I’ve been going through tons of drafts and cleaning them up for publishing. This particular series began as answers to emails, so if they read a little odd, that’s why. (:
Click here for Part I
Are Women Required to be Quiet?
“…that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word,
may be won by the conduct of their wives.” (1 Pet. 3:1-2)
Does this passage and others like it command women to remain silent, quiet, or unquestioning in the assembly and with their husbands? Peter’s audience was primarily former pagan gentiles. Apparently, more women had turned to Messiah in this assembly than had their husbands, and they needed some instruction.
Peter’s suggestions for these wives wasn’t something new. The Word of YHWH is always concerned with our deeds, not our creeds. Actions really do speak much louder than words. This is because we act out what we really believe or what is really in our hearts. A person can talk to another until they’re blue in the face, but it is the deeds and actions that reveal the truth (or lack thereof) of what someone says.
Thus, Peter’s advice for wives to lead their husbands to Messiah by their walk/actions/lifestyle is true for far more than just “husbands.” This works on people in general because it reveals authentic faith, love, and respect. “You will know them by their fruit”, not their words or creeds. As new believers in the Jewish Messiah, these women would have been walking and living contrary to the culture around them. Hopefully, their husbands would see a stark change in their behavior and the ensuing blessings as a result, and this would win them to Messiah. But hopefully, this would win far more than their husbands — family members, friends, and neighbors!
Peter doesn’t say that these women never SPOKE a word, became mute, or took a vow of silence. Wise women don’t incessantly harp on their men to “know Jesus”, nag, or give childish guilt trips. These tactics are forms of manipulation. They are not of Elohim, nor do they produce godly fruit. This is true no matter the situation, circumstance, or predicament. Neither a man nor a woman should use their mouth for this purpose regardless of whether they have a believing or unbelieving spouse.
How does an ezer kenegdo follow this example and still “oppose” her husband when necessary? To oppose doesn’t mean that a wife becomes a vessel of strife, contention, aggression, or the like. Those are all issues of the flesh, which should be in subjection to the renewed spirit-man (ruach) of a believer. Perhaps an example will be helpful.
What if a man comes home to his wife and says, “I’m going to take our life savings to the casino.” Does YHWH expect this woman to say, “Yes lord, do with it whatever you please.” If this is their entire life savings, a decision like this is indeed an unwise and ungodly way to spend the provision YHWH has provided. By remaining silent, the woman is agreeing to this decision. If the woman points out the folly of his foolish choice, it might bring him to his senses and spare them from the consequences of a very bad decision. (Obviously, the example above is an extreme case, but even small decisions can have huge consequences.)
If Esther had remained silent when her husband signed the edict to kill the Jewish people, this article would have never been written. Esther’s methods should be noted as a good example. She respectfully approached the king (though unannounced, against his “rules”, and at the risk of her life). YHWH had already prepared the heart of the king, as he was willing to give Esther up to half of his kingdom. (Talk about equality!) She then invited him to a private wine banquet. Twice! — Before SPEAKING her heart. She didn’t oppose him by berating, yelling, or scorning him for making such a detrimental decree. Instead, she wined and dined him, which created some mystery and intrigued the king.
Peter would have been familiar with the many women of the Tanakh that used their voices, so what did him mean by a meek, gentle, and quiet spirit?
But let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (1 Pet. 3:4)
The Greek word hesuchios is often translated as “quiet” in this verse. Strong’s defines it as:
G2272 ἡσύχιος A prolonged form of a compound probably of a derivative of the base of G1476 and perhaps G2192; properly keeping one’s seat (sedentary), that is, (by implication) still (undisturbed, undisturbing): – peaceable, quiet.
