This post is the second part of an expansion on the reasons why I believe that 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is about one specific woman and why a general reference to women does not line up with the grammar within the surrounding context. The first points 1 – 4 are discussed here. This post will deal with points 5 – 8 and an additional question about why the particular woman might not have been lumped together with the other false teachers in chapter 1.
5. Paul creates an outline or pattern of Eve in verse in 1 Timothy 2: 13 that fits the situation of a one specific deceived woman referred to in 1 Timothy 2:14 as the woman.
When Paul named Eve as the reason for the prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12, Eve’s deception became the pattern that could be traced onto a specific situation at Ephesus. Paul had already set up the usage of a pattern in 1 Timothy 1:13 – 16 as he documented his own sin done in ignorance and unbelief as a prototype for God’s work in others.
1 Timothy 1:13–16 (NASB)
13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;
14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.
15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
The Greek word translated as example in the NASB is hypotyposin and it means:
a pattern, as a model prototype 1 Ti 1:16 (as prime recipient of extraordinary mercy in view of his infamous past, Paul serves as a model for the certainty of availability of mercy to others).
Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (pg 1042).
We can see that Paul set himself up as the prototype or example of God’s mercy that was available to others. In the same way that Paul is used as a model prototype in 1 Timothy 1:16, Eve is used as a model prototype in 1 Timothy 2:13, 14 and Eve’s deception which was followed by Eve being a recipient of God’s extraordinary mercy when God prophesied that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent deceiver was itself the prototype for the promise of the Ephesian woman’s salvation found in 1 Timothy 2:15. In fact the prototype set up by Paul is so strong that in 1 Timothy 2:14 it is almost impossible not to see Eve and her deception even though the grammar surrounding “the woman” cannot be made to fit a dead Eve.
1 Timothy 2:14 (NASB)
14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
The definite noun (the woman) who had come into transgression has the verb in the perfect tense which means:
a completed action that occurred in the past but which produced a state of being or a result that exists in the present (in relation to the writer). The emphasis of the perfect is not the past action so much as it is as such but the present “state of affairs” resulting from the past action.
Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology.
For a discussion of why the grammar cannot be interpreted as a historical perfect, see part 1 of this discussion here.
So, the woman’s transgression that happened because she was deceived, was a past action, but the continuing results of the transgression are a present “state of affairs” at the time of Paul’s writing. The grammar must fit a living woman, not a dead one. This is the exact situation as found in verse 15 where she cannot refer to a dead woman. Eve, then, has to be a pattern, outline or prototype for deception which preceded God’s mercy in chapter 2 just as Paul is a pattern or prototype for ignorance and unbelief and then God’s mercy in chapter 1.
In 1 Timothy 2:13 Paul brings in Adam and Eve to explain the reasoning for the prohibition and from that introduction, Paul then draws an outline of Eve and replaces her with the specific woman. He does this in such an effective way that Timothy as well as all of us can see the outline of Eve in the word deceived. Yet even with the strong outline of Eve, Paul fills in the details with another woman. While Paul starts with the name Eve, he switches to the term the woman (vs 14) and the pronoun she (vs 15).
6. Timothy receives an assurance about a particular “she” whose salvation would still be in the future at the time of Paul’s writing.
The grammar for both the woman (vs 14) and she (vs 15) requires a living woman who can be in a present state following her transgression and who can follow a new path that will bring about her salvation. The prototype of Eve must give way to a living woman who falls within the outline of Eve because of her circumstance. The prototype of Eve that is replicated with the woman in Ephesus shows the certainty of the availability of God’s mercy even to the one who is fully and completely deceived.
