25 Mar 2022

Faithful Men/Males or Faithful Persons? What Did Paul Say in 2 Timothy 2.2?

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: 2 Timothy, Church, Exegesis, King James Version, Women
2 Timothy 2.2

Why do we make conclusions based upon nothing but assumptions?

Sometimes our positions are even based on the unique wording of a specific translation of the Bible (usually the KJV). Frankly we preachers are often Exhibit A of this tendency. So, I was once again informed how much a false teacher I am regarding women in church. My critic believed 2 Timothy 2.2 was his slam dunk case against me.

I am a restorationist. Though I believe it is foolish to ignore the wisdom and traditions hammered out in the history of God’s people, ultimately we have to go back to the biblical text and let it sit in judgment upon all of our wisdom, traditions and opinions. So I confess,

No creed but Christ,
No book but the Bible

This being the case, it should be natural for folks in the Stone-Campbell Movement to be Berean and always question. We should be natural questioners of the received wisdom. But this is not always the case. Instead of questioning we go assuming a conclusion. Then we use our assuming as the standard for truth.

As noted, I was informed I was in error because Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit, commanded that MEN (as in males) be charged with teaching. So my critic quoted 2 Timothy 2.2 in the King James Version.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

As anyone can see Paul clearly says in the KJV “commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach.” This was supposed to be the end of the story. End of discussion.

But I have to question if my critic has studied this text. Does he assume that Paul wrote in King James English? Paul did not say, in 2 Timothy 2.2, that Timothy is to entrust males who are gifted in teaching. It does not even say that in the KJV. Paul says Timothy is to entrust reliable people, trustworthy people, with the message. Faithfulness, reliability, trustworthiness is the qualification not gender.

The term at issue here is ἀνθρώποις. The King James Version in 1611 translated it as “men” which was quite a broad term in the 17th century. This is a generic term for human beings with no gender specified. “Men” often means “mankind,” “humanity” “people.” The English language has changed greatly in the four hundred years since 1611. Even in 1611 the term “men” did not necessarily mean male but persons.

Paul, and any Bible reader, knows this from the first page of the Bible. In Paul’s Greek version of Genesis in the Septuagint we read,

And God said, Let us make humans/humanity [ἄνθρωπον] according to our image and likeness … And God made humans/humanity [ἄνθρωπον] in his image, male and female [ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ].” (Genesis 1.26-27, LXX).

ἀνθρώποις covers the entire human, race both males and females. ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ is the differentiation of humans into the gendered male and female. Paul does not tell Timothy that he is to find trustworthy/faithful/reliable males to do the teaching. Timothy is not to mentor merely males so that only males equip the saints. Timothy is to find reliable humans and train and equip them for teaching the saints.

But we do not really have to know Greek, or the LXX, to know that Paul did not say “males” in 2 Timothy 2.2. Most modern translations clearly indicate the meaning here.

“entrust faithful PEOPLE who will be able to teach” (NRSV)

“entrust to reliable PEOPLE who will also be qualified to teach” (NIV)

“You should teach PEOPLE whom you can trust the things you and many others have heard me say. Then they will be able to teach others.” (NCV)

“teach these truths to other trustworthy PEOPLE who will be able to pass them on” (NLT)

“pass them on to faithful PEOPLE who are also capable of teaching others” (CEB)

“pass it on to faithful PEOPLE who will be capable of instructing others” (Kingdom NT)

“hand it on to reliable PEOPLE so they in turn will be able to teach others” (JB)

The “qualification” Paul gives is not gender rather it is their faithful walk with the Lord. They are faithful, reliable, trustworthy.

Paul was quite familiar with faithful/reliable/trustworthy women teachers. From his Bible he knew of the great liberator Miriam. He knew the mighty Deborah. He walked through the gates of the temple named for the wise Huldah. And he personally knew Phoebe, Prisca, Mary, Junia, Euodia, and Syntyche, just to name a few.

Timothy’s job was to find people, women and men, who were faithful to the Gospel, people who were gifted by God and train them to teach.

In the end, the text my critic used to call me a false teacher states exactly the opposite of what he claims. This teaching ministry belongs, according to 2 Timothy 2.2, to males and females who love the Lord.

2 Responses to “Faithful Men/Males or Faithful Persons? What Did Paul Say in 2 Timothy 2.2?”

  1. Ammar Saheli Says:

    Nice work. And why would anyone want to use 2 Timothy 2:2 as a slam dunk text against women? That would fully limit the work of the kingdom. I have been much more cognizant of this as of late. I am not sure how many years it will take to undo the impact upon girls and women.

  2. Charles Cardo Says:

    Thank you for the expositions in on the original Greek word as it relates to people and not specifically gendered two males. However, I do have a question for you Bobby; in regard to the qualifications for elders and deacons as found in the book of Titus and in 1Timothy 4 what do we see as the word used in the original Greek?

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