“Well the Bible says it, so it must mean it.”
Cue incoming brain shut down. This statement has been used to terminate further discussion for generations. I could read the signs written all over the body language of my opinionated teenager. I would have limited time and verbiage to be heard without an argument.
If you haven’t read part 1 and 2 of my daughter’s voyage into the “offending” limitations of 1 Timothy 2, you might want to catch up.
My daughter had just finished reading 1 Timothy 2 through verse 15. Even though I had prepped her reading with interesting tidbits about the pervasive mythology driving Paul’s instructions to Timothy, she had done what many Bible readers have done in the past. She divorced the context from the passage, hence misunderstood the meaning, and then made sweeping conclusions by being complacent with a naive, literal interpretation. Simply, it was confusing and she didn’t want to think any more about it.
I asked, “Who was Paul talking to?”
“Which women, specifically?”
“Uh… the women in Timothy’s church?”
“Yes. You remember where I said they were?”
“Oh yeah. The place where the temple to Artemis was?”
“Ephesus. Can you see any connections?”
Window of Opportunity closing in 5…4…3…
Speed talking now, I said, “Could it be possible Paul wasn’t talking about women, everywhere, in every time? The women in Ephesus had been deceived by the Artemis myth, and most likely, they were pretty confused. Paul didn’t want them teaching others.”
“Oh, Okay. I just want to get my reading done.” She opened the Book and began flipping to the right page.
“Great. Let me know if you have any more questions.”
She sat on her bed with the Bible open. She might not understand all the theological points Paul was and was not making in that chapter, but she was still reading. I consider that a successful foray into the mires of a modern mind reading 1 Timothy. Simply understanding that we might not understand, is an important lesson to learn when reading the Words of God.
So, what about 1 Timothy 2:9-15?
It was enough for my daughter to know that I believed the passage taught something different than her literal, isolated understanding of it. For me, that was a gift I could give to her… an open door.
For decades, this passage closed the door to ministry for me. I was taught this passage was written to all women, everywhere, at every time. Like many others, I used this passage to interpret all other Scripture written about women, instead of using Scripture (especially the immediate context) to decode the meaning of these limitations and teaching.
If you’re willing to go deeper with me than my daughter wanted to go, join me for the next few posts as I explore the purpose of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 in context and in application.