the weblog of Alan Knox

Can she be a man of God?

Posted by on May 13, 2010 in blog links, discipleship | 11 comments

Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” brings up an interesting question in his post “A Man of God.” Well, actually, Eric doesn’t specifically bring up the question, but his post brought the question to my mind. Eric didn’t like that the phrase “man of God” applied to him because he is an elder/pastor. Instead, he suggests that it is proper to apply the phrase “man of God” to any Christian.

This is where the phrase appears in the New Testament:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

(You can see the same phrase in 1 Timothy 6:11.) Now, the Greek term translated “man” in this passage (ἄνθρωπος) is not that word that is specifically male (ἀνήρ). Instead, it could mean “person.” So, here’s my question:

Who is the “man of God” in this passage? Elders/pastors/other leaders only? Men (males) only? Any Christian (male or female)? Or, is there another option?


11 Comments

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  1. 5-13-2010

    Also recognizing the term as having been translated from the Greek for “person” or “human being,” I think this speaks to the universal obligation of all redeemed believers. Eph 2:10 tells us that each believer has been created in Christ Jesus unto good works that have already been ordained for us to accomplish. Paul’s letter to Timothy challenges us to study to be competent and equipped to carry them out.

  2. 5-13-2010

    any Christian

  3. 5-13-2010

    Alan,

    I agree with you, Brian and Sondra on this particular passage. Not knowing any Greek, I would, however ask this question. Would you include Elders, Bishops, etc. which are mentioned in 1st Timothy 3 ? I ask because they are referred to in verses 2 and 12 as “husbands” and reference is made to their “wives” in verse 11. I’m in full agreement of total equality in Christ. I think our society over the years has done a good job to blend the gap between the sexes. I personally feel we are totally equal, just with different roles, certainly in our family structure and in the case of Elders and/or Bishops. I also realize there could be circumstances that would negate a woman in either position, but as a whole, I think chapter 3 refers to men.

  4. 5-13-2010

    David,

    No, this is not a discussion about elders. The section on elders is in 1 Timothy 3. This passage is in 2 Timothy.

    -Alan

  5. 5-13-2010

    Definitely refers to all those who were redeemed at the cross, and are the bride of Christ!

    But it seems the emphasis of serious study and growth is glossed right over by so many who believe it is only the calling of the special few that we call “pastor/elder”. The damage done by hierarchical thinking is very hard to overcome! But not impossible if we will submit to the work of the Holy Spirit and start reading the NT through His lens and not our own understanding.

  6. 5-13-2010

    Alan,

    I only referenced 1st Timothy 3 because you quoted Eric not wishing to be called a “man of God” because he is an elder/pastor,,, and you later ask the question, is the “man of God” an elder/pastor or other leader only, mentioned in 2nd Timothy. So, I’m simply offering that in in 1st Timothy 3, the passage seems to be gender specific, as far as I can understand my Bible. While I do realize the question was asked about 1st Timothy 2, don’t you automatically drag in chapter 3 when the questions asked are at least partially concerning elders/pastors?

    I probably should apologize for not reading all the previous blogs prior to this one, maybe I would have been more informed of the topic as a whole.

    Recently I quoted a window replacement job for an old established Church in downtown Raleigh pastored by a lesbian lady. She says that she’s biblically correct in her role. I guess she has a new updated version.

  7. 5-14-2010

    Well, no, she can’t be a “man of God.” And I can’t be a “woman of God.” But that isn’t what the passage is presenting (as you and others have pointed out).

    The phrase, “man of God” has been so taken out of context and become a thing of its own, laden with OT baggage, unrelated to NT usage. This confusion overshadows the point of this passage in particular and highlights how hard it can be for us to see past our preconceptions in other areas of scripture.

    I really liked your recent post about the equipping purpose of scripture that this passage emphasizes–the result expected by God is us doing good works.

  8. 5-14-2010

    I was just telling a friend that I should have put “man of God” in quotes in the title of this post.

    Just for the record – and I’m sure some of my readers will hate me for this :) – I do believe that elders are male in Scripture. However, I do not think this phrase – “man of God” – refers to only elders or to only male Christians. Both the contexts and the wording are different.

    -Alan

  9. 5-14-2010

    I made some kind of a response to your question, I hope it helps.
    http://blaargracer.blogspot.com/2010/05/who-is-man-of-god.html

  10. 5-19-2010

    Also recognizing the term as having been translated from the Greek for “person” or “human being,” I think this speaks to the universal obligation of all redeemed believers. Eph 2:10 tells us that each believer has been created in Christ Jesus unto good works that have already been ordained for us to accomplish. Paul’s letter to Timothy challenges us to study to be competent and equipped to carry them out.

  11. 8-1-2010

    Hi Alan :) Just found your blog…

    When I think “man of God” I am not considering just this passage. Because the phrase “man of God” in and of itself, could not simply be considered a male phrase in the NT. This is because I am thinking of how the NT uses the word “man” overall – when Paul talks about the “inner man” being strengthened by faith, is he talking about gender? When he talks about Christ breaking down division and making “one new man” is he only refering to males in the body of Christ? (If that is true, then along with Christ forming “one new man” he must have also formed “one new woman” because she doesn’t have a place in the “new man” so we need to do something else with her ;)
    But seriously, the Bible is FILLED with references to believers being a “man” and pretty much none of these things are talking about gender. “Putting off the old man” and “speak every man truth with his neighbor” and “let no man say when he is tempted that God is tempting me” and I literally could go for 100 more verses.

    Also, it is interesting how we use ecclesiological mindsets when reading Paul’s instructions to Timothy regarding elders. When he is clearly talking about older men, aka elders, we see “church office of elder.” But when he gives instructions to older women, we just see him instructing a bunch of old ladies in keeping the status quo among the women. I personally see that as instruction to women elders even as much as he is instructing the male elders. Same book, same greek words, why not?