1 Timothy 2:8-15: Unique or Normative? A Response To Gordon Fee -- By: Bruce K. Waltke
1 Timothy 2:8-15: Unique or Normative?
A Response To Gordon Fee
Professor Of Old Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary In Orlando
[Reprinted With Permission From Crux 28, No. 1 (March 1992):22-27]
I am writing this essay as a response to Gordon Fee’s gracious request for a discussion of his interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:8–11.1 After ruling that men pray in a holy manner (v. 8), Paul instructs that women dress modestly (2:9–10) and that they learn in quietness, being submissive in every way (v. 11). Putting the matter negatively, a woman is neither to teach nor to have authority over a man (vv. 11–12), both because Adam, the representative man, was formed first, then Eve, the representative woman (v. 13), and because Eve, not Adam, was deceived and came to be in transgression (v. 14).
Fee—I reluctantly use the customary scholarly shorthand for Regent’s distinguished Professor of New Testament and my friend, whom I respect and love—supports this exegesis of the text, but denies that the Apostle’s ruling that women not teach men has universal applicability to the Church. According to him, the pronouncement is ad hoc, a unique ruling to correct a church being torn apart by false teachers. “It simply cannot be demonstrated,” says Fee, “that Paul intended 1 Timothy 3 [sic—should be 2]: 11-12 as a rule in all churches at all times. in fact the occasion and purpose of 1 Timothy as a whole, and these verses in particular, suggest otherwise.”2
Part I: Fee’s Argument
Fee begins his argument by noting that every epistle is an ad hoc document, “that is, that it is a piece of correspondence occasioned by a set of specific historical circumstances....” 3 The Apostle wrote this letter to Timothy, his representative at Ephesus, says Fee, to stop the influence of some false teachers (1:3), and this, he argues, is the key to the book’s interpretation. Thus Fee contends that women are forbidden to teach uniquely at Ephesus because of the influence upon some women by the false elder-teachers, turning these women into peddlers of false doctrines.
He validates his argu...
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