Will the deceived woman in Ephesus receive the same mercy as Eve did after her sin? Paul is sure that she will be saved if her eyes are opened by being taught the truth (vs 11) and then continuing in that truth with help (vs 15). Verse 15 naturally connects the singular pronoun she to the specific and definite woman from verse 14 who is still in the ongoing consequence of her transgression. While verse 14 has the grammar showing ongoing consequences, the grammar of verse 15 shows Paul’s hope for her salvation in the future. When Paul wrote that “she will be saved…if”, the only consistent and faithful application of a conditional salvation, would be Paul’s confidence about one specific deceived woman since a promise regarding all women’s salvation would have been a false promise no matter which way you look at it. If we make the assumption that Paul wrote the truth about the outcome of her salvation, then placing all women into a generic singular she would have made Paul to be a liar or a deluded man. There is simply no way to include all women into Paul’s conditional promise.
7. Paul uses both the singular and plural in verse 15 and proper grammar disallows referencing both “she” and “they” in the same sentence as being the same thing. The grammar supports a single woman along with at least one other person in order to make a plural “they”.
There is no biblical precedence for naming a singular generic noun as a plural generic pronoun in the same sentence. The Bible follows grammar rules that reference a single generic woman as a singular pronoun she and no passage ever switches from she to they or from he to they in referring to the same antecedent. We can either accept that the Scripture unlawfully breaks grammar rules in 1 Timothy 2:15 or else we can accept that she is not the exact same thing as they, and we can chose to trace back the pronoun to find out who she refers to and who they refers to. The nearest noun that fits the she is the woman from verse 14, along with the anarthrous woman from verses 11, 12. The plural they would have to refer back to the anarthrous man and woman from verse 12. I see no other way around the grammar, and if I am wrong about this, then I am willing to be corrected by the inspired text and the inspired grammar. Until then, I can only accept and believe what I see clearly from the text that aligns with an inspired text without grammar errors.
8. Eve cannot be a pattern for all women since not all women are deceived. Eve can be a pattern for another deceived woman.
It is Eve’s deception and consequently the mercy shown her that is the prototype/pattern. It is impossible for all women to fit this prototype since not all women are deceived. Paul’s example of Eve must correlate to deception or Paul’s words become meaningless.
I believe that it is time that we set aside our man-made tradition that has caused us to see Paul’s writings as contradictory to his practice of commending women who worked in ministry alongside him. Paul’s practice was to commend them, and never did he silence them or set their gifts aside. Tradition has made Paul into a misogynist, but a proper exegesis of the text that pays close attention to the inspired words and the inspired grammar, vindicates both Paul and God who inspired Paul’s words.
One other question that was posed to me was about why Paul did not lump the deceived woman in with the other deceived teachers in 1 Timothy 1. I believe that the answer to this question revolves around two things. The first consideration is that the situation of one particular woman with a Christian husband who was silent about her error, made correcting her to be a more difficult situation because the culture of that day made speaking correction to a married woman in contradiction to her husband’s own actions, to be a very tricky situation. I believe that Paul set this one example aside by itself because Timothy needed encouragement to act outside of his comfort zone.
The second consideration is that the problem of one deceived woman in Ephesus was a perfect example to highlight God’s mercy through a woman. Many in that day disregarded women and saw them as being outside of God’s mercy merely because of their gender. By setting up the problem of this one woman and comparing her to the very first deceived woman, Paul set up a perfect parallel to Eve’s deception and the amazing mercy that came through the first one who was formerly deceived would encourage all to rethink gender biases. By comparing the woman in Ephesus to the first woman, Paul was able to give a second witness to the mercy of God. Paul listed himself as a prototype for mercy in chapter 1 and in chapter 2 Paul lists Eve as the second prototype for mercy. Through Eve, Paul gives a living example of God’s mercy that Paul sees will happen in the future. So by leaving the deceived woman teacher for chapter 2, Paul has given us the required two witnesses as prototypes of God’s mercy that should bring us to glory and praise God who is able to save the very worst and the most deceived.
I hope that my two posts that have brought out an expansion on my understanding have been helpful to you. The other post that will be helpful in this area is my post on the anaphoric reference in 1 Timothy 2 found here.