Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

women easily deceived deception

This article is also available in Spanish, Urdu and Sindhi

According to Google Analytics, which provides me with statistics about visits to my website, people often arrive at this site after googling phrases about women and deception. Here are some actual Google searches that have brought traffic to my site last month: “females are deceptive”; “Bible verses on gullible women”; “Bible verses on deceptive women”; “women in the Bible who deceive men”; “Are women more easily deceived than men?”; “women are gullible and easily deceived”; “deceptions women believe”; “Why are women more vulnerable to false doctrine?” (in Spanish); etc.

These phrases indicate that too many people believe that women are generally more gullible than men and that women are especially susceptible to deception and false doctrine. Moreover, it seems that many Christians assume that this is what the Bible teaches about women. Are these beliefs and assumptions valid? In this article, I take a quick look at what the Bible says about women and deception, and especially at Eve.

Eve in the Old Testament

According to Genesis 2:21-22, Eve was the first woman created. In Genesis 3:1ff, she is seemingly targeted by the serpent in the Garden of Eden who successfully persuades her to eat the forbidden fruit. She then shares the fruit with Adam who was with her. By eating the forbidden fruit, Eve and Adam disobeyed God’s explicit command in Genesis 2:16-17. This act of disobedience had catastrophic consequences.

[Note that the Greek noun used of Eve’s transgression in 1 Timothy 2:14 (parabasis) is the same noun used of Adam’s transgression in Romans 5:14. Both Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command about the forbidden fruit; both violated his rule.]

The scriptures simply do not tell us why the serpent spoke to Eve and not to Adam. Many people assume it was Eve because she was easier to deceive.[1] The scriptures, however, neither state nor imply that she was easier to tempt or deceive than Adam.

Furthermore, while we know Eve’s excuse for eating the fruit—she was deceived—we are not told what Adam’s excuse was. So Adam, and all men, have escaped from being branded with the stigma that Eve, and all women, have suffered with.

Eve, however, readily acknowledged and confessed her deception to God (Gen 3:13). She didn’t stay in a duped state. So it is utterly unjust to use Eve, in her short-lived deceived state, as a type for all women for all time.

Eve’s deception is never mentioned again in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), nor is it mentioned in the Gospels.[2] None of the writers of the Hebrew Bible or of the Gospels felt it necessary to bring up Eve’s momentary failure. Moreover, none of the writers of the Hebrew Bible or of the Gospels ever mention or hint that women are more gullible or more easily deceived than men.

Eve in Paul’s Letters

Paul is the only New Testament writer to mention Eve’s deception. He mentions it in 2 Corinthians 11:2-4 where he warns both men and women about the danger of being deceived by people who were preaching a different Jesus and a different gospel to what Paul had preached. Paul does not give the Corinthian women an extra warning about being deceived. Rather, he believed that both the men and women of Corinth were putting up with false teaching too easily (2 Cor. 11:4b).

Eve’s deception is also mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:13-14. While the meaning of these two verses in 1 Timothy is clear—they are an accurate summary of Genesis chapters 2 and 3—the intent of these verses is far from clear. We cannot say with certainty why Paul brought Adam and Eve into his discussion.[3]

Some say that Adam being created first and Eve’s deception are the reasons a woman cannot teach a man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:12). I suggest, however, that Paul was correcting a heresy that Eve was created first and that Adam was the one deceived, which is what several ancient Gnostic texts state. Paul succinctly corrects this false doctrine in 1 Timothy 2:13-14. [More on 1 Timothy 2:11-15 here.]

Like the other biblical authors, Paul never states or hints that women are more easily deceived than men. In fact, the false teachers in Ephesus that were especially problematic all men: Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus. On the other hand, women such as Priscilla, Phoebe, Junia, Euodia and Syntyche were among Paul’s trusted ministry colleagues. [More on Paul and Women here.]

Are women more easily deceived than men?