Peter isn’t talking about not talking. He doesn’t expect these women to not speak to their husbands. Those that follow the G-d of Israel should be known by their gentle, meek, quiet, peaceable, and tranquil spirits or dispositions. In other words, Messiah’s disciples shouldn’t be the ones that are causing strife, divisions, or arguments. This is true for men and women, king and layperson as this very SAME Greek word is used in the following in verse 2:
1Ti 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,
1Ti 2:2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
1Ti 2:3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
1Ti 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Paul said the same thing that Peter said in 1 Peter 3. Our BEHAVIOR (regardless if we are male or female) is what wins the lost. We should be known for our kind, gentle, and peaceable (quiet) lifestyle. Paul expresses his heartfelt prayers for this to be especially true in the lives of those in AUTHORITY. Their example is a witness to even more lives that YHWH desires to come to the truth.
In both cases with the Greek word hesuchios, translated as quiet, the meaning has nothing to do with “not speaking.” The basic sense of the word is to “keep one’s seat.” Know Your Place. In other words, true followers of YHWH are not those that rise up in offense and cause disturbances. They are not trouble makers. They do not offend easily. Rather, they are peacemakers that desire a tranquil lifestyle. It is the nephesh (flesh/emotions/instincts) that gets a person all fired up to cause harm, mischief, debauchery, or endless disputations. These (if they indeed even believe at all) need milk because their flesh controls their actions rather than the spirit-man. Peter and Paul remind us that the fruit we should produce is peaceable, tranquil, and quiet. This isn’t about gender, it’s about godly character.
But what about…
The Infamous 1 Timothy 2:11-15 Passage
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. (1 Tim. 2:11-15 KJV)
If you scroll back up a few paragraphs, you’ll notice that I’ve already quoted from 1 Timothy 2. The same Greek word, hesuchios, is translated as silence and quiet life in 1 Tim 2:2 and 2:11. I think you understand what the meaning of hesuchios is at this point. But you might be disappointed to discover that I have no intentions of trying to reinvent the wheel in verses 11-15. Many great scholars have done a wonderful job of explaining the many nuances of the Greek of these verses, the context of the culture, and the fact that this is a LETTER of which we have only half of the conversation. (I’ve linked to one of my favorites below.)
No matter what, there are going to be many that refuse to let go of their theological paradigms in regard to the role of women — context, culture, language be damned. Like the disciples (pre-Messiah intervention) the Gospel from the lips of women is nonsense to them.
And as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. (Luke 24: 5-11)
Thus, if one deems the messenger or vessel unfit, only Messiah can open their eyes. The 1 Timothy 2:11-15 passage is typically used as “trump” verses to silence women from proclaiming the Gospel. This tactic is a repeat of Luke 24. But, we serve an amazing Elohim. He uses those called despised, foolish, and weak to confound the wise and strong!
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)
There have been many women throughout the centuries that were deemed weak, silly, or foolish that YHWH chose to deliver the Good News. The verses in Luke above cite numerous women that “were telling” and “reported” what they witnessed at the Tomb to the apostles. Here are the Greek words used:
Lego = “were telling”
G3004 Thayer Definition: 1) to say, to speak 1a) affirm over, maintain 1b) to teach 1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct 1d) to point out with words, intend, mean, mean to say 1e) to call by name, to call, name 1f) to speak out, speak of, mention Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: a root word
Apaggello = “reported”
G518 Thayer Definition:
1) to bring tidings (from a person or a thing), bring word, report
2) to proclaim, to make known openly, declare
Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G575 and the base of G32
How in the world does one escape the conclusion that these women were, in fact, proclaiming and teaching the men and apostles the Good News, Messiah is Risen? If we jump straight to 1 Timothy 2:11-15 without the context of the rest of the Bible, we are only fooling ourselves. Worse, vessels chosen by Messiah are rebuked, shunned, and silenced due to ignorance, stubbornness, or flat out misogyny. Luke 24 is only one example. I wanted to get you thinking about the big picture rather than the tiny part that is 1 Tim. 2:11-15.
1 Timothy 2:11-15 doesn’t define the whole Bible, rather the rest of the Bible defines 1 Timothy 2. While I have no desire to hash out the details of these verses in their cultural context, the link below is thorough and succinct. Enjoy!
The Consensus and Context of 1 Timothy 2:12
Submission & Authority Part I
For more information, see The Biblical Role of Women