Thursday, May 24, 2012


In 1 Timothy 2:12  Paul used a word for “authority” [authenteo]  that is found no where else in scripture. Not even in the Septuagint. The word traditionally has been translated with the idea that women are to “not usurp authority over the man,” meaning she has her place and it's never over a man. That view assumes that the very act of a woman teaching a man is inherently a wrongful act that violates male headship.  But contrary to that, Jesus taught us that in His kingdom “authority”__who’s in charge __is to be a complete non-issue between believers. Servant hood is our issue. (Matt.20:24-28; 23:11; Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46; 22:24)

Add to that the fact that there is no command (imperative) from Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12 either, and you have a case for questioning the previously mentioned traditional interpretation entirely. The wording in the King James Version, “I suffer not a woman,” can certainly sound like a command, but it isn’t. Instead, it is in the simple present tense, “I am not now permitting a [this] woman…" This COULD imply a shift in Paul’s strategy because of the problems that existed in Ephesus which is, I think, the case entirely.

Paul addressed women in vs 9-10 [plural] as to modesty and decorum but switches to the singular in vs 12-15 to talk about a SPECIFIC woman and her husband. He is saying in the language used when properly translated, ”I do not in this instance allow [suffer[ this woman [wife] to take charge over her man [husband] in an unseemly [my toned down word for authority] manner."  [Woman and man are singular and when used together usually mean a husband and wife.]   

"Authenteo"  will only be found to be a street word with even some form of sexual overtones to it describing using sex as a tool for control.  So Paul, under inspiration, is saying to this church's pastor [Timothy] who had a church with some women saved out of the very religions that used such tactics and was facing one specific couple, in particular, as she sought, using that method, to domineer her husband into a false belief, enough is enough. [Whew] 

Old patterns don’t die easily even after you become a believer and this one women seems to be doing exactly that to her husband in the church in Ephesus and Paul is stopping it.

Jon Zens, who has a masterful exegetical work on this passage in his new book entitled "What's With Paul And Women," [you can get it on Amazon]  says this..."If there is a divine law that women-teaching-men is sinful, then there can be no exceptions.  But there is no concern in this regard expressed in Scripture, and there are clearly cases where women taught men.  In Romans 12:6-7 where Paul is listing some gifts, he mentions “prophesying” and “teaching.” There are no sexual restrictions here – both men and women can be involved is such activities. There is nothing inherently evil in women-teaching-men, but it is a problem when women teach error, or teach with a view to dominating men.  Of course, the same concerns hold true if males teach error or teach with the goal of dominating others!

Good advice for all women AND men of all ages in church life, it would seem to me, but certainly a good word for pastor Timothy and the church in Ephesus with this couple having this major problem. 

Finally, a brief word about the ever present question concerning Genesis 2:20 where the woman is said to be man's "help meet". [KJV]  The fact that Eve was created as Adam's "suitable helper" does not establish a woman as lesser at all. In English the word sometimes is used that way, but it certainly isn't in the original Hebrew. God said she is to be a man's "ezer" [Hebrew] which is a word used for God Himself in relation to man, Israel, the nations, you name it. If it did mean "less than" God is in trouble since He is that to so many. No, the word means "One essential to" and is perfectly legitimate to be used for a woman's place to a man. Essential! 

I do believe God's original intention for the male/female relationship was clearly established in Genesis 1 where “He said to “them” that "they" were to have dominion and for “them” to multiply and for “them” to care for the garden. It looks to me to be at least a partnership going on from the very beginning. Of course, the fall messed it up and both THEN tried to “be in charge.” She tried by “desiring her husband” [the meaning is not a Godly thing but one of taking charge] and he tried to “rule over her." [No Godliness here either as it means as a despot.] 

What God said in His address to them AFTER the fall seemed to me to be a description of the result of their sin rather than a prescription for the behavior He expected. So both are pretty well messed up by now in this authority thing. 

But hang on, God straightened all that up in Ephesians 5:21 [New Covenant remember] where all were told to submit/serve one another and to serve one another in the power of the Spirit as they are walking in Him. [We've seen this in a previous post.] 

The wife by CHOOSING to serve her husband. Hupo-tasso was used in the middle voice which says it was from inside her and not because of an outside requirement. Hupo-akuio would have said that. And the husband CHOOSING to love her as his own body was his way of serving her. 