The Bible contains several narratives where men were deceived, usually by other men. Jacob (Gen. 31:20, 27), Samson (Judg. 16:10, 13, 15), Saul (1 Sam. 28:12), for example, deceived other men. Paul, writing rhetorically, mentions that he was deceived by sin (Rom. 7:11). Elsewhere, Paul describes false teachers as “people of depraved minds” who were “deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:8, 13). These false teachers were predominately men. And each of the Gospels contains warnings from Jesus about false teachers who would come and deceive his followers (e.g., Matt. 24:23-24). While some of these false teachers would be women, most of them were men. On the other hand, there are very few biblical accounts of women being deceived or deceiving others.[4]

Despite what too many Christians believe, the Bible just does not say that deception is a female trait. It is a tremendous injustice that later Christian theologians and ministers have used Eve and her deception as a type for all women.[5] Appallingly, some Christian ministers, such as John MacArthur, continue to hold all women responsible for Eve’s sin and deception. (Source) This is just wrong. Jesus has dealt with sin, including the guilt and sin of Eve.

Here are links to every Bible verse in the NASB and the NIV that contain the word “deceive,” “deceived” and “deceiver,” Click on the links and see for yourself if the Bible teaches that women are more easily deceived, or more deceptive, than men.

Footnotes

[1] Many people assume that the serpent targeted Eve because she was easier to deceive than Adam. My husband, however, speculates that the serpent targeted Eve because it may have already known that the Messiah was going to come through a woman. The serpent may have tried to compromise the woman and cause her to sin, thinking this would thwart God’s salvation plan. The scriptures, however, do not tell us why the serpent and the woman have a conversation, and why Adam, who was there with Eve, apparently says nothing. We must not let assumptions and speculations cloud our interpretation of the biblical text.

[2] Eve is mentioned or alluded to in three intertestamental Jewish writings that are included in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. She is mentioned in Tobit 8:6, Sirach 25:24, 40:1, 42:13, and 4 Maccabees 18:7. Sirach, whose book is also known as Ecclesiasticus, is the first person to place the blame of the first sin on Eve: “From a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die” (Sir 25:24). Alice Ogden Bellis notes, however, “Attribution of the origin of sin to Eve was not typical of Jewish interpretation at the time Sirach was written (second century BCE).” But, she notes that a few later pseudepigraphical Jewish writings did blame Eve. “Eve: Apocrypha,” The Encyclopedia of Jewish Women (source: jwa.org)

[3] Complementarian scholar, Douglas Moo admits, “These verses offer assertions about both the creation and the fall, but it is not clear how they support the commands in verses 11-12.”
Moo, “1 Timothy 2:11-15: Meaning and Significance”, Trinity Journal NS (1980), 62-83, 68.

[4] Apart from Eve, the only other biblical accounts I can find of Old Testament women who were deceived is that of the witch at Endor who was deceived by King Saul (1 Sam. 28:12), and Delilah who was deceived, or tricked, by Samson (Judg. ch. 16). Then there is Jezebel of Thyatira, a clear example of a deceived woman. She was a deceiving false teacher and a false prophet (Rev. 2:20ff). Michal deceived her father Saul in order to protect David (1 Sam. 19:17). Other Bible women also lied in order to protect and save the lives of others (e.g., Exod. 1:17-19).

[5] Tertullian is one example of a theologian who used Eve and her deception as a type for all women:

“And do you not know that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert— that is, death— even the Son of God had to die. Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women, Book 1, chapter 1


Postscript

I refuse to be held responsible for Eve’s deception and sin. I have enough failures and faults of my own to deal with, let alone having to bear the guilt of Eve’s sin. Still, I know that all my sin is forgiven. Surely the complete forgiveness of sin, even (or especially?) Eve and Adam’s sin, is the main message of the gospel! Furthermore, while I am a daughter of Eve, men are sons of Eve. Why don’t preachers (such as John MacArthur) who hold all women responsible for their mother Eve’s sin also hold men responsible for their mother Eve’s sin? The unjust portrayal and treatment of women by Christians must stop.

