Quite some time ago someone (Ian? Russ? Jason?) posted an essay based on a passage in 1 Corinthians that generated more heat than light. The author was offensive in his presentation, lacking the requisite “gentleness and meekness”, but we tried to look at the meat of his assertion, rather than his offensive presentation. I think we discussed 1Cor.15:34-35. I remember my point was if you want to determine proper roles in the church it would be better to look at an epistle that specifically deals with laying them out, such as Titus and 1Timothy. Since the Corinthian church had such a variety of problems, and since Paul was answering questions they had apparently asked him (but which WE don’t get to see), I felt that context could have a huge impact on the application of any particular verse in Corinthians. I thought it would be preferrable to go to a clearly didactic passage. (I remember Russ being concerned that I was discounting a portion of Scripture, that all Scripture is of God. I wasn’t contending otherwise, but I WAS trying to point out the importance of getting the context straight.)
Anyway…in learning Greek, I have discovered a use of the Present Tense that applies to this original issue (the place of women in the church) quite well…and guess what? It’s NOT in Corinthians and it IS in 1Timothy! [no, I’m not sticking out my tongue and saying “nyah, nyah, nyah…”…OK, maybe a little ;)] It’s called the “Gnomic Present”. (Tim and John, please correct me if I’m wrong here.)The Gnomic Present is used for Proverbial statements and maxims, representing timeless facts. Usually the Subject and/or Direct Object of the sentence is generic. It appears to me that 1Tim.2:12 [“I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.”] would be a Gnomic Present Tense, i.e. stating a maxim, a truism that is true any time. It’s Present Tense, has a generic Direct Object (“a woman”) and is rooted in Creation (2:13)and is connected to (2:12) by “For”, indicating the Reason behind (2:12). So this appears to me to be a general maxim, NOT a specific, temporary situation such as MIGHT apply in Corinthians.
My Greek text (Wallace) states that “The normal use of the present tense in didactic [i.e. “teaching”, “instructive”] literature, especially when introducing an exhortation, is not descriptive, but a general precept that has gnomic implications.” This is interesting stuff! Keep that definition in mind and take a look at Rom.6:11, 12, 13; 12:2, 14 and 13:1 just to see some examples of this in Romans.