About Philip B. Payne Man and Woman, One in Christ Philip B. Payne, and the cover of his latest book, Man and Woman, One in Christ
March 26th
2013
written by phil

A minority of versions, including the old NIV, translate verse 11, “In the same way their wives are to be.…” The NIV 2011, however, translates it, “In the same way the women are to be….” The translation “their wives” is doubtful for eight reasons:

1. To make that idea clear Paul would have to add “of deacons,” “their,” or some other expression indicating their wives such as “having wives” (cf. “having children” in 3:4).

2. “Women similarly” in verse 11 exactly parallels “Deacons similarly” in verse 8, and so, as in the former case, is most naturally read, “Similarly the qualifications for women deacons are ….” The parallel structure and the word “similarly” implies something parallel to “Deacons similarly.” Both instances of “similarly” join parallel sets of qualifications: for overseers, deacons, and women deacons. Each case identifies a church office followed by qualifications that apply directly to its office holders. If, however, “women” is translated “their wives,” the verse would not be similar either in identifying a church office or in listing qualifications for those office holders themselves (women deacons). Everything else in 3:1-13 addresses church officials’ qualifications; nothing else is about their wives.

3. Reinforcing this parallel structure, both sentences, “Deacons, similarly” (vv. 8-–9) and “Women, similarly” (v. 11), have no verb, but rather presuppose the reapplication of “it is necessary for … to be” from verse 2. All these parallels would be broken if “women” did not identify a group whose qualifications for office follow.

4. If γυναῖκας in 3:11 refers to wives, it is hard to explain why there is no similar qualification for the wives of overseers since their position was more influential and had stricter requirements. It would be more important for church reputation for the overseers’ wives to be worthy of respect. Its position in the middle of qualifications for deacons does not permit it to refer to overseers’ wives as well as deacons’ wives.

5. In order to avoid reason 2 above, those who argue that verse 11 refers to the wives of deacons typically describe these wives going along with their husbands to perform deacon functions for other women. If, however, these wives join their husbands in diaconal ministry, then they should be recognized as deacons, not just deacons’ wives. Furthermore, if the only women who can serve are deacons’ wives, this requirement would disqualify all single women, all women whose husbands are not deacons, and all otherwise qualified men whose wives do not qualify. Most of the gifted women willing to do these tasks were not married to deacons. Consequently, restricting “women” to “their wives” severely limits the pool of women and men eligible for this service. Such a reading is particularly awkward if the author is Paul since he makes it clear both in practice and in principle (e.g., Gal 3:28; 1 Cor 11:11) that in Christ women have equal rights and privileges with men.

6. It would be strange for non-office holders to be required to meet practically identical qualifications, listed in the same order, as the qualifications for deacons listed in 3:8. Both must be “worthy of respect,” “not double tongued/not slanderous,” “not addicted to much wine/sober,” “not fond of dishonest gain/trustworthy in every respect.” Being sober is also the third overseer qualification, and, if anything, is more restrictive than the parallel in verse 8, so is more appropriate for a woman deacon than a deacon’s wife. Similarly “trustworthy in every respect” is more demanding than “not fond of dishonest gain” and so, too, is more appropriate as a qualification for a woman deacon.

7. The first requirement for overseers, deacons, and women (deacons) is that they hold public respect. “Worthy of respect” in both verses 8 and 11 is a requirement that is much more appropriate for people who act on behalf of the church than for their wives.

8. The statement about women in verse 11 is surrounded by other qualifications for deacons. If this is a reference to the wives of deacons, it is out of place at this point and should more logically have followed all the qualifications of the deacons themselves.

The reason some people have chosen the translation “their wives” is that they have felt uncomfortable with women being church leaders of any sort, including deacons. The following eight observations answer the key objections to understanding 3:ll as referring to woman deacons.

1. Paul must have condoned women deacons, since he refers to Phoebe as “deacon of the church in Cenchrea” in Romans 16:1.