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Related Articles

All my articles on 1 Timothy 2:12 are here.
Blaming Eve Alone
Women, Teaching and Deception

The Portrayal of Women in the Bible and Biblical Inspiration
1 Timothy 2:12 in Context
Jezebel of Thyatira: A Female False Prophet
Bible Women with Spiritual Authority
Misogynist Quotations from Church Fathers and Reformers

artigos em portugues sobre igualdade entre homens e mulheres no lar e na igreja

40 thoughts on “Women, Eve and Deception

  1. My take is that in Gen 3 there are 3 archetypes of sinners:

    1) A deceived sinner – the woman
    2) A deliberate sinner – the man
    3) A deceiving sinner – the serpent

    And there is a increasing scale of consequences for each. This story is a microcosm of the story of Israel coming to a land of milk and honey and then getting kicked out for disobedience. (Of course, a lot of the details are skipped, but the basic mapping is there.)

    Paul picks up on the archetype of the deceived sinner as a concern of his for the members of the church at Corinth and by application of every believer.

  2. This is interesting, Don. I’ll have to think about that.

  3. My brother and I were talking about why Eve was targeted, and this was my best guess. As Adam’s ezer kenegdo, her very design could mean that she would have spoken up or done something to stop Adam from taking the fruit. As his “helpmeet”, she wouldn’t of left Adam to fend for himself in any situation, including the temptation. And since two are better than one (Genesis 2:18, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, especially v12), there would have been a greater chance that they wouldn’t have fallen compared to just one of them taking on this temptation. Satan wouldn’t have been ignorant of the fact that Eve was Adam’s ezer kenegdo, so he took a gamble on whether or not Adam would have been an ezer and helped Eve out since Adam’s design wasn’t based upon being an “ezer kenegdo”. And it worked, as Adam didn’t stop her while witnessing what was happening (Genesis 3:6).

    (This isn’t to say that Eve is better than Adam or anything. During our Bible study, we also emphasized the fact that while Adam was there and didn’t stop her, Eve did choose to listen to the serpent rather than God. We left the Bible study with the knowledge that both were equally guilty.)

  4. This sounds plausable, Sarah, and it somewhat fits with something a Hebrew reader told me about the meaning of “suitable helper” ezer kenegdo:

    “In the Hebrew language this word kenegdo is not really ‘corresponding’ but rather ‘against’, so the woman was a ‘helper against him’. In other words, we would say that a true helper is one that brings challenges to the relationship. If a man were to think hastily, his wife can be best suited to be an advisory to bring balance in a relationship.”

    However, The Greek translation of kenegdo in Genesis 2:18 and 20 suggests the word does mean “corresponding with him” and “similar to him”: https://margmowczko.com/kenegdo-meet-subordinate-suitable-or-similar/
    It may even mean “his equal”: https://margmowczko.com/kenegdo-equal-to-him/

    Yes, I think Adam and Eve were equally guilty. They both ate the forbidden fruit. We know Eve’s excuse – she was deceived. What was Adam’s excuse?

  5. Many have wondered about Adam’s excuse for sinning. I’ve considered the possibility that after standing there and listening to the conversation with Eve and the serpent that he may have just been curious.

  6. You know, I really have no idea what Adam’s excuse was.

    Some people suggest that Adam was impulsive. But no one says we can’t have men in leadership because they are impulsive.

    Update: I’ve written a rather speculative article about Adam’s excuse here:
    https://margmowczko.com/adams-excuse-blame-genesis3/

  7. The first endnote makes no sense to me. It says that the serpent went to deceive Eve because he may have known that the Saviour was going to come through a woman. But if the serpent was afraid of that happening, why would he deceive her, which was the whole reason a Saviour was needed?

  8. Thanks Ashley. I see what you’re saying.

    Let me try to explain it again. Sending the Messiah was always God’s plan. It is possible that the devil knew of this plan and thought that if the woman sinned she would be disqualified from bearing the Messiah and so God’s plan would be ruined.

    I will change the word ‘Saviour’ to ‘Messiah’ in the endnote for now, and think about how I can better state what I mean.

    I realise that what I’m saying is highly speculative, but then so are all the other suggestions about why the serpent seemed to speak only to the woman and not to the man who was there with her.

  9. One way we can see that men are just as gullible as women is to look at how many men have believed that their gender as male is the main criteria to be good leaders. If that were the case, then no men would be bad leaders and no women would be good leaders. Truth is that it has nothing to do with gender but everything to do with character, the will, the heart.

