First Timothy 3.2 and Polygamy

First, on the Koinonia blog (Zondervan), Bill Mounce wrote on 1Ti 3.2 noting that there were four possibilities on how to translate μιας γυναικας ανδρα (the “one-woman man” or “husband of one wife”). Read the post, I won’t duplicate his four options here.

Today, Matthew Burgess on the Confessions of a Bible Junkie blog followed up with some nice tidbits on Mounce’s option 2, which sees the phrase as focused against polygamy. Check it out as well.

The manuscript . . .

The manuscript for my commentary, Reading Paul’s Letters to Individuals: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Letters to Philemon, Titus, and Timothy, is officially in the mail to Smyth and Helwys.

S&H expects the commentary to be available in October, just in time for SBL. Maybe I’ll need to go to Boston after all.

This is the commentary that Glenn Hinson was supposed to write, then Marty Soards. Both ended up not filling the contract. Then Hulitt Gloer wrote a manuscript, but was not able to finish it for health reasons.

So in January–you may recall–the editor of the series, Charles Talbert (who was my doctorfather at Baylor) asked if I could finish Gloer’s manuscript.  And I’ve spent the last few months doing so.

I’d originally hoped to have 300 – 325 double spaced pages, and ended up with 425: OUCH! Did I type all that stuff?

What’s innovative or fresh about the commentary? Two things, off the top of my head:

First, it is a scholarly commentary, interacting extensively with primary sources (Philo and Josephus, especially) and cutting-edge secondary sources (e.g., Bruce Winter’s work on the new Roman woman), BUT the exposition is aimed at preachers and teachers. This would be the first commentary I would recommend for people who want to preach these letters.

Second, this is the first commentary on the Pastorals to take into account the role that succession plays in these letters.

Reconciling 1Ti 4.3 and 1Ti 3.2

I’ve had the question of how 1Ti 4.3 and 1Ti 3.2 fit together rolling around in my head for awhile.

1Ti 4.3 is in the context of a description of the false teachers of Ephesus, noting things they (unjustly) forbid. Below is 1Ti 4.1-3:

4.1 Τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει ὅτι ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως προσέχοντες πνεύμασιν πλάνοις καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων, 2 ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων, κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν, 3 κωλυόντων γαμεῖν, ἀπέχεσθαι βρωμάτων, ἃ ὁ θεὸς ἔκτισεν εἰς μετάλημψιν μετὰ εὐχαριστίας τοῖς πιστοῖς καὶ ἐπεγνωκόσι τὴν ἀλήθειαν. (1Ti 4.1-3, NA27)

4.1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1Ti 4.1-3, ESV)

1Ti 3.2 (along with 1Ti 3.12 and 1Ti 5.9) specify a marriage relationship for those in leadership positions in the fellowship.

3.2 δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνεπίλημπτον εἶναι, μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, νηφάλιον σώφρονα κόσμιον φιλόξενον διδακτικόν, (1Ti 3.2, NA27)
3.12 διάκονοι ἔστωσαν μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρες, τέκνων καλῶς προϊστάμενοι καὶ τῶν ἰδίων οἴκων. (1Ti 3.12, NA27)
5.9 Χήρα καταλεγέσθω μὴ ἔλαττον ἐτῶν ἑξήκοντα γεγονυῖα, ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, (1Ti 5.9, NA27)

3.2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (1Ti 3.2, ESV)
3.12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. (1Ti 3.12, ESV)
5.9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, (1Ti 5.9, ESV)

So, how does all of this fit together? The false teachers say that marriage is forbidden, but Paul says that those in positions in the church (Overseer, Deacons, and Widows) should be or have been married.

