Tom Schreiner on Two Types of Teaching image

Tom Schreiner on Two Types of Teaching

Regular readers here will know that one of my favourite New Testament riddles is this: how do we make sense of the fact that, in some texts, Paul seems to regard "teaching" as something that all believers can (and should) do, and yet in other texts, he restricts it to certain individuals? I won't rehash my own proposal here. But I was fascinated to read Tom Schreiner's take on the problem, from his essay in the forthcoming (and excellent) new edition of Women in the Church: An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15. He writes (emphasis added):

Colossians 3:16 (cf. 1 Cor. 14:26) does not refer to authoritative public teaching, but to the informal mutual instruction that occurs among all the members of the body. Unfortunately, some churches ban women from doing even this, although it is plainly in accord with Scripture. Yet this is quite different from the authoritative transmission of tradition that Paul has in mind in the Pastoral Epistles. Such authoritative teaching is typically a function of the elders/overseers (1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17), and it is likely that Paul is thinking of them here. Thus, women are proscribed from functioning as pastors/elders/overseers, but Knight also correctly observes that they are prohibited from the function of public and authoritative teaching of men by this verse as well. Working this out in practice doesn’t mean that women are always prohibited from addressing a mixed audience of men and women. There are certainly contexts where this is appropriate. Women should not, however, ever serve as pastors and elders.

It is not entirely clear what, in Schreiner’s view, distinguishes “public and authoritative teaching of men” (which he sees as prohibited) from “addressing a mixed audience of men and women” (which he regards as certainly appropriate), and I imagine he has left it deliberately open in this context. Nonetheless, I find much to agree with here, and I am especially intrigued - and encouraged - by his agreement that 1 Corinthians 14:26 refers to a type of “teaching” that everyone, both male and female, can be involved in. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was arguing for a distinction between big-T and little-t teaching ...

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