Friday, August 20, 2010

349: 1 Timothy

1 Timothy 1-6
"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." - 1 Timothy 2:11-12

Another day, another letter. This time it's the ultimate letter of approval. Paul is writing a letter to his understudy Timothy.

The first chapter starts with Paul again laying out who he thinks are false teachers. Namely those who devote themselves to "myths and endless genealogies". Incidentally, "myths and endless genealogies" is probably the easiest and quickest summary of the bible.

He then goes on to recount his story of conversion. Paul says that even though he is the worst sinner of all Jesus came to him and saved him. If only we could all get a personal visit from Jesus, I'm sure a lot more people would be saved from eternal hellfire.

In chapter 2 Paul provides some instructions for worship. His main point is to pray for everyone, but he goes on to say that women should dress modestly. "Modesty", though, doesn't have the definition you may be thinking. Paul says that, to dress modestly, women should not have braided hair, or wear gold, pearls, or expensive clothes. I guess you can wear a bikini to church, as long as it's cheap and your hair isn't braided.

The final rule for worship is that women are not allowed to teach, or have authority over men. I'm very curious how female pastors/preachers reconcile this one. Unless they just throw out the gospels of Paul, which seems like a good idea to me.

Chapter 3 is about the rules governing people fit to lead the church. The first rule is that an overseer must have only one wife. In contrast with everyone else, I presume. This is used by modern monogamous Christians as evidence that the goal should be to have just one wife, even though the bible never condemns polygamy. This overseer must also not be a lover of money (I'm looking at you Pat Robertson).

These overseers also must "manage" their families well. Because if they cannot manage their own families, Paul reasons, how can they possibly manage the church? It's interesting that nobody ever enforces these arbitrary laws. Does anyone ever check on their pastor and make sure he's managing his family well?

Chapter 4 is full of various instructions and warnings for Timothy. The only thing really new is Paul's command for Timothy to preach and read the gospel in public.

Chapter 5 has some strange commands about widows. Paul says that no widow should be put on a list of widows to give assistance to, unless she is over 60 and has a history of bringing up children, showing hospitality, and washing the feet of saints. This is to keep the widows off the list that should be marrying someone. This all seems like a long winded way of saying "get back in the kitchen".

Chapter 6 is a bunch of things we've already heard. It starts with Paul telling slaves to be obedient to their masters. He then ends by telling Timothy to be righteous and that people should give away their money. But remember, when Paul says "donate your money" he really means "give me your money".

The question is completely ridiculous, but apparently inescapable, "is Obama a Muslim?". None other than Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) went on CNN to say that Obama is not a Muslim (even if it was a bit wishy-washy):

I can hear Richard Dawkins groaning all the way from England. You cannot be born a Muslim, or born a Jew any more than you can be born a Christian. That's like saying I was born a Republican or a Democrat just because my parents were.

To CNN's credit, they have been doing a good job trying to get the word out. I turned on Anderson Cooper last night to headlines of "Not a Muslim". A fifth of Americans being either ignorant or fooled into thinking Obama is a Muslim is unacceptable. Next thing you know they'll be convincing people of virgin births and resurrections.

(via CNN)


  1. 1 Timothy is the first of 3 Pastoral letters (2 Timonthy and Titus are the others, if you don't count all the interpolations into 1 Cor) in the NT. It is a well-established conclusion of NT scholarship that it was written in the 2nd c. by someone other than Paul. These 3 letters do not appear in the earliest collections of Paul's letters (which appeared in the mid 2nd c.) and are not cited until much later. Even in the 3rd and 4th centuries their authenticity was doubted. The letters, in addition to not sounding like Paul, presume a church hierarchy that did not develop until much later than his time.

  2. Bryan,
    You can't be born a Christian or a Muslim, but Jewishness is not only a set of beliefs but also an ethnicity, and thus one can be born a Jew. In fact, according to Jewish tradition, anyone whose mother is Jewish is automatically a Jew. This has nothing to do with belief - one can be a Jewish atheist, for example.

  3. And all this time I thought it came down to 'cut' or 'not cut' for the guys. :-)

    With the invention and regular use of antiseptics now, how long do you figure that other tradition will last?



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