Paul’s Arguments From Creation In 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 And 1 Timothy 2:13-14: An Apparent Inconsistency Answered -- By: Benjamin L. Merkle
Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 49:3 (Sep 2006)
Article: Paul’s Arguments From Creation In 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 And 1 Timothy 2:13-14: An Apparent Inconsistency Answered
Author: Benjamin L. Merkle
JETS 49:3 (September 2006) p. 527
Paul’s Arguments From Creation In
1 Corinthians 11:8-9 And 1 Timothy 2:13-14:
An Apparent Inconsistency Answered
For many Bible students, pastors, and scholars the main reason for not allowing women to hold the office of pastor (i.e. elder or overseer)1 is primarily based on Paul’s arguments from creation in 1 Tim 2:13–14. It is maintained that Paul’s prohibition cannot be limited due to cultural conditions since Paul does not argue from culture but from creation. He argues from the order of creation (“For it was Adam who was created first, then Eve”) and from the order of accountability in creation (“Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived”). Based on Paul’s reasoning, it is therefore concluded that women cannot “teach or have authority over men” in the context of the local church.
But can the above method of interpretation also be applied to 1 Cor 11:8–9 where Paul employs similar arguments from creation to bolster his position? In the context of 1 Corinthians 11 Paul demonstrates that women need to have their heads covered while praying or prophesying. To prove his point, he argues from creation that the woman was created from man (“For man does not come from the woman, but the woman from man”) and for man (“For man was not created for the woman but the woman for the man”). The question must then be raised if it is inconsistent to reject Paul’s appeal for women to wear head coverings and, at the same time, affirm his command for women not to teach or have authority over men since in both contexts Paul uses virtually the same reasoning.
This apparent inconsistency is raised by Keener when he writes, “Although many churches would use arguments [from the order of creation] to demand the subordination of women in all cultures, very few accept Paul’s arguments [in 1 Cor 11:8–9] as valid for covering women’s heads in all cultures.”2 He continues,
[T]he same argument Paul uses in one passage for forbidding women to teach he uses in another passage to argue that married women. .. must cover their heads in church. In the one passage, Paul does not want the women of a certain
* Ben Merkle is a graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280. He is currently lecturing in New Testament at a seminary in Southeast Asia.
JETS 49:3 (September 2006) p. 528<...
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