If Paul's prohibition in 1 Tim 2:12 is only against one-on-one female/male mentoring, then what do we do with the following problems?
Objection #1: What about "she must be silent"? That's not a small problem. Forgive me, but I'm going to put this one off for the moment. What's below is far more than enough for today.
Objection #2: Why didn't Paul flip the script? Why didn't he also point out that a man should also not disciple a woman? We don't know. Maybe "certain men" in Ephesus had shared concerns about women like Priscilla and Junia (see below). Maybe it was simply a double-standard. So... does that mean Paul's saying a man can teach and direct a woman? I'd say no, not necessarily. Again, if we wanted to be literalists, we shouldn't invent sentences that aren't there.
On this objection, I reiterate - we don't know why Paul didn't balance his statement, but we can't invert the lack of a balance into an opposite, positive injunction favoring male domination. No matter how much traditional exegetes have inferred it, it's just not there. In the end, the lack of a script-flip may only be a cultural double standard that leaves certain things unstated as subtext (on which, see post #3 again).
Objection #3: If vv.12-15a is all individual, was Paul talking primarily about husbands and wives? I don't think so. Firstly, everything else that's domestic in this letter to Timothy is also corporately focused (ie: being unmarried should not produce shame in the community; the number of ones spouses only matters if one desires to become an elder; feeding widows is a job for the church; etc). In other words, it's precisely because these points are so peculiarly one-on-one that they're most likely not meant to focus on domestic couples.
Secondly, the domestic view of this passage ignores the reality of single people. Aside from those widows, at least, Paul and Timothy were also unmarried. In other words, declaring that v.12 must refer to a married couple rules out widows and Timothy. We simply can't declare for certain that such people are meant to be excluded from Paul's injunction.
Thirdly, the verb for teach ('didaskw') has a better than even chance of referring to some type of formal education or ecclesiastical training, both of which are teaching programs the average housewife in Ephesus would not likely attempt to perform. This third point on objection 2 deserves a quick sidebar. Education in general seems to have been something of a charged issue in Ephesus.
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Acts and Paul's letters give us very good reasons to think that the church in Ephesus had been especially focused on teaching and discipling. Let's review some examples.
(Ex.A) The men and women of Ephesus had witnessed Paul teaching disciples in the school of Tyranus for two years. Even if Paul's most consistent pupils were only a handful of "junior apostles" in training, those two years still built a history among this particular church. We have no record of so much active discipleship in Paul's other churches.
(Ex.B) There's a larger concern in the letter to Timothy about who is or isn't authorized to teach others in the church. In fact, we get the distinct impression that "certain men" (who saw themselves as teachers) had been challenging Timothy's authority as Paul's proxy apostle.
(Ex.C) Priscilla explained the way of God to Apollos (with Aquilla's assistance), and such vocal initiative was probably characteristic for Priscilla, but at the time of 1st Timothy (we should be virtually certain) Priscilla was living in Rome.
(Ex.D) Many teachers, teaching apostles and apostles-in-training had lived in or visited Ephesus since the church's birth (Paul, Timothy, Apollos & Erastus, for certain; probably Titus; probably Peter & Silas, on their way from Corinth to Bithynia; less likely Barnabas; very likely all the men named in Acts 20:4; perhaps also Junia - on her way to Rome, if not as a resident for some time). Uncertainties acknowledged, Ephesus still seems likely to have had a significant amount of experience both observing and interacting with apostles and apostles-in-training.
Without further data, we can't outline any distinct patterns. We can, however, note that there were a variety of teaching arrangements in Ephesus' experience.
We have Paul teaching the church, Paul teaching disciples, Paul discipling apostles-to-be (Timothy & Erastus, at the absolute least), and Priscilla & Aquilla teaching Apollos. We have individuals teaching, individuals learning, and collections of individuals jockeying to obtain teaching positions.
At first glance, we do not seem to have examples of one-on-one discipling, at all. (!) After all, Paul himself made a point to say many things to Timothy "in the presence of others". However, it's probably Paul and Timothy must have spent some time alone, on occasion. For another example, we must expect Barnabas was still mentoring Paul to some degree as the two made their way up the Via Sebaste in Galatia. Since Paul had known Timothy longer than anyone else in Ephesus, it would be only natural if Timothy spent much time at Paul's home while they both lived in Ephesus. Given that, the church must have inherently recognized a one-on-one mentoring situation.
What we do not have, anywhere in Paul's writings, is explicit evidence of domestic teaching within a marriage or family. At the very least, 1.Cor.14:34-35 remains unclear. [It's hard to see how the infamous passage could be about speaking in "church" because there is no "Law" in Judaism which forbids women from speaking. The only other "ecclesia" which forbade women from speaking was the civic assembly, and while it is difficult to imagine why that would even be an issue - much less why Paul would address it so briefly within the context of 1.Cor 14 - it is even more impossible to invent a Law not already in the Pentateuch. But if this is not the case, then what other "Law" could Paul be referring to? .]
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All things considered, the one-on-one language in 1.Tim.2:12 is - unfortunately - unique. As with the odd passage in 1.Cor, we can only speculate as to what circumstances moved Paul to make this odd statement in the first place. My own hunch is that someone started a rumor that Priscilla or Junia might take on a male disciple, like Paul did Timothy. A new friend just informed me of her theory that a particular wife was causing particular trouble. Either or neither of those may be correct. We just don't know.
What we do know is that teaching, discipling, and apostolic authority were ongoing issues that affected the church in Ephesus in significant ways, over time. In the end, we have one reference that may or may not refer to husbands teaching wives at home, but we have the precedent of apostolic mentoring as a possible impetus for consiering one-on-one situations.
This ends my thoughts on point 3. Those are all the reasons why I find it much less likely that 1 Tim 2:12 would be aimed against husbands and wives.
Objection #4: What's up with "saved by childbirth"? The last major problem I see is verse 15. We discussed v.15 in post #2, I floated some questions that bear further investigation, in the light of posts 3-5.
Unfortunately, this post is way too long already. Come back tomorrow for my thoughts on v.15.