What does the Bible teach about women and their status as human beings, Christians, citizens, and wives? This is the question of egalitarianism versus complementarianism. The purpose of this document is to present an accurate summary of the Christian egalitarian view. Christian Egalitarianism is not the promotion of female over male, nor of male over female. It is the belief that scripture shows male and female to be equal in salvation, in gifting, in service, and in access to God.
The Old Testament
Both male and female are stated as being made in the image of God; Gen. 1:27. Neither is said to reflect or represent that image more than the other. But is authority found in chronological order? God makes the only creatures with authority, humankind, last. If there is any tie between authority and chronological order, the text can only support the idea that the last created being is the one in authority. So Eve's being created after Adam does not imply his rulership over her, but could actually support the opposite. However, the only concrete statement that can be made about why humans were given authority is based upon their being made in God's image; no connection is made between chronology and hierarchy.
Likewise, no connection is made between naming another creature and hierarchy. Adam named animals  because God told him to, and Adam named "woman"  because he existed before her. But the text never calls this naming any kind of authoritative act. The text states the purpose of Eve's creation to be as a helper  for Adam. Does this constitute an instance of hierarchy, that is, is a "helper" inferior to the one needing help? The scripture here makes no explicit statement either way; all other claims about hierarchy have to be inferred from other passages, or from our own usage. Even so, we can take "helper"  as either an assistant or a benefactor, so usage of the word "helper" does not intrinsically tip the scales in either direction. In fact, if we do check other scriptures for the word "help" or "helper", we see that same word  used for God as for Eve.
One often-overlooked fact in this pre-sin world is that "a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh". The man is to join to the woman, not the woman to the man. Does this signify authority or hierarchy? The passage is silent about that; it is simply stated as a fact. This statement does not prove either way that one joining to the other indicates hierarchy. If our experience says anything, it is either neutral (a joining of two equals) or indicates that the one being joined to is superior. But there is no case of the one being joined to signifying superiority over the one joining. Their being "one flesh" can either refer to a figurative return to the unity of Adam and Eve, or possibly to "one family". From there we could say that if one must take the other's name, it would be the man taking his wife's name.
So the Bible never explicitly or even implicitly indicates any kind of hierarchy between Adam and Eve before sin.
Adam and Eve were together  in the garden when the serpent tempted Eve; she did not try to hide from him or deceive him in any way. When asked what God had said about the Tree of Knowledge, Eve's expanded answer  was not challenged by either Adam or the serpent. Eve attributed her answer to God, not to Adam, and there is nothing in the text to indicate otherwise. There is also nothing to indicate that Eve lied or was improperly instructed by Adam if she had gotten the warning from him instead of directly from God. But the serpent  clearly lied ("you will not die") and "sweetened the deal" ("you will be like God"). The serpent's appeal to Eve was that God had lied and withheld knowledge. This deception and appeal to being like God tricked Eve  into sinning by eating the fruit.
Note that Adam was completely silent throughout the whole exchange, and when Eve handed him the fruit he ate it without objection. There is nothing in the text to indicate that Adam had also been deceived, so his sin of eating the fruit was deliberate and without excuse. And there is no hint of authority here except for that of God. If Adam had been given authority over Eve, he made no indication of it nor used it to protect her. Again, there is no indication of hierarchy between Adam and Eve anywhere in this passage.
God turns to Adam first and demands an explanation. Adam's response is to blame not only Eve but also God  He says nothing about his failure to act, but note also that he doesn't deny having been with her at the time; that is, he doesn't appeal to having been unaware of the temptation. Then Eve is challenged, and her response is true; she makes no effort to pass blame or change the story, and freely admits to having eaten the fruit. We must keep these facts in mind when reading about God's judgment of the matter.
