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Monday, September 5, 2016

Quietness, Salvation and Women

Women, specifically ours sisters in Christ, are often told and in many instances are instructed as to their place in the ministry of the church, not surprisingly, by men. They are to be quiet and silent in that assembly of believers. There is, to be sure, no small number of women who have accepted this instruction and teaching of men. Those women have themselves become active propagators of this message of men concerning the ministry of women in Christ. I will not question the sincerity or the good intentions behind this teaching. I derive no spiritual thrill from casting names on them or questioning their faith. This is not in discussion. What is in discussion is a carnal, worldly approach to the reading and teaching of the scriptures. What is in discussion here is the teaching which continues to be perpetuated as much by men as by women which calls for and places the quiet and saved woman into a second and lower tier in the royal priesthood of believers. This is especially true of women who are willing, able, and even more; who have a calling to teach and preach. This is at vastly serious odds with the scriptures.

error perpetuated
When women do teach their audience is to be of the feminine gender. Any masculine gender learners must be non-converts, that is, they are to be non-believers. Should any of those masculine gender learners in the audience be converted while the woman is teaching she can no longer teach them. Thus, in this manner the error is perpetuated.

There is a reason why this seriously mistaken notion is as filled with confusion as it is convoluted. It stems from two references in the scriptures which appear in close proximity concerning 1) the quietness of women and 2) the salvation of women in First Timothy 2. It is those two references which are the focus of this article. A secondary reference on the silence of women is found in I Corinthians 14:34.

There may be no greater revelation as to the serious problems with the interpretation than the same passage where the two references are found in First Timothy 2:11-15. The two references are as clear and plain as can be. The problem with the discussion on both sides becomes evident in the uneasy, weak and contrived explanations offered especially as concerns the salvation of woman through childbearing.

a short list of articles
Here is a sampling of a few of those contrived and convoluted explanations. Of course, these are very familiar among scholars and scholars' discussion forums. These include new and old scholars as well as the familiar original language word definitions and commentaries:

John MacArthur How Are Women “Saved Through Childbearing?” 12/5/2014
Tim Challies Saved Through Childbearing? 06/07/2011

some examples of clear and simple teaching
Jesus taught the multitudes through the use of parables in order for them to examine and understand the message of the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus used parables they had the intended effect of provoking, teaching, encouraging and allowing the people to think. This was nothing like their religious leaders who had no desire or patience to invest towards building understanding and edification among the people. Parables seem to be a clear and simple form of teaching. However, even when Jesus did not teach with parables his teaching appears to have been plain and simply enough. Still, this did not necessarily translate into a quick acceptance of his teaching by those who heard it. The lawyer who sought to justify himself is one example. The rich young ruler is another one.

The washing of the feet of the disciples is one demonstrative example of the teaching of Jesus. It appears to be simple and clear enough. Today some disciples designate a regular day or month in the year when a designated group is chosen among them whose feet will be washed. This is noble. It is commendable. It is praiseworthy, but it is not as though this sincere imitation of the feet washing by Jesus necessarily reflects an understanding beyond the simple act of washing feet.

There is a especially egregious point about the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus. What is egregious is how it exposes the inconsistency of some brothers and sisters who tout themselves and their message as being impenetrably sound because their doctrine adheres or reflects either a command, an example or a necessary inference, or the so-called CENI method of interpreting scripture correctly. The problem is that Jesus states clearly that he gave an example for the disciples. Then, he adds that "you also ought to wash one another's feet."

Why is that there are no examples in the New Testament of the apostles washing one another's feet? Why is that there is no instance of the apostles instructing the disciples to wash one another's feet? Why is that brothers and sisters who tout command, an example or a necessary inference themselves do not adhere to this clearly defined example of Jesus? These are not rhetorical questions nor are they questions without answers. I will return to this later.
teaching things with explanations and that are hard to understand
Unlike Jesus, the apostle Paul was not one given to teaching in parables. He delivered much teaching often with a great deal of explanation. Yet, his teaching was not above being misunderstood by some of his listeners. The apostle Peter acknowledges that some of the things that Paul wrote are hard to understand. Peter said this in the context of his own teaching in which he calls us to be in peace, spotless and blameless for the coming of the day of God. Paul himself was misunderstood by the saints in Thessalonica concerning the day of the Lord.

Paul made reference to one instance when the saints in Christ  completely misunderstood his teaching with respect to his message that they were not to associate with immoral people. (I Corinthians 5:9-12) There is a double irony in the matter of our brothers and sisters in Corinth. While they had mistakenly thought that they had understood and were being true to Paul's admonition to not associate with immoral persons they were simultaneously rejoicing in the immorality of a so-called (as Paul refers to him) brother who had taken his father's wife.

What does the teaching of Jesus in parables, feet washing and Paul’s teaching have to do in the matter of quietness, salvation and women? It is that even simple, clear teaching, such as parables, can pose a challenge for the learner and it is not necessarily readily understood. Certainly, it is no less true of things which are hard to understand or when they are explained. This might serve as a clue for some brothers and sisters who are quick to claim that the teaching of Paul in First Timothy 2:9-15 is clear and needs no interpretation. It is not a disgrace or a sin to struggle to understand the God whom we love. This is inherent of the people of God, or Israel which means one who struggles or contends with God.

