 11, 12, that Paul meant to instruct that women may not teach nor may they exercise authority over men.

It seems appropriate, before considering vv. 13-15, to reflect once again upon our question as to whether the content of I Timothy 2:1-12 suggests that it is culturally limited and therefore should not be applied today as a ban to women becoming elders. As has been noted above, the basic commands of the chapter thus far are clearly not time bound. Prayer for rulers (vv. 1-7) is of continuing relevance. Men are surely still to pray without being filled with wrath or dissension (v. 8). Modesty (aidous), sobriety (sophrosunes) and good works are surely still appropriate to women who profess godliness (vv. 9-10). With respect to v. 9, some might be prepared to debate the need for modest clothes, but that number would presumably be very small and may be overlooked for the moment. This leaves as the only aspects of the chapter from v. 1 to v. 10 which would be questioned as to their continuing relevance those items specified by Paul as things not to be used for adornment: braided hair and gold or pearls or costly clothes. Taking the costly clothes first, we quickly sustain this as relevant in the present if we understand Paul to be making a relative judgment. What are costly clothes? The answer depends upon one's socio-economic and historical position. It is fairly obvious that Paul has in view excessively expensive and ostentatious clothes. Now, as then, such clothes mark their wearer as a woman who is centered upon herself and who disdains others of the body of Christ. Such an attitude does not become those who would pray to God.

Braided-hair-and-gold-or-pearls is an expression which is little understood today. It refers to a custom which originated with the courtesans of the day. Such women did their hair in eleven to twenty-one small braids and put circular or teardrop gold ornaments or pearls every inch or so along the length of the braids. This created a shimmering screen of ornaments. Such a display of wealth evidently became a custom among those who could afford it. Paul uses this as an example of immodest, ostentatious adornment. As such, it is an appropriate parallel of ostentatious, expensive clothes.

In the light of the preceding review, it may be safely concluded that the only thing in I Timothy 2:1-10 which is manifestly culturally limited is this one illustration of immodest dress. Even there, the basic principles are clearly isolable from the examples of their application to then present customs and thus present no exegetical or hermeneutical problems. We must conclude that the chapter thus far offers no internal justification for culturally relativizing any portion of it save the hair reference of v. 9. With this conclusion in mind, let us continue our examination of the chapter with a careful exegesis of the text and a conclusion as to whether the chapter as a whole is culturally limited as our goal.

1 Timothy 2:13,14: Theological Rationale from Pre-Fall Creation Order

It was noted during our study of Paul's discussion of prayer in w.1-10 that Paul offered a theological rationale for his directive that prayers be offered for all men. Verses 11,12, as has been noted, discuss another aspect of the worship service, the teaching situation. Verses 13 and 14 appear to offer Paul's theological rationale for his directive that women learn in silence: specifically the prior formation of Adam and the deception of Eve.

Paul's appeal to the prior formation of Adam is often difficult for modern exegetes to understand. Paul does not elaborate to explain how the priority of Adam's formation relates to men's priority of authority in ecclesiastical settings. Any explanation which we offer must, therefore, be inferential. I Corinthians 11:8,9 offers a useful parallel discussion. In explanation of the necessity of maintaining the subordinate role of wives during the worship service, Paul says:

8 the man is not out of (ek) the woman, but the woman out of (ek) the man.
9 Neither was the man created for the sake of (dia+accusative) the woman, but the woman for the sake of (dia+accusative) the man. (NIV translation)

Verse 9 implies clearly that the woman's subordination in marriage is a direct function of her having been created for the sake of the man, to relate to him. Verse 8 is harder to understand but clearly implies that the derivation of the woman from the man is either illustrative or causative of her subordinate role. The derivation of Eve from Adam (Paul's point of I Corinthians 11:8) presumes his prior existence, that he was formed first by God (Paul's point of I Timothy 2:13). We are therefore on safe exegetical ground if we conclude that the train of thought of I Corinthians 11:8,9 and that of I Timothy 2:13 are the same. In them Paul indicates that the prior formation of Adam and the derivative formation of Eve are reasons for the subordinate roles of women in marriage and in the church. His argument makes pre-fall, creational relations of men and women normative for the post-resurrection church. This form of argument all but closes off the possibility of cultural relativism as a valid reason for discarding Paul's instructions. In order to do so it would be necessary to show why creational norms should be binding in Paul's day but not in our own. Cultural "progress" will not suffice as a reason unless we can provide an exegetical basis on which to interpret it. Galatians 3:28 is often advanced but, as we have seen above, it does not provide the necessary support. We conclude therefore that, whether or not it is popular, Paul taught marital (I Corinthians 11) and ecclesiastical (I Timothy 2:11-14) subordination of women as relevant to the church of Christ and as grounded in creational rather than cultural structuring of their relation.

Some recent interpreters have sought to explain Paul's argument from creation as itself culturally bounded. Thus, it is explained, Paul used Genesis in a way which is to be explained by his own first century outlook. According to such a position a close examination of Genesis 1-3 suggests that Paul's exegetical treatment of the text is inadequate or not a full reflection of it.

Although we will delay an exegetical consideration of Genesis 1-3 until later, it should be noted here that this form of argument is not new in our day. The argument that NT theologizing and hermeneutics are culturally relative and not normative for our hermeneutics has traditionally been called demythologizing. The position outlined above serves not only to relativize Paul's teaching on women, but serves also, in principle, to relativize all of Paul's hermeneutic and theology. Those who take the Scriptures seriously will not be willing to adopt such an approach to them.

I Timothy 2:14 offers a new rationale for women's subordination in teaching. Paul says "Adam was not deceived (ouk epatete), but the woman genuinely deceived (exapate eisa) was in transgression." Once again Paul's words are cryptic and it is not possible from the actual language to discern his precise meaning. Is he saying that Adam was not deceived and did not sin? Is he saying Eve was the cause of the Fall? Does he mean that Eve was gullible, that other women are gullible, and therefore that women should not teach? Does he mean all women are to be punished for what Eve did?

We may dismiss out of hand the suggestions that Paul meant Adam was not sinful and that Eve was the guilty source of the Fall. Although the rabbis and the church fathers have sometimes identified Eve as the guilty party, Paul in Romans 5:12 is explicit in identifying Adam as the one who sinned and through whom sin and death entered the world. With respect to I Timothy 2:14, we conclude that Paul's point was not that the woman was at fault, but rather that. She was not at fault as was Adam because she was deceived while he was not! He deliberately and knowingly chose to sin: he was not deceived; she did not understand: she was quite deceived. Christian men cannot indulge themselves by saying, "Oh, that Eve had not done it!" Paul indicates that Adam, not Eve, did it and that he did it knowing full well what he was doing!

It is more difficult to assess whether Paul intended to say that all women are as gullible as was Eve. Titus 2:3 offers some help, however, in that it directs the older women to teach the younger. It would appear that Paul did not consider that women were too gullible to be able to teach! In this vein we should note also Paul's association with Priscilla and Aquila who, according to Acts, both taught Paul's fellow worker Apollos.

Our examination of I Corinthians 11:8,9 and I Timothy 2:13 has suggested that Paul appealed to God's created order as the course of his teaching on the role of women. In both cases Paul illustrated from the pre fall narrative the role patterns which he taught as currently normative. Is it possible that I Timothy 2:14 may be another example of the normativity of the prefall situation? If it is, we must ask what pre-fall element is in view. Verse 14 clearly focuses upon the deception of the woman. In contrast to her