First God curses the serpent  directly and physically; he would crawl on his belly and eat dust. Then he adds that he will deliberately put "enmity" or extreme hostility between the serpent and Eve, and between her "seed" and his "seed". But the next statement about what each "seed" will do involves future individuals. So a future "seed of the woman" will crush a future "seed of the serpent", and this is tied to their mutual hostility. We have to wait for the New Testament (NT) for elaboration on the meaning of this section, but it should be noted that this future hostility is still part of the curse on the serpent, and it is specifically stated to be the seed of only the woman who would crush the serpent. There is no statement in all the Bible that explains why God chose only the woman's seed; every explanation has to come from inference. But we can note the fact that there was a difference in the motivation for sin between Adam and Eve: Adam was not deceived and so sinned deliberately, while Eve was deceived into sinning. She nonetheless took responsibility, admitting she sinned, but also spoke truthfully about the serpent's role.
Now God turns to Eve and makes a deliberate statement  he would make her "bring forth children in sorrow". Then he makes not a command or curse but a prediction ("will", not "shall"): Eve would turn (possibly "desire" but no indication of what this desire was) to Adam and this would result in his ruling over her. Note first of all that Adam's rule over Eve was put in the future, so it did not exist in the present. Put another way, if Adam already had rule over Eve, why would God predict it here and make it a future event? God did not say Adam would continue to rule or rule harshly or more effectively, but just rule. Another reason we know God did not command this rulership is that he had just blessed Eve with the promise of her seed alone crushing the seed of the serpent who had deceived her (remember it was part of the serpent's curse). To turn completely around and curse her with servitude to the man who had blamed her and God for his sin and failed to step in while she was being tempted, would be to say God rewards poor leadership and passing blame, even to the point of blaming God. Adam had proven himself disqualified to lead and unworthy of God's blessing with rulership over the one he failed to lead and protect.
Nothing is said about future generations in this passage except the woman's future seed crushing the serpent's future seed. What God said to Adam and Eve, he said directly to them. There are no statements to the effect of putting all men over all women, or all husbands over all wives, for all future generations. Any theories about how God's words here affected future generations are only conjecture and anecdotal evidence. We can fill in some blanks in hindsight, but the passage itself says nothing about the future of all humanity.
Now God turns to Adam and makes a deliberate statement: the ground would be cursed, producing thorns and thistles, he would eat the plants of the field (before they were only told to eat fruit), and he would return to the dust from which he was taken. Note that Adam was not cursed directly; there is nothing said about his spirit or Eve's, or their future offspring. Finally, Adam is driven out  of the garden to prevent his eating from the Tree of Life. The Hebrew states that only "the man" was barred from the Tree of Life and banished from the garden. Why only Adam? The text doesn't say. It tells us Eve would turn to him, but it doesn't say why. All we know is that God predicted Eve would go with Adam, and then he would rule over her.
(Note: some English translations, even the TNIV, translate "him" as "them" without explanation; compare also with the use of "had formed" for the animals in chapter 2 which in the Hebrew is only "formed". In these instances the KJV  is accurate. Also note the order of events in chapter 2: God says he will make a helper for Adam, then brings him animals to name, then makes Eve. Why is the account of making/naming animals put between God's announcement of his intention to make Eve and his actually making her, if the making/naming of animals had happened before? Even if the animals were made earlier, which the Hebrew  and LXX  do not support, and Adam only named them here, we still have to ask the significance of the timing. We cannot lightly dismiss the argument that God brought animals to Adam for the purpose of preparing him for Eve. In addition, we see that only Adam is told he would "return to dust"; it is his fate alone. But since Eve chose to follow him out of the garden, we know in hindsight that she and all her descendants would also share in Adam's fate.)
What we see in Genesis 1-3 is most striking for what it does not say. We can add more through the NT teachings and references, but before we do that we must know what's actually stated. The context includes considering what it meant at the time it was written.
Remainder of the OT
Although God only spoke of Adam ruling Eve, the pattern of male domination continued through all generations, even extending to some men ruling over other men. But rather than this historical pattern indicating God's expressed will or natural order, as complementarianism argues, it shows the fulfillment of God's prediction of the consequences of sin, and we see as we go through the OT some notable exceptions.
