Kinship and Leadership in 1 Timothy: A Study of Filial Framework and Model for Christian Communities in Asia Minor
2. Paul and Timothy as ‘Father-Son’ Partners in Leadership
The identification of Timothy as Paul’s ‘son’ (τέκνον) in 1 Cor. 4:17 and Phil 2:22 represents a departure from the vocabulary that Paul typically uses to provide a descriptive epithet for one of his emissaries. Typically, as has been noted, the apostle’s choice of qualifying language is drawn from the semantic domain of sibling relationships.
Since the epithet τέκνον uniquely identifies Timothy as one who has been well instructed by Paul and epitomizes Timothy’s qualifications to serve as Paul’s emissary, and since the term had acquired these connotations in the writings of Paul himself, the author(s) of the Pastoral Epistles use(s) τέκνον, ‘child,’ as an intitulatio for Timothy, the presumed recipient of the First and Second Epistles to Timothy, in the opening salutations of the missives (1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2). The designation accords Timothy the status of being uniquely qualified to convey Paul’s instructions to the Christian communities of Ephesus.
3. The ‘House Church’ as the ‘Households of God’
4. Oikos –Polis Symbiosis in Greco-Roman Leadership
For it was necessary that one who was destined to be a statesman should be previously practiced and trained in the management of a single household; for a household is a city on a small and contracted scale, and the management of a household is a contracted kind of polity; so that a city may be called a large house, and the government of a city a widely spread economy.16
The church began very early to see itself as surrogate family with its male leadership modeled on ideals of civic leadership, in keeping with a long tradition that saw the household as a microcosm of the state and that tied effective public leadership to proven effective family management.
5. Household Leadership as Requisite for Church Leadership
6. Leadership and Kinship in the Service to Widows in the Church
It is meet and right that a debtor should discharge his first and greatest obligation and pay the debt which comes before all others; he must consider that what he has and holds belong to those who bore and bred him, and he is meant to use it in their service to the limit of his powers. He must serve them first with his property, then with hand and brain, and so give to the old people what they desperately need in view of their age; repayment of all that anxious care and attention they lavished on him, the longstanding ‘loan’ they made to him as a child. Throughout his life the son must be very careful to watch his tongue in addressing his parents, because there is a very heavy penalty for careless and ill-considered language.47
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Conflicts of Interest
See MacDonald (1988), Horrell (2001) and Bartchy (1999). These are just representative scholars in what has become a popular view suggesting that there is progressive development of institutional structures, gender relations or household codes from the ‘egalitarian’ tradition of Paul to the post-Pauline churches that promoted hierarchical/patriarchal ethos - all within five to thirty years span, in order to integrate the church into the wider society. This position does not need to be rehearsed in this article.
I do not suggest that the churches in Ephesus would not read or see the letter, but that they are not the primary recipients. Reading the letter like other Pauline letters to communities misconstrues aspects of its tone, framework and certain nuances in the personal mandates.
Ταύτην τὴν παραγγελίαν παρατίθεμαιί σοι, τέκνον Τιμόθεε—1:18.
The preposition ἐν plus dative πίστει could be locative or instrumental. I lean towards instrumentality, though some commentators suggest otherwise. Cf. Knight (1992, pp. 63–64). Knight reads it as locative, referring to the sphere in which the relationship occurs.
Some manuscripts have εἰρήνη ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν indicating shared spiritual parentage with the person just referred to as γνησίῳ τέκνῳ ἐν πίστει in the same verse. The NA28 removes ἡμῶν though the manuscripts that have it are quite important as well.
Marshall, Pastoral Epistles, 494. Marshall explains that it is rather unlikely that γυναῖκας in 5:11 refers to wives. However, the argument for ‘wives’ is as equally strong as those made for ‘female deacons.’ If we take it to mean female deacons, then the conjecture would include the possibility that Paul imagines females as leaders in such a position, but not in the role of an overseer.
Fraternal kinship does not eliminate household function or slave obligations, but fosters a deep sense of belonging in the case of the church shared affinity to one supreme God.
The use of ἀδελφός is similar to the undisputed letters to harness solidarity or concord vis-à-vis the popular notion that Paul’s use of the word conveys egalitarian ethos (Aasgaard 2004, p. 91). It is anachronistic to argue that Paul knew of what we call the egalitarian position today. Paul knew of social systems we call patriarchal or hierarchical structures and perhaps no other. Aasgaard is right in noting that, “it seems ahistorical to speak of siblingship as an egalitarian relationship. It is more appropriate to view it from the perspective of unity and harmony, and within the framework of a strongly hierarchical system” (p. 91).
See BDAG and TLNT.
