Kevin DeYoung on “Assume Authority”

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the new NIV’s translation of 1 Timothy 2:12. I argued that the rendering “assume authority” favors an egalitarian interpretation of this seminal text. Today, Kevin DeYoung weighs-in. He concludes:

“Taking into account the ear of English readers–which is the NIV’s translation philosophy–I have to conclude that the NIV rendering of 1 Timothy 2:12 is not neutral. At best, ‘assume’ still implies taking authority. At worst (and more likely), the NIV makes it sound like Paul is against the inappropriate assumption of authority, not women-over-men authority in general. And this understanding is precisely what egalitarians have been arguing for and what, according to recent scholarship, the usage of authentein in Greek literature argues against.”

DeYoung has a compelling argument, and you can read the rest of it here. You can also read my exchange on this issue with Doug Moo and Craig Blomberg here, here, here, here, and here.


  • David Rogers

    “recent scholarship”?

    DeYoung appeals to Baldwin’s study which at the latest dating that I’m aware of was 2005 (Women in the Church, 2nd ed.).

    Philip Payne specifically deals with Baldwin and others and still comes to the conclusion that authentein is best translated “assume authority”. His study came out in 2009.

    Is it the case that “recent scholarship” only means that which I already agree with?

    It would be refreshing to see a specific rebuttal to Payne’s specific post-Baldwin argumentation.

  • Thomas Newell

    Its ironic for you to feign frustration at the lack of engagement with Payne’s work, when you are obviously committing the same error by pretending that there has not been any engagement with Payne’s work and complementarians are purposefully avoiding it.

    Go check out the cbmw website where plenty has been written on Payne’s work.

  • David Rogers

    I have been to the CBMW site many times and have indeed read their responses.

    Please note that this comment of mine was made in context of the meaning of the word “authentein” and Payne’s case that it means “assume authority”.

    It is interesting that Baldwin himself recognizes that “assume authority” is a possibility, and as I review Baldwin’s article (appealed to by DeYoung) he does not suggest “exercise authority” as one of the options.

    In fact the options suggested by Baldwin are: “to control, to dominate; to compel; to assume authority over; to flout the authority of” (see, p. 51 of Women in the Church, 2nd ed. and its referral to Table. 2.2). Unfortunately, DeYoung seems to have added to Baldwin’s options. He should have cited Knight or Schreiner.

    Payne analyzes all of these with regard to the meaning of “authentein”.

    Payne also responded point by point on his website to Schreiner’s CBMW review of the 2009 work.

    I am asking complementarians to keep up with the back and forth rather than seemingly appealing to older works that have had attempted rebuttals. If one wants to beat down the rebuttal, that is fine. That’s part of academic hard knocks. I have no problem if Payne’s work is taken down through rigorous critique but I do not find constant appeal to a seemingly misunderstood Baldwin as the epitome of “recent scholarship.”

  • Denny Burk


    Last month I published interaction between Payne and Kostenberger on the interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12. You can read it here:

    You’ll also want to take a look at Kostenberger’s responses to Payne’s work. I published the first in 2008 and the second in 2009. Andreas J. Köstenberger, “Odds & Ends,” The Journal for Biblical
    Manhood and Womanhood 13, no. 2 (2008): 5; Andreas J. Köstenberger,
    “The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12: A Rejoinder to Philip B.
    Payne,” The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 14, no. 2
    (2009): 37–40. Both of these articles are available for free download

    And then of course there is Tom Schreiner’s 9,000+ word review of Payne’s 2009 book. I published Schreiner’s review earlier this year, and you can read it here:


  • David Rogers

    I have read all of those. Thanks for letting others know of them.

    I also know that Payne responded to Schreiner’s review in detail point by point, and he noted on his site that he sent you a letter in response to Schreiner’s review.

    Please note that my comments are directed toward your and DeYoung’s concerns regarding “authentein” being translated as “assume authority” in the new NIV revision. Payne gives specific evidential reasoning for near temporal literary context for the “assume authority” translation. He suggests that the “exercise authority” option is testified at earliest by fourth century.

    He notes (and I cited above) Baldwin’s options, he critiques Knight, and wonders why Schreiner didn’t take Baldwin’s lexical suggestions. Baldwin does NOT list “exercise authority” (Please correct me if I’ve missed it). If you think Knight is correct regarding it then it would be helpful to have response to Payne’s specific critiques of Knight’s work.

    The appeal to Kostenberger’s syntactical study is responded to by his theory that the two infinitives linked by “oude” communicate a joined idea.

    I even wonder in the Ephesians context whether “didaskein” might have a negative connotation due to the negative situation of false teachers and their influence on Ephesian women. This would attempt to deal with Kostenberger’s suggestion that either two positives or two negatives have to be joined.