2. The position of verse 11 in the middle of qualifications for deacons makes the repetition of “deacon” unnecessary.

3. Since “deacon” applied to both men and women at that time, there was no need to repeat “deacon” in regard to women in the paragraph about that office.

4. In Greek, the expression “woman deacons” would be clumsy.

5. The absence of the later term “deaconess” points to the primitiveness of this letter and argues for the less technical translation, “women deacons.” Furthermore, since there is no evidence the church office term “deaconess” existed at that time, interpreting 1 Tim 3:11 as identifying qualifications for deaconesses is anachronistic.

6. Some argue against women deacons because they think women should not be church leaders. However, in addition to the many official-sounding titles Paul attributes to his female colleagues in ministry, 1 Tim 5:3-11 lists qualifications for officially recognized “widows” under church support. Since verse 9 states that widows are “enrolled” into this position, it is clear that it is a recognized church position. A qualified widow “continues night and day to pray” (v. 5) and is known for “showing hospitality to strangers, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds” (v. 10). Reference to “the saints” implies that their ministries were not limited to other women and makes it clear that Paul did intend at least these unmarried women to work for the church.

7. If women are excluded from the office of deacon, they are deprived both of the blessing given to deacons (“those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus,” 3:13) and of the opportunities the office affords to bless others. Such deprivation is not consistent with Paul’s treatment of and statements about women elsewhere.

8. Most patristic and modern commentators writing on this verse say it advocates female deacons. Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek, eds., Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2005), 23ff, cite sixty-one inscriptions and forty literary references to female deacons through the sixth century AD in the East, where the church in Ephesus was located.

All this evidence shows that according to 1 Tim 3:11 women are eligible to be deacons, with the same title (deacon, not deaconess) and same requirements as men. The case is so strong that even leading complementarians like Köstenberger, Schreiner, Hurley, Clark, and Grudem (April 13, 2005 at Wheaton College) say 1 Tim 3:11 refers to women deacons. For documentation of the statements in this post, see Man and Woman, One in Christ, pages 454-459.

13 Comments

  1. Jay
    03/26/2013

    “4. If γυναῖκας in 3:11 refers to wives, it is hard to explain why there is no similar qualification for the wives of overseers since their position was more influential and had stricter requirements. It would be more important for church reputation for the overseers’ wives to be worthy of respect. Its position in the middle of qualifications for deacons does not permit it to refer to overseers’ wives as well as deacons’ wives.”

    Can an assumption be made that since the author of this epistle specifically refers to the qualifications of “the women” who are deacons, that the author is excluding women from the position of overseer?

  2. phil
    03/26/2013

    No, one should not assume that by identifying qualifications for women deacons, the author is excluding women from the position of overseer. In fact, to assume this is to make Paul contradict his statements elsewhere that encourage women in church leadership positions. The reason Paul specifically mentions women in the category of deacons is that he wants to make it clear that women can be deacons and that their qualifications parallel those of men.
    Then, one might ask, why didn’t Paul state requirements for women overseers as he did for women deacons in 3:11?
    It is clear from 1 Tim 2:12-15 that Paul was concerned enough about the false teachers’ deception of women in Ephesus that he prohibited the women in Ephesus who did not have recognized teaching authority from assuming authority to teach men. (I add these qualifications since in all other places where this verb refers to assumption of authority it is the assumption of authority that one does not rightfully have and since the conjunction joining “to teach” and “to assume authority not rightfully held” typically in Paul’s writings joins two elements to convey a single idea.) Paul probably did not want to encourage deceived women to become overseers prematurely because of the false teachers’ influence on them and because of the spiritual influence overseers have through teaching, evident in “able to teach” (1 Tim 3:2). If he had included a list of requirements for women overseers as he did for deacons in 3:11, he would have provided a specific mechanism for women to attain a position of authority from which they could promote false teaching. If he had provided such a list specifically for women overseers, deceived women might have used that list as a basis for demanding the office of overseer, from which they could spread false teachings.
    Nevertheless, one can be confident on the basis of 1 Cor 11:5-13 that Paul was not opposed to women communicating prophetic messages. Furthermore, Paul commands that women learn in 1 Tim 2:11, thereby providing the foundation for them to prepare to teach. In fact, 3:1, “Anyone desiring the office of overseer desires a good work,” encourages women to aspire to be overseers. Paul repeats “anyone” in 3:5 and includes parallels to each requirement for overseer specifically about women in 1 Timothy. He thereby shows that women can fulfill all the requirements for the office of overseer.