See Darko (2014b) No Longer Living as the Gentiles: Differentiation and Shared Ethical Values in Ephesians, pp. 71–81. Here, Greco-Roman conventions on the group dynamics and values of the ideal household are carefully reviewed. The discussion follows in subsequent pages (pp. 81–108) to show how notions of the ideal household may shed some light in our understanding of the household in Ephesians. This is also covered in D. K. Darko (2014a) “Adopted Siblings in the Household of God: Kinship Lexemes in the Social Identity Construction of Ephesians”pp. 333–46.
Aristotle, Pol. 1.1 (trans. B. Jowett)
Aristotle, Pol. 1.3.
Xenophon, Mem. 3.6 (LCL).
Philo, Jos. 8.38 (trans. C. D. Yonge).
See Aristotle, Pol. 1. 1253a.
Plutarch, Mor., 70c. See Darko, No Longer Living as the Gentile, 71–81. A review of the primary sources here shows the link between the household and the polis not only in the works of Plutarch and Aristotle, but also in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Philo, Josephus and Peudo-Phocylides. In other words, both Greek and Jewish writers in the Greco-Roman world made such a link.
See Wis. 2:16; 14:3; Sir. 23:1, 4; 51:10; 3 Macc. 6:3, 8; Jub. 19:29; 4Q382 55 II; 4Q379 69:1–7; Jos. Asen. 12:8–15.
Tob. 13:4; Wis. 11:10; 1QH IX, 35; 3 Macc. 2:21; 5:7; 7:6; Jub. 1:25, 28; Apocr. zek. Frag. 2.
In 3:2 it appears in the singular referring to a single person, whereas the plural in 3:12 (μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρες) corresponds with the subject (pl.)– deacons.
The authors of this book do well to lay out marriage customs in the major cultures of the Bible. The reader will find it useful to observe similarities with the customs of Abraham’s homeland in the Near East and practices in Israel that partly continued in the Second Temple period.
Josephus, Wars 1.24.2.
Josephus, Antiquities 1:2 (14).
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 134.
See Campbell, Marriage and Family in the Biblical World. The contributors of this book do well to show the practices of various cultures represented in the Bible. The commonalities and differences are helpful to those who want to acquaint themselves with marriage and family practices of the ancient world.
The modern reader may not confuse ideal or honorable cultural norms and common practices in ancient society. There were so many common practices in ancient societies that were condemned by philosophers and rhetoricians (e.g., same sex conduct).
Demosthenes, Oration 59.122. The kind that Demosthenes describes in the popular quote as, “For this is what living with a woman as one's wife means—to have children by her and to introduce the sons to the members of the clan and of the deme, and to betroth the daughters to husbands as one’s own. Mistresses we keep for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the daily care of our persons, but wives to bear us legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of our households.”
Marshall, Pastoral Epistles, 478. Marshall argues that this requirement is not couched to place injunction on certain forms of marriage but to emphasize fidelity. Also Knight, Pastoral Epistles, 158–59.
The shift of the main verbs of 3:4 and 3:5 are noteworthy—4 τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου καλῶς προϊστάμενον, τέκνα ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ, μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος 5 (εἰ δέ τις τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου προστῆναι οὐκ οἶδεν, πῶς ἐκκλησίας θεοῦ ἐπιμελήσεται).
These words set a different tone in the way leaders see their function. In 1 Timothy, leadership is akin to pastoral care and service.
The sentence in 3:11 continues to be a debated matter as various views are held on what γυναῖκας refers to in the sentence—γυναῖκας ὡσαύτως σεμνάς, μὴ διαβόλους, νηφαλίους, πιστὰς ἐν πᾶσιν. The three main views are that it refers to (a) women as deacons, (b) wives of deacons or (c) unmarried women in the church in some serving capacity. This uncertainty explains why it is not a part of the discussion on leadership. If it refers to wives then that would have been treated here in the wider framework of kinship and household duties.
The use of the word here does not affect who the feminine subject is. It is still the role of a female figure being described in managerial terms in 1 Timothy.
Kartzow, “The ‘Believing woman’ and Her Ekklēsia,” 305–16. Kartzow has made an important observation in her study to textual variants to highlight a potential support system for widows that had previously evaded us. According to the findings, ‘believing woman’ in 1 Tim 5:16 seems to refer to a female leader with no biological ties to the widows in need, but resourceful to entertain other women in need (widows) as part of the broader support system for the early Christians. According to Kartzow, “she (the believing woman) is an alternative leader figure of the early church. She is not someone related by blood or reproductive ties to the widows who only take care of their own family. She is a believing woman with affiliations” (p. 316).