  10. Interesting and cheeky point. It made me smile.

    Yes, the fact that men have swallowed the lie that only men can be leaders — a lie based on flimsy evidence that ignores contrary evidence — does show that men are gullible.

  11. Satan came after Eve because she was the one that could bring life! Satan doesn’t want just one person (Adam), he wants many….

  12. It’s possible the Serpent may have targeted the woman because she was the life-giver. Did you see my first footnote?

  13. Marg, insightful post, as usual! And helpful comments as well.
    Phyllis Trible points out in “God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality” that the prohibition was given to ha-adam, not to ishshah. The prohibition is known by ishshah, and she uses the plural “you” to refer to the prohibition, indicating her equality with ha-adam. She also resists and adds to the original prohibition, showing intelligence and the ability to resist–at first. Ish is mute. She is hungry for knowledge while Ish simply watches. I happen to like that quality of desiring knowledge.

  14. This may interest some: Biblical scholar Peter Enns asks the question, “Where in the Old Testament is Adam’s disobedience in the garden of Eden described as the cause of universal human sinfulness (and guilt)?”

    His article 5 Old Testament Reasons to Rethink “Original Sin” is here.

  15. Some Jews teach that Adam had already deceived Eve by not giving her the command correctly. Adam is the one that God gave the command to, and if Eve repeats verbatim what Adam taught her about the trees, either Adam did not handle the truth carefully when retelling it, or he added to it, or just plain old lied. If so, then Adam deceived her – making her an easy target for the serpent. Also, some speculate that Adam was there during the whole event – which makes sense if Eve offered him a bite. If he was there when Eve repeated back the ‘command’ to the serpent and did not correct her, he is doubly at fault. Either way, that’s kind of a whole new take on the event here in our shallow North American Church minds. Maybe, the whole story would then of course revolve around handling truth correctly and honestly, than it would about the lacking of integrity in women.

    1. If Adam did not tell the truth, even in such a way as to misguide, then that is sin. If it was sin, then the eyes of them both would have been opened. But they were not. Therefore Adam did not commit sin, and therefore this Jewish tale is a lie, and therefore any believer of it has been deceived.

      1. The Jewish tale is just that, a tale. Sadly I have heard Christians who believe versions of it and repeat it.

  16. Hi Karen,

    I don’t believe that the story of the Fall revolves around the lack of integrity in women in any way whatsoever.

    The text does seem to say that the man was with the woman when the deception occurred (Gen. 3:6b)

    We know that God told the first human not to eat the forbidden fruit, but anything beyond that is speculation. The narrative certainly brings up more questions than it answers.

    In this article I suggest the woman quoted God accurately: https://margmowczko.com/eves-statement-to-the-serpent/

    Some believe that Adam (the man, ish) and Eve (the woman, ishshah) were two sides of the original human being (ha adam). The biblical text literally says that the woman was “taken out” of the first man ( Genesis 2:23). Moreover, the Hebrew word traditionally, and inadequately, translated as “rib” (tselah) – the part that became the first woman – can mean “side” or “part”. The Greek word used in Gen. 2:21 in the LXX is pleura with means “side”. I’ve written more about this here: https://margmowczko.com/human-man-woman-genesis-2/

    See also: https://margmowczko.com/gender-hierarchy-creation-narrative-genesis-2/

  17. I very much agree with Don’s observation. I find that women misunderstand their influence. Why should woman having the glory of man also assume the glory of God? Does this make her equal with man to possess both glories and man possess only one? Therefore, God created man first, in God’s glory, woman for man (he needs help), and woman is from man.

    Do Paul’s conclusions despise or degrade a man for being more likely to sin without deception or degrade a woman for being more likely to sin by deception? If man were 55% of the time likely to sin willfully and 45% by deception and woman were 55% likely to sin by deception and 45% willfully, is this description degrading of a specific gender? Each sex has God-given characteristics. God forbid that our God-given natures be considered degrading when humankind is made in His image and in God-given glories.