This popped in my head again as I’ve been reading Lloyd K. Pietersen’s $amz(0567081834 The Polemic of the Pastorals), where he mentions the "status degradation" aspect of the whole thing:

Finally, Garfinkel draws attention to the fact that, in any successful status degradation ceremony, the typical, negative characteristics of those being denounced must be appreciated by the witnesses by means of a ‘dialectical counterpart’. In this way the community cannot conceive of those denounced without reference to this positive counter conception. In the Pastorals, the qualities of bishops, elders and deacons serve as dialectical counterparts to the deeds of the opponents. Thus, for example, the injunction in 1 Tim 1.2 [sic] that the bishop should be μιας γυναικος ανδρα serves as the dialectical counterpart to the opponents who, among other things, κωλυοντων γαμειν (1 Tim 4.3). Goulder is thus right to argue that the qualifications of leadership function polemically. (Pietersen 111)

I don’t buy all of what Lloyd mentions here (specifically that the Pastorals may be "a literary version of a status degradation ceremony" (Pietersen 111)), but I do think there is significant value to noting that what the false teachers forbid (marriage) is prominent in the descriptions of those in positions of leadership and influence in the church.

Whatever your view of the polemic/paraenesis of the Pastorals, this disparity between the what the false teachers espouse (no marriage) and what Paul espouses for those in prominence in the church (marriage is not just OK, it is expected) needs to be noted.

The Pastoral Epistles in the Epistle of Barnabas, Part II

[This post is part of a series on The Pastoral Epistles in the Apostolic Fathers. RWB]


A few NT references are listed as potential allusion sources for Ep.Barn. 5.6.


Ep.Barn. 5.6 || 1Ti 3.16, 2Ti 1.10*



(6) οἱ προφῆται, ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ ἔχοντες τὴν χάριν, εἰς αὐτὸν ἐπροφήτευσαν. αὐτὸς δὲ ἵνα καταργήσῃ τὸν θάνατον καὶ τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀνάστασιν δείξῃ, ὅτι ἐν σαρκὶ ἔδει αὐτὸν φανερωθῆναι, ὑπέμεινεν,
(6) The prophets, receiving grace from him, prophesied about him. But he himself submitted, in order that he might destroy death and demonstrate the reality of the resurrection of the dead, because it was necessary that he be manifested in the flesh.
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (284, 285). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


16 καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα ἐστὶν τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον· ὃς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί, ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι, ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις, ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν, ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ, ἀνελήμφθη ἐν δόξῃ. (1Ti 3.16, NA27)
16 And most certainly, great is the mystery of godliness: Who was revealed in flesh, Vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed amongst the peoples, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory. (1Ti 3.16, my own translation)


10 φανερωθεῖσαν δὲ νῦν διὰ τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, καταργήσαντος μὲν τὸν θάνατον φωτίσαντος δὲ ζωὴν καὶ ἀφθαρσίαν διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου (2Ti 1.10, NA27)
10 and now has been revealed through the appearance of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who indeed abolished death and brought to light life and immortality through the gospel (2Ti 1.10, my own translation)


There are a few spots where affinities between Barnabas and the PE texts can be seen.


First, between Ep.Barn. 5.6 and 1Ti 3.16, the primary affinity has to do with the idea of Christ being manifested (φανερόω) in the flesh (ἐν σαρκὶ). The ideas are remarkably the same and the language seems almost liturgical. Indeed, that’s the vibe one gets from 1Ti 3.16, which has long been considered to have some sort of early Christian hymn or creed as its source. The Oxford committee that gathered these references notes the same thing: “But as it itself (1Ti 3.16) is probably quoting a current liturgical form, literary dependence cannot be pressed either way” (13). Note also that Ep.Barn. uses the phrase “manifested in the flesh” several times (Ep.Barn. 6.7, 9, 14; 12.10; 14.5). The idea has to come from somewhere, whether it be common liturgical formula (probably) or this portion of First Timothy.


Second, between Ep.Barn. 5.6 and 2Ti 1.10, there are a few points of contact. The first is similar to that of 1Ti 3.16, that Christ has appeared. 2Ti 1.10 uses φανερόω not in reference to Christ (directly, as both Ep.Barn. 5.6 and 1Ti 3.16 do) but as a participle clause that further explains “purpose and grace” from v. 9. We were saved according to God’s “purpose and grace” and not our own works. 2Ti 1.9-10 has two clauses that further explain this purpose and grace. The first is v.9, explaining that his purpose and grace have “been granted to us in Christ Jesus from times eternal”. The second is the first part of v. 10, which here has some affinity with Ep.Barn. 5.6. God’s “purpose and grace” has been “revealed” (φανερόω) through the appearance (ἐπιφανείας) of our Saviour Jesus Christ. This is similar to 1Ti 3.16, though the specific note of manifestation/appearance in the flesh (ἐν σαρκὶ) is not made in 2Ti 1.10.


