Monday, June 17, 2013

The belief of childbearing in I Timothy 2

Read this I Timothy 2 text in which I have underlined key words.

1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men: 2 for kings and all who are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 who desires all people to be saved and come to full 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; the testimony in its own times; 7 to which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth in Christ, not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
8 I desire therefore that the men in every place pray, lifting up holy hands without anger and doubting. 9 In the same way, that women also adorn themselves in decent clothing, with modesty and propriety; not just with braided hair, gold, pearls, or expensive clothing; 10 but (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in quietness with full submission. 12 But I don’t permit a woman to teach, nor to exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 Adam wasn’t deceived, but the woman, being deceived, has fallen into disobedience; 15 but she will be saved through her childbearing, if they continue in faith, love, and sanctification with sobriety.
the practice of circumcision and culture
If a person were reading the NT for the first time and asked you what is circumcision how would you answer him/her? Some probable answers might include that circumcision was 1) a cultural practice, 2) a cultural practice in Israel, or 3) a sign of the covenant God made with Abraham, the father of Israel. Circumcision was not a cultural practice in Israel. It was a religious practice.

There is something like or similar to a cultural practice in the I Timothy 2 passage. However, it is not a cultural practice. The reference by Paul to childbearing is a of universal human reality. However, it was not the universal human reality of childbearing of a particular country or ethnicity. The reference was to 1) a belief related to childbearing, 2) a belief of Artemis as savior of women through childbearing, and 3) a belief which was prevalent throughout Asia. Why? The reference by Paul is closely associated with salvation, a belief, and childbearing.

three elements
There are three elements which Paul bears out concerning salvation and which focus exclusively on the woman: 1) the instruction (I do not permit a woman to teach), 2) the reason for the instruction (FOR Adam was first formed . . . BUT the woman being deceived), and 3) the expected results from the instruction (BUT she will be saved through her childbearing).

There is a another instance of an objective with a similar end result involving the salvation of a certain individual who became the focus of Paul's admonition in I Corinthians chapter five. Paul gave an instruction deliver such a one to Satan, (I Corinthians 5:5a) the reason for that instruction, for the destruction of his flesh, (I Corinthians 5:5b) and the result; that his spirit may be saved. (I Corinthians 5:5c) The progression from point 1 to point 2 to point 3 in the I Timothy passage suggests these (instruction, reason for instruction and expected results from that instruction) are related and are inseparable. Any response to one part can not be done while disregarding or discarding the other two.

So, why did Paul, given the NT examples of obedience to the gospel message of salvation (a belief) through faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior state the expected results for points 1 & 2 in point 3 that the woman will be saved through her childbearing?

Artemis and childbearing
Paul began his ministry in Ephesus where Artemis was to the Gentiles in Ephesus and Asia what Yahweh was to the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea. Luke, the inspired writer of Acts introduced the saints in Christ to Artemis in Acts 19. Although there were numerous and different beliefs held about Artemis there were no more than about three which were very much in common throughout Asia. One of those beliefs was that she was born first. Then, she turned and assisted her mother Leto give birth to her twin brother Apollo. Subsequently, according to the beliefs which evolved around Artemis myth, she became the savior of women _ in childbirth.

Now, note the underlined key words in the Timothy passage above and how each of these stand out as a contrast and an affront by Paul against the belief of Artemis. Cultural is an anomaly which though it may look like religion or civic law it does not draw its authority from either of these, but solely from the social interactions of people. In America we call that peer pressure. The practice concerning childbearing in Ephesus and Asia was not a cultural practice. The apostle Paul's reference to childbearing is not a moot reference to the universal reality of childbirth. Rather it was a religious practice as Paul alluded to it in this Timothy passage; the belief that Artemis was the savior of women. Paul's refutation is that it is Jesus who is the savior, not of men only or of women only, but of all mankind. Artemis was totally self-deceived in her belief, both of being born first (This is yet another Artemis belief which reverberates in Paul's writing when he asserts that it is Jesus who is firstborn, not of woman, but of the resurrection.) and of being the savior of women.

unlike Artemis: Adam and Eve
Paul wisely but unabashedly affronts further the claims of Artemis: Unlike Artemis, Adam and Eve were not born. They were created by the one by whom, through whom and for whom all things were created. (Colossians 1:15) Paul's point is not who was deceived, totally deceived or deceived first as much as he was pointing to the deceptive message of a deceived Artemis as savior who could not save anyone. Eve, like Artemis, was deceived, but unlike Artemis there was redemption for Eve as well as all women and all mankind through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. His point is not, as some actually suggest and as some teach today, that the childbearing by the woman can free her from the stigma (utterly appalling) of being the first to sin. The only other reference which Paul made to childbearing was in I Timothy 5:14 as a way of not giving occasion to the enemy. (There is a third and fourth reference by Paul to childbirth in Galatians 4:4 (of Jesus) and Hagar/Mt Sinai/Jerusalem, respectively. The unabashed, unapologetic third reference is to the birth in the flesh of the Son of God to a woman. The fourth and last reference Paul states that he is speaking allegorically.) In Ephesus the enemy Satan masqueraded under the name of Artemis.

Why, after having been redeemed through faith in Jesus, should our sisters in Christ be burdened with such a carnal notion from carnal minds with childbearing as a condition of their salvation if indeed they have been born of water and spirit? If there were any stigma from which our sisters in Christ in Ephesus were to be freed it was that of being in the debt of Artemis who could not save them. How much better then for young widows, our sisters, then to graphically demonstrate against the BELIEF of Artemis as savior in childbearing than by BEARING CHILDREN without Artemis, (as in I Timothy 5:14) but in Jesus! Every day in Jesus whether or not they bore children, because after all this IS NOT a requirement that women are to bear children, (though I'm sure there plenty of carnal minds eager to impose that yoke.) they are to continue in faith, love, and sanctification with sobriety.

Peace, brothers and sisters.

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