In Genesis 16  (also 21 ) God orders Abraham to listen to his wife. And when she tells him to send Hagar and Ishmael away, God talks directly to Hagar and makes a promise to her. Note that Hagar names God (16:13); here we have direct evidence that God does not consider the one giving names to be superior. Along with that, there are many instances where God is the "helper", showing that helpers can be superior.
There are of course other notable women in the OT. Abigail saved her people from slaughter when her "foolish" husband set himself against David. Queen Ester took her life in her hands to save the Jews from genocide, something she was not forced to do. Ruth, a Moabite and ancestor of Jesus, was so selfless as to be completely dedicated to her mother-in-law Naomi, and boldly approached Boaz about his duty as a Jewish kinsman. Their child was called a son of Naomi rather than of Ruth's dead husband or even Boaz. But what about leaders of men? Did God ever choose a woman for that?
Miriam, sister of Moses, was called a prophet (Ex. 15:20). In Judges 4 we see Deborah, another prophet, who was leading Israel and held court in a public place. She settled disputes and even summoned a man, Barak, to give him orders from the Lord. There is nothing in the context to indicate anything inferior about her leadership; were this a man, nobody would question it. And because Barak wouldn't go to battle without her, the honor of killing his enemy Sisera was given to another woman, Jael. Huldah was yet another prophet, who said "Thus saith the Lord" like any male prophet would. It is claimed  by complementarianism that God was only "scraping the bottom of the barrel" in using these women for leadership and prophecy, but the Bible does not support this at all; there is nothing in any of the passages to give us that option.
So the pages of the OT, rather than dictating male supremacy, show how God sometimes circumvents the norm and gives honor and promises of greatness to women. Yet technically, this is all after the entrance of sin and before the Cross. It really cannot be used to apply over the NT in general or the church in particular, because as we will see in studying the NT, Jesus ("the last Adam") would come to undo what Adam had done and bring us back to the pre-sin environment. At the very least, we can say the OT does not portray these "exceptional" women as God's last resort or punishment for lazy or disobedient men.
The New Testament
The Gospels and Acts
In reading the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, we see some radical departures from societal norms. He said things like "The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath" and "Among the gentiles, people rule over other people, but it must not be that way among you". He internalized religion instead of the tradition of outward performance. But he also treated women as equal with men in every way.
An example is the account of Mary and Martha. To sit at the feet of a rabbi was an exclusively male right, yet Jesus defended Mary for doing so. And then there is the account of Jesus being anointed at Bethany, his being touched by the "sinful woman" of Luke 7:38, and the Samaritan woman  with whom he spoke publicly. And of course the first witnesses of Jesus' resurrection were women. Women were also among his traveling companions, another scandal at the time.
In Acts we see that on the Day of Pentecost, both men and women were given the Spirit and spoke in other languages, in at least partial fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (Acts 2:17-18). Note that women too would prophesy, that is, speak to the crowds of men and women publicly about God. There is no indication that female prophets were of a lesser rank than male prophets, or that female prophets only ever spoke to women or only in private. We can add the teaching ministry of Priscilla and Aquila, and the fact that Ananias and Sapphira were each held accountable for their own sins. There are no instances where these passages in any way discount the ministry, worth, or roles of women in the church. The Jerusalem Council  did not make any long list of rules about who could do what, beyond asking for sensitivity to Jewish customs, and even then only restricting the new church from eating the blood of animals or being sexually immoral.
It is often pointed out that all Jesus' inner group of disciples were men. Yet this precedes the church and is still tied at least symbolically to the 12 tribes of Israel. They had to be witnesses to the Jews, something that would never have been accepted from women. Another claim is that since Jesus was physically a male, then all church leaders must also be male. But of course Jesus was more than just male; he was also Jewish and single.One cannot only choose one quality as a necessary representation of Jesus.
Letters to Believers
In 1 Peter 3 we see the Greek word hupotasso, which when applied to non-military situations, referred to a voluntary giving-in, of carrying a burden. Wives are to cooperate with their husbands, and for a purpose: to win unbelieving husbands to the Lord. He goes on to urge wives to develop character, the inner person, as did the godly women of old. This same attitude is commanded of husbands toward wives, and husbands are warned that failure to honor their wives as spiritual equals in spite of how society viewed them would prevent their prayers from being answered. He then goes on to urge mutual kindness and support among all believers. The passage in chapter 5 about church leaders expressly states that "lording it over" is wrong by anyone, but that the weak should respect and trust the strong who protect them until they too are strong.
