Insights from Man and Woman, One in Christ: Part 9

Chapters 21-22 of Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters present Payne’s careful exegesis of 1 Tim 2:13-15, where Paul offers explanations why women are prohibited from teaching. Chapter 23 briefly summarizes his findings from 1 Tim 2:8-15. Although this post is brief, readers should not conclude Payne’s treatment succumbs to brevity, especially chapter 22, “1 Timothy 2:15: Salvation Through ‘the Childbirth'”, where he spills not a little ink explicating the meaning of “childbirth” and offering responses to alternative interpretations.

Chapter 21 “1 Timothy 2:13-14: The Need for Respect, the Danger of Deception”

1 Tim 2:13 is a call for women to respect men as their source in creation, not a mandate to submit to male leadership. Payne observes “all of the various things Paul has just commanded woman—to learn in quietness and full submission, do not teach and assume authority over a man, but be quiet—are predicated on respect for man. Woman should respect man since man was created before woman and since woman was formed out of man.” To “assume a stance of independent authority” over man is tantamount to showing disrespect for man who was first in the creation order of humanity and is the source of woman (see post 8 in this series for details. See especially Payne’s helpful rejoinder to Blomberg’s analysis.). Equally, however, man must regard woman with respect, since “1 Tim 2:15 points to a reason for man to respect woman: the Savior came through woman.”

The reason for restricting women teaching men is extended to verse 14 “and Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (NIV). Of course Adam did eat the forbidden fruit and Paul indicts Adam as being responsible for the fall (Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:21-22), so Payne asks rhetorically, “If someone or something had not deceived him, why would he disobey God?” Thus, “‘Adam was not deceived’ is just another way of saying, ‘the serpent did not deceive Adam.'” Just as Eve was Satan’s direct target for deception in Gen 3:1-6, so women were the target of the false teachers.

To the question “Does Eve’s deception imply that women are more subject to deception than men?” Payne responds with a resounding NO. After all, “if Paul believed women were more vulnerable to deception by Satan than men, why would he affirm women prophesying in 1 Cor 11:2-16?” In fact, “if Paul had argued that all women are by nature easily deceived and therefore not reliable teachers and that men are not so deceived, it would be an argument for prohibiting women from teaching at all, whether that teaching be to men or women, with or without a position of authority in the home, church, or society.” In addition, “Paul…explicitly permits women teaching women in Titus 2:3.”

For those who assert 1 Tim 2:14 supports male headship in the home, “nothing in 1 Tim 2:14 implies divine assignment of headship in religious affairs to the husband. The context of 1 Tim 2:14 is about disruption of harmony in the gathering of believers, not husband–wife relations.” This is a basic hermeneutical principle, namely, context governs content. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me that many who uphold a firm belief in the priority of Scripture are quick to misuse Scripture to support gender superiority.

Payne concludes of 1 Tim 2:14 that “the example of Eve provides is an excellent explanation and appropriate support for the command in verse 11 that women learn lest their deception lead to their fall from the faith. It directly supports the prohibition in verse 12, warning lest women teach their deception in the assembled church and threaten its fall.”

Chapter 22, “1 Timothy 2:15: Salvation Through ‘the Childbirth'”

The logical connection of 1 Tim 2:15 to Paul’s instructions in the previous verses is shown: “Verse 15 should be understood in its context as a direct contrast to the negative statements about woman’s deception and transgression in verse 14.” Of all the wild interpretations of this verse, Payne’s explanation makes sense of the context and the biblical framework of Paul’s understanding of Gen 3:15. After providing eight reasons why σῴζω (“σωθήσεται” or NIV’s “will be saved”) means spiritual salvation, Payne summarizes:

As in Eden, so in Ephesus, the woman’s deception…led her to turn away from God to follow Satan (cf. 1 Tim 5:15). “She shall be saved through the childbirth” in 1 Tim 2:15 reflects the key idea of Gen 3:15, that the seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. Thus, both Gen 3:15 and 1 Tim 2:15 specify the role of the woman in salvation, affirming her in a way that balances the criticism of her deception and fall.

The means by which spiritual salvation comes is “the” childbirth (the Greek is unambiguous: “διὰ τῆς τεκνογονίας”). By highlighting Christ’s birth, Paul “elevates woman to a privileged position that is far higher than anything offered by the false teachers: the promised seed of the woman came through Mary in the childbirth of the Savior. As Paul so often does, he brings the focus back to salvation through Christ, and he does so in a distinctive way that gives dignity to women. The promised Seed, who came through a woman, fulfills the deepest yearnings of women.”

Chapter 23 is a brief conclusion drawing on chapters 18-21 of Payne’s book.

Two more chapters remain in Payne’s book, the last of which is a conclusion. The next post in this series will be the final one covering chapter 24, “1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9: May Women Be Overseers and Deacons?” I think by now you know the answer.

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