Plato indicates that the gods hear the prayers of parents, for good or ill, on behalf of their children and it is the reason they need to be honored. Plato (Laws 931) tells of an incident, “Oedipus, when he was dishonored (so our story runs), invoked upon his children curses which, as all men allege, were granted by Heaven and fulfilled; and we tell how Amyntor in his wrath cursed his son Phoenix, and Theseus cursed Hippolytus, and countless other parents cursed countless other sons, which curses of parents upon sons it is clearly proved that the gods grant; for a parent’s curse laid upon his children is more potent than any other man’s curse against any other, and most justly so. Let no man suppose, then, that when a father or a mother is dishonored by the children, in that case it is natural for God to hearken especially to their prayers, whereas when the parent is honored and is highly pleased and earnestly prays the gods, in consequence, to bless his children—are we not to suppose that they hearken equally to prayers of this kind, and grant them to us? For if not, they could never be just dispensers of blessings; and that, as we assert, would be most unbecoming in gods.”
The first half of Balla’s monograph is an excellent study on Greek, Roman and Second Temple texts dealing with child–parent relationships.
Winter (1988), “Providentia For the Widows of 1 Timothy 5:3–16,” 88. If fact, the issues being addressed have nothing to do with the egalitarian–patriarchal debate often imposed on the text here. Paul calls for members to meet their civic responsibilities as well as religious obligation to provide for widows in their households.
See Homer, Illiad Op. 182–83.
Iamblichus, Life of Pythagoras VIII (trans. Thomas Taylor).
Plato, Laws 4.717 (trans. Diskin Clay).
Fee, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, 118.
The word νεωτέρας (young) stands in emphatic position of the sentence, and Timothy is addressed in the singular to refuse (παραιτοῦ) to make care for these young widows the responsibility of the church.
Cf. Pomeroy (1997, p. 27). Pomeroy further explains, “The age difference between spouses at first marriage, the average age of death for men (45), and the aversion of leaving a fertile woman without a husband made it likely that children would be orphaned (i.e., ‘fatherless’) early in life, and the young widow would remarry, perhaps leaving her children in their father’s house and becoming a mother again and/or a stepmother elsewhere.”
Pietersen (2007) postulates that the instruction is meant to curb a younger widow’s propensity to participate in ascetic practices that were being promoted by the false teachers. Apparently, young widows were being influenced by a group of ‘ascetic widows’ that withdrew from the hierarchical social system of the church to take the vow of celibacy in order to enjoy some freedom outside the patriarchal domination. The lack of evidence to support the infiltration or influence of ascetic widows and their practices leaves the reader with the impression of unsatisfactory conjecture.
BDAG in Accordance Bible Software.
Cicero, pro Caelio, 38 and Polybius, xxxvi. 17.7.
With reference to Andrew M. Riggsby’s (2010) Roman Law and the Legal World of the Romans, despite the fact that there was no statutory timeframe, approximately a year was deemed an appropriate gap between widowhood and remarriage.
Lexical studies show that υἱός and τέκνον could be used interchangeably. Tέκνον as a lexeme has no particular denotative or connotative meaning in regard to power. The cultural norms associated with the parent–child relationship and kinship obligations are that which establish superior—subordinate differentials. Age differences alone accorded some prerogatives in ancient cultures.
Unlike the prescriptive discourse in 1 Timothy—for those who want to be bishops or deacons—they are existential in Philippians where Paul refers to those who are indeed bishops and deacons.
The notions of ‘equality’ or ‘egalitarian’ are concepts of power: they define the quests for power or the distribution of power. It is problematic to use this prism in the analysis of social institutions in patriarchal societies where relational terms like mutuality, solidarity, concord, pietas or community are the operative words. Ancient cultures may not be stripped off of their values for community in our modern quest for gender equality or value for individualism in Western countries.
Letter of Atticus 2.23.1; 3.1.5; 4.16.1; 6.6; 11.5 (Cicero 1999). Cf. Foster (2016, pp. 61–80); Talbert (2007, pp. 7–11). Foster and Talbert model a nuanced approach to the authorship possibilities for Colossians in a manner that may serve as a template for robust and nuanced assessment for the evidence in relation to 1 Timothy.
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Darko, D.K. Kinship and Leadership in 1 Timothy: A Study of Filial Framework and Model for Christian Communities in Asia Minor. Religions 2023, 14, 169. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14020169
Darko DK. Kinship and Leadership in 1 Timothy: A Study of Filial Framework and Model for Christian Communities in Asia Minor. Religions. 2023; 14(2):169. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14020169Chicago/Turabian Style
Darko, Daniel K. 2023. "Kinship and Leadership in 1 Timothy: A Study of Filial Framework and Model for Christian Communities in Asia Minor" Religions 14, no. 2: 169. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14020169