In several places Paul gives lists of spiritual gifts, but never specifies gender as a criterion. Such gifts, not "offices", include pastor, teacher, and prophet.
In Romans Paul writes much about sin, and it is in ch. 5 that he clearly states the fact that Adam's sin brought death into the world. His sin, breaking a command (v. 14), is contrasted with people who did not sin as he did, but simply have experienced death as a consequence of the curse caused by Adam. In that whole chapter, it is only Adam who is charged with the sin that brought death into the world; Eve is not mentioned at all. When we remember from Genesis the difference between Adam's sin and Eve's, we have the answer as to why only Adam's sin is cited as the first. Adam sinned deliberately, while Eve was completely fooled into it.
At the end of his letter to the Romans, we see mention of one Phoebe, who is called a deacon. The word here is the same as in all other instances (see 1 Tim. 3). Neither is there any excuse to translate it differently here as when the person is a male elsewhere, and for them it is typically translated "deacon" or "minister". Phoebe is also called a prostatis which was a presiding officer or protector of many. And there is no contextual support for treating Paul's terminology here as metaphorical.
And then there is Junia. Complementarianism has three ways to interpret this:
- Junia is really a man, Junias
- She is not an apostle herself but known to them
- She is not an "authoritative" apostle
There is much textual attestation for arguing that Junia is in fact a woman, numbered among the apostles and counted as outstanding, and has the same authority as any male apostle. There is none at all for the male form "Junias" until long after the NT canon was completed.
1 Cor. 11 (see also Eph. 5:21-24) is where we see the term "head" as something that describes how Christ relates to the church and how men relate to women (not just husbands to wives). But the Greek word kephale translated "head" did not mean "boss". It could mean the literal physical head of a body, a headdress, the source of something (ex. a river), a person's life, or the conclusion or pinnacle of something. The head and the body are "one flesh" and not separate from each other; they are interdependent. By speaking of Christ as the "head" of the church, the scriptures are speaking of his being one with us and we with him, just as Jesus prayed before his death.
Certainly no one would deny that Christ has authority over the church, but the context here is not about that aspect of Christ. Paul is prefacing what he is about to say concerning head coverings, and so is using a play on words with "head". He goes on to talk about whether men or women should wear head coverings in the meetings, and only uses the word "authority" (Gk. exousia) when he talks about a woman's right to choose for herself whether or not to cover her own head. The words "a sign of" are not in the Greek at all.
Paul speaks of man being the "image and glory" of God. If something is the 'crowning glory' of another, that in no way implies authority, but just honor. And as Paul states elsewhere, we in the body of believers are to show "special honor" to the "weaker parts". Woman is portrayed as the "crowning glory" of man, not his servant or footstool. She is to be honored, not enslaved. Jesus honors his body by serving it, not by "lording over" it or hiding it.
In addition, Paul reminds the people that although the first woman came from the first man, every other person has come from a woman. More importantly, everything comes from God. So there is no room for boasting or pride over one's origins. Man and woman are "one flesh" they are equals, of the same substance. Moving on to chapter 14, we see in verses 34-38 what surely is the most misunderstood passage of scripture. Everyone agrees that Paul has been writing to answer questions and deal with problems in the church at Corinth, and sometimes quoted them before issuing his rebuttal or answer. But Greek has no quote marks as such; quotes have to be determined from context. One indicator is the practice of beginning the sentence following a quoted text with the Greek word He (eta with rough breathing mark), typically translated "Or". We see it twice in vs. 36: "Or has the word of God come only to you, or has it reached only you?" This comes across weakly in English. Instead, Paul is using great force to rebut what he has just quoted, which came from the Corinthians: "Nonsense! Has the word of God come only to you? Nonsense! Has it reached only you?"