    Anyway, the issue here is the translation regarding “authentein”, and I am requesting that this be critqued with regard to the more recent suggestions of Payne regarding this specific verb. Maybe someone can give clear temporal contexts of “exercise authority” near the time of Paul that Payne and others have missed.

    I do appreciate the opportunity to comment.

  • David Rogers


    Thanks for letting others know of the specific interactions with Payne. I was already aware of those responses.

    My point here is that I don’t think that any of those address the issue at hand regarding “authentein” and the legitimacy of the “assume authority” translation. I am ready to be corrected if the above articles do indeed decisively interact with Payne on that issue.

    You and DeYoung seem very interested in this specific topic, and so I was looking for both of your interactions with the more “recent scholarship” that Payne offered in his 2009 work. Schreiner specifically notes in his review of the book that “Space is lacking to interact with Payne’s study of authentein in detail. His valiant effort to wash out the meaning “exercise authority” is doubtful.”

    Schreiner has asserted Payne’s study as “doubtful” and then attempts to make his case by reference to a syntactical study by Kostenberger. No specific criticisms of Payne’s lexical work is made beyond Schreiner wishing Payne to be “careful” (Further detailed critique is thus needed, in my opinion).

    I would like to see the lexical Greek positive case for “exercise authority” during the time of Paul that takes down Payne’s criticism of Knight’s conclusions.

    Also, why is Baldwin not criticized regarding his suggestion of “assume authority” as an option?

    As this is your blog you may of course moderate out any comment you wish. I will say, however, if any of my previous comments violated any comment rules, it would be helpful to know which ones I violated. It would be disappointing to discover that a blog that seems to invite some level of academic interaction does not tolerate well contrary comments. Please advise of my violations. Otherwise, I have no real need to spend time typing into a little box my comments while at the same time being in the dark as to why they need to be moderated out. (I am not talking about the time for you to decide on them; I am referring to their absence after reasonable time of review.)

    Anyway, I have appreciated previous tolerations of my comments. I wish you well in your celebration of our Lord’s birth and in your educations endeavors.


    David Rogers

  • David Rogers

    I don’t know if my first reply to you is still being considered. If it will be accepted then, I, of course, have been impatient and I apologize for pressing for immediate action.


  • Ben Averitt

    David Rogers-
    Did Eve exercise authority over Adam or did she assume authority over Adam? What do you think the Holy Spirit was showing Paul here?
    In that it was just the two of them she obviously exercised authority over him by not doing what he had informed her regarding the tree and God’s command. And thus being deceived, Eve fell into transgression.
    The very reason ‘for’ the precept of 1 Timothy 2:12 goes back to the original order of creation.
    Paul’s use of ‘authentein’ and its contextual meaning is rooted in 1 Timothy 2:13-14…that’s why v.13 begins with a “gar”.
    Now, seeing that we will never agree on the word ‘authentein’ and its meaning/application; can’t we at least agree that the word prior to ‘authentein’, the word ‘didaskein’ (to teach), is NOT in dispute regarding its meaning and that Paul is also ‘ouk’ (NOT) allowing a woman to do that to ‘andros’ (a man)?
    If we were to completely take the word ‘authentein’ out of this passage…it would say, “I do not allow a woman to teach a man, but to remain quiet. FOR it was Adam…”.
    POINT: Whatever you believe ‘authentein’ to mean (assume authority or whatever), it still wouldn’t allow a woman the freedom to teach men which seems to be the desired goal. For even if other men allowed a woman to teach, as under their authority, they would then be sinning against the word that prohibits that function.
    This is why the new NIV, IMHO, has missed it with regard to the meaning of ‘authentein’.

  • Donald Johnson

    In 1 Tim 2:12 the “man” direct object applies to authentein and not didaskein due to the endings involved. This means it does not apply unless it is one thing being prohibited

  • Sue


    You raise an interesting point. Chrysostom said that Eve did authentein Adam wrongly. But Chrysostom also told husbands never to authentein. This was translated as “act the despot.”

    So, once again, we see that the word had some kind of very negative connotation. It is hard to find any example of it used in a good way, other than for planets in astronomy, as control, and for God, as sovereign and for Peter as the prototype of popish rule.

    These above are the so-called positive uses of authentein.

  • David Rogers

    The issue here is the best translation for “authentein”. What is the best lexical support for the meaning? So far, as I read the most “recent” research, “assume authority” has more of a substantive case for the term than “exercise authority”. The KJV’s “usurp authority” is similar to it; Baldwin’s study allows it; Payne argues extensively for it and rigorously critiques Knight’s case for “exercise authority”. If someone will deal with Payne’s analysis of “authentein” then that study will be the most “recent” and may set the case for “exercise authority”. That’s what I’m asking for, critique of the Greek lexical evidence.

    BTW, Deborah “judged Israel” on a regular basis; Huldah spoke the word of the LORD to priests and Josiah; Priscilla with her husband taught Apollos, all apparently in defiance of a clear creation ordinance.

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