Monday, August 29, 2011

New "Series:" Seven Misused/Abused/Misinterpreted Bible Verses

Dear Reader,

    Today I will be starting the first series, this one being on misused Bible verses. It is very interesting to note that the vast majority of these theological mistakes could be avoided by following the three rules of Biblical interpretation: 1. Context; 2. Context; and 3. Context. This is not just applying to looking at the surrounding verses (although that is the first rule), but it also is looking at the historical context (rule two), and the context of other Bible verses that speak on that same issue (rule 3). If a verse does not make sense, then look at the surrounding verses, usually this will clear up any miscommunication. If that does not clear the issue up, then search through your Bible looking for verses that deal with the same issue.  If that does not clear up the issue, then look at historical context: who was the author; who was he writing too; and what was his audience going through at their time? If that still doesn't clear up the issue, then consult some experts for their take on your issue.

    Now, back on topic. The first verse that I will be dealing with is one you should be very familiar with, it is 1 Tim. 2:12 "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." Taken out of context one would think this verse means that women cannot teach men, and that women are not to do any talking in church (no singing, asking a question, or visiting with your friends allowed woman!). After taking a look at the surrounding verses, it only adds to the confusion (What! Now women can't wear gold, pearls, or braid their hair?!?!). So next take a look at the historical context. We know that the author (I believe it is Paul, but recently there has been debate over that fact, so I'll remain neutral until I can compile some of my own research) wrote this letter to Timothy regarding heresies that were springing up in the church at Ephesus. We also know that Ephesus, at that time, was the center of worship for the Cult of Artemis. This warrants a closer look at the "goddess" Artemis and her devotees.
     Artemis was the virgin goddess of hunting. She protected or killed women while in childbirth (both ways ending their pain). The cult held that women were superior to men, and the religion stated that Artemis was born before her twin brother Apollos. This would explain both the reason for bringing up the creation story in vv.13 "For Adam was created first, then Eve;" and for the alternative way of translating the Greek word "αὐθεντέω" or authenteō, which means "to act of oneself, that is, (figuratively) dominate: - usurp authority over, (Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries)." This verse would therefore not be commanding women to be silent and not teach men, but rather to not teach men in a domineering way, by lording their knowledge over the man. Also, when looking for other verses in the Bible that deal with this issue, we see in Paul's farewell to the Romans (Rom. 16:1&2) and also in his greeting to Philemon (Phm 1:2) that women could serve and are considered fellow soldiers.
    These arguments being made, I commend my position to you, my readers, for consideration and debate. I will be trying to do one of these a week for the next seven weeks, some being more controversial than others, so keep your eyes open for them. If my opinion differs from yours, or if you have some verses to add to my arguments, then don't be shy, post them!

Until next we write,



  1. Joe, my view raises this question; "can we interpret the Bible by historical context?" I personally do not think so because historical accuracy is not near close to that of the Bible. The real question is, however, "concerning the Bible, what should we take at face value, and what should we take as addresed to specific people?" For example, in the OT the Bible usually specifically states things that directly apply to Israel, and only have historical or indirect application to us. Also, there is a parrallel passage in 1 Corinthians 14 that states the thing, which I believe helps confirm this even more to me. However, this is a very controversial passage, along with the one about men and women uncovering/covering their heads during church. The problem with intrepreting these passages is that our historical knowledge is all tooo often filled in with guesses or suppositions that we truly are not in the position to make, because we were not there.
    Your brother in Christ,

  2. Zach,
    I believe that an understanding of the historical context can help us to interpret what the human writers of the Bible were implying in certain texts, however, more weight should be given to immediate context and context of similar passages in the Bible. Although I believe it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, it was written by humans for humans, and so the Holy Spirit used the knowledge and experiences of each of the different writers to get the message through cultural barriers. One thing that must be understood about Greek culture, is that women were not allowed to do hardly anything outside of their homes, and if you came from that culture to a Christian culture in which women were allowed total freedom, what would you think. This stance that certain doctrines are non-essential to the Christian Faith and can be jettisoned is extremely dangerous, and should be applied extremely rarely with great care, but today many important roles in the church are filled by women. I do not believe women pastors are Biblical, but what about female Sunday School Teachers, Greeters, and Small Group Leaders (Let's not get into the Small Group debate, I have mixed feelings about it).
    I do agree, though, that historical context is not as accurate as Biblical context.

    Your Brother in Christ,


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