  3. Jamin Hubner
    03/26/2013

    Great discussion Phil. I had a whole chapter on this for my master’s thesis, “A Case for Female Deacons”.

  4. Jay
    03/27/2013

    But by what you just explained, the author IS restricting women from being overseers, even if it is only a temporary restriction because of the false women teachers in Ephesus. The fact of male false teachers never seems to have Paul restricting men being teachers in any particular situation, so if in 1 Timothy, women are being prohibited from being overseers, it seems that the author is more ready to restrict women than men. So am I right or not in understanding that you do see that there is a possible limitation of women overseers in 1 Tim. 3 Following this, has there ever been a situation in the scriptures or in the history of the church, that the deception of men has led to a temporary gender prohibition of their leadership role?

  5. phil
    03/27/2013

    Thank you, Jay for these comments and questions. I’ll address them one by one:
    You write, “But by what you just explained, the author IS restricting women from being overseers, even if it is only a temporary restriction because of the false women teachers in Ephesus.”
    No, I am not saying that Paul is restricting women from being overseers. Paul’s restriction in 1 Timothy 2:12 is not to “being overseers” but to “assuming authority they do not rightfully have to teach a man.” It is crucial that we misunderstand the meaning of the key word in this verse. It means “to assume authority one does not rightfully have.” Every instance in Greek literature where this verb means “to assume authority” refers to assumption of authority, it refers to assuming authority one does not rightfully have. I identify every such instance in Man and Woman, One in Christ, pages 385-394. Priscilla had teaching authority that Luke explicitly and Paul implicitly affirms. As such, for her to assume authority to teach men would not be doing what Paul prohibits here. Only if a woman did not have recognized teaching authority, would her teaching men be against Paul’s prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12. Although Paul had earlier encouraged all believers to share a “teaching” in Christian worship (1 Corinthians 14:26; Colossians 1:16), Paul explains in 1 Timothy 2:14 that he is giving this pronibition because of the “deception” of women, using the example of Eve to show how serious the deception of a woman can be when she conveys it to a man. Reflecting this reference to deception by Satan, 1 Timothy 5:13-15 says that younger widows there has already strayed after Satan and were going about “from house to house [probably house church to house church] saying things they ought not [Gordon Fee says that the word describing what they were saying refers to foolish philosophy and never means "gossip"].” It was because Eves in Ephesus were deceived by the false teachings and were conveying it to the church that Paul gives this specific prohibition.
    You write, “The fact of male false teachers never seems to have Paul restricting men being teachers in any particular situation, so if in 1 Timothy, women are being prohibited from being overseers, it seems that the author is more ready to restrict women than men.”
    No, this is not true. 1 Timothy 1:3 states that Paul had earlier urged Timothy, “charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” 1 Timothy 1:20 specifically identifies the two key false teachers, “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” This is directed specifically to men identified by name. So, yes, in response to male false teachers, Paul does restrict men specifically from being teachers in the particular situation in Ephesus, and he does so in stronger terms than he applies to women in 1 Timothy 2:12.

