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Otunba Kenneth Ifeanyi @kenifeanyii
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Was Apostle Paul A Misogynist?


The man Paul has been accused of a lot of things: Homophobic, Jerk, Chauvinist, and of course a misogynist.

But is he all that? Maybe,maybe not.
This thread is not in support or defense of Paul.

I wish he was Here himself to answer speak on the accusations leveled against him.

But since he isn't, we are going to carefully examine his letters and when we are done ,you will be left to decide
If those accusations are true or maybe he is just a man that has been greatly misunderstood.

Like the saying goes, "To be great is to be misunderstood"
On the surface, the letters of Paul seem to suggest he had a few things against women.

In first Timothy, for example, he told the women to keep silence in church. And if they have any question, they should ask their husband. Suggesting that men are superior in knowledge
In the same book, he dictated what the women should wear. "No putting on of costly apparels or gold" he says.

So was Paul really misogynistic?
But I answer, let me clarify a few things :
1. Paul worked with women:

In his letter to the church at Rome, he listed some sets of people who have been beneficial to him in the ministry.

The first four were women.
He repeated the same thing in his letter to the Corinthian and Ephesian church.

Infact, he singled out Timothy's mum and grand mum and acknowledged them for being responsible for Timothy's spiritual formation.
Basically, these letters will be read before the whole church.

Will an Anti- Woman publicly appreciate women for their outstanding commitment ?

I think not.

Infact,he asked the church to give one of those ladies a preferential treatment !
2. Men are not above women :

The Bible clearly States (written by this same Paul) that," IN CHRIST there is neither MALE nor FEMALE for we are all one (Equal) in Christ
Will a woman hater amplify the fact that before God men and women are equal?
3. Paul NEVER said "man is the head of woman".

A lot of people have misquoted Paul on this and it is quite sad. What Paul said was,"THE man is the head of THE woman"
He was very careful with his choice of words. Verse 3 of 1st Corinthians 11 started with "the head of every man is Christ" but rather than following the statement with "the head of Every woman is the man", Paul said " the head of the woman is the man". Definite article.
He was referring only to the married women.

In case u are not satisfied,let's visit our Greek Dictionary(where the new testament was translated from)

The Greek word for woman used in this verse is "Gune".& guess what? Gune Is only used when u are addressing a married woman/wife
If u were describing both married and unmarried,the Greek word is "thelus"(e.g Romans 1:27),if u are addressing the single/unmarried women,the Greek word is "agamos".

Here,Paul used "Gune".

So the Corinthian church knew exactly what Paul was saying & who he was saying it to!
4. Order or Gender?

Why did Paul say,in a marriage- the man is the head of the woman?
Is it because of gender? I don't think so.

If we skip to 1 tim 2:13, Paul reiterates the fact that the man was MADE first. And in 1 cor 11:8 it's repeated that the woman came out of the man
Here is Paul's logic: since man was made first ,and the woman came out of man and God made the two of them husband and wife (not neighbours), it makes sense that in a marriage setting the husband should be the head.
If every ship requires a captain and the woman wasn't present when God gave Adam the first set of instructions to dominate the earth,it makes no sense for the woman who came later on to become the head. This was Paul's premise.

And I don't think you can fault him for this.
5. To understand a man you must understand the times he lived in and the situations he was surrounded by.

Paul wasn't a 21st century writer. These letters were written over 2,000 years ago. Paul was a 1st century writer that lived in a world that is different form ours
And this played a role in some of his writings.

Yes, Paul's letters were inspired by God. But his personality and the situation he was surrounded by wasn't.

Let me give an example...
In 2 tim 4:21, Paul asked Timothy to come join him before winter.

Was that statement inspired by God?.

So how does this relate to the issue at hand? Simple.

In 1 cor 11:2, Paul started off by appreciated them for keeping the ordnances he has delivered/delivers to them.

Ordinance. Greek is Paradosis. It means tradition. Jewish tradition/law.
That means whatever Paul is going to say next is not necessarily a "revelation from God" but a tradition/ jewish custom (based on their time) that he wants them to keep (and for Good reason to)
6. The bulk of Paul's letters were answers to questions.

Apart from the fact that Paul was an occasional writer, which means his letters addressed specific people/situations, most of his letters (especially) to the Corinthian church were answers to questions.
The problem is, we have the answers but (in most cases) not the question.

For example they asked him if it was okay for them to marry. And Paul's response was "left to me,its better to remain single"
Why? Because God told him? No.
Because of the PRESENT distresses they were in!.
It was a young church and they were under severe persecutions and Paul felt if it easier to flee if you are Single.

You see, to understand a man you must understand the times he lived in.

Paul's letters were all inspired by God,but his personality/situations weren't.
This doesn't mean we will let Paul go easily. So stay with Me while examine his letters critically.
7. The Corinthian church were the most Carnal church in the entire Bible ( I will elucidate later on why/how this affected the "traditions" hr set for them.

That said...

In chapter 14 ,verse 31 of 1 Corinthians, Paul said the women should keep silence in church.
Why? Because they have been commanded to do so by the law.
Here is the problem, there is NO place in the Bible/Mosaic law where women are told to keep silence in church.

So Paul wasn't referring to the law of God,but the Jewish law set by men!
Once again: To understand the letters of a man you must understand the times he lived in and the situations he was surrounded by.
Just like when Jesus was told to pay tax and he felt that wasn't offended by it. Because he ought not to. But so as not to appear as a lawbreaker, he performed a miracle by bringing money out of the mouth of a fish.
Few chapters after he (Jesus) told us to," Give to God what belongs to God and give to ceaser what belongs to ceaser"
Paul himself told us to be subject to authorities of the land.