The text of vs. 34-35 comes from a teaching in the Talmud, not the scriptures. No such "law" is found anywhere in the Bible. So even without the "He", we can tell that these two verses are nothing Paul would promote, especially since he spent so much effort combating the legalists. In other words, if he strongly opposed the imposition of the OT laws on the church in all his other writings, why would he do the opposite here and appeal to it, even if this quote were an actual OT law? So this is saying exactly the opposite of what complementarianism claims. Paul strongly opposed the silencing of women in the churches. This view is also consistent with his other statements about the prophesying of women in the congregation. Complementarianism must interpret Paul's rebuttal as being aimed at an anticipated objection to v. 34-35 instead of a quote from the Corinthians. But there is nothing in the rebuttal to indicate this, no such words as "someone will object". Paul did use such phrases elsewhere, but as rhetorical questions, not necessarily anticipated objections.
In Galatians 3:28 we see Paul's overturning of an old rabbinical prayer/boast: "Thank God that I was not born a Gentile, a slave, or a woman!". Instead, this once-proud Pharisee writes, "There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; you are all one in Christ Jesus." This comes in the middle of a discussion about our freedom in Christ, our equality, and our adoption and spiritual baptism. Paul is writing passionately against the very same legalistic mentality that would have silenced the women at Corinth. If Paul only means that we are all equally saved, then why can we not also say that there are still restricted roles for gentiles and slaves? All three are listed in the same sentence, so we can't put restrictions on women without also putting them on gentiles and slaves.
Eph. 5:21-22 reads as follows:
- "Be filled with the Spirit, while you are devoted to one another out of respect for the Anointed One, wives, to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Confirmed even by complementarians; see This Link: The Greek is literally “The wives to their own husbands as to the Lord.” Then Paul adds “as the church is subject (hupotasso) to Christ, so also the wives [ought to] (not in the Greek but added by translators) be to their husbands in everything.”)
Typical English translations, even the TNIV, have this:
- "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord."
This cuts into the middle of a sentence to put the second half with the text that follows instead of the text that preceded. So the meaning is "wives, be devoted to your own husbands as to the Lord". This is very likely to refer to the practice common at the time, wherein a father retained ownership of his daughter even after marriage. This resulted in the father having power over his son-in-law with the threat of taking back his daughter should he ever displease him. So Paul is saying that instead of this arrangement (the marriage "without hand"), the woman is to be devoted to her own husband, instead of her father. This makes the most sense of why did Paul only told husbands to love and wives to support: because he told wives to be devoted to their husbands instead of their fathers. He needed to say the former because he said the latter. The whole message was, "Since you wives are not to go back to your fathers, you husbands must be careful to love your wives and not beat them."
We can summarize the passage like this:
- Everyone must be devoted to each other.
- Wives, be devoted to your own husbands, because the woman comes from the man, just as the Assembly comes from Christ.
- Husbands, love your wives, because Christ loved the church and gave up everything for her. She is your own body, your "flesh and bones". You joined to her because of the scripture "A man leaves his parents to join to his wife", making the two of you one flesh. This illustrates the mystery of how Christ joined to us in our humanity.
- To summarize, each husband must love his wife and each wife must be devoted to her husband instead of her father.
There is nothing about authority, rule, hierarchy, or importance in the entire passage, but only unity and mutual dependence. The idea that one can submit while being in authority is derived from the idea that Paul, after making the mutual submission statement, is now defining how husbands and wives carry it out, but with an inaccurate definition for "head"; this view equates submission with "head/rule over". But the official complementarian view is that mutual submission is impossible. They presume that "head" must mean authority and "submission" must always be to an authority.
Now to 1 Timothy 2:10-15. Verses 11-12 read like this: "A woman must learn, with a humble and quiet demeanor. Yet neither am I permitting her to continue doing damage to a man but to be still." Note Paul's shift here from "women" who teach to "a woman" who learns; he is now referring to a specific unnamed woman who is not qualified to be a teacher. The references to "a woman" and "a man" suggest that this is a married couple, and that the wife is teaching her husband the Jewish law in ignorance (earlier Paul mentioned teachers of the law who didn't know what they were talking about).
