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A Woman's Place: Keeper at Home

August 3, 2009

A Woman’s Place: Keeper at Home

In Titus 2, Paul instructs the aged women to teach the young women to be “keepers at home”. What does this mean? The Greek word translated “keepers at home” (KJV) or “homemakers” (NKJV) is oikouros. This is a compound word from oikos– house, household, family; and ouros– a guard, be “ware”, guardian, a watcher, a warden. Let this sink in for a moment: the word “oikouros” translated “keepers at home” carries the meaning of “watching the house, of a watchdog” {source}

The commission to “keep” was first given by God to Adam in Genesis 2:15: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” In this case, we are looking at the Old Testament and a Hebrew Word. The Hebrew word in Gen 2:15 (adam’s assignment)= shamar which is translated keep , observe, heed, preserve, beware, watchman, wait, watch, regard, save. The next occurance of the word shamar is in Genesis 3:24 where “Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life”

Can you see similarity in meaning of the Hebrew word “shamar” translated “keep” and the Greek word “ouros” translated “keeper”? The “keep” commission of Gen 2:15 and that of Titus 2:5 are about protecting, watching, guarding.

From what danger do you suppose Adam was supposed to “keep” the garden? (Remember, he was given this assignment before the fall: before thorns, weeds, thistles, decay.) Is this “keep” directed to Adam a mere calling to domestic servitude as a gardener? The Titus 2 admonition to be “keepers at home” is no more a reference to domestic servitude than was God’s “KEEP” commission to Adam.

Fulfilling God’s commission to “keep” is a way in which male and female reflect the image of God who is referred to in scripture by a Greek word which means the “keeper above all”.

1 Peter 1:5 in several versions:
“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” KJV

“who, in the power of God are being guarded, through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time” YLT

“who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” NIV

“who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” NAS

The Greek word for each of the underlined translations above is phroureo:
oureo=KEEPER ; phr= before; above

Head of the Household

The reader may question a wife’s authority to “KEEP the home” in the sense expressed above. My understanding of a wife’s authority was revolutionized by understanding the meaning of one Greek word in Scripture. Katherine Bushnell lifts the veil on the well kept secret. Quoted from paragraph 368-369 of Lesson 48 :

Men often talk of the father and husband as the “final authority” in the home. What says St. Paul on the point? The Greek word for “despot” (despotes) furnishes us with our English word. Its meaning is precisely the same in Greek as it is in English. It means an absolute and arbitrary ruler, from whom there can be no appeal. It was the title slaves were required to use in addressing the master who owned them as property. Please read all the passages in which this Greek word despotes occurs. It is rendered “Master” in the following places: 1 Timothy 6:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18; “Lord” in Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 4; and Revelation 6:10.

Oikos is a very ordinary word in Greek, meaning “house.” These two words, oikos and despotes, unite to form the word oikodespotes, which, as you can see, means “master of the house,” and it is so rendered, Matthew 10:25; Luke 13:25 and 14:21. Now the Apostle Paul makes use of a verb corresponding to this noun oikodespotes,¾namely, “to master the house,”¾oikodespotein. He says, 1 Timothy 5:14, “I will that the younger women marry, bear children, oikodespotein, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” After the analysis of this word, we can all see how it should have been translated. The A. V., however, translates, “guide the house” the R. V., with a little more justice translates, “rule the household.” Now whom, if anyone, does St. Paul make the “final authority in the home?” The woman. But we believe that Paul would teach that God alone is final authority in a Christian home.

A visit to the online Greek lexicon resource of Tufts University will confirm the definition exposed by Bushnell some 100 years ago: oikodespot  from 1 Tim 5:14 to be master of a house or head of a family, to rule the household

Have you ever heard before that WOMEN are to be “master of the home”/ “queen of the castle”? What motivates the silence?

Author’s Note: To illustrate “Keeper”, I used a photo of Princess Eowyn of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Enjoy the following memorable clip from the movie as an allegory of the power unleashed when God’s Women are willing to overcome the obstacles and bravely engage in spiritual warfare.


One Comment leave one →
  1. August 4, 2009 4:44 am

    I love this post and could not agree more! Thanks for sharing your treasure 🙂

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