Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Does Acts 18:26 contradict 1 Timothy 2:12?

Last Sunday I be preached from Acts 18:22-28. In the text Apollos is presented as a mighty preacher of Scripture but is lacking in his understanding of the gospel. A godly couple, Aquila and his wife Priscilla hear Apollos and pull him aside for discipleship. Verse 26 actually reads, "When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately."

One issue that I did not not have enough time to cover but is a worthy rabbit to chase is whether the presence of a man and woman explaining Scripture to another man violates the principle in 1 Timothy 2:12. In 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul tells Timothy that a woman should not exercise teaching authority over men in the church. So does the actions of this married ministry team go against this text?

No, I do not believe so for two reasons. First, this is a private setting of instruction rather than the corporate gathering of the church that Paul had in mind when instructing Timothy. Second, this is a team effort of husband and wife- not one woman exercising teaching authority over a man- and presumably Priscilla lived in Biblical submission to the headship of her husband. In other words she followed his lead (though she may have been the more talkative person). Therefore I do not believe Priscilla and Aquila's actions contradict Paul's instruction.

God does gift both men and women to teach Scripture in His Church but 1 Timothy 2:8-14 and Titus 2:1-8 clearly show the proper application of that gift. Today more than ever there is a need for men to lead out in the teaching of God's Word in the home and in the church. Such men, like Apollos need discipleship, encouragement, and sometimes a kick in the tail!


AJ said...

Here is a place where we must allow the clearer instructive text, the pastoral epistle, to interpret the narrative text, this account of Apollo, and not build a doctrine from a narrative text that contradicts the instructive text. No doubt, however, to instruct someone in a personal and more intimate setting, as we see in Acts, is vastly different from the pastor/teacher exegeting the word of God to bring application to the body of believers gathered to worship through the hearing of the Word. I dare say that my wife has "taught" me things through our discourses as husband and wife and by example as she lives her life, as a submissive wife, to the glory of God. This is not to say that she exercised authority in the official capacity of a teacher, but that I was able to glean from her wisdom and "learn". As Martin Lloyd Jones points out, even if the woman is the more intelligent, and wise, and able to communicate, does that mean that we allow pragmatism to overrule the clear teaching of Paul. May it never be! God help us if we twist His Word to supplant truth and give support to what is "right in our own eyes".

Here we have a wonderful account of a man powerfully gifted by God, and a married couple ready and willing to serve the church well, and looking for opportunity to do so, by aiding this man to come to a full knowledge of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May God, by His Holy Spirit, lead us all into readiness to serve and humbleness to be teachable, so that we may be able to accurately regulate our faith and practice by the scriptures alone.

Jeremy Bradshaw said...

Amen AJ.