At the end of today’s blog is a lecture on 1 Timothy 2:12, delivered about five years ago by Greg Boyd and Nikole Mitchell. It’s 48 minutes long, so definitely a commitment to watch! Here are some bullet points about the points being made:
(1) When approaching a teaching, it is important to gain perspective on that teaching’s place within the body of all our teaching. In other words, what basic category does this teaching fall under (in this descending order)?
- Salvation (in other words, teaching that describes and explains what it means to become a believer in Jesus)
- Character and Attributes of God
- Timeless Truths and Principles
- Life Application
Another way to categorize teaching might even be: is it salvific, or not?
(2) Is the teaching consistent throughout the scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, or is the topic treated differently in various parts of the Bible? Here’s an example: What does the Bible teaching about alcohol?
- Consistent teaching: Use alcohol in moderation, do not drink to the point of drunkenness.
- Variable teaching:
|Proverbs 23:29-32 (Anti)||Deuteronomy 14:25-26 (Pro)|
|Who has woe? Who has sorrow?|
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who linger late over wine,
those who keep trying mixed wines.
31 Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
32 At the last it bites like a serpent,
and stings like an adder.
|25 then you may turn it into money. With the money secure in hand, go to the place that the Lord your God will choose; 26 spend the money for whatever you wish—oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever you desire. And you shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your household rejoicing together.|
(3) Is the teaching a timeless truth, or does it speak to a cultural circumstance? Our best example has to do with how scripture speaks about, and teaches on, slavery. From earliest human history, slavery was a cultural and societal reality.
Therefore, God instituted commandments and judgments that necessitated the humane application of slavery. Particularly in the New Testament, the apostles gave life applications that encouraged both the slave to submit to their master as to the Lord, and the master to view their slave as their brother or sister in Christ.
Finally, 150 years ago, the demise of slavery was won in the west, due to the right understanding and application of the deeper, timeless truths of God’s love and grace, and the equality of all people under God, as taught in the scriptures.
Now, teaching on how to comport oneself as a slave or a master is, in one sense, anachronistic and no longer applicable, and in another sense, valuable only when spiritualized, or contextualized.
(4) What is the historical and textual context of the teaching? This speaks to what scholars call
“exegesis”—the critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture.
“eisegesis”—the process of interpreting a text in such a way as to introduce one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases. It is commonly referred to as reading into the text.
The way to properly “exegete” a text is to include an understanding of
- the historical context it was written in.
- the cultural context it was written in. (Add in politics, economics, ethnicities.)
- the language it was written in.
- the words surrounding this particular passage, in other words, its textual context.
- the audience who received these words.
- the author who wrote the words.
That’s a tall order! Which is why scholars understand how important it is to not only do their homework, but to hold their interpretations with humility, because new information may change how the text is to be understood.
Okay! So, here’s the lecture, below, and next week I’ll weigh in on the Geek word transliterated as “authentein,” which has traditionally been translated as “have authority over” or “usurp authority.” Since the 1970’s hundreds of new inscriptions and papyri have been unearthed which shed a whole new light on what this word means.
Before the 70’s, there were only a few extrabiblical references to this word, and none of them came from the 1st century, Paul’s time. In the whole Bible, “authentein” appears only once, right here in 2 Timothy 2:12, so “doing our homework” means getting a solid understanding of what this word actually means.
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In 1970, the former Lutheran Church in America (LCA) of which Messiah was a part ordained The Rev. Elizabeth Platz at the University of Maryland’s Memorial Chapel. The first woman ordained a Lutheran pastor in North America, Platz has served her entire ministry as UM Lutheran campus pastor. On Nov. 22, 2010, the ELCA marked the 40th anniversary of her ordination. She has since retired.