    You write, “So am I right or not in understanding that you do see that there is a possible limitation of women overseers in 1 Tim. 3.”
    No, I do not see a limitation of women overseers in 1 Timothy 3. There the subject is “whoever” both in verse 1 and reiterated in verse 5. None of the language for requirements of overseers in 1 Timothy 3 excludes women. I do, however, see a temporary restriction (the primary verb is “I am not permitting” which implies a presently ongoing situation. This verb very rarely refers to ongoing permissions or prohibiitons even if God is the subject. See Man and Woman, One in Christ 319-335) on women assuming for themselves authority to teach men if they did not have recognized teaching authority. It is clear from the one imperative in the passage, “Let the women learn,” the specified reason identified in v. 14 (”deception”), and the gender inclusive (”whoever”) requirements for overseers that follow, that Paul did not intend this as a permanent exclusion of all women from teaching men. Rather, Paul intended these women who did not yet have teaching authority to learn in all submission to the church’s teaching to free them from their deception so that, like other women whose teaching authority Paul affirmed (e.g. seven of the ten colleagues Paul affirms by name for their ministry in Romans 16) in the future they might teach men. The same prinicple that learning should lead to teaching is implied by Hebrews 5:12, “by this time you ought to be teachers.”

    You write, “Following this, has there ever been a situation in the scriptures or in the history of the church, that the deception of men has led to a temporary gender prohibition of their leadership role?”
    Yes, in addition to Paul’s silencing of the leading false teachers, Hymenaeus and Alexander, and handing them over to Satan in chapter one, Titus 1:10-11 states, “There are many insubodinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially the circumsicion party; they must be silenced since they are upseting whole families by teaching what they ought not.” “What they ought not” parallels the Greek of 1 Timothy 5:13 regarding women.

  6. Jay
    03/28/2013

    Thank your Philip for your detailed responses. While I am well aware of the author’s condemnation of the two men Hymenaeus and Alexander, I am not aware that the teaching of these two men led to anything similar to the general “I am not permitting” a woman to usurp authority, if in fact that the author of Timothy is actually making even a temporary prohibition in 1 Tim 2. There is not any place where Paul singles out an individual, highlighting their MALE gender as related to his condemnation of their teaching. While the pagan cultic practices of Artemis/Cybele in the region of Ephusus certainly may have infected the local congregation, it takes two to tangle. While a woman or women might have been guilty of asserting authority over a man or men, the men would have also have been guilty for participating as a victim of the abuse. Hymenaeus and Alexander are not singled out as “men” and their bad teachings did not seem to cause any broader temporary prohibition of men who were infected by bad teaching or practice.

    Besides this, I was wondering, if you have any opinion as why it is stated that “I do not permit or am not permitting a woman γυναικι, singular, rather than women, to usurp authority over a man ανδρος (singular)

  7. phil
    03/28/2013

    Thanks, Jay, for your new comments.
    You write, “I am not aware that the teaching of these two men led to anything similar to the general ‘I am not permitting’ a woman to usurp authority.”
    It led to Paul urging Timothy to “charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…” in 1 Timothy 1:3. These men’s false teachings also led to a general prohibition.

    You write, “There is not any place where Paul singles out an individual, highlighting their MALE gender as related to his condemnation of their teaching.”
    Yes, there is. In Acts 20 Paul addresses the elders of the church in Ephesus, the same church he writes to Timothy about: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own sleves will arise men (from the Greek word specifying men who are male, ανδρος) speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” So at least here Paul does single out people’s MALE gender in his condemnation of their teaching.

    You write, “men would have also have been guilty for participating as a victim of the abuse.”
    One should not attribute guilt to the victim of abuse, whether male or female. Attributing guilt to the victims of abuse is one of the saddest parts of human history. It has played a key part in keeping victims of rape, both male and female, silent. And this in turn has perpetuated rape by suppressing exposure of the abuser.

