i try to stay out of the culture wars within our faith, truly i do, although i admit i’m not always successful. but! this makes me livid because it is condoning domestic abuse and i will speak out on it and so should you.

john piper says, and i quote,

“If it’s [the abuse] not requiring her to sin but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, and she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.”

i know i’m preaching to the choir here but this is wrong on so many counts. what piper doesn’t realize is a woman could be killed from enduring one night of being smacked. we need to stand against this sort of “teaching”. there is nothing of God in it. also, verbal abuse is just as wrong as well and women are NOT to submit to it. the power of life and death is in the tongue. as my former pastor, a complementarian, said in a sermon once: if a man ever hits you you call 911 and you call on God!

**if the video doesn’t load here then go here to fora.tv**

Lise Eliot talks about Pink Brain, Blue Brain. Based on research in the field of neuroplasticity, Eliot zeroes in on the precise differences between boys and girls’ brains and explains the harmful nature of gender stereotypes.

She offers parents and teachers concrete ways they can help all children reach their fullest potential.

ht: pc

(this is merely one post in our biblical series that addresses 1 timothy 2:11-12. for the others please see: are women allowed to teach men?backdrop of 1 timothywomen: more easily deceived than men?, and forbidding women teachers or false teachers? . for the entire biblical series on women in leadership please go here)

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”–Paul, 1 Timothy 2:11-12

Paul’s letters are already difficult to interpret because they are like listening to one side of a telephone conversation, but faulty translations only further complicate our understanding of his words. There are a few key words that are conveniently mistranslated in 1 Timothy 2: 11-15.
Hesuchios/Hesuchia: Traditionalists normally translate this word as “silence” (at least in passages concerning women), but the word in all other places is translated as “peacefulness” “Peaceable” or “quietness.” The word does not carry the meaning of literal silence or absence of speech, but of an atmosphere or presence in which learning should take place. Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines hesuchios/hesuchias as “properly, keeping one’s seat,” “stillness” “undisturbed,” “undisturbing,” and “peaceable.”
When Paul has absence of speech in mind, he uses the term “sigao.” The same word is used just nine verses earlier and is translated as “peaceable,” 1 Timothy 2:1-2. Hesuchios/hesuchia is translated as quiet/quietness in 1 Thess. 4:11, 2 Thess. 3:12, 1 Peter 3:4. None of these verses are about silence, as in the literal absence of speech, but a tranquil quietness or peaceable presence/environment. This fits the context much better than a literal silence, since Paul just rebuked the men in the congregation for praying while angry and quarreling. Obviously, this would NOT be the optimum environment for anyone to learn in. Thus, Paul tells Timothy to make sure the woman can learn in quietness or peacefulness, and not amid the chaos that was taking over church meetings.
Paul also instructs that women should learn in full submission. This is not a unique request asked only of women, but men are also suppose to learn in full submission to the gospel and sound teaching. The reason this command is directed toward women here is only because teaching women in the same way as men was still a revolutionary practice and still repulsive to many men, believers or not.
Now, onto the grand-daddy of mistranslations and controversy….
“…nor to have authority over [authentein] a man…”
Exousia is the normal word used for “authority,” a carrying out of one’s official duties. But this is not the word Paul uses here. He instead picks the word authentein and it is the ONLY time this word appears in the New Testament. Exousia, however, appears over 100 times. Other uses of authentein from the same time period show that this word does not simply mean legitimate or routine authority, but carries violent, sexual, and dominating meanings.

Authentein.It cannot be stressed enough how unusual this word is, especially for Paul. Paul writes about authority quite a bit and he never uses authentein as a synonym for legitimate, godly authority. For most mentions of authority, he uses exousia. Louw and Nida’s Lexicon lists 12 common ancient Greek words that are synonyms for routine or legitimate authority, exousia being the most common throughout the new testament. There are 47 words that are synonyms for legitimate “rule” or “governing.” Yet Paul uses none of these words in 1 Timothy 2:11, he chooses the unusual authentein. We do not find any evidence that authentein, in any of its forms, connotates a routine or legitimate authority until the late third to fourth centuries, far too removed from Paul’s era to provide relevant meanings and contexts. And even once the word took on a less severe meaning in later centuries, THIS passage was ALWAYS been understood as Paul forbidding women to dominate a man, not simply exercise legitimate Christ-like authority. Consider these early translations: Old Latin Version from the second – fourth century translates this verse as “I permit not a woman to teach, neither to dominate a man {neque dominari in viro}.

