Re: 1 Tim 2:12

From: Ward Powers (
Date: Sun Jun 28 1998 - 02:57:55 EDT

Fellow b-greekers,

Thomas Biddy has asked whether GUNH in 1 Tim 2:12 could mean "wife".

In connection with this issue it may be of interest for me to mention that
more than 20 years ago (in 1975, in the journal "Interchange", Issue 17,
pages 55-59) I published an article entitled "Women in the Church: The
Interpretation of 1 Tim 2:8-15", which argued that the meaning of GUNH in
this passage was "wife", and similarly that ANHR in the passage means
"husband", and moreover that the passage was thus referring to the
husband-wife relationship, and the context was home and family, and not the
man-woman relationship more generally: certainly Paul is not addressing the
question of men and women in Church.

My treatment of the passage was assessed by G P Hugenberger (in his article
"Women in Church Leadership", in "The International Standard Bible
Encyclopedia", Vol 4, p.1099, W Bromily [Ed.], Grand Rapids - Eerdmans,
1988). To quote part of what Hugenberger says: "The terms rendered 'man'
and 'woman' in the RSV (Gk ANER and GUNH) can as easily be rendered
'husband' and 'wife' throughout these verses, and such renderings are
entirely suited to the present passage. ... B W Powers has recently argued
that the widely held assumption that 1 Tim 2:8-15 concerns public worship
is far from self-evident, and he has suggested a reference specifically to
the home. ... Interpreting 1 Tim 2:8-15 in terms of the home is especially
attractive in the light of the often overlooked but extensive verbal
parallels that this passage has with 1 Pet 3:1-7 (so Powers, p.58), where
the sphere for submission is clearly domestic."

My treatment of 1 Tim 2:8-15 has recently been published as part of a
discussion of all the relevant biblical passages in my book "The Ministry
of Women in the Church" (1996, Adelaide - S.P.C.K. Australia, ISBN
1-876106-05-0), and in this book I examine the Greek text in detail and
interact with a range of differing interpretations which are put forward by
various writers. It may well be that those who are interested in the point
raised by Thomas Biddy would find this discussion useful. The book can be
ordered from your Christian bookstore or if not readily available I can
airmail a copy to anyone on the list for $US15 posted.

In my judgement the interpretation of GUNH (and ANHR) in this passage is
extremely important for practical as well as theological reasons. Those who
take these words in 1 Tim 2 to refer to "men and women" frequently arrive
at interpretations of the passage along the lines that ALL men have a kind
of authority over ALL women, who are required to submit to them, and that
NO woman is to be permitted to teach ANY man ANYwhere, but especially not
in church. The practical consequences of this interpretation will be clear
to us all.

The point I make is that in verses 11-15 ANHR and GUNH are singular (NOT
plural), are referring to the headship of the man in the one-flesh
husband-wife relationship, and that this understanding of ANHR and GUNH in
this passage is indicated by the immediate context (in which there is
nothing to suggest a reference to a worship-service or other "church"
context), by the close parallels with 1 Pet 3:1-7, and also by other NT
passages about the headship of the husband and the submission of the wife,
a submission which is always and only to her own husband, not to other men.

To enter into a discusson of the THEOLOGY of this issue is beyond the
guidelines for the b-greek list. On this issue there will be many amongst
us who hold widely divergent views. But a consideration of the meaning of
Greek words is valid. My purpose in this post is to draw attention to the
significance of the alternative ways of understanding ANHR and GUNH, and to
alert those who may wish to pursue this question further to the existence
of my book containing a detailed treatment of the matter.



Rev Dr B. Ward Powers Phone (International): 61-2-9799-7501
10 Grosvenor Crescent Phone (Australia): (02) 9799-7501
SUMMER HILL NSW 2130 email:

b-greek home page:
To post a message to the list,
To subscribe,
To unsubscribe,[]

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:39:50 EDT