‘Theology’ early church and so wrote letters to churches

‘Theology’ comes
from the Greek – theos, meaning ‘God,
and logos, meaning ‘words’ or
‘reasoning’. Simply, theology is ‘the talk of God’. (Argent &
Adams, 2007, p. 35). Wren continues that theology is an
ordered and reasoned account of the Christian Faith. (Wren, 2000,
p. 349) For this
assignment 1 Timothy 2:9–14 has been chosen. This passage discusses women and
their conduct and dress within the early church. Timothy 1 & 2 form a
letter written by Paul to his loyal friend Timothy who was overseeing the
church in Colossae. (Page, 2008, p. 356) This passage is seen
as Paul’s baring of women from church leadership and ministry. Is this what he
was saying? ScripturePaul, before his
conversion, was a tough Pharisee who persecuted the early Christians. He was
highly educated, well versed in the Hebrew Scriptures (Barton, et al., 2005, p. 1957) therefore he was
well placed to teach and advise the early church and so wrote letters to
churches right across the Bible Lands.Paul’s assertions
are grounded in the Hebrew Scripture’s recount of Man’s Creation: (Genesis 2,
NRSV) Man being created before woman and tasked with naming woman – a privilege
usually reserved for those in power, Eve’s succumbing to temptation and leading
Adam astray, causing God’s punishment for woman – “Your desire will be for your
Husband, and he will rule over you”. (Genesis 3. NRSV)  This therefore distorted the utopian equality
and plays a part in Paul’s argument, and became the basis for the treatment of
women throughout the Old Testament. (Stott, 2006, pp. 329-330) Christians who
today subscribe to Paul’s assertion do so strictly, also using 1 Corinthians
14: 34-35 which repeats the call for silence. In subscribing to these verses,
Christians observe that Scripture is not something that can be open to
interpretation to suit contemporary fashions or practices. (Woodward
& Pattison, 2000, p. 121) Those who feel
that women should have an equal place within the church use this passage in a
different way saying he was wrong or confused. Paul both affirms equality
(Galatians 3:28, NRSV) while favouring women’s subjection (1 Corinthians 11:13,
NRSV) whereas Jesus was clear in his value of women (Luke 8:1-3, NRSV). Showing
that Paul was so entrenched in his Rabbinic background, that he was prepared to
push the actions of Jesus aside. (Pawson, 2007, p. 1102) ExperiencePaul was born an
Orthodox Jew, was circumcised (as Hebrew Scripture demanded) well educated, and
a Pharisee – plus he was a Roman Citizen. Following his conversion he travelled
the Gentile world covering Roman, Greek, Jewish and some say even Spanish
cultures in his quest to bring Salvation to all. (Page, 2008,
pp. 306-307).
This meant Paul became a ‘Melting Pot’ of experiences and cultures which would
have informed his opinions and teachings. His Rabbinic
background brings the experience of women being denied education, but his
exposure to Greek Philosophy, and the freedom which that and Jesus’ ministry
brought, questioned this. From here comes his advice to women to “clothe
themselves with inner glory rather than earthly garments” (Barton, et al., 2005, p. 2074) as well as emphasising
the need for scriptural learning and maturity. (Sprowl, 2005) Conversely, women’s
enjoyment of their new found freedom, in education and worship opportunities as
well as their fashions, influenced by Jesus as well as the Greek and Roman
Cultures, is something that continues today. (Stott, 2006, pp. 345-359) Women can study,
worship and dress in any way they wish, and in the secular world can and should
aspire to the pinnacle of their chosen career as can any man. Should this
equality and freedom not be extended to our church family? ReasonAs we all do,
Paul would have drawn on all of his education, knowledge and experience in
order to formulate his teachings. All we can do is read what he would have
learned from and learn what he would have experienced in order to discern his
meaning. Some take his
Scriptural, more Rabbinical stance which leans towards the emotive language of
hierarchy and subjection (Stott, 2006, p. 342). Some use the
‘Greek Influence’ to imply that Paul was referring to alleged heretical
preaching by women ‘overtaken by the spirit’, (Carson, et al., 2005, pp. 1297-1298) and that was what he
looked to quell, not the total silencing of women (Pawson, 2007,
p. 1102)Some attempt to
completely discount this passage, preferring instead to rely on Jesus’ high
esteem for women and Paul’s subsequent commendation of women into ministry
(Romans 16:1, 3, 6 & 12. NRSV). This in turn leads to the placement of
contemporary culture and legislation above the sacred laws and teaching placed
on the church by Scripture (Elwell & Yarbrough, 2005, p. 341). Is this what God
intended for His people? Some argue Paul
was bound by culture saying that if Jesus were alive today he would have
equality in his disciples (6 men/6 women). But, when did Jesus ever do anything
to be diplomatic? If it was right then he would have done it then. (Pawson,
2007, p. 1102) 

Paul’s teaching
here is scripturally and exegetically sound, not inappropriately affected by
culture and is not exclusively applicable to ancient situations. So what does
it say to us today? This argument has raged for thousands of years and it is
only through prayerful consideration and theological study and discussion that
the church can discern the will of the Lord in this or any other matter.

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