Paul the Apostle

Those who’ve read a few entries ago, admittedly they were some months back, will know I’ve been reading the bible. Now I have another question for those more learned than me;

In 1 Timothy, Paul declares that he will not allow women to teach. They should sit quietly and subserviantly because Eve was created after Adam, and therefore is second to him. Also, it was Eve that sinned by eating the apple and then she caused Adam to sin.

It is presumably this paragraph (mostly) that led to the notion that women could not be ordained in the Catholic Church.

But my question is this. Does anyone actually believe such instructions came from Jesus? I don’t, because it appears to be against some fairly significant parts of other scripture. For example;

Genesis 1:26-27
So God created people in his own image;
God patterned them after himself;
male and female he created them.

If that isn’t a statement of utmost equality I don’t know what is.

Paul himself states in Galatians 3:28

There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[a] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Now I appreciate they’re only 2 examples from a fairly lengthy book, but they’re not the only things I take exception to that Paul wrote. So I’m a bit confused – because the bible is supposed to be the word of our Lord, and yet it cannot be so. Our vicar couldn’t answer it so I’m hoping someone here can.

Incidentally, I believe the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I am utterly convinced of who Jesus was (or indeed is) – but that nearly half the New Testament is written by someone who never physically met Jesus, and clearly states on various occasions that some of his writings are from himself and not the Lord, disturbs me. It disturbs me because how are we to know which is which? And anyone who goes against scripture is claimed as a false prophet or a heretic….

Someone help me!


  1. One thing that has to be considered when reading the Bible is, when was this particular thing written, who was it addressing, and what was going on at the time. During the time that Paul wrote what you are referring to was a time when the only situation in a "church" where a woman would be speaking out, or have any other part of worship, was in the heathan temples and doing so showed them to be temple prostitutes.

    So I take this to mean that Paul is saying for the Christian ladies of the time to avoid the confusion of having people wonder and suspect that you might be doing that sort of "worship".

    My mom and I were talking about this very thing just a couple of weeks ago. She is the minister of music in our church; therefore she is in front and speaks out every Sunday. So how would we apply Paul’s writing there to her? I said that if there were a costume that indicated that a person were a prostitute today (guess there sort of is,,,,,tight short skirt, low cut cleavage, high cut belly shirt etc) we should not wear it. OR if by doing something we were indicating we were prostitutes, even though we weren’t, we shouldn’t do it. The Bible says abstain from the very appearance of evil.

  2. I’m interested in reading a translation of the recently discovered Gospel of Judas, if it is somehow proven authentic. I think it would be interesting to see the differences between the gospels of those who did not personally know Christ, to that of one who did, and how much/which things differ in his message.

    As for the philosophy regarding women’s place in spreading the word of Christ and other teachings, the gospels all seem to agree in how Christ treated women and men. While it’s been a while since I’ve read them, my memory serves that he treated them with equality, which would suggest that the teachings of Paul are contrary to that.

    Admittedly I need to re-read much of the bible, but I don’t remember any of Christ’s teachings being gender biased.


  3. I hope SufferingServant, Kaliko88 or Damselita will be able to answer your question, they are much more familiar with the Bible than I am, but I DO know that Jesus treated men and women equally.

    P.S. How is Selena going?

  4. I’ve been thinking about what you are thinking about very often. I think the Bible indicates that Paul met Jesus in person on the road to Damacus, and then a 3 year period, according to

    Paul, was spent, not conferring with flesh and blood.

    Interesting, huh?

    damsel with hugs.

  5. If you take the Bible as a pattern, there isn’t an instance I can think of in which a woman preaches to a group of men (in an official capacity). However, you can also interpret this as indicative of the culture from which the Bible comes. In some ways Paul seems to advocate his Jewish roots, in other ways he opposes them. The thing I constantly remember is what a fanatic Paul was even before his conversion (the stoning of Stephen is an example). His character seems to be that of a man of strong ideas who has to decide exactly what he believes and then do something about everyone who disagrees with him.

    Galatians 2 for example records significant conflicts in doctrine between Peter and Paul. Women teachers are not specifically mentioned there, but the fact that such arguments are included could be said to show that doctrine is somewhat of a personal interpretation rather than law.

    Paul is quite specific about women not having authority over men, and I think this is the crucial point. In Acts 18 Aquila *and* Priscila *privately* instruct Apollos. The distinction could be drawn between public teaching and private instruction… but then again, this is a bit nitpicky about particular words, which I think is really dangerous when you research where the modern Bible translations came from and how the books of the Bible were chosen (research the Nicine Council). Keep in mind the motivations of the Nicine Council to provide a guide for unity of belief for christians. They were the ones who chose the doctrines of the christian church under the Emperor Constantine (who also officially made certain pagan holidays christian ones to smooth over conflict between christians and non christians, incidentally). They chose which books should be included in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. Now you can say that this selection was God-inspired if you like. However, you might want to consider googling and reading books that were NOT included in the selection, such as the gnostic gospels. Given that the Nicine Council was in 325 AD, either they were God-inspired in their selection, or politically motivated to choose texts that were congruent with the doctrinal arguments against the teachings of Arius at the time. Given that it was nearly three hundred years after the death of Christ, and over two hundred and eighty years since the death of Paul, what proof do we have that any or part of these works were not fabrications? Some parts had already been translated at least once, and then were re-translated (often again at the behest of politically motivated individuals) into English later on, and translations are often based on translations… it makes wordpicking a bit of a dicey thing, methinks. Even Paul’s letters to Timothy in Ephesus were written at a time of conflict between Jewish and Gentile teachers of Christianity in Ephesus, and Paul is just trying to clarify what he thinks is right, or what God was inspiring him to tell them is right…? (But if so, how can he and Peter have argued over doctrine, especially if Jesus told Peter that he was the rock on which he would found his church?)

    I think you raise an excellent point about Paul making the disclaimer that some of his teachings come only from him. Something that might help clarify things for you is the "scripture" referred to in the New Testament is of course the Old Testament. Paul did not necessarily consider his letters or even the gospels to be scriptures. They were just letters at that stage, just accounts of things.

    Men and women being "one in Jesus" does not necessarily dictate decorum. And I don’t agree that God creating both man and woman in his own image does either – how can man and woman still be so physically different then? If we are so physically different, is it not then possible that we have socially different roles as well? Is it possible that only in unity, following our gender roles, that we make up the image of God?

    When thinking about all this, do keep in mind that I am an agnostic and because of that any thoughts I have on scripture should rightly be treated with suspicion.

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