The word typically translated "have authority over" is authentein, and it is only used this one time in all the New Testament. There are other, more common words for "have authority over" but Paul instead chose this unique word. Notice that he did use "authority" (epitrepo) concerning not allowing this false teaching to go on. The word authenteo is even rare in classical literature, and can mean "murderer, perpetrator, or author". In English, we use the word "author" to mean the person who originates a writing. And since Paul ties this in with the fact that Adam was created prior to Eve, it is clear that it is chronological order that Paul is concerned with, not any kind of pecking order or hierarchy. Further weight is given for this meaning due to Paul's statement about deception. What, we must ask, does the order of creation have to do with deception? This is where we refer back to the fact that Eve never saw God create anything; she was a "newcomer", inexperienced. Paul is saying that this woman is a newcomer to the faith who has been completely fooled by the legalists into believing Christians must be under the Law, and is teaching this to her husband. This is beginning to damage his faith and lead him back to bondage under the Law.
Next is one of the most debated verses in the NT, vs. 14: "And she will be saved through the childbearing if they continue...". "She" cannot be Eve because of the future tense and the fact that this person is still in error as the verb in Greek indicates. Neither can she refer to all women or even all Christian women because of the singular pronoun. "... will be saved if they" cannot refer to spiritual salvation because from other clear scriptures we know that no person's salvation can depend upon the faithfulness of others. The word for "the childbearing", like authentein, is never used anywhere else in scripture and rarely in other literature of the time. It is always used to refer to either physical childbirth or the proper raising of children. And salvation is never related to Jesus' birth, but only to his death and resurrection.
This leads us to conclude that the falsehood-teaching woman needs to be raised properly in the faith, which makes sense of the conditional statement that involves proper behavior both for her and her husband. Both of them need to learn the truth, and she, the deceived one, needs her husband's help in this spiritual growth. In contrast, taking "the childbearing" to mean spiritual salvation from eternal wrath makes salvation only for this woman into a salvation by works. Notice also that the couple are to continue in this work; this would make no sense if initial saving faith were in view.
Another possible meaning of authentein is "to usurp authority". It refers to an unlawful or improper taking of authority that a person is not qualified or permitted to have, not any and all authority. And it comes in the context of Paul's rules for handling false teachers, not those who are teaching truth.
In Chapter 5 Paul writes that a woman is to be the "despot" of her home. The Greek word there meant exactly the same as our current English understanding, so Paul declares that the woman of the house is it's "despot" or unquestionable ruler. The husband is never given this strong title of rule over his wife and family.
Now to Paul's letter to Titus. In chapter 1 Paul gives qualifications for "elders" (Gk. presbuterous). The phrase translated "the husband of one wife" (mias gunaikos andra) means "a one-woman man" or "one-man woman", that is, a faithful spouse. Paul is referring to the quality of the person, and he goes on to talk about the importance of such qualities in the culture of Crete at that time.
In chapter 2 Paul adds to the qualifications for elders, both male and female. The Greek word here is one from which we get "presbyter". It is the very same word as in chapter one; "presbyters" were to be appointed in every town. So when many translations use "older men" and "older women" here, they are being inconsistent at best. These are the appointees of chapter one, not all elderly people, since age is not a matter of appointment. Similarly, the Greek word typically rendered "young" is one from which we get the prefix "neo" meaning "new", not necessarily "young". So Paul is saying that male and female elders are to train new believers in appropriate doctrine and behavior.
Why the specific address to male and female elders? It would of course be appropriate for the men to teach men and women to teach women, but if women can only teach women, then men can only teach men. And if this verse cannot be used to say men can only teach men, then neither can it be used to say women can only teach women.
Paul says "teach slaves to be subject to their masters", but can we say he's promoting slavery? No, only the proper behavior of believers in every situation. Slavery was a fact of life, and rather than promoting revolt and thus maligning the name of Christ, Paul taught (consistently with Rom. 14 for example) that believers should always have the highest standards of behavior. Likewise, when he says women should do various things, he is not endorsing the suppression of all females but simply appealing to us all to avoid bringing reproach on the name of Jesus.
