Re: 1 Tim 2:12

From: Trevor M Peterson (
Date: Thu Jun 25 1998 - 16:35:29 EDT

On Thu, 25 Jun 1998 12:50:21 -0400 (EDT) Thomas Biddy
<> writes:
>(1 Tim 2:12 KJV) But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp
>authority over the man, but to be in silence.
>135. gune, goo-nay'; prob. from the base of G1096; a woman; spec. a
>wife:--wife, woman.
>Can 1 Tim 2:12 mean wife?

I guess some of that depends on what you mean by "can." As you've shown
above, the word GUNH can mean "wife," but we have to remember that it can
also mean "woman." I try to think of it in terms of the English slang
"my woman," which though it does not mean strictly "my wife," is a good
approximation for those of us who think in English. If I remember right,
German speakers should have no problem grasping the nuance, since the
standard German terms for husband and wife are "mein Mann" or "meine
Frau." (Someone correct me if I'm wrong--It's been a while since I've
used German!) But regardless of the comparison, my point is that a word
which *could* mean something in a particular context may not be *likely*
to mean that thing. If we're going to speak in terms of remote
possibility, I don't know that anyone could deny it. But there are a few
reasons I can think of that it's an implausible rendering:

1) If we set the context at vv. 8-15, GUNH occurs five times. The last
occurence (v. 14) clearly refers to Eve, linking her by way of
illustration to whatever point is being made about the GUNH in general.
Of the four that are left, I don't see how they could be taken in any way
but with reference to the same group. Now, while it is possible that in
isolation the GUNH of v. 12 could refer to a wife (and presumably ANHR to
a husband if that were the case), the other three occurences would not
make a great deal of sense. We would have to see wives specifically (not
all women) being told to adorn themselves with proper attitudes and
modest clothing, wives specifically claiming godliness, and wives
specifically being told to learn quietly and submissively. Along with
that, we would have to take the ANHR in v. 8 as husbands, so that they
specifically (not all men) are told to pray with holy hands lifted up,
not doubting. But since the context doesn't give any indication that we
should be thinking particularly of husbands and wives, it's probably
better to take all of these terms as simply "men" and "women."

2) If the prohibition against teaching the ANHR is regarding the woman's
husband, we would be left with the somewhat questionable situation that a
woman is allowed to teach any group of any composition, as long as her
husband is not present.

3) If the prohibition is against any married woman teaching or having
authority over any married man, a single woman would have authority over
anyone, and a married woman would have authority over single women,
single men, and married women. Thus, she would have authority over the
one who has authority over married men.

What I guess I'm trying to say is that the context has to guide the
nuance of GUNH. It seems that in this context, some more specific
construction (such as a possessive) would have to be implemented to
convey the idea of husbands and wives.

Trevor Peterson
Adj. Prof. Bible/Theology
Washington Bible College
Lanham, MD

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