A Lexical and Semantic Defense of Καταστολή as “Restraint” Rather Than “Apparel” in 1 Tim 2:9

Theological anthropology may be observed from a myriad of aspects. One such aspect concerning how humanity is to experience life with and for God is the biblical expectation of how Christ followers are to exist and interact within the secular world. This paper highlights the virtuous behavioral quality of “restraint” as applied to Christians in the usage of καταστολή in 1 Tim 2:9. While the majority reports of English translations render this term as variations of “clothing,” this paper will present the results of a four-year study that demonstrate its normative and primary meaning in the ancient usage as rather “restraint,” or close nuances of this meaning.

From an examination of the range of occurrence of καταστολή from ca. 450 BCE–138 CE, a critical mass of evidence will reveal five authorial patterns and ten patterns related to lexical and semantic consistencies across its usage. Within the given range, καταστολή occurs only eighteen times among twelve primary sources, including hapax appearances in 1 Timothy and Isa LXX. Genres represented among the ten non-biblical sources include classical and Hellenistic medical literature, epistolatory, historiography, grammar, and philosophical discourse. Across commentaries and lexica, only eight of the eleven sources outside of 1 Timothy and ten of the eighteen occurrences are referenced regarding καταστολή. Results presented in this paper will account for the three remaining primary sources and eight instances of καταστολή yet considered for its usage through the early second century CE.

This paper will demonstrate the biblical usage of καταστολή as consistent with the non-biblical sources. Examples of unanimously identified semantic behaviors of καταστολή include the term as always appearing in the positive sense, as always utilized directly within or around the device of juxtaposition, and as always used within an ethically focused context. This paper will identify καταστολή as a quality term with philosophical groundings and demonstrate its relationship to and function within a cluster of semantically related terms appearing in 1 Tim 2:1–15. Application will be drawn as to the relevancy and effect employment of such restraint as is indicated by καταστολή retains for Christians in contemporary society.

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