“Many interpretations of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 rely heavily on the nature of this false teaching at Ephesus in explaining what Paul means in these verses. There is nothing wrong with this in principle; good exegesis always takes into consideration the larger context in which a text appears. However, Paul tells us remarkably little about the specifics of this false teaching, presumably because he knows that Timothy is well acquainted with the problem. This means that WE CANNOT BE AT ALL SURE ABOUT THE PRECISE NATURE OF THIS FALSE TEACHING AND, PARTICULARLY, ABOUT ITS IMPACT ON THE WOMEN IN THE CHURCH…” (Grudem and Piper, “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” 177).
Douglas Moo wrote the above statement in his chapter from “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” entitled “What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men?” Moo attempts in his article to study 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and show through exegesis why it is that women’s ministries are limited in the church. What interests me is the last phrase of the above quote.
Moo states that because we don’t know the nature of the false teaching, what the false teaching was exactly, that we can’t know of its impact on the church at Ephesus. But what is troublesome about this statement is that, according to context, we know a great deal about the impact of the false teaching on the church. Consider the following statements:
1 Timothy 1:6 (ESV)—“Certain persons, by swerving from these have wandered away into vain discussion…”
1 Tim. 1:19b—“by rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith…”
These verses show us that such false teaching threw those influenced by it out of the faith. In addition, we have a proper context from 1 Timothy 1 that tells us the situation:
“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons NOT TO TEACH ANY DIFFERENT DOCTRINE, NOR TO DEVOTE THEMSELVES TO MYTHS AND ENDLESS GENEALOGIES, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Tim. 1:3-4).
In addition, view these few verses:
“Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into VAIN DISCUSSION, DESIRING TO BE TEACHERS OF THE LAW, WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING EITHER WHAT THEY ARE SAYING OR THE THINGS ABOUT WHICH THEY MAKE CONFIDENT ASSERTIONS. Now we know that the law is good, IF ONE USES IT LAWFULLY…” (1 Tim. 1:6-8, ESV).
It is not a coincidence with that 1 Timothy 2:12-15 discusses teaching (discussed in 1:3). In addition, notice that chapter 2 discusses genealogy (“Adam was first formed, then Eve”), which is also discussed in 1:4) and myth (“and Adam was not deceived”), which is discussed in chapter one, verse 4. Complementarians have made this passage seem more vague and obscure than it really is.
Whenever we seek to study a biblical text, we have to keep in mind that ALL WE HAVE IS THE TEXT! All we have is what the text gives us to make inferences. We have to examine the text in-front of us to discover the setting and background. In my reading of complementarian studies, I have found that many of them seek to make the issue here one of an “overrealized eschatology”; yet and still, the text of 1 Timothy does not discuss an “overrealized eschatology,” but instead, a false doctrine of myths and endless genealogies as we are told from 1 Timothy 1. If they truly seek to examine the text as it is, with its context, they don’t have to look any further than the book of 1 Timothy. To mention an event of 2 Timothy (overrealized eschatology) is to reconstruct the text, to read a later issue back into an earlier situation. It is, in short, bad exegesis!
As if they don’t notice how terrible their response is regarding the false teaching, they turn around and DEMONSTRATE ITS IMPACT!
Look at another excerpt of Moo’s chapter:
“Some of the aspects specifically relevant to 1 Timothy 2:11-15 are:
1. The false teachers SOWED DISSENSION AND WERE PREOCCUPIED WITH TRIVIALITIES…
2. The false teachers HAD PERSUADED MANY WOMEN TO FOLLOW THEM IN THEIR DOCTRINES (1 Timothy 5:15; 2 Timothy 3:6-7)” (177).
Here we see that division and a drifting away of believers occurred in this church. These results are no small things to snuff at! The impact of the false teaching was a mass explosion, according to 1 Timothy itself. How then, can complementarians look at this and conclude, as Moo does, that we don’t have any idea of the impact of the false teaching? Not knowing the nature of the teaching doesn’t excuse away its impact.
Moo doesn’t notice the impact of the false teaching on the church at Ephesus in the first century. If false teaching is as prevalent in the book as Moo shows it to be, then how can this be disregarded when considering the purpose of chapter 2?
For those who want to view this argument, go to the following site and scroll through the table of contents: http://www.cbmw.org/images/onlinebooks/rbmw.pdf
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