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Aida Spencer: 2 Timothy and Titus, NCCS

Aída Besançon Spencer, 2 Timothy and Titus, New Covenant Commentary Series (Cascade Books, 2014), 184 pages, ISBN 9781625642530.

It is with integrity and in a very comprehensive fashion that Dr. Aida Spencer presents her readers with a worthwhile commentary which combines the Apostle Paul’s letter to Titus and his second to Timothy. Throughout the work, Dr. Spencer demonstrates critical command of these two pastoral texts. It is impressive to observe her respect for the letters as she approaches them with care. As a result, Dr. Spencer has once again delivered a strong contribution to the theologian’s pursuit of honest scriptural interpretation. Her perspective on the intended functional ministry of women within the Church, a position that comes out of this commentary, deserves consideration.

After engaging with the context and the thematic elements of Paul’s letter to Titus, Spencer spends a substantial amount of time examining the term elders. She mentions that, “their function is only suggested in the letter.” As a result, Spencer looks to the culture to explain it further, uncovering that elders “had authority in religious and civic matters…they handled city administration and jurisdiction.” She further contends that they were to be compared to “ambassadors, people who sought reconciliation.” Additional to the symbolic and superficial descriptors for an elder, Spencer correctly categorizes Paul’s requirements for such an office as moral qualities. The question that seemed to be building as she examined the term elders was answered rather matter-a-factly, as she affirmed that the Greek form, which Paul utilized in the presently identified second chapter of his letter—presbytis, is in fact meant to represent female eldership. Spencer, then puts together a list of qualities that are tied to the both presbytes (male elders) and presbytis (female elders). She supports her argument with contextual evidence and with a comparison to Aristotle’s literary works (which Paul would have been aware of and might be contrasting)

Dr. Spencer builds off of the section on elders to explain that Paul was actually teaching that women should pray and lead as men do, imploring Titus to “encourage the female leaders as much as he does the male leaders.” Additionally, she claims that Paul was calling women not to be silent and passive but rather to be active leaders in their households and focused on evangelism. Interestingly, Spencer highlights the image of slavery and how young women are not meant to subject themselves to maltreatment but rather that they should emulate voluntary slavery in a humble way demonstrating leadership. This theme of reversing the perceived nature or effect of certain aspects of life continues as Spencer emphasized the transformation of attitude that is required by Christians, needing them to be meek rather than in charge.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Summer 2015

About the Author: John M. Ames has his Masters in Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is the church planting founder and Lead Pastor of West End Community Church in Providence, Rhode Island. John founded and directed a non-profit called Real Steps that served youth and families from affordable housing communities in the city of Waltham, Massachusetts. John previously worked in Boston as part of Operation Homefront, managing a partnership between city clergy and the police. During that time, John also worked alongside the Emmanuel Gospel Center as part of the Greater Boston Church Planting Collaborative, serving under Rev. Ralph Kee. John is the son of missionaries and grew up in Cote D’Ivoire. He is married to Jenny, they have a two and a half year old son named Micah. Facebook

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