    You write, “their [Hymenaeus's and Alexander's] bad teachings did not seem to cause any broader temporary prohibition of men who were infected by bad teaching or practice.”
    Both complementarian and egalitarian scholars have noted that 1 and 2 Timothy do not identify any men who were infected by bad teaching or pratice, but are filled with references to women being influenced by the false teachers and described in terms paralleling the false teachers. I detail these extensive references in Man and Woman, One in Christ pages 299-304. Paul explains the key reason he did not permit women to assume authority they did not have to teach men. That reason is that some of them were deceived, so thoroughly deceived that Paul restricted women from assuming for themselves authority they do not already have of teaching men. They were so deceived, that, like Eve, they had strayed after Satan (1 Tim 5:15) and threatened the fall of the church in Ephesus as Eve’s deception had precipitated the fall of humanity. Why does Paul specifically write against male person’s “anger and quarreling”? Presumably because anger and quarreling was a particular problem among men in Ephesus. Why does Paul specifically call women “to adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel? Presumably because some women were not doing this. In each case, the presumption is that the gender specific instructions were given to meet a need that was more pronounced in one gender than the other. It certainly does not mean that anger and quarreling is against Paul’s desire only for men but that he would approve it for women. Nor does it mean that Paul approved immmodest dress by men. Analogously, if there were any men who were similarly deceived by the false teaching, Paul would not want them to assume for themselves authority they do not already have of teaching men either. In fact, Paul says essentially this when he silenced the false teachers in 1:3 and delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan in 1:20.

    You ask why it is stated that “I … am not permitting a woman γυναικι, singular, rather than women, to usurp authority over a man ανδρος (singular).”
    First, the text does not mention woman “rather than women.” It simply states, “a woman.” Theoretically, this could be either a single woman or simply a common generic use of the singlar to speak of woman as a class. This latter seems to be demanded for several reasons. First, it follows after the generic use of woman in the preceding verses commanding “a woman to learn in quietness and all subjecion [presumbaly to orthodox teaching].” This command to learn is not restricted in its appropriate application to a single woman. Furthermore generic singulars abound in the next section on qualification of overseers, which are clearly not restricted to a single person. Similarly, in 1 Tim 5:9 “let a widow be enrolled…” must be a generic singular. 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 is addressing “every woman” so the reference to “a woman” in verse 6 must be generic: “if a woman will not do her hair up, let her be shorn, and if it is shameful for a woman [using the identical word used in 1 Tim 2:12, γυναικι] to be shorn or shaved, let her cover her head [with her hair].” Generic singulars follow throughout 11:7-12. The clincher for me, however, is the abundance of references in this letter to women in the plural causing various problems, including following after Satan (5:15) and “going about from house to house [house church to house church?]) saying what they ought not.” In light of these, it is unlikely that Paul had just one woman in mind.

  8. Karin
    03/29/2013

    Thanks for the interesting discussion.
    You say that 1 Tim. 2 only prohibits women who do not have rightful authority to do so from teaching and assuming authority over men.
    Does this mean the main problem was not the content of the teaching of these (deceived) women but that they were trying to assume authority they did not have?
    If the problem of the deceived women had been the false content of their teaching, would it not have made sense to prohibit them from teaching anyone (including women and children)?
    Do you think it is warranted to assume that the problem in Ephesus had something to do with the deceived women asserting the superiority of women over men in word or deed (possibly influenced by the prevalent Artemis cult)?

  9. phil
    03/29/2013

    It is such a delight to receive a comment from someone who clearly expresses the meaning of what Paul is prohibiting! Karin writes, “You say that 1 Tim. 2 only prohibits women who do not have rightful authority to do so from teaching and assuming authority over men.”
    This clearly expresses my understanding of the normal meaning of the Greek words and construction of 1 Timothy 2:12. Man and Woman, One in Christ, pages 337-397, examines the words and grammatical construction of this verse. It shows why this interpretation is not only possible, but is the most natural way of reading this verse in Greek.