A man choosing to love is not less submissive than a woman choosing to serve.  It's just the New Covenant way of correcting the "Whose the boss" failure and making it a non-issue. We all know the Lord Jesus is the boss. So all Christians are servants to Him and to one another. 

One final thought about this "woman being created second" question. I never had seen how man being created first and woman coming from man would set up an authority thing. No doubt he was and she did, but, if whose created first is a principle for authority then the animals and birds should rule man. Of course the women in Ephesus [coming out of the mystery religions of Ephesus] had believed the woman was created first by their gods and was far superior to any male. So when Paul addressed who was created first I believe he was correcting heresy of the mystery religions again. Also remember that since that original creation moment, every MAN has come from a woman. Not a lot of bragging room there. 

Now if we could just get believers to get as straight on men not being superior either just because they were created first things wouldn't that be refreshing! Different? Yes! Superior? No. In New Covenant theology the Spirit is the gifter, decider, authority, power, and sender of all gifts and ministry to all believers regardless of race, gender, or age.

This is my final post on the scriptures that are a sort of "map" to how authority is a non-issue in male female relationships in Kingdom living.  My posts have been too brief, insufficient, and too few, but they are mine. For a couple of references that I've found an immeasurable help let me tell you about...

Jon Zens____What's With Paul And Women?
Gilbert Bilezikian___Beyond Sex Role
Cheryl Schatz DVD Series Women in Ministry: Silenced or Free.
[Check Cheryl's series out on youtube]

My hope is you'll study and come to some conclusion for yourself on this major issue about Kingdom people. 

Paul B.


Off The Cuff said...

Bro. Paul,
Brilliant! Execellent insight!!!
Thanks for calling our attention to the other uses of the word עזר(ezer)in scripture. That, in itself, is a compelling argument.

Have a Great Day,
God Bless!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for this!

I was of the persuasion that the Bible means what it says, but after living overseas for lots of years and learning two other languages, I've realized that the "Bible means what the Bible means" (as you said)

Translating from one language to another; you can't assume the word you chose carries the exact same meaning as the original language's word. Sometimes it takes a sentence or more to define that one word.

It's been good to learn from your years of life study....thanks for sharing....

Now, if I can just express my thoughts as clearly on this subject as you just did...maybe I'll just have to link to you and say, "yup, what he said"


Paul Burleson said...

O the C,

The idea of the word is "essential" as the word means according to Brown-Driver-Briggs, an aid or help or succour like a mother's breast is to a baby. That's pretty essential and is the reason it's used some 11 times of God Himself and here for the woman to man.


If you give your opinion on your understanding about ANY passage of scripture as succinctly and clearly as you write your comments, you will NEVER come up short. I appreciate it.

Paul Burleson said...

O the C,

One final thought on "ezer" in scripture.

I think the use of it shows that Eve was not intended to be seen as someone said, "Adam's secretary or maid, but rather an indispensable pillar."

This is because in any situation described in the Bible by this verb, without the helper, the person who needed the help would either die or fade away.

So God "helps" [ezer] the fatherless, (Psalm 10:14), the ill, (Psalm 28:7), those who suffer great spiritual discomfort, (Psalm 54:4), and the poor. (Psalm 72:12).

Pretty essential I would think.

Aussie John said...


Superb! Some cynic might say,"It always is when someone agrees with ones own thinking".

I seriously mean it.

"[New Covenant remember]", is the key to much of the angst amongst Christians today; they either have never understood, or choose to not remember, the fulfilment of God's promise in the Lord, Jesus Christ.

I often used the following words which align with my own long standing belief on the matter: "Woman was created from the rib of man.
She was not made from his head to be above him,
nor was she made from his feet to be trampled on.
She was created out of his side to equal him,
under his arm to be protected by him
and near his heart to be loved."

I wish I'd understood that 50 years ago!

Who wrote them? Haven't a clue.

They do accord with the truth of Scripture, and I'm glad I learned that many years ago.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

I have to confess that the past two weeks I've suffered from a serious respiratory infection that has had me down physically and not feeling like continuing with this series or any other. But your blog site was such an encouragement to me I did this final post in spite of it all.

You are an encouragement in more ways than you can possibly know. Thank you my brother.

Off The Cuff said...

One final comment. If average folks like us can figure this out, why can't others?