So much of the work and effort to interpret and explain the apostle Paul's words that he did not permit a woman to teach are lost in the muddle of concocted and convoluted messages. The irony is that these messages begin with the touting of original Greek language single word definitions in isolation. Then, there is the barrage of questions from both sides as to why Paul did not say something as well as endless blank assertions as to what Paul did not say. These may have the intended effect of impressing listeners and to give the impression that one understands what they question or assert, but this is hardly the case as, my brothers and sisters, it becomes apparent to those who hear us.

receive instruction quietly and remain quiet A specific point of this work and effort through the above means of interpretation and explanation is the focus on the apostle Paul's word for women to receive instruction quietly and to remain quiet. The definition of the word quiet in isolation certainly does not hinder the understanding of the passage. I think some of us are familiar with the follow up response to that definition as to how the word could possibly mean something else and on and on.

Artemis of the Ephesians There was a more apparent reality for the saints in Christ in Ephesus where Paul ministered for two years under the virtual shadow of the temple of Artemis. It is no less apparent for the saints in Christ in the twenty first century. The work of the Spirit through the apostles in Jerusalem had resulted in a great number of the priests becoming obedient to the faith. Luke reports this some time after several thousands had been converted. The Spirit had done similar work through his servant Paul throughout Asia as Demetrius himself attested in Acts 19. Once in Ephesus who could possibly be a more significant target of Paul than the priestesses of Artemis to bring them to the obedience of the faith?

Generally, there is a glossing over of Paul's words as to how women were to adorn* themselves in First Timothy 2. The apparent reality which escapes many is just who would be in a position of means to adorn themselves in such a costly manner than the priestesses who were becoming obedient to the faith in Jesus, or does this seem like an extravagant improbable plausibility to you? Any teaching by these same sisters in Christ and who were local and known in Ephesus could easily be mistaken or misunderstood as some variation and something new in the teaching of Artemis. Simply, it was not expedient for them to teach. Paul had employed a similar strategy when he had Timothy circumcised before sending him to preach among the Jews. There would be time and opportunity for our sisters in Ephesus to teach later. In the meantime, they were to learn quietly and remain quiet as the prepared. Remember, the apostle Paul himself had been twice forbidden by the Spirit to preach the gospel in Asia in the regions just north of Ephesus.

Now, to go back to the example of the washing of feet of the disciples by Jesus. The lesson from Jesus is that we are to do for one another and not to think too highly of ourselves. In the workplace this might involve wiping down the break room counter top which no one else does because they don't get paid to do it. Others would boast that they couldn't pay them enough to do such a lowly task, but the disciple of Jesus does it because the Teacher has taught us. Hence, in this manner you open a door for inquiry and discussion.

Here is a test of the spirit by which the claim is made that the interpretation and teaching of scripture, such as First Timothy 2:12, does not require any explanation. Is there anyone who has cut out the eye that offended them or cut off the hand that caused them to sin? Of course, the reply goes something like this: What Jesus meant was . . . hence, the rightful need for interpretation and explanation of a very clear and plain teaching from Jesus. The following three paragraphs are from my article.

three elements
There are three elements in Paul's message 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. It is the previously mentioned so-called brother in Corinth. 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 First 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.

Paul's message, as the NT examples, is clear that salvation is through the obedience of the gospel. So, why did Paul state the expected results for points 1 & 2 in point 3 is 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 which were held about Artemis there were three which were common throughout Asia. One of those beliefs was that she was born first. Then, she turned and assisted her mother give birth to her twin brother Apollo. Subsequently, according to the myth belief which evolved around Artemis, she became the savior of women _ in childbirth.

Now, note the underlined key words in the First 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. Childbearing in Ephesus and Asia was not a merely a natural experience. Childbearing was not associated with culture. It was associated with the religious practice as it is alluded to in this First Timothy passage, namely, the belief that Artemis was the savior of women. Paul's refutation is that Jesus is the savior of 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 casts an affront on 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 faith in 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 having been the first to sin. The only other reference which Paul made to childbearing was in First Timothy 5:14 as a way of not giving occasion to the enemy. In Ephesus the enemy's name was Artemis.

*(This represents just one other example of the inconsistencies which hound and plague many of those who lead, teach and preach. I understand the instruction of Paul is not a prohibition against women adorning themselves. Yes, there is more that I am able to expound on that, but that is for another topic discussion. My point is that while some may snicker at the practice of some saints who faithfully and in faith adhere to the avoidance of wearing jewelry it raises the question why are they so willing to be accept such a mistaken notion being imposed on women? Is it because it only concerns women, hence, it's not like it involved the matter of women teaching and the perceived threat which it posed for those who lead, teach and preach?)

Conclusion
There is at the very least a need for a serious examination of the teaching of men and women by which the teaching of the apostle Paul concerning the quietness and salvation of women casts and relegates them to the fringes of teaching and preaching in the royal priesthood of believers. There is at worse a time for those saints who would impede those women who have a calling to teach and preach to stand aside.

It is truly a contrived, forced and convoluted explanation which imposes quietness and salvation on women in Christ under the guise of having the authority of the apostle Paul. The beginning of light being shed on the quietness and salvation of women in Ephesus is when the saints acknowledge the presence, let alone examine, the cult of Artemis. I have often heard preachers absolve themselves of any need to inform themselves on a pagan deity such as Artemis. This is as unconvincing as it seems disingenuous. The was the focus of Paul’s strategies and tactics to dethrone and demolish the cult of Artemis and was unapologetic about doing what he did for the cause of the kingdom even his adversaries sought to turn those strategies against him.
This whole message is not to blindly suggest or advocate a change in the practice of the saints concerning our sisters in the assembly without understanding the scriptures. Understanding is imperative before deciding to act one way or the other. The consequences of not understanding or decisions and action in the light of the scriptures is no edification and the loss of confidence and rejoicing in the Lord. There must and there is to be understanding and edification for the saints in Christ if these things are done through the work of the Holy Spirit in every one of us.

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