    You ask, “Does this mean the main problem was not the content of the teaching of these (deceived) women but that they were trying to assume authority they did not have?”
    No. I believe the main problem was the content of the their teaching. The first paragraph of 1 Timothy lays out Paul’s central concern to be the false teaching. As Gordon Fee’s commentary shows, virtually every sentence of the letter relates to something in that first paragraph. 1 Timothy 2:12 in particilar is explicitly about teaching, and verse 14 points to the crucial reason for this prohibition, deception. It explains why verse 11, the only imperative in the passage, commands “Let a woman learn in quietness and full subjection [presumably to orthodox teaching since that is what will free them from being deceived].” The problem was that women in Ephesus were being targeted by the false teachers (see 2 Timothy 3:6). They were being deceived and were following its message from Satan (1 Timothy 5:15). Paul’s solution was a wise and targeted solution: not permitting them to assume authority they did not have to teach a man. His targeted solution did not silence women like Priscilla (greeted in 2 Timothy 4:19), who did have teaching authority and were the best able to convince these women of the truth. By restricting the prohibition to assuing authority to teach a man, Paul gave a restriction that was both reasonable and practically enforceable by Timothy. It did not restrict any woman’s communication with her husband, since that would not be “assuming authority.” It did, however, limit the freedom of women without teaching authority from spreading the false teachings in the public assemblies of the church where men were present. This was the greatest threat to the church now that the original false teachers had been silenced (1 Timothy 1:3-7, 20).

    You ask, “If the problem of the deceived women had been the false content of their teaching, would it not have made sense to prohibit them from teaching anyone (including women and children)?”
    First of all, this is a letter to Timothy with instructions for him to enforce. He could not realistically enforce whether deceived women taught other women or children. In any event it would not be “assuming authority she did not have” for a woman to teach other women or children. This was a presumed right, one that Paul explicitly endorses in Titus 2:2-3. Indeed, it was the obligation of women to teach children. Paul’s vision of everyone participating in worship expressed throughout 1 Corinthians 14 faced a major test in Ephesus as a result of the false teaching. The open worship Paul had espoused there had opened the door to false teachers in Ephesus. Paul chose to respond with targeted prohibitions. First, he silenced the original false teachers (1:3, 20). Then he restricted the assumption of unauthorized teaching authority to the only group he identifies as significantly influenced by the false teachers (2:12).

    You ask, “Do you think it is warranted to assume that the problem in Ephesus had something to do with the deceived women asserting the superiority of women over men in word or deed (possibly influenced by the prevalent Artemis cult)?”
    No, I do not believe it is warranted TO ASSUME this. If one can find evidence for it in 1 Timothy, I am open to considering this as a possibility, but the only possible evidence of it I have found in 1 Timothy is the conjecture that this may have been the reason for 1 Timothy 2:13’s reference to “For Adam was form first, then Eve.” We do have reference to the repudiation of 2:13, namely the false teaching that Eve was formed before Adam, in quite early church fathers (see Kroeger’s I Suffer Not A Woman). So it is plausible that this verse may repudiate that false teaching. But as Kroeger clearly states, we do not know for sure that any of the references to woman being prior to man reflect the situation in Ephesus Paul addresses in 2:13. It would certainly make it obvious why Paul wrote 2:13. This verse also makes sense, however, as an argment, just like Paul used throughout 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, that one ought to respect one’s source (see especially 11:3, 8, 12). After all, for a woman to assume authority she had not been granted to teach a man was widely regarded in that culture as disrespectful to man.

