Friday, May 20, 2011

How to Study the Bible (Part 5)

When we have trouble understanding what a passage is saying just from what the writer wrote in the verses around it, we must look elsewhere. It’s at this point that many people turn to commentaries, to see what other people think it means, but then we’re forced to rely on the opinion of others. The great thing about the Bible is that it is all true. If we have one passage that is difficult to understand in one book, we can look at what other books say on related subjects. Our understanding of a passage can only be correct if it doesn’t require something else the Bible says to be incorrect. For example, if John had said a coin was black and Peter had said it was white, it would be valid to think that it is black on one side and white on the other. It is rare that thing work that well, but you get the idea.

To understand 1 Timothy 2:12, it is helpful to consider 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35. “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

So this gives us more that we would like to understand about just how silent women should be in the church, but it may be helpful in our understanding of 1 Timothy 2:12. First, notice that Paul says the women being silent is part of the law. We saw him mention the law in 1 Timothy 1, so even it this doesn’t give direct support of the idea that Paul was countering those who were misapplying the law by keeping the women out, it doesn’t hurt it any. He mentions learning again, but here, he talks about them asking their husbands at home. So, 1 Timothy 2:11 can’t be talking about them learning in silence at home. That seems to support the idea that 1 Timothy 2:12 applies to the church setting.

Of course, now, you may want to know more about what 1 Corinthians 14 is talking about. You can apply the same techniques we used for 1 Timothy 2:12, but what if you want to know what the word “silent” means or to find similar passages? It isn’t as hard as you might think. A copy of Strong’s Concordance is an invaluable tool. There is also a free online version at Find the scripture, then click the “C” button and it will show you ever word in the verse with links to other verses with that word and the meaning of the Greek or Hebrew word. Why settle for what other people say God says when you can study his word and read it for yourself?