    Thank you for letting me comment and be challenged by your writing.

    1. Hi Scott, I’m not following all your ideas. I’m not sure which God-given characteristics you consider to be exclusively male or exclusively female.

      I don’t consider the statement that “woman is the glory of man” to be a definitive statement about women. I think both men and women have many qualities that can be considered “glories”, but the fact that we are all made in the image and likeness of God, and the fact that all followers of Christ are redeemed children of God, must rank as our greatest God-given “glories” – glories that are shared by men and women.

      Update: I’ve written about woman as the glory of man (1 Cor 11:7) here:
      https://margmowczko.com/man-woman-image-glory-god-1-corinthians-11-7/

      1. I think what Scott is saying is that the Bible shows and then reinforces that Eve was deceived and accordingly points to women being more easily deceived, and states that Adam disobeyed (and accordingly points to and shows men disobeying). If we just take it at that, neither is really “worse” than than the other. Being fooled into sinning is no worse than choosing to sin. It is stated for each to understand weaknesses, and in my opinion folds well into why God ordained men as leaders and head of women in families and church, etc. As It doesn’t lessen the value of women at all, just points to inherent weaknesses to watch for, for each gender.

        1. Where does the Bible say that women are more easily deceived than men?

          What about the Bible verses where men were deceived?

          1. Dear Marg,

            Thankyou for your most brilliant website and most brilliant discussion on this topic.

            I find it incredibly fascinating how fellow Christian males, Theologions and Priests use select Biblical texts to support their (overtly flawed) case that women are the minions of men.

            Yet Jesus (the ORIGINAL Christian) LOVED women, REVERED women and the early church was run by BOTH men and women.

            So what happened between Jesus and the Bible?

            It is obvious that something was not passed on correctly when the spoken word was written, which was done by men, and then later translated by men, and then re-interpreted in churches by MEN!

            I am certain God would be most pleased that finally the spoken word is being reviewed and reinterpreted through the lens of a woman’s ears and eyes.

            Finally we may get closer to the REAL TRUTH!

            God Bless

          2. Regarding what is said by Cornelia.

            She says:
            “It is obvious that something was not passed on correctly when the spoken word was written, which was done by men…”

            This is contradicted by scripture itself where we read:

            2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

            and

            2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

            Jesus Christ Himself constantly quotes scripture and we are told to measure everything against scripture.

            Act 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

          3. Hi Ursula,

            I disagree with that aspect of Cornelia’s comment too.

            I regard the Bible as uniquely inspired by God.

  18. Was creating Eve Gods original plan?

    1. Hello, Elias, I have no doubt it was.

      Genesis 1 shows us that “in the beginning” both men and women were created as God’s image bearers and regents, and God gave them the exact same commands.

      The narrative in Genesis 2 is designed to show that it is not good for people to be alone. In this story, the first human needed a partner. The suspense builds as he names the animals and discovers they are not suitable companions. And then God builds a woman from a part, or side, taken out of the first human’s body. This shows how profoundly similar the first man and woman were, and how suitable it was for them to have a profound one-flesh relationship.

  19. God created both the man and the woman and pronounced what He had created, “very good.” Thus, there was no inherent deficiency in either one as created. The woman subsequently fell prey to the lies of the serpent (“you will be like God”), I believe, based primarily on her desire to fulfill her role as “suitable helper” to the man, as well perhaps because of lust of the eyes “she saw the tree was good…and pleasant to the eyes.” Targeting the woman instead of the man may have been a result of the serpent’s “subtil” nature, seeing that if the woman could be induced to sin, she would inevitably lead her man to do likewise, no doubt believing she was fulfilling her created role of “helper.” The inevitable result, when both the man and woman realized what they had done, would be a severely damaged relationship. The man would no longer trust his “suitable helper,” but worse, he would undoubtedly begin to distrust the One who brought her to him. This inevitable distrust of God by both the man and the woman would be a natural result of their sin, which the Scriptures elsewhere teach skews perception. The serpent, wiser above all creatures, would likely have known this. Was the man standing next to the woman when she was tempted by the serpent? The language used says he was “with” her, but this language, when compared to the same language used elsewhere in the Genesis narrative does not imply “with” as in “standing next to,” but implies “with” as in “equally” or “the same.” It seems inconceivable that the man would stand idly next to the woman while she was being tempted, and then watch her commit the very transgression they had both been warned against by God. Of course, whether he was next to her when she committed the transgression or elsewhere at the time, his own sin makes him fully culpable. He knew the prohibition as well as his helper, and there is no indication that she deceived him by disguising the fruit or telling him it was from some other tree. He knew, he ate, he was guilty. As an aside, it is interesting to note that when the serpent approaches the woman and asks her a question about God, her immediate response is to correct its error and teach it, and this verbal response comes before her sin. Could this didactic response by the woman illustrate an aspect of her created role as “helpmeet”?