The egalitarian view of women in the church and home seems consistent with proper exegetical methods and does not require heavy reliance upon inference or tradition or translation. The Bible simply doesn't say many of the things claimed for it, especially concerning women. At the very least, there is certainly room for disagreement with male supremacism even in its mildest forms. Jesus came to bring life and freedom from oppression for all—and that includes women.
- http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%202:24;&version=72; 2:24
- The meaning of the phrase is debated, and is not further explained in the immediate context. But we do at least have some NT help. In Mt. 13:38 Jesus defines literal "seeds" in the parable as corresponding to either children of God (believers like Eve) or children of Satan (rebels against God like Adam). So at least in the first part of the "enmity" verses we can understand it as speaking of the perennial hostility between those two groups (certainly not merely between women and snakes!). But the second part is specific to individuals: he (lit. it) will strike your (the serpent's) head, and you (the serpent) will strike his heel.
- The word typically translated "pain" here is the same word translated "sorrow" or "painful toil" for Adam when he is told of his requirement to grow food.
- word study, Ps. 10:14, Ps. 27:9
- See also  and 
- Talmud, Berachot 24a Basics of Tznius
- Talmud, Menahoth 43b-44a Mishpocha
- From This Article: Abuse of wives was a common practice. In fact, wife abuse was such a problem that in the early first century A.D., the Emperor Augustus devised a system called “marriage without hand” (sine manu) to protect women from husband abuse. The law provided that the woman and her dowry remained under the jurisdiction of her father’s family. A woman could be taken back by her family and married to another man if the husband mistreated her too severely. The law was intended to reduce the divorce rate and stabilize family life, but in fact only contributed to further instability in marriage. An historian of the first century claimed that “the only enduring relationship a married woman had was the one with her blood relatives;” not her husband... Marriage instructions were directed almost exclusively to the wife. She is to defer to the wishes of her husband, to worship his gods, to have no friends of her own, to understand and forgive his sexual relations with courtesans and men.
- From This Article: Paul's instruction includes only three words, "mias gunaikos andra," as one of several requirements for being an elder (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1;6) or a deacon (1 Tim. 3:12, where the pl. "andres" is used). "Gune" refers to any adult female, including wives and widows. The King James Version translates it "woman" 129 times and "wife" 92 times. The noun "gunaikos" is in the genitive and therefore deals with attribution. It may refer to relationship or quality, for "the genitive defines by attributing a quality or relationship to the noun which it modifies." Dana and Mantey define the genitive as "the case which specifies with reference to class or kind." The genitive here is used to define or describe the noun "aner." This should not be considered a possessive genitive, for that would mean that the word in the genitive indicates one who owns or possesses the noun it modifies. In that case the translation would be "a man owned by one woman." Nor can this be considered as a genitive of relationship ("a man who has [possesses] one wife") for there is no indication within the phrase or context that that relationship is implied. It is best to understand this "gunaikos" as being a genitive of quality, that is, giving a characteristic to the noun it modifies. The noun being modified is "andra," accusative singular of "aner." "Aner" is translated "man" 156 times in the King James version and "husband" only 50 times (including the passage under discussion). This accusative functions here as an object of the main verb "be" along with a long list of other accusative nouns and participles. Stated simply, the clause is "Therefore . . . an elder must be . . . a man . . ." The words "one woman" modify "man" to explain what kind, or to qualify the noun by attributing to him this character, Robertson adds that the genitive of quality (also called attributive genitive). "expresses quality like an adjective indeed, but with more sharpness and distinctness." He also points out that usually the genitive follows the limiting substantive, "but the genitive comes first if it is emphatic," is the case here. Since the other qualification in 1 Timothy 3 deal with the man's character and since the grammatical structure is more naturally consistent with this emphasis, it seems best to understand the phrase as meaning that he is a one-woman type of man.