I am sorry to hear of your illness. I pray that you will be feeling better soon. Your blog is educational and inspriational. I look forward to future posts when you are feeling better.


Paul Burleson said...

O the C,

My opinion only.

Some don't get it because of locked-in agendas. My hope is that some of those agendas are unconsiously held to and the light of the scriptures will ultimately bring about changes. This was true in my own life I have to confess.

By agendas I mean an unconcious..

Fear of peers
Fear of moving away from denominational tradition
Fear of loss of control
Fear of culture
Fear of conflict
Unrecogized misogyny

Things of that nature that many are unwilling or unable to admit are driving forces in their belief system.

Then there are those, of course, who simply interpret scripture differently than do I. they are honest and searching in their study and when/if the Spirit ever show them differently, they will embrace it.

You can recognize them by their gracious spirit with those who disagree with them and their belief that we all are simply trusting the Holy Spirit ultimately and our fellowship is around the person of Christ, NOT a particular view of any non-salvific [gospel] issue.

I'm MUCH better now, thank you for your concern___and great comments.

Scott Leonard said...

IMHO, the issue is not the verbiage on the roles. The issue is people not obeying the fountainhead command to " filled with the Spirit!" (Which requires faith and full surrender). They keep counselors in business, too! "I have no intention of allowing the Holy Spirit of God to fill my being (because that would require me being fully surrendered to Christ), but please sort out this marital role issue and fix my marriage!"

Scott Leonard said...

Paul, I am still working to embrace this, purely from textual honesty. You promised to address the I Cor 11 passage. Maybe I missed it. Here are four places that still seem to call for something beyond what you champion here:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV)

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:24 ESV). (the verb is used there)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.....For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:1, 3, 5, 6 ESV)

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. (1 Timothy 2:11 ESV). --This verse, preceding the one you addressed, doesn't seem to have any sexual overtone.

I honestly believe people writing books about controversy on marital roles would be out of business if men would get on the cross like Jesus did (loving his bride that way), stay there, and surrender to being filled with the Spirit! HELLO!!!

Paul Burleson said...


I'll leave this to a need to "agree to disagree" about the meaning of passages of scripture with regards to "authority" and "submission."

I will also say that I TOTALLY agree with your final paragraph. In fact, if men AND women were to stay on the Cross, surrendered to the fullness of the Spirit, "whose the boss" would NEVER even be asked. "How may I serve you" would be the question of every moment. This in BOTH church and home!

Paul Burleson said...


On second thought, let me share what someone else said as well.

"The problem would be helped if we were to take our English understanding of Greek words and translate them BACK into Greek. So if we translate "head" as as we do in English "one in control" it would have to be "arche" Were this to be done in all passages in question a clear picture arises.

And the Greek word "Authority" only appears ONCE in the NT with reference to husbands and wives and that is in 1 Corinthians 7 where it clearly says the man IS NOT in "authority" over his own body but the wife is and vise-versa. "Authority" is never used any other place between man and wife in the entire NT.

In the Greek there is a word which means to "obey." It can be translated "be subject to" and it carries the idea of "dutiful obedience." It is "hupakouo." It is a word used of child to parent and master to slave and wife to husband in the Greek when Greeks used it. Paul NEVER USED IT with husband and wives. He DID USE IT with child to parent and slave to master however, just a few verses later in Ephesians 6. That's because Paul was not allowing that woman be held in the same place they had to be in Greek society or even the Jewish society. Paul NEVER USED IT because he NEVER thought of wives as children or slaves to obey men.

Another word meaning to "obey" and is translated Be subject to" is "peitharcheo," a word which is build on "arche." It's used 3 times in the NT, twice in Acts and Tirus 3"1. It describes obedience to someone ruling in authority and is NEVER USED OF WIVES TO HUSBANDS. Paul had no thought of men governing their wives.

When Paul spoke of wives with their husbands. he used the word "hupotasso" which was not used of children and slaves. In it's active form it can mean a conqueror over the vanquished and would mean the conqueror is "to subordinate" the conquered. But Paul never used it in it's active form to describe ANY person. He NEVER told husbands to "hupotasso" [active form] control their wives.