The Vulgate, from the second to fourth century, translates this verse as “I permit not a woman to teach, neither to domineer over a man {neque dominari in virum}.

“There is a basically unbroken tradition, stemming from the oldest version and running down to the twenty first century, that translates authentein as “to dominate” and not “to exercise authority over.”-Linda Belleville
It is not until the 1500s that the verb authentein used in this verse changes from the drastically negatively-charged “to dominate/domineer” to a slightly water-downed phrase, “to usurp authority” (thanks, King James). Still different from exercising legitimate authority, but much less forceful than the violent and even sexual connotations of the original authentein. The King James version asserts that women are not to wrestle authority or seize it from men. No believer is permitted to usurp authority or act in self-interest over others. It is not until after World War II that authentein really gets the botched-translated: “to exercise/assume authority over.” That’s right, less than 80 years ago! So, the notion that women may never exercise godly authority within the body based on this verse is completely unbiblical, both logically and historically.
Exegetical Fallacies in Interpreting 1 Timothy 2:11–15
This is by far the best article I’ve read on 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Linda Belleville, a new testament professor, put together a thorough and compelling paper on 5 exegetical fallacies concerning 1 Timothy 2:11-12 : Contextual/historical, Lexical, Grammatical, Cultural, and Doctrinal. She provides a thorough survey of the early uses of authenteo, in all its forms. This is a MUST read to gain a proper understanding of the egalitarian position. (update: this article is no longer free but has a small charge)
Catherine C. Kroeger also put together a brilliant survey of authentein (and all it’s sister-nouns/adjectives) uses from before Paul up until the third and fourth centuries. I would particularly challenge Tonya and Catrina to read these articles in full before giving me CBMW rebuttals. :)
These combined articles find that early uses of authentein (in its noun, verb, and adjective forms) collectively mean “criminal mastermind,” “a perpetrator,” “one who slays with his own hand,” “self-murder,” “women who can command domestic and sexual services from their male concubines,” “incestuous sex and murder,” “religious sexual orgies,” “to dominate,” “to control,” “to restrain,” and “to domineer.”

Hardly the meaning we find in modern translations of 1 Timothy 2:11.

One of the earliest meanings to authentein is the act of murder or the act of violence.
Wisdom of Solomon 12:6, an apocrypha book translated into ancient Greek, considered “scripture” by both Jews and Christians until the second century AD, uses a form of authentein.
“With their priests out of the midst of their idolatrous crew, and the parents, that killed with their own hands [authentas] souls destitute of help.”
Ancient Greek grammarians and lexicographers define authentein as “to dominate,” “to control, restrain, and domineer.” It is also classified as a “vulgar” term, possibly because of it’s sexual uses.

Other notable uses of the word include:

