003 – Paul, Timothy, and Women in the Church

Welcome to the 3rd episode of the Grace Cafe Podcast, the podcast formerly known as the Known & Loved Podcast! In this episode, we take a closer look at the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy concerning women in the Christian assembly. Specifically, we talk about the words in 1 Timothy 2:8-15. This section of Scripture contains some weird verses concerning women that are normally taken to be an across-the-board instruction manual for “doing church.” Here are a few examples:

  • I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
  • likewise also that women should 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 to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
  • 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 childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Timothy was a resident of the city of Ephesus when he received this letter from Paul. The city of Ephesus had one of the largest pagan temples to the Greek goddess Artemis in Asia Minor. Acts 19 gives us some background to the culture there and the prominence of Artemis worship. Your Bible version may read “Diana” instead of Artemis. It’s okay, as either name is good. Artemis was the Greek name for this Greek goddess and Diana was her Latin name, so we would expect Rome to call her Diana.

But who was Artemis? That’s a loaded question with a complete answer far beyond what we can provide in this podcast description. In short, Artemis was a goddess of and a protector of women and she had hundreds of titles reflecting that. Those women in the Artemis culture looked to Artemis for divine help in childbirth, also believing that Artemis required them to wear their best clothes when in her presence, being more attentive to their requests if they dressed their best. Artemis was also looked upon as a woman’s protector in labor and childbirth.

Consequently, within the Artemisian culture, women were the dominate ones, often exercising dominance over the men. In the Artemisian culture in Sparta, men were often flogged as part of Artemis worship.

Far from being an across-the-board manual for how to “do church,” we believe Paul’s words to Timothy in the passage above were addressing the Artemis practices that were being brought into the church, not a manual for how women should dress and act in the Christian assembly.

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