The second point of contact between Ep.Barn. 5.6 and 2Ti 1.10 has to do with the destruction of death. The word translated destruction (Ep.Barn) or abolish (2Ti) is καταργέω. In both cases the destruction is of death (τὸν θάνατον). Both texts portray Jesus Christ as the one who destroyed death.


A third point of contact is not specifically lexical but rather topical. Both texts note the effect of the destruction of death using different words but both essentially supporting the same concept. In Ep.Barn., the consequence of the destruction of death is that Christ demonstrates “the reality of the resurrection of the dead”. In 2Ti, Christ brings “to light life and immortality through the gospel”. In both cases, the effect has to do with life — immortality. Because Christ destroyed death, the dead in Christ also are not bound by death, they will rise. Christ’s death obliterates the darkness and shines light on the life we will have into the ages. Different words, same basic concept: With the destruction of death those who are dead are no longer bound by death. There is now life.


These three points in common between Ep.Barn. 5.6 and 2Ti 1.10 are striking. I don’t know that dependence can be proven, but the ideas behind both texts share several commonalities that stimulate thought.


Next up: Ep.Barn. 7.2.





* Note that the Oxford committee also lists 1Pe 1.20-21 as a possible allusion/parallel source along with 2Ti 1.10:



20 προεγνωσμένου μὲν πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου φανερωθέντος δὲ ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων διʼ ὑμᾶς 21 τοὺς διʼ αὐτοῦ πιστοὺς εἰς θεὸν τὸν ἐγείραντα αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν καὶ δόξαν αὐτῷ δόντα, ὥστε τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν καὶ ἐλπίδα εἶναι εἰς θεόν. (1Pe 1.20-21, NA27)
20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1Pe 1.20-21, ESV)

Updates and News

As you’ve likely noticed, there have been several changes here at PastoralEpistles.com.

The biggest change is that there is now more than one blogger. In addition to Rick Brannan (yours truly), Perry L. Stepp, Lloyd Pietersen and Ray Van Neste have agreed to begin posting to PastoralEpistles.com.

Perry is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Kentucky Christian University. He’s recently had a book published by the Sheffield Phoenix Press, Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle. He’s also presented papers at SBL in the Disputed Paulines group. It’s great to have him aboard.

There will likely be at least one more blogger added to the team; more information on that in a future post.

Lloyd is a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies  at the University of Bristol. Here’s some further information on Dr. Pietersen from his web site:

Dr Lloyd Pietersen obtained his PhD from the University of Sheffield. His thesis has been published as The Polemic of the Pastorals: A Sociological Examination of the Development of Pauline Christianity (JSNTSup 264; London/New York: T & T Clark International, 2004). He is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol and is co-chair of the Social World of the New Testament Seminar at the British New Testament Conference.

Ray is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies and Director of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University. He is also author of Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSup 280; Lonon/New York: T&T Clark International, 2004). And he has his own personal blog too.

What is this site all about, then?

Well, it’s about the Pastoral Epistles. Folks who blog here have a more-than-average interest in the Pastorals. We’ll blog about stuff like:

  • Quick reviews of books, articles, chapters, etc. that we read that have to do with the Pastorals. The same book or article may be discussed by multiple authors on the site.
  • Extended reviews.
  • Reviews of or interaction with conference presentations or papers.
  • Interaction with other web sites, blog posts, etc. that mention things that primarily or tangentially refer to the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Thoughts, musings and whatnot. We’ll feel free to use the blog as a scratch pad of sorts as we think through topics or exegetical points having to do with the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Whatever else seems interesting to us, as long as we can relate it back to the Pastorals.

If you’re familiar with the older PastoralEpistles.com site, it is still available at http://www.pastoralepistles.com/oldsite. Content may or may not migrate over to the new site.

Anyway, thanks for your support of the site. Please bear with us while we get the place set up. And please do update your RSS / Feed reader links. The new link is http://pastoralepistles.com/SyndicationService.asmx/GetRss. You can use this in any feedreader/aggregator or online tool such as BlogLines.

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