Was Paul A Misogynist?

Many people on numerous occasions, have made the claim that Paul, the Pharisaic zealot, turned disciple of Jesus Christ was a misogynist. Often time, I was not moved by such claim. To me, his being tagged chauvinistic or misogynistic or even been one doesn’t really prove nor disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ, neither does it relegate the claim of new covenant of Jesus to the background. It is simply non sequitur to the core claims of Christianity. After all, it is following the step of Jesus that make people Christians.
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But recently, as I studies the new testament in its original language(Greek), I developed genuine concern for finding out the truth about some rather controversial issue of this sort. Let me tell you what I think about the issue. Here are the two verses mostly used to how misogynistic Paul was:

.Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they aren’t permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law says. If they will learn anything, let them ask their husband at home, for it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church (1 Corinthian 14:34-35)

Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or usurp authority over a man, but to be in silence. (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

This pretty look very much like Paul believed that women are to keep quiet in church meetings (all kind of quietness of course).
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Early church custom, Paul’s writings and conduct elsewhere, and good principles of biblical interpretation all say that we should not take these verses literally
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The verb used for silence “sigao’, was the same verb that was used in Act 15:12 when Paul was addressing the council of Jerusalem disciples. It also was used in Act 21:40 when he was addressing a group of men. In both cases, it was used to mean orderly silence. Now, it would be preposterous to interpret that word without taking its context into consideration. In chapter 11, Paul began to address the Corinthians on the disorderliness of their meetings. He wrote about issues on head covering as also the Lord’s super.

In chapter 12, he addressed the proper use of spiritual gifts, and the need for not jettisoning any gifts seeing all are for the use of the body of Christ. In chapter 13, he described love as the best way and encouraged Corinthians to strive for love. In chapter 14, he drew contrast in the use of tongue-speaking and prophesy, as it seems apparent some persons in Corinth placed more value on the later and consequently see tongue speakers as spiritually superior than their counterparts who prophesy. He gave specific description on how to operate with both spiritual gifts in their meetings.
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Paul didn’t stop them from the use of tongue. He only gave them guidelines on how to use each of the spiritual gifts (gift of tongue, interpretation of tongues and prophesy) in order to not have a chaotic worship meetings- several people prophesying at once, some ministering in tongues, rather than in plain words, others not willing to allow another person to outperform them in prophesying wouldn’t keep quiet and let others minister. Now, all these amounted to chaos. And verse 35 which was said to have restricted women from speaking should be interpreted in that context. Why so, in Chapter 11 of Corinth, Paul described the covering of women while praying and prophesying. Now, if one were to interpret verse 34 of Corinthians 14 as being quite from teaching, praying and prophesying in the church, then the person have to be ready to explain away the verse that gave direction on how women are to pray and prophesy in the church(which necessarily implies that women prays). Surely if they prophesy they cannot keep silent.
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Take a look also at verse 35, it reads “if they will learn anything, let them ask their husband at home’. Paul’s main point is, they shouldn’t talk in church, not even to ask questions. The questions themselves are not wrong, for they can be asked at home, but it is disorderly to ask them in the worship service. Somebody would say are the women the only ones disrupting the service. Actually, one would have to ask why Paul had to instruct Timothy that men of Ephesus should pray lifting up holy hands without WRATH or DOUBTING. Something the women aren’t insulated from. In any case, it is most likely that each of Paul letters was specifically for pressing issues in the church. And the word used for “shame’ is synonymous with indecent, or a breach of propriety. According to Dr Craig Keener “throughout the first century Mediterranean world novices were expected to learn quietly…..the verse isn’t aimed at shutting up women with valid speaking ministries, but was intended to silence inappropriate ignorant questions posed by uneducated women’.
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The other passage is “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or usurp authority over a man, but to be in silence’. (1 Timothy 2:11-12).
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The Greek verb used in the passage for “usurp authority’ is authentein.
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A study of Paul’s letters shows that he regularly used a form of the Greek “exousia” when referring to the use of authority in the church (see 1 Cor 6:12, 7:4, 1 Cor 6:12, 7:4, 9:4-6, 9:12, 11:10, 2 Cor 2:8, 10:8, 13:10, Col. 1:13, 2 Thess 3:12, Rom 6:15, 9:21). So it is strange that some modern versions translate this simply as “authority”. Considering the context, it is likely that Paul was objecting to something other than the legitimate use of authority in 1 Timothy 2:12. There is also the possibility that the verb didaskein (to teach) is linked here to the verb authentein in what is called a hendiadys (two words joined by a conjunction to make a single point). “Don’t drink while driving’ would be a modern example. So a better interpretation would be “don’t teach in a domineering way’. And that’s like abuse of authority than its proper use.
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Moreover, Paul said in Romans 16:7 “Greet Andronicus and Junia(s), my compatriots and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to [or prominent among] the apostles.
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Some commentators claimed these two women were Apostles. However, the only thing one can claim (and that correctly) is that both of these women were well known in Apostolic circle. Luke wrote in Act of the Apostles of the Seven daughters of Philip who prophesy, and spoke of Paul association with them. Priscilla, the wife of Aquila happened to be fellow tent maker and Christian labourers with Paul was in all probability a prominent figure in the church, not by the influence of her husband, seeing her name was mentioned first before her husband’s, something quite untypical of the Jewish tradition.

Paul spoke of Phoebe, who he described as a servant of the church. The phrase “servant of the church’ was translated from “diakonos tes ekklesia’: deaconess of the church. In essence, there were female folks who functioned in the same office as men even in the gentile church oversaw by Paul. So one who would claim Paul was a misogynist must be ready to give answer to some of the difficult historical and contextual issues surrounding the very same passages used to lay claim to such.

To Paul “(NIV) “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’. (Galatians 3:28)

This article first featured in Christianityupdate.com