Question:

We've been told that the Greek word (epitrepo) that Paul used, in both I Timothy 2:12 and I Corinthians 14:34, indicate that his instruction was conditional or temporary in nature. We were then told that he could have used a stronger word such as 'forbid'.  Is there a distinction between how it was applied to the early church and how it should be applied to the church today?

We appreciate your perspective and often use the resource you provide to research questions like this that we run into.

Thank you.

Answer:

"The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says" (I Corinthians 14:34).

"But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet" (I Timothy 2:12).

Notice that both commands are in the negative. Let's assume that the allowance or permission was of a conditional or temporary nature. That would mean Paul is stating there is no permission, under any condition or temporarily imposed, that would be allowed to deviate from these commands. In other words, the claim proves the opposite of what is being contended.

In truth, epitrepo means "to release from restraint in order to give freedom of choice." [Complete Biblical Library]. It is typically translated as "allow" or "permit." For example, the demons in Mark 5:13 were given the freedom to enter a herd of swine instead of being banished. Thus, in the negative, it means there is no freedom of choice in a particular matter.

"Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness" (II Timothy 2:14-16).

Response:

Thank you for your quick response and explanation.  I didn't get the chance to use it in my discussion until yesterday.  I used the definitions of the Greek 'ou' and 'ouk' as adverbs along with the information you provided below to demonstrate that the intention of Paul's answer was to tell them no, not ever and that there is no record of it changing after that in scripture.  I think it made the point effectively, although I didn't receive total confirmation of agreement.

My wife found your website a few years ago and we appreciate it greatly, using it frequently for research when questions come up.

Thanks again.

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