Instead, Paul used "hupotasso" in addressing wives ONLY in it's middle voice form [See Col 3:18] in the imperative mood thus instructing wives by appealing to the voluntary nature of "hupotasso." That means "one of equal voice and equal value" CHOOSING to selflessly be concerned with the needs of the other. This is the same kind of action a man who loves [Apapeo ] as Christ loves. [CHOOSING TO]

In English, verbs can be in the active or passive as you know. In the active voice, the subject of the verb is acting. In the passive voice, the subject of the verb is being acted upon. Greek has the same active and passive voices. But it also has a third, middle voice, in which the subject of the verb is acting in a way that affects the subject.

So a person may teach. [active] A person may be taught. [Passive] But in Greek a person may teach themselves by choosing to do so. [Middle] It is THAT which Paul ALWAYS uses with wives choosing to voluntarily serve a husband in his needs being met. But, one cannot tell another to be subjected, any more than you can tell someone to be learned. So Paul uses the middle voice of hupotasso thereby requesting wives to voluntarily, actively, meet the needs of husbands. And remember, if it were like the Greeks and Jews thought__ a woman is to obey like a child or slave__ Paul wouldn't have changed the word at all. But that isn't Christianity."

Aussie John said...


I'm reminded by the last paragraph in your reply to Scott of some words I recently read, written by J.C.Ryle. He was writing about self-righteousness, which I believe comes into the discussion of the roles of husband and wife, of which you have been writing.

He points out that the character of the person is revealed in, not only in their behaviour, but their words.

"the Pharisee was not rejected because he was a moral man—but because he was proud and self-righteous; the tax collector was not accepted because he was a sinner—but because he was eminently penitent. True repentance is necessary for all, whatever be their lives and outward conduct. It is not your morality and your virtues, O you Pharisees, which hinder your salvation—but that proud feeling of something worthy in yourselves, which prevents you from clinging simply and entirely to the cross and blood of Jesus Christ.

"It is THAT which Paul ALWAYS uses with wives choosing to voluntarily serve a husband in his needs being met. But, one cannot tell another to be subjected, any more than you can tell someone to be learned."

Scott Leonard said...

Thanks for sharing great stuff. God, help me see it clearly. Does the I Peter passage above pose a challenge to this school of thought, when women are told to emulate Sara, who "obeyed" Abe and called him"lord"? Or Eph 5:24, where they are told to submit themselves in "everything", as the Church does in submission to Christ? Help me here. Tanks.

Paul Burleson said...


The context is established by 1 Peter 1:1-2 where we [all believers male or female] are called to obey Jesus Christ. Then we're called to a unique behavior. [1:12-holiness] In chapter 2 :12 we're called ESPECIALLY to live holy before lost people and even those who are in some kind of authority over us. [1 Peter 2:13-15.

But all this is to be done as FREE PEOPLE. [1 Peter 2:16] "Free" is a word which means "political and social freedom allowing for self-determination." That self-determination is not to be used for wrong but for proof of our being under the Lordship of Christ. [2:16]

Now..."in the same way, [out of self-determined freedom but in obedience to Christ our Lord] ye wives, serve the needs of your OWN husbands so you can win them." [1 Peter 3:1-2] The reason given is that if any husband is not a believer, that husband may be won to a faith in Christ through the respectful behavior of his wife.

”In the same way” would also connect what Peter has already said about submission showing that the wife is free, allowing for self-determination, yet that self-determination is not meant to be used for dishonor and disrespect towards her husband.

Instead she is to freely honor her husband and is so doing she honors her Lord and Savior. In this way she is living out the Christian character that is real with God and needed to win a lost husband.

This is where we can take all that we have seen in 1 Peter and apply it. [Context] Let’s take the first part of 1 Peter 3:5 -

1 Peter 3:5 " For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves…"

“For in this way” means the way of respect, honor, love and fear of God. These were women who hoped in God. The term “hope” means an attitude of looking forward to, usually, a trusting, confident hope. It was a trust in God that He would take care of them.

1 Peter 3:5 …being submissive to their own husbands;

These women voluntarily submitted to serve their own husbands. Verse 6 shows several ways that Sarah served her husband and honored him.

1 Peter 3:6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham…
The term “obey” has a basic meaning of “listen to” (Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker’s Greek New Testament library). Sarah honored Abraham by listening to him.

In much the same way, Abraham was instructed by God to listen to Sarah when she instructed Abraham to drive out Hagar from their midst.

The bottomline is it is written to women with LOST husbands and it was intended to be done out of the FREEDOM Christian wives have in Christ. "Who's the boss: is NOT the context at all.

