• Joshua D McVey


Artemis (Diana) Greek Goddess - Art Picture by Michael C Hayes

Actors are preparing before going on stage. One actor turns to the other and says, "Break a leg."

This is an idiom. The actor doesn't want the other to literally break a leg. In performance wishing someone 'good luck' is connected to the superstition that wishing someone luck will actually bring them bad luck. The solution is the opposite. "Break a leg".

An idiom is a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g., rain cats and dogs, see the light ). In other words, you must know the phrase as it is commonly used in order to understand its intended meaning.

When learning or studying Scripture, the same is true. Scripture (New Testament) is written in Ancient Greek.

Also, the writers are from another culture. In order to understand what the writers wished to communicate we must investigate two major things: Language and Culture.

Paul is writing to Timothy (1 Timothy & 2 Timothy) regarding the church in Ephesus. To begin, we must understand the culture and community practices of Ephesus. It was a major trade-route city in Asia Minor. The religion practices revolved around the worship of Artemis. She was the goddess of fertility. The worship practices dealt with sexuality. Stanley Grenz (Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry) paints a vivid picture of Artemis worship involving hundreds of sacred prostitutes.

Hetaerae were highly paid and educated non-citizen women who were the regular companions and extramarital sexual partners of upper-class Greek men.  They were accustomed to speaking in front of men, and were adept in the art of repartee. Some were respected teachers and many are named in Greek literature. They enjoyed enviable and respected positions of wealth and were protected and taxed by the state.[2]

Now, the community of House Churches in Ephesus were made up of Hellenistic Jewish Christians, Greek proselytes, and converted pagans from surrounding cults.[1]

These are eclectic congregations with different religious practices and forms of worship. They united around Christ and were learning how to worship God as Christians. You can imagine the arguments that must have taken place. There were plenty of them.

This is why Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus as a Hellenistic Jew. He is familiar with the culture and the people. He is best suited to mediate. Artemis was seen as a powerful female goddess. She was a huntress and sought after sexually, by many of the gods. She was clever and highly capable, using her sexuality to manipulate and gain power.

Paul requests men to lift up holy hands in prayer. This is a humble stance to receive teaching and guidance from God. He emphasizes, 'without anger or disputing' (1 Timothy 2:8). Men find their power in violence and bullying. Arguments that escalate to anger and possible violence. This is why Paul instructs to lift their hands in supplication rather than in a threatening manner. They should not pursue power, but humility.

In the same way, women have found their power in their sexuality. Like Artemis they find strength in their ability to manipulate men, who hold the power. They use their braided hair, gold, pearls, and expensive clothes to illustrate and advance their power. Their beauty is their source of power.

Paul counters, they should adorn themselves with propriety and good deeds. This is where they will find value, not in power. In both cases, Paul admonishes they pursue humility and peace.

In verse eleven Paul becomes radical and commands women to learn. Historically, women were not allowed to learn in the synagogues. C.S. Keener argues, "Given the bias against instructing women in the law, it is Paul's advocacy of their learning the law, not his recognition that they start as novices and so had to learn quietly, that was radical and counter-cultural."[3]

The men had already been learning the law. They were to instruct the women, who had not yet had an opportunity to learn. Those who learn are to be silent and learn in submission to those who understand. This is not a new idea or gender exclusive.

The Rabbi Learning

Spencer elaborates, "Before, throughout and after Paul's time, the rabbis were agreed that silence was an admirable attribute for the pious scholar." Early church fathers such as Ignatius, third bishop of Antioch in Syria, and Clement of Alexandria wrote in support of the value of silent learning as well.[4] Gilbert Bilezikian also agrees that the women were to become quiet and submissive learners, disciples eagerly receiving instruction without objections or self-assertions.[5] 

The word used in the beginning of chapter two to describe the kind of life Paul desired for the church was hēsychios, the same word he uses to describe how women should learn. The New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionary defineshēsychios as "stillness, quiet, a quiet fashion, or quietly."[10] 

Paul concludes with the illustration of Adam and Eve. Adam came first. The learned came first and taught those who did not know (sinner). The woman came second, she was deceived out of ignorance. Again, we need to follow Paul's analogy, not based on gender but the teacher and the student. He is giving the reason why the student must learn quietly and in submission. It's due to the student's naivety. The student does not yet understand and is susceptible to mistakes.

Finally, Paul establishes the woman (reference to the student) "she" (in the Greek) will be saved through childbearing. The student becomes the teacher bearing fruit, children, or more students. This is how the naivety, or sinfulness is redeemed, by passing on what the student has learned. They have learned quietly and in submission until they too are able to become the teacher.

When we receive our teaching from those who have gained understanding; we must do it in supplication and peace. We do not argue and leverage our power (fists, gold, jewelry . . etc.) We sit and learn in silence. We soak in the lessons and truth until one day we become the teacher and bear the fruit of those who invested in us as teachers. We then speak with their authority, as children who honor their parents, by exercising the disciplines they learned through childhood.

Paul confirms this line of thinking in the next chapter. Much is required of those who choose to lead. Now that the student has become the teacher, the next step is an overseer. This position demands far more.

If you are a student, learn in silence. Raise your holy hands to God in supplication. Humbly walk with God in peace and holiness.

May you learn in peace.

May you grow in humility.

May you 'break a leg.'

In His service and yours,


[1] Andreas J. Kostenberger, L. Scott Kellum and Charles L. Quarles, The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown (Nashville:  B & H Academic, 2009), pg. 642.

[2] Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 07 Apr. 2012 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/264195/hetaira, and James Grout,Encyclopaedia Romana, "Hetairi" Updated February 11, 2012,

[3] Keener, C. S., & InterVarsity Press. (1993). The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (1 Ti 2:11). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

[4] Spencer, Beyond the Curse:  Women Called to Ministry, pg.80. [5] Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman's Place in Church and Family (Grand Rapids:  Baker Academic, 2006), pg. 136.

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