Josephus, the famous Jewish historian from Paul’s own time, used the noun form, authenten, to describe the “author” of a poisonous drink. Diodorus of Sicily wrote about the “sponsors” (authentas) of daring plans and the “perpetrators” (authentas) of a crime. John Chrysostom, an early church father, used the same word, authentia to express “sexual license” or perverse sexual practices. Clement, another early church father, linked the word with women involved in sexual orgies.
Catherine Kroeger makes an excellent analysis of the implications of the original meaning of authentein:
“Chrysostom [the early church father] uses autheritia to denote “sexual license.” If the word in this context refers to sexual behavior, it puts a quite different interpretation on the entire passage. For instance, if we were to translate the passage, ‘I forbid a woman to teach or discuss higher algebra with a man,’ we would understand the prohibition to be directed against instruction in mathematics. Suppose it read, ‘I forbid a woman to teach or talk Japanese with a man.’ Then we infer that the injunction applies to the teaching of language. ‘I forbid a woman to teach or dangle a man from a high wire’ would presuppose that the instructor was an aerialist. ‘I forbid a woman to teach or engage in fertility practices with a man’ would imply that the woman should not involve a man in the heretical kind of Christianity which taught licentious behavior as one of its doctrines. Such a female heretic did indeed ‘teach to fornicate’ in the Thyatiran church mentioned in Revelation 2:20 (cf. 2:14f.; Num. 25:3; 31:15f.).
Too often we underestimate the seriousness of this problem for the New Testament church. A passage in 2 Peter expresses concern not only for those drawn into this error but also for the illegitimate children which it produced:
‘But Israel had false prophets as well as true; and you likewise will have false teachers among you. . . . Having eyes full of adultery, that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls, an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children which have forsaken the right way … following the way of Balaam…. They utter big empty words, and make of sensual lusts and debauchery a bait to catch those who have barely begun to escape from their heathen environment (2:1,14f.,18).'”
Others have conducted in depth word studies on authentein with similar results…
Dr. David H. Scholer sites Leeland Edward Wilshire’s exhaustive study of the word authentien.“Wilshire is the first to use the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) computer database, which contains virtually all three thousand ancient Greek authors from Homer to A.D. 600. The database showed that authentein and its cognates occurred about 330 times and over a large number of centuries almost exclusively meant “a perpetrator of a violent act, either murder or suicide.”

But there is no evidence from the first century that authentein means ordinary or legitimate authority. Nothing exists until the late third and fourth centuries to suggest other meanings, and even then, the verse in question still translates authentein as “dominating men” or “domineer over men.”


Paul is not allowing a woman to teach others to dominate men, to teach the domination of men, nor to dominate a man themselves, but to be peaceable (heshucias). This verse has nothing to do at all with mature, trained christian women exercising their spiritual gifts and serving the body through teaching, preaching, or leading. These were women led astray by false teaching, whom Paul is correcting in these verses and who must start at the beginning with full submission to the gospel and sound teaching.

He ties in the creation story to draw a correlation between Eve being deceived by the voice of false teaching and these women. It is a reminder to the church of the devastating effects of false teaching and deception.

I know someone is going to say, Well, if Paul is forbidding dominating others as opposed to holding mere authority and it’s wrong for all believers to dominate each other, why does Paul only address this to women?” Consider that HERE IN THIS LETTER, Paul is correcting the ones exhibiting specific behaviors. Consider that Paul only tells the men to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger or disputing. Now, just because he only directs the men here in this verse, does that mean women shouldn’t lift up holy hands? Does it mean women are free to be angry and constantly disputing in or out of church? Of course not. But the men in the body were the ones exhibiting this behavior, so Paul only addresses them, even though it’s inappropriate for all believers to behave that way. Likewise, he only addresses the women about dominating and seizing authority through false teachings, possibly sexual ones, because they were the ones doing it in this instance.

Consider this reality of ancient Greek culture pointed out by Catherine Koeger:
“Virtually without exception, female teachers among the Greeks were courtesans, such as Aspasia, who numbered Socrates and Pericles among her students. Active in every major school of philosophy, these hetairai (high-class, intellectual prostitues) made it evident in the course of their lectures that they were available afterwards for a second occupation. But the Bible teaches that to seduce men in such a manner was indeed to lead them to slaughter and the halls of death (cf. Prov. 2:18; 5:5; 7:27; 9:18). The verb authentein is thus peculiarly apt to describe both the erotic and the murderous.”
It becomes overwhelming clear from the the well-documented culture of Ephesus coupled with the original word meanings used in 1 Timothy 2:11-12, that this mandate is not a prohibition against all women teaching/preaching/leading in the church. It’s simply absurd to keep gifted and qualified women from teaching the truth of the gospel, leading church bodies in the ways of Jesus, or simply contributing their gifts by vocally participating in the gatherings of the entire body because of a verse that was originally a disciplinary action against women at Ephesus. who were lead astray by false teaching.
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