IN THE BEGINNING
WAS THE WORD
...and Strong's Concordance
- How 1 Timothy 2:11-12 Has Been Mistranslated
One of the most postive trends that I am noticing amongst Bible-believing evangelical Christians is a willingness to get back to what the actual Word of God says and to put traditions accumulated over the centuries under its anvil. As a result of this very time-consuming, diligent and very careful study, many myths have been exploded, many taboo areas violated for truth's sake, and many long forgotten truths rediscovered.
Chief amongst the tools of this modern Berean-minded Christian has been Strong's Concordance, one of the most useful resources that we have. I myself have used interlinears like Young's for over 20 years and reaped untold blessings.
What many Christians don't seem to realise, though, is that Strong's is neither a part of the Bible canon nor is it infallible. The way some Christians view it, though, you would think it was. And this has, as a result, caused many to become careless and not a little dogmatic and inflexible. Though nowhere in the same class of modern errors as, for example, King James Version-Onlyism (which is a fully-fledged cult now), there is a danger of what one might call Young-Onlyism.
I will give one illustration to make my point. The King James Version reads:
"Let (3129) (the) (9999) woman [wife] (1135) learn (3129) in (1722) silence (2271) with (1722) all (3956) subjection (5293). But (1161) I suffer [permit] (2010) not (3756) (a) woman [wife] (1135) to teach (1321), nor [not even] (3761) to usurp authority [dominate] (831) (over the) (9999) man [husband], but (235) to be (1511) in (1722) silence (2271)" (1 Tim.2:11-12)
This has been a prooftext for centuries to prevent women from teaching in church. Strong's immediately shows us that this passage may not be referring to brothers or sisters but to husbands and wives. However, as the KJV stands, it is very deceptive. The NIV is even worse:
"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent".
I have underlined the verb "to teach" and "but" because the translators have deliberately placed them in the wrong word order. Notice that some words are in (parentheses) to indicate that they are not in the original text but have been added by the translators for 'clarification' (in other words, the translator has interpreted the text to make it means what he thinks it should mean).
We shall now study the Greek word order and place the alternative meanings of words together so that you can see how inaccurate the KJV and NIV are:
A woman/wife (1135) in (1722) quietness/silence (2271) I let learn (3129) with/in (1722) all (3956) obedience/subjectioin (5292) to teach (1321) but (1161) (a) wife/woman (1135) not (3756) I permit (2010) not even (3761) to dominate (831) (a) husband/man (435) but (235) to be (1511) in (1722) quietness/silence (2271).
The Greek words may be compared with an Interlinear to verify the order. Interlinears are not translated word for word into English below the Greek but has English words in what ever order matches the translation being used by the Interlinear. The Strong's numbers before each word, were used to define the words using good Greeek-English dictionaries. In both 3129 and 2010 the Greek 'omega' ending indicated 'I', 'I let learn', and 'I permit'. The Greek language used two negatives for emphasis so Paul is emphasising the second thought. Paul expresses an opinion radical for his day, namely, that a woman/wife should learn to teach; but he tempers it with a warning for a wife not to dominate her husband. The translators mistranslated and totally changed what Paul was saying.
This passage may therefore be properly rendered in English as:
"I [Paul] permit a woman/wife to learn in quietness/silence to teach but I do not permit a wife to dominate her husband but to be silent".
This I would then paraphrase in the following way to get across the precise meaning:
"I [Paul] permit a properly subjected, quiet-natured and trained woman to become a teacher but I do not permit a wife to dominate her husband, for she must remain silent and subjected to him".
In other words, the rôle of a woman in relationship to her husband has not changed in the New Covenant - her husband is her head and she is to be quietly obedient in proper subjection. However, such a submissive, quiet-natured and husband-honouring woman may be permitted to teach (and even preach) the Gospel to the saints for she will carry with her the true God-honouring female spirit. This passage has nothing whatsoever to do with women sitting like dumb marble statues in church but is a clear directive that women have a ministerial rôle to all the saints. What this exact rôle is is qualified elsewhere.
What this little study tells us is that sitting with a modern or even a KJV translation accompanied by Strong's isn't enough: we need to know what the original Greek (or Hebrew) syntax (word order/sentence structure) was.
"In the beginning was the Word" and with Strong's and the proper Greek or Hebrew syntax we will come to a good understanding of what the original means.
This page was created on 18 March 2001
Last updated on 18 March 2001
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