Ephesians 5:24 is "hupotasso" middle voice and is explained previously.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

PRECISELY! It is the words of men in marriage that troubles me.

The emphasis on" who's the boss" is an emphasis the scriptures simply DO NOT have. If our words as men were to emphasis servant-hood, that character would find it's way through also. "As a man thinketh [speaks] so is he."

Rex Ray said...

Off topic but I thought I’d share what my niece wrote about my brother recovering from heart surgery and kidney problems.

My dad is the ultimate lemonade maker out of lemons so he is a great encouragement to all who cross his path,

Wanted to share a story...My dad has always had this incredibly gift of making friends almost anywhere he frequents. My mom and I went to lunch at a place called Paradise Bakery and she noticed a Mexican man bussing tables....she told me "That's one of your dad's friends." My dad loves to sit in restaurants and write and somehow he has gotten to know this man. The amazing thing is that he speaks barely a word of English. Somehow we communicated to him that my dad was in the hospital... and he said...."I come." Sure enough he came that afternoon, holding tightly to his Bible and prayer beads and he cried out to God for my times even touching his face to the floor as he prayed. He came the next day and did the same. My dad wrote this poem and read it to me with tears in his eyes. I thought it might be an encouragement to you as well. Love, Melody

My Friend, Charlie Rose
(Note: my dad doesn't know his name so he made one up,)

He came by today just to say, "God is on His way"
A kinder face, you could never find
Carved from desert rock by the blowing sand
Bent now by sun and his labor of love

He speaks no English; his T-shirt flies with bakery flour
Courteous, polite, contrite he stands, without a seat of honor
His dark Spanish eyes sparkle with tears, of the good thing that he shares
We wait in the hospital room with a respectful air

He lifts up his prayer beads to God and sinks to his knees.
Tears flow and fall on his brown hands; then puddle on the floor.
And he pleads for God's mercy in a language so strange
Yet known by every man on the open range

He remains prone on the floor; his tears continue to stream.
Yet with deep contrition he lifts our souls to heaven's gate
And although he washes dishes; it is his prayers, that to heaven will fly.
This is my friend, Charlie Rose, I think he lives closer to Jesus than I

Hez Ray, May 25, Friday 2012

Paul Burleson said...


Very good poem by your dad. Thanks for sharing.

Rex Ray said...


Thanks, but the poem was written by my twin brother, Hez. If my dad had not died at 93, he would be 115.

Scott Leonard said...
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Scott Leonard said...
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Scott Leonard said...

Thanks for that, Paul. I guess the driving force behind these necessary discussions is men needing to be the boss. Again, surrender and fullness of the Spirit removes the fuel for so many words about this.

I am guessing, based on what you said above, that you believe the translations for I Peter 3:6 all erred (I didn't find one exception) in using the word "obeyed" instead of "listened to". I have studied that word and know that the root is to hearken or listen to. True hearing is one of the heart, not just the ears or head. It results in obedience.

I'm just wondering if, because of the abuse/neglect by husbands, there is a bit of a drive to push beyond the natural sense of the text on some of these verses. No matter where you come out, all the translations praise Sarah and hold her up as an example for "obeying" Abe and calling him "lord." So what?! If I'm on the cross, I don't care whether she calls me lord or Jack Lalane!(boomer reference)

And by the way, I'm wondering whether every action isn't voluntary. Whether I am told to voluntarily submit or I am demanded by someone to get on my knees, isnt it always my choice? On the other hand, If God tells me to voluntarily submit, do I have a legitimate option, if I am serious about giving God pleasure, of NOT submitting??

God Bless.

Scott Leonard said...

And come to think of it, if I'm not on the cross, she could call me lord and kiss my feet and it still wouldn't be enough!

Paul Burleson said...


I think we've both said what we think and believe about the scriptures in question.

Now, it remains only for us both to honestly search, study and interpret as we understand those scriptures, and then to examine our inner agendas, if there be any, and if none, other than a desire for truth, then we are able to leave it with the Spirit in terms of any correction, understanding, affirmation, or insights yet needed, and it all will come in His timing. Not a bad place to be is it!.

Scott Leonard said...

Amen. Hope you're having a great anniversary. We are headed out to dinner in St Pete for ours! Hope to beat the exodus from the Rays' game. Blessings.