Was Paul a misogynist?

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So often I have heard this accusation made against Paul that I have decided to address it and those verses of scripture that are used to support it. As not only do some unbelievers (and even believers) use these passages to dismiss Paul, much of the NT, or even Christianity as a whole, so do some who call themselves teachers and preachers of the truth use these passages to dismiss “women” or put them “in their proper place” in the church. They fail to see that Paul speaks even to them.

First I will take a look at 1 Ti 2:11-15:

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

First of all, I would like to point out that in verse 11 Paul says that “the woman” is TO LEARN in silence with all subjection. If we keep reading into the next chapter we will see that Paul does not desire for us to be “ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 3:7).

So is Paul speaking of “all women”? Or even to “only women”?

Let us examine the fact that Paul uses Adam and Eve in his explanation. Paul points out that Adam was first formed, then Eve. He also points out that the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Is that to say that Adam was not in transgression? Not if we are to believe Rom 5:14.

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

This is key to understanding why Paul used not only Adam (who is “a figure of him that was to come” – Christ) but Eve in his explanation of why he suffers not “a woman” to teach, nor to usurp authority over “the man”.

Please note that Paul does not say “women” and “men” (plural), but “the woman” and “the man” (singular) and when speaking of “her” (the woman) he says, in verse 15:

Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.….

Why does Paul say: NOTWITHSTANDING, “she” shall be saved in childbearing, if “they” continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety?

Let’s turn to Eph 5:22-33 for minute, where Paul addresses the husband/wife relationship and says that the wife is to submit to her husband, for the husband is the head of the wife:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Notice that while Paul is addressing husbands and wives he ends this admonition to them by pointing out that he is ACTUALLY using the husband/wife relationship to speak about CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.

In the relationship between CHRIST AND THE CHURCH who is “the woman” and who is “the man”? Is not “the woman” made up of both men and women? And how is “she” (this “woman”) who is THE CHURCH (made up of both men and women) “saved” if it is not by being “delivered of the child” (in childbearing)?

Are there any examples, in scripture, of a “man” being likened to “a woman”, even “travailing in birth”? YES!! Let us look at what Christ told his MALE disciples in John 16:19-22.

Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Christ, here, likens his disciples (all men, according to the flesh) to “a woman when she is in travail” because her time has come to be “delivered of the child”.

Now if we turn to 1Co 13:11, we can see where Paul speaks of this very thing, applying it to himself:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

And if we turn to Gal 4:19, we can see where Paul applies it to others as he “travails in birth again” with them, waiting and desiring to see Christ formed in them:

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

What else do we know about “a child”?

If we turn to Gal 4:1-5 we will see that the heir as long as he is “a child” differs nothing from “a servant” and it is this CHILD that must be redeemed from under the law by receiving THE ADOPTION OF SONS:

Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

And if we turn to Isa 3:4-5 we can see that the Lord likens “children” to “babes”:

And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.

And further down in Isa 3:12, “children” are also likened to “women”:

As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

What does Paul tell us in 1 Cor 3:1-3 about “babes”?

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

We know, from this passage, that Paul says that “babes” are “yet carnal” (walking as men) and that they must be fed “with milk, and not meat”. And if we turn to Heb 5:12-14 we will see that those who are babes, who are still on milk are not able TO TEACH others (AS THEY OUGHT) but are still in need of one to teach them:

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

So if we turn back, now, to 1 Ti 2:11-15:

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

We might be better able to understand who this “woman” is that Paul SUFFERS NOT TO TEACH.

Now let’s look at 1Co 14:34-35, the second set of verses used against Paul, in relation to his supposed misogynistic attitude:

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Again, we see here that Paul is speaking of those who are LEARNING. And if we backtrack just a little bit we will also see that Paul is addressing the entire congregation and their “confusion” (instability, disorder… of which, Paul says, God is not author) and Paul even tells them not to be “as children” in their understanding.

