jump to navigation

Cultural or Timeless July 30, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in First Timothy, Religion, Sermons, Women in the Church.
add a comment

Thanks to those who responded to my answer to the first question. I have changed my mind and decided to answer question 3 next. I remembered that I had dealt with this question extensively on a Sunday night over two years ago. The subject was “Women in the Church” and the passage was 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Let me repeat my paraphrase of the question and then give the applicable excerpts. I will put new comments in parenthesis.

Question #3: Is it not a threat to the inerrancy of Scriptures when we claim that certain teachings in the epistles are cultural?

Women in the Church – 1 Timothy 2:11-15

CONTEXT: Especially in dealing with controversial passages, it is important to emphasize context. The context, as we have noticed in Chapter 1, is to make sure that Timothy takes active measures to stop false doctrine and to promote sound or healthy doctrine. When we read these verses, we notice that there apparently were women in the church at Ephesus who were wanting to teach, who were probably attention seekers, and who were probably participants in the false doctrine being taught…Now I say apparently and probably because we need to remember that reading the epistles is much like listening to one end of a telephone conversation and trying to figure out who is on the other end and what that unseen party is saying. (I should here point out that I am speaking to the occasional nature of the epistles which is what makes the epistles hard at times to apply. Our church culture in this century is unlike that of the first century. Everything, including doctrinal truth must be understood through a first century filter. That does not make the epistles errant nor does it make everything in the epistles cultural. There are many timeless truths and applicable principles in the epistles but just because something is mentioned in the inerrant Scriptures does not make it a timeless truth or an applicable principle.)

Looking at the context will help us to do two things. Keep us from making this passage say something it doesn’t say and also from missing the point that Paul is attempting to stress to Timothy. (I might add that it will also help us to differentiate between the cultural and the timeless.)

Principle – Paul gives the application first and then the principle. We want to begin with the principle, verses 13-15.

The Family as Set up by God is an Principle that Transcends Spiritual Economies, verse 13. (This is by the way the same principle that we were discussing in both 1 Corinthians 11 and 14).

The Reason Eve was Deceived was Based on her Knowledge of the Truth not on the Character of her Gender -verse 14.

The Woman’s Place in God’s Society is of Great Importance – verse 15.

Application, verses 11-12.

A. Woman can and should learn. They are intellectually and spiritually capable of growing, verse 11. Paul was not one like we often meet in Christian circles today who pays lip service to the value of women but whose actions speaks louder than their words.

B. Women can and should teach and have authority in its proper place – verse 12. It may appear that Paul is teaching just the opposite but when we look at his life and work we see myriad examples where women teach and minister in important ways. (Comparing Scripture to Scripture also helps us to understand what is cultural and what is timeless.)

C. The male leadership of the church according to chapters 1-3 have a serious responsibility when it comes to promoting the sound doctrine, i.e., the gospel of Christ, both within and without the local church body.


A. This is not everything that the Bible teaches us about the importance of women in the church. There are numerous examples of women active in service and in certain types of leadership positions in the church.

B. There is some cultural room for differences in application but it is limited by the specific principles set down in the Scriptures.

C. This really sets the background for our understanding of chapter 3.