That was the issue Paul was faced with. It might not have been a law from God but it was the law anyway.
Paul lived in a day were women were forbidden to speak in public, file for divorce, etc

The law also permitted men to beat their wives.
Also, the Bible says "the heaven belongs to God but the earth he has given to men".

If in heaven,before Christ there is neither male or female but on earth women are told not to speak in public, you want Paul to flout the order and present the church
As a place where the laws of the land are upturned?.

Also in 1 Corinthians 11 where he told women to cover their hair when praying,he said "does not NATURE itself teaches you", not "does not the law of God teaches you".
Greek for nature in that verse is "phusis". It means "mankind/ constitution". So it could read," does not mankind/ the constitution teaches you that... "
It is clear...very clear that Paul was dealing with the traditions/customs of his day.

He also told the men not to keep long hairs. But we know that some of patriarchs had and kept long hairs!

In 1 cor 14, Paul said women should keep silence in church and if they have any question they should ask their husbands at home.

But if we go back to chapter 11,he said "any woman that prays/prophesies with her hair uncovered dishonours her hair".
I thought he said they can't talk at all, why is he Now changing the rule of engagement ?.

Once again,Paul was addressing the traditions and customs of his day.
Also,the church at Corinth were the most carnal church.
This was the same church were people slept with their father's wife. Same church that turned communion service into a drinking competition.

People got drunk right in church!.
They did similar with speaking in tongues. They started and ended services speaking in tongues.
You see,in their day when a married is caught in adultery, her hair gets shaven off as a sign of public mockery.

That's why Paul said "is it not shame for you in you keep short hairs?"
This is quite ironic because under the mosiac law, if you meet a woman while in battle you are to bring her home; shave her hair,cut her nails and present her clean to the priest for marriage
Between the book of Malachi to Matthew was 400 years!.

New Romans and Jewish laws were made. This was one of them.. This was the world Paul lived in
In essence, Paul was saying to the Corinthian church "I don't you to set a bad image for the church that we allow all sorts here. Pls cover your hair. Keep quiet. That is what the constitution teaches".

Yes,he did.

Why then did Paul give the same instruction to the church at Ephesus which later became one of the most matured churches?

To understand a man you must understand the times he lived in.
In the early stage of the Ephesian church, there was a Goddess that was influencing the married women in that city. Turning them against their husbands. She was called "Goddess Diana"
I know the above to be true. But I did just a Quick Google search and here is what I found :
This domineering attitude from the married women was beginning to rub off in the church,after all the people in church don't come from another city.
So in his first letter to Timothy, he admonished the younger women that when they get married they shouldn't SPEAK REPROACHFULLY to their husbands, as this was already the order of the day.
And they shouldn't turn away and follow after the adversary like SOME have.
Something else is Paul's choice of words in 1 tim 2:12. The English says "I suffer not the woman to teach or usurp authority over the man".

Usurp Authority - two words
The Greek is just one word - Authenteo.

Usually, the Greek word for authority is exousia ,which means influence/ability. But here Paul chose a different Greek word and this is THE ONLY time in the entire Bible this word was used.
Letting you know the seriousness of the issue at hand.

Authenteo means to DOMINATE. So it can read "I suffer not the women to DOMINATE the men". Because that exactly was what was happening.
This is why Paul said whenever the women come to church,they should keep silence . That is,learn in humility. It was a fence around wisdom.

Tithing was a fence around prosperity.

Vow was a fence around abstinence.

Silence was a fence around wisdom.
Once again,he said "if they have any questions they should ask their husbands at home".

What about those that weren't married?he wasn't talking to them. This was between couples. And couples alone.

Similar to the above Influence the goddess Diana was having over some women in church is why Paul asked them to dress modestly.

Your Christianity Is about the heart and Not the expensive jeweleries. He was dealing with economic modesty and humility of the heart

Even though this thread about examining Paul's letter, I think I should address an alleged misogynistic statement that Peter made.
There is nothing misogynistic about the statement at all.

When Peter said "husband should dwell with their wives as unto the weaker vessels", he was talking about physical weakness. Not mental or spiritual.

Women are comparatively physically weaker than men
If this is not true why is there no sport in the Olympics where men are pit against women? Why are there only 15% of women in military and 3% in construction jobs.
This has nothing to do with subjugating women.

Read it in the Amplified Version
I think the problem is most men have used the loophole to trample on women's right. As it was in those days ,sadly so it is among many today.

Peter said "give honour unto your wife". A misogynic Man won't make that statement.

I strong believe that some of the men in that city or even church hated Paul.

To the 21st century lady, Paul might come off misogynistic, but to the 1st century Roman/Greek/Jewish Christian, Paul was a "Woman's Right Activist"
Think of the Greek society then that was So sexist women weren't allowed to act on stage!!!

All roles were played by men including those of female character!

The law also permitted men to beat their wives. Remember,she has NO option to divorce him unless he dies
And for the "first" time ever a letter will be read before the whole church that says "Husbands love your wives like Christ loves the church. Pamper and cherish her".

Read it in MSG and ask yourself if this man is remotely misogynistic.

I hope you have enjoyed this thread. In our next #LetMeExplainThis we will answer the question: "Is it Anti-Faith to take drugs when ill? And what does the Bible have to say about women who deliver through caesarian Section. Sin or not?"

See you next Thursday
Finally, I want to invite you to be a part of my online Bible study group which starts 11th of June. Apart from reading the entire new treatment Bible in 6 months, below are some of the topics that will be taught in detail.
Register today:
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