  10. phil
    04/02/2013

    Robert asked today an excellent question about grammatical gender in Greek and why feminine forms specify a group to consist of women only but masculine forms do not specify a group to consist of men only. I will add my response here since it applies to this discussion as well as to my earlier post: Does “One-Woman Man” In 1 Timothy 3:2 Require That All Overseers Be Male? You can get to the original post of July 5, 2010 by clicking on the “Previous” icon at the bottom of the currently visible posts.
    I’ll try to make this simple. In Greek, words are assigned a gender, but their “gender” is not about biological gender. So the word for the office of overseer to be feminine does not mean that it is a feminine office or appropriate for women but not men.
    If you want to identify a person as male, you use a gender specific word such as ANDROS. But even some gender specific words can be applied to the other sex, e.g. “manhood” in contexts where it means “maturity” rather than a “male person.” Galatians 3:28 states that in Christ there is no male/female division, using the gender specific terms for “male” and “female.” But when we read that Jesus died for all “men,” the word in Greek simply means human being, ANTHROPOS. It applies to women just as much as to men. It focuses on one’s humanity, not one’s male gender. Whenever Christ is referred to as “the man Christ Jesus” in the New Testament, the Greek word is always ANTHROPOS, never ANDROS. This shows that the authors were focusing on and asserting Jesus’ humanity, not his being male.
    In Greek, when one identifies a group of people that includes both men and women, it was common convention to use the masculine gender. For instance, the standard Greek Grammar by Blass, Debrunner, and Funk, usually referred to simply as “BDF,” section 135 (page 75) states, “modifiers are in the masculine even when the subject group combines masculine and feminine.” Consequently, one cannot deduce anything about whether women are included in a group from the grammatical gender of its words. None of the masculine articles, participles, nouns and adjectives in the qualification for overseers in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 implies anything about whether women could be overseers, for in Greek the masculine gender is the “prior gender” used to described groups including both men and women.
    However, it was common convention to use the feminine gender when identifying a group of people that consisted entirely of women or if referring to a specific woman. Similarly, it was contrary to convention to use the masculine gender to identify a group that consisted entirely of women or if referring to a single woman. For example, Paul lists four qualifications for women deacons in 1 Timothy 3:11 here using feminine forms. This makes it clear in Greek that he is talking about women, just as the feminine forms in 1 Timothy 5 show that he is talking about widows, not widowers.
    We know that Paul approved of women deacons because he specifically affirmed Phoebe as “deacon of the church of Cenchrea” in Romans 16:1-2 and told the Romans to do whatever she asks them to do “for she has been a PROSTATIS [literally, "one standing over"] many, including myself also.” Paul here implies that he submitted to Phoebe’s leadership when he was in her church. The fact that the four qualifications Paul lists for women [deacons] in 3:11 are virtualy the same and in the same order as the requirements for deacons in 3:8, and because he goes on to give other requirements for deacons in verse 12 shows that verse 11 must also be about the qualifications of deacons. Since women can be deacons, the masculine gender forms in the other qualifications for deacon must not exclude women. Since the gender forms do not exclude women by Greek convention generally, and since they do not exclude women from being deacons, the parallel forms for overseers in this same context must not exclude women either.

  11. Philip, Thank you for this clear exegesis of 1Tim. 3:11. I study the reasons for the differences between older translations of the Bible like the KJV and modern translations like the NIV. Some time ago I did a study on the possibility of 1 Cor 14:34-35 being a gloss later included and not being authentic. I wish I had your present blog post at that time. I am considering a post on this very verse you handled so profoundly. May I use some of your insights when I compile my post please?
    God bless

  12. Selva Gunalan M. Rev.
    04/07/2013

    A thought provoking article indeed and very essential in the light of women’s positions as disciples, believers and followers of our Lord. There are many churches that have women as deacons, married as well as spinsters.

  13. phil
    04/08/2013

    Thank you Herman and Selva for you kind words. You are most welcome to quote from anything in my blog or book, which discusses 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 on pages 217-267. I conclude that transcriptional probability makes it virtually certain that these verses first appeared in the margin (what we call a gloss) and were then copied into the text either after verse 33 or after verse 40. It was commonplace for text in the margins to be put into the body text by later copyists. For instance 17 of the 20 instances of readable small uncial text in the margins of Matthew in Codex Vaticanus B are in the body text of virtually all subsequent manuscripts, and in 8 of them the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece does not list a single manuscript that does not have them in their body text. In contrast, there is not any other instance of any block of text nearly this long being moved this far in any manuscript of Paul’s letters without an obvious reason. In light of Paul’s large handwriting, there would not have been room in the margin for him to write it on a typical page. Although theoretically it might have been put in the margin by Paul’s secretary at his command, it if did, it was probably done so to identify the false prophecy intended by the adjacent text “if anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him know that what I write to you is the Lord’s command.” Even if it was written at Paul’s command, as marginal text it lacks sufficient context to know if this is something Paul approved or a prophesy he repudiated, so it should not be used to establish church practice.

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