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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Parallel objective lessons from Paul

There are two instances of parallel objective lessons in Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 5 and I Timothy 2. The objective in the former involved the salvation of a certain individual. He was the focus of Paul's admonition in I Corinthians chapter five. There are three progressive points which Paul uses to escalate and build up his point in his letter to the saints in Corinth. Paul gave them 1) an instruction “deliver such a one to Satan,” (I Corinthians 5:5a) 2) the reason or purpose for that instruction, “for the destruction of his flesh,” (I Corinthians 5:5b) and 3) the expected results from that instruction “that his spirit may be saved.” (I Corinthians 5:5c)


Here is the other similar instance of Paul’s teaching
in which his objective is laid out successively. The three points or elements involved salvation with a limited and exclusive focus on the woman in I Timothy 2. Paul enumerates these points as follows in his letter to the young man Timothy whose ministry was in Ephesus: 1) the instruction “I do not permit a woman to teach,: 2) the reason or purpose 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.”


The progression from point 1 to point 2 to point 3 in the I Corinthians 5 passage suggests that these (instruction, reason or purpose for the instruction and the expected results from that instruction) are related and are inseparable. The progression from point 1 to point 2 to point 3 in the I Timothy passage suggests that these (instruction, reason or purpose for the instruction and the 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.


This cogent and convenient alignment of these three points by the apostle Paul in the I Corinthians passage is typically and readily understood and embraced by the saints. This is in part because we have in II Corinthians 2 as the testimony of the scriptures that the immoral brother had repented and had been restored, that is, the expected result of the instruction was attained.


This is not so with the I Timothy passage. Oh, there might be a ready understanding and embrace of the first two points. This is not without what I call a considerable convoluted concoction of a so-called explanation. The explanation comes at the expense of severing the third point concerning the salvation of women with its own convoluted concoction of a so-called explanation. The concoction only gets thicker with the feeble explanations on Paul’s only other reference in his writings to childbearing in I Timothy 5:14 which is explained that a good Christian woman is even better if she is bearing children.


The second point, the reason or purpose for the instruction “FOR Adam was first formed . . . BUT the woman being deceived,” demands a closer examination. The reason which Paul gives for the instruction is divided further by the contrast “BUT the woman being deceived.” If the three points are to examined and understood together and not separated, then it is equally true of this sub point.


One common explanation of the entire passage that Paul merely reiterated the order of creation could possibly hold up with respect to the first part about Adam being formed first. However, the deception of Eve, as much as it is true and that it happened in the garden of Eve shortly after Adam was formed, is not part of the creation. So, what could the forming of Adam and the deception of Eve possibly have meant to Paul’s audience? What could possibly have resonated as being familiar to Jew and Gentile alike in Ephesus?

What would resonated with them was that the Artemis cult touted her as being firstborn. After she was born she turned and assisted her mother give birth to her twin brother, Apollo. Hence, Artemis touted herself as the savior of women through childbirth. This was the deception of Artemis to think she was firstborn and savior. The apostle Paul seized and appropriated these claims of Artemis and applied them to Jesus. It is Jesus who is the firstborn, not of woman, but from the resurrection from the dead. Even Adam and Eve, unlike Artemis, were not born; they were created. Certainly, the woman Eve, like Artemis, was deceived, but unlike Artemis, she did not claim to be a savior nor was she a savior. Eve was herself, as well as all men, saved through Jesus, the Savior.


What could possibly be missing from the picture in I Timothy concerning the instruction which Paul gave, the reason for the instruction which Paul gave and the expected results of that instruction? Why does it continue to baffle so many of those who lead, teach and preach? Why do they continue to conjure up all manner of feeble and lame so-called explanations for the saints in Christ, but for women in particular? Is it because of their continue obliviousness of Artemis? They much prefer to expound on sexual immoralities concerning temple prostitutes or the academia of Gnosticism. The latter was a newcomer to Asia, but the former, namely Artemis, had been around for centuries. It was that cult and culture which the apostle Paul and Timothy made it their mission to dethrone and demolish.

There is an irony in the aftermath of the apostle Paul and Timothy’s mission to dethrone and demolish the female cult of Artemis. The irony is that the work of the males Paul and Timothy has come to be seized and appropriated by males who have enthroned themselves as the exclusive anointed ones to prophesy, but God poured out his Spirit on his sons AND daughters for them to prophesy.

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