    1. You make some very interesting points, Rod. I’m especially intrigued by your last point! I’ve never thought of that before, that Eve corrected the serpent.

  20. I am curious. God said Eve was a help meet. But do you really think they lived in the garden with the mentality that I am his helpmeet? Do you think because of our flawed doctrine surrounding this helpmeet issue that it has been puffed up far more than it was in the garden? What if it had nothing to do with why she chose to eat it? What if Eve just thought of herself on equal par with Adam, and we have the issue with help meet?

    1. God made the first woman as an ezer kenegdo, a “help meet for him.”
      The Hebrew word ezer means “a vital help or helper.” The Hebrew word kenegdo means “meet or suitable for him.” It can even mean “equal to him” which is how it is translated in an Afrikaans Bible. Poor translations are a big part of the problem.

      The first human was all alone, and this was not good (Genesis 2:18). Eve was made primarily for companionship and to solve the problem for the first man’s alone-ness. She helped just by being there. And I have no doubt that Adam helped her equally.

      Like you, I think there is an issue with traditional interpretations of “help meet for him,” and it produces a flawed and oppressive doctrine.

      1. I have read your teaching . I agree. I just wonder if she viewed her station as we view it. I kind of don’t think she was as up in arms over it as we are. That’s all.

        1. I can’t see that she had any kind of station.

  21. I’m sorry but I have to disagree. Women are deceptive by sinful nature. I am going through a situation right now where one has denied the truth, another had an agenda and pretended she was innocent, another has been deceived to think someone who wasn’t a stalker was and someone who was a stalker wasn’t and other friends aiding and abetting her in her pathology.

    I have not met one woman who has been pure before marriage, they all cover up their sexual sin. How many times have you heard a woman say “make an honest woman out of me”? And these are Christian women. One of them appears to be prim and proper and yet I saw her signed up to a hook up group on Facebook.

    I will no longer work with single christian women simply because they can’t be trusted.

    1. I know of many virtuous women and men. I also know of men who fit the description you give, JT. I think you need to find another social group and broaden your perspective of humanity.

  22. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I grew up in “Biblical Patriarchal” churches where it was commonly assumed that women were much more easily self-deceived. The end result, is that women living with domestic abuse were not listened to. Bad doctrine bears bad fruit.

    1. Hi Brandie, There is so much bad fruit from the idea that women are more easily deceived than men. It even causes sensible women to second guess themselves. I’m glad people are beginning to realise that deception is not a female trait.

  23. That John MacArthur video in the link is quite disturbing for many reasons. But I wanted to ask you about what he says at the 0:37 mark.

    About 1 Tim. 2:12: “All the verbs in that verse are Present. And that means they have a sort of continuing idea. “I am NOT allowing a WOMAN to BE engaged in teaching or to BE taking authority over the man but to BE CONTINUALLY in SILENCE. In other words, all those Present Indicatives indicate that this is a continual commitment on the part of Paul through the Holy Spirit.”

    How did he reach that conclusion? Doesn’t the grammar in this verse indicate just the opposite (a place-specific, temporary limitation)?

    1. John MacArthur makes a slip at the 54 minute mark. Epitrepō (“I allow”) is the only present indicative verb in 1 Timothy 2:12. Didaskein (“to teach”), authentein (“to domineer”), and einai (“to be”) are present infinitives, they are not indicative verbs.