Paul begins the chapter by telling them (the entire congregation, it seems) to seek spiritual gifts, but particularly that of prophesying, as prophesy is for the edification of the church. He tells them that when they come together they must do so in an ORDERLY fashion, allowing each other to take turns in speaking so that all things may be done unto the edification of all. Paul even says “ye may ALL (pas = all, any, every, the whole) prophesy one by one” before he said “Let your women keep silence in the church” (etc) which is then followed, in verse 36, by Paul asking them if the word of God came “out of them” or only “unto” them:

What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?

The word of God cannot be coming “out of you” unless or until CHRIST is formed IN YOU and you have thereby been “delivered of the child”. Until then you are “a babe”, “a child”, “a woman” who is “yet carnal”, who is LEARNING and still in need of one TO TEACH YOU.

And Paul said: “I suffer not A WOMAN to teach”.

See the connections? See that Paul is really addressing CHRIST AND THE CHURCH when he speaks of ADAM AND EVE or the “husband” and “wife” (or “the woman” and “the man”)?

Paul finishes off this chapter, verses 37- 40, speaking again of “any man” (tis = some or any person) and “any” WHO THINK THEMSELVES TO BE a prophet or spiritual:

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.

Now let’s compare Paul’s words in 1 Tim 2:9-12 to Christ’s words in Rev 2:18-20:

Christ:

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because THOU SUFFEREST THAT WOMAN Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

Paul:

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I SUFFER NOT A WOMAN to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

So, then, let ~YOUR WOMEN~ keep silence in the churches for it is not permitted ~UNTO THEM~ to speak.  :o)

The only one who should be speaking IN THE CHURCH is ~THE MAN~ who is ~THE HEAD~ which is Jesus Christ.

It is only he (male or female) who has been “delivered of the child” who is spiritually mature, who is able to move from milk to meat, who is able (and allowed) TO TEACH others (as he ought).

Paul is not setting a limitation upon “women” after a carnal truth but setting a limitation upon “women” after a spiritual truth, as it applies to both sexes, as it applies to ALL MEMBERS of the church, as it applies to those who are “babes in Christ” who are “yet carnal”.

Scripture says that when the LORD pours out HIS SPIRIT that “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” and PROPHESY is for THE EDIFICATION OF THE CHURCH.

And Paul said: “… ye may ALL prophesy one by one…” :o)

Well, that is not all that could be covered on this topic, but plenty enough, I think (I hope).

Jer 30:6  Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?

ALL BLESSINGS IN CHRIST!

Christine

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About Christine

My name is Christine and since my favorite past-time, the one that I find the most fulfilling, is studying the scriptures and seeking to know and understand "the deep things of God", I have created this blog as a place to not only post my own bible studies but as a way to connect with others who are are also seeking the Lord and the Truth. I've posted some of my studies on other websites and haven't yet decided if I will post them here, as well, or if I will just post future blogs/studies here. We'll see. Thanks for stopping by and please do so again... maybe after I get something posted. :) ALL BLESSINGS IN CHRIST!!
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3 Responses to Was Paul a misogynist?

  1. Pingback: THE HEAD OF EVERY MAN IS CHRIST | Seeking the Way, the Truth, the Life!

  2. Ken Sheck says:

    Helllo Christine. Very well said. And yes, the spirit of man is the “spiritual woman”. The spirit of man does not know the things of the Spirit of God, as 1 Corinthians 2 says. As in, a woman who has not yet known a man, spiritually speaking. In history, through the literal word, men lorded it over women and shows their self pride. As scripture says, there is neither man nor woman IN Christ Jesus. Gal_3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all ONE in Christ Jesus.

    Scripture also says we are not to be a respecter of persons. Well done. God bless. Ken

  3. Christine says:

    Thank you, Ken. This was something the Lord showed me several years ago when I was being accused of being a woman with a disobedient spirit (to put it nicely, the men involved weren’t so nice about it), trying to usurp the authority of men (them, of course), all because I was asking them questions and not accepting their answers without asking more questions. It was a very “eye opening” moment for me. Thanks, again, for checking it out. I think you are the only one of my friends who even clicked on the link. 🙂

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