“For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through child bearing – if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control (I Timothy 2:13-15).”
In the previous two posts: Is the Bible Sexist? – Women in Ministry Part 1 and Is the Bible Sexist? – Women in Ministry Part 2, we looked at the previous verses that are often quoted by anti-bible people to talk about how the Bible is anti-women, or outdated or whatever.
The previous verses are:
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women would adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet (I Timothy 2:8-12).”
This church had a problem with divisiveness. There were Gnostic thinking people trying to pervert the teaching within the church, and women who came out of the Artemis Cult joining up with the church. How did the priestesses of the Artemis Cult dress? They dressed opposite of the above verses. Their apparel was not respectable. It was not modest. They didn’t exercise self-control because the goal was sexual, mental and spiritual dominance over men. They wore braided hair and gold pearls that was very costly. They got what they wanted through seduction, not with good works.
As we addressed in Part 1, Paul addressed them with the next verses. Women are not to be teaching. They are not to exercise authority over men. She is to remain quiet. That quietness was counter-cultural for both the men and the women of Ephesus because men were used to being dominated by the women, and some of them got used to it as a way of life. I am sure some of them struggled leaving the temple and even had had perverse relations with some of the women who had joined the church in the past. Remember it is a new church. The people of this region were all ill-effected by this lifestyle. Specifically Paul seems to have gotten past addressing the struggle of sexual relations with these maturing believers, but Artemis thinking was still influencing women to want to interrupt the leaders of the church and talk over them, or dominate the discussion. Drastic measures needed to be taken.
Paul then goes on to explain instructions that were counter to the thinking of the Artemis cult in deeper detail in the next verses we are looking at today. Verses 13-15 further solidify my point. I saved the strongest point for the third post, because you needed the first two to introduce the idea. If I brought this part out right away it could be overlooked and not seem as strong.
When Paul explains that Adam came first and Eve was the one who was deceived and became the transgressor it seems as though Paul is blaming original sin on women. Without context it is very easy to jump to that conclusion. However, Paul writing to the Romans describes Adam as the sinner in great detail (Romans 5). It would be inconsistent to think Paul believed women were to blame for sin, and men were somehow lesser sinners. Paul didn’t preach that type of message. In fact this may be the only verse we have that you could come to that conclusion, but many verses which say otherwise.
V. 13-14 Adam was formed first and then Eve was the one who was deceived. This reference is to The Legend of Artemis. Artemis and Apollo were twins. When Zeus’s bride Leto gave birth to Artemis first, she had an extended labor with Apollo. Artemis helped her mother give birth to Apollo. This also made Artemis the superior Divinity to Apollo. This was foundational to the theology of female dominance of Artemis.
So it was important to set them straight and say, no Adam (Hebrew word for man, also the first man) came first not Eve. And Eve sinned. This didn’t mean that Adam didn’t. We obviously know Paul believed Adam did sin and we are all sinners because of it, but to the context of the message it was important to highlight that Eve had the idea and led Adam towards sin.
You see the reason context is so important is the Gospel is the same regardless of context, but context determines how that message is communicated. The God of grace in Ephesians and Romans is the same God who wants us to know faith without works is dead in James. Context matters and it matters for the time we live in today.
V. 15 – Feminist love this part. Women will be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. This doesn’t mean a women needs children to go to heaven. In light of everything that was said so far and the reference to Adam (man) and the words Eve and woman; we are talking about Eve who sinned, or the first woman who sinned and by bearing children which would eventually lead to a Savior (Jesus). By giving birth to Seth. When God spoke to Eve after the original sin, He referred to her offspring or (seed) (Genesis 3:15-16). It is the only place in the Bible that refers to a woman’s seed because it is the male’s seed needed for procreation.
This is a reference to the virgin birth of Jesus all the way back in Genesis. Who savs, Jesus isn’t in the Old Testament? Women are not saved by being barefoot and pregnant, but woman are saved by God who blesses them with a divine seed who is born to be the redeemer of the world.
Paul finishes not by telling women they are lesser than man, but explaining their intricate part in salvation history.
Feel free to interact. I look forward to it. Thanks for reading.