      The Greek present does have a continuous sense, but the present indicative verb also has a present tense as we understand it in English. It does not refer to an action that has been completed or to a future action that has not already started.

      Paul is stating his prohibition (“I am not allowing a woman” …) for “now,” in his time. But the prohibition is also relevant the next day and the day after that, etc. However, the continuous sense of the present tense does not mean that a person is doing, or not doing, something forever.

      For example, in Acts 26:1, Paul is given permission to speak. Epitrepō is used here, also as a present indicative verb. But he certainly did have permission to speak forever before Agrippa and Bernice, the governor Festus, and the high-ranking military officers and the prominent men of Caesarea. Paul had permission to speak at that point in time.

      The word epitrepō, itself, means that the permission is limited to a specific or local situation. I’ve written about this verb here: https://margmowczko.com/1-timothy-212-and-1-corinthians-1434-epitrepo/

      There are lots of present verbs and present infinitives in 1 Timothy chapter 2. Paul is speaking about things that are relevant for the Ephesian Church at their present time. I’ve added a PV where there is a present verb, PI where there is a present infinitive, and PP where there is a present participle in the Greek behind the following text. This is to show how common and “normal” the present tense is, and that it doesn’t mean Paul’s exhortations, wishes, and instructions are forever. As with the whole Bible, we need to read it using common sense and work out what are useful, lasting principles and what is local or temporary.

      ________

      1 TIMOTHY 2
      First of all, then, I urge PV that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made PI for everyone, 2 for kings and all those who are PP in authority, so that we may lead PV a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants PV everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

      5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a herald, an apostle (I am telling PV the truth; I am not lying PV), and a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

      8 Therefore, I want PV the men in every place to pray PI, lifting up PP holy hands without anger or argument.

      9 Also, the women are to dress themselves PI in modest clothing, with decency and good sense, not with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, or expensive apparel, 10 but with good works, as is proper PV for women who profess PP to worship God.

      11 A woman is to learn PV quietly with full submission. 12 I do not allow PV a woman to teach PI or to domineer PI a man; instead, she is to be PI quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. 15 But she will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with good sense.

      ________

      Please don’t let John MacArthur bamboozle you. Paul wrote to the Ephesians about things relevant to them. We can draw principles from his words, but Paul does not continue to prohibit a woman who is long dead. Here’s my article on 1 Timothy 2:12 in a nutshell: https://margmowczko.com/1-timothy-212-in-a-nutshell/

  24. Wow, thank you so much, Marg! This was excellent. I so appreciate the time and effort you spend to help others. God bless you.

    It’s very helpful to see which verbs and tenses Paul uses and where. I’m fully aware that he was addressing one Ephesian woman’s false teachings, thanks to your research. I see through MacArthur’s attempts to bamboozle. I just wanted to understand the grammatical details, and you’re my go-to for Greek 🙂

    I had a thought regarding Eve and deception. When patriarchalists read Genesis 3:17, they unjustly hone in on Eve’s sex and say Adam was punished for listening to a female human. Therefore, no men should listen to women.

    But what if God had given Adam a brother, who gave the fruit to Adam? God would have said:

    “Because you have listened to the voice of your brother and have eaten…”

    Would this mean that all second-born men are more easily deceived than other men?

    Would patriarchalists conclude that their own older brothers should exercise lifelong/eternal authority over them?

    Eve’s sex was irrelevant. The focus should be on her all-too-relatable HUMAN failure in trusting a voice other than God’s, which we are all guilty of, as we are all sinners.

    If Adam’s “brother” had been deceived, patriarchalists would attribute his momentary lapse to a weaknes in his individual character. Yet when Eve errs, they blame her sex–then heap this burden of shame on the shoulders of every girl and woman to ever live, no matter our differences in character, personalities, intellect, wisdom, life experiences, etc. They must stop viewing only men as unique individuals but women as a flat monolith. It’s dehumanizing.

    When churches treat the female body like a cage, how are the girls and women there supposed to believe that Jesus gives freedom to ALL believers? Such churches make Jesus appear contradictory and therefore flawed.

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