Must women never teach men in the church?

Anne Graham Lotz (October 2008).jpg

Photograph of Anne Graham Lotz (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D. Gear

An interpretation of I Timothy 2:9-15

A.  Introduction

Raise the issue of women in ministry, particularly women pastors or preachers to a mixed audience of men and women, and you are likely to be howled down in many evangelical churches.  That has happened to this preacher on a number of  occasions when he raised his views in support of women’s giftedness, teaching and preaching, being expressed publicly in the church.  This anti-women-in-ministry view often comes with the accusation, “You wouldn’t be thinking like this if it were not for the way the contemporary feminist movement has influenced you.”

Then comes the support for silence of women from evangelical leaders: I Tim. 2:12 affirms that a woman’s “teaching has no authority apart from the approval of the elders. . .  Paul did not forbid women to bring any teaching whatsoever.  We have seen that all may bring a word of instruction.  What he spoke of was the continuing, authoritative teaching which structures the faith of the church” [1a] and he forbade women from that kind of teaching.  John MacArthur is very definite: “Women may be highly gifted teachers and leaders, but those gifts are not to be exercised over men and in the services of the church.  That is true not because women are spiritually inferior to men, but because God’s law commands it.” [1b]

This paper is not driven by any feminist agenda — there is no such motivation for pursuing this subject.  It was prepared for the specific purpose of providing a grammatical, historical & cultural interpretation of I Tim. 2:9-15.  On the practical level, I have seen many gifted women teachers ignored and avoided because of the contemporary church’s views of women teachers.  Add to this the pathetic preaching by some males who are given preference over gifted female teachers in the congregation.

Pragmatism does not drive this exegesis, but something is wrong when some evangelical churches give preference to incompetent males in the pulpit when gifted women teachers are in the pew and do not have a role in public ministry.

Now we must get down to the passage at hand: In this I Timothy 2 passage, the verse that stands out and creates controversy in the evangelical church  is v. 12, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” [2]

These are the apostle Paul’s own words. He is not quoting opponents. The statement is clear. Paul seems to be laying down a universal rule (norm) for all Christians in all ages. But is he?

Consult a range of evangelical scholars on this verse and you’ll read statements like these:

Donald Guthrie: “The teaching of Christian doctrine . . . is confined by Paul to the male sex, and this has been the almost invariable practice in the subsequent history of the church.” [3]

William Hendriksen contends that these words mean,

Let a woman not enter a sphere of activity for which by dint of her very creation she is not suited. Let not a bird try to dwell under water. Let not a fish try to live on land. Let not a woman yearn to exercise authority over a man by lecturing him in public worship. For the sake both of herself and of the spiritual welfare of the church such unholy tampering with divine authority is forbidden.  In the service of the Word on the day of the Lord a woman should learn, not teach. She should be silent, remain calm . . . She should not cause her voice to be heard. [4]

R. C. H. Lenski: “No woman may step into the place of the man without violating the very Word she would try to teach to both women and men.” [5]

Albert Barnes:

On every consideration it was improper, and to be expressly prohibited, for women to conduct the devotions of the church. . . It does not refer merely to acts of public preaching, but to all acts of speaking, or even asking questions, when the church is assembled for public worship. No rule in the New Testament is more positive than this. [6]

These commentators, all of whom are male, support traditional roles for women in the church and argue that female teachers are prohibited from functioning in the church.

Those who favour an egalitarian (i.e.. equality of male and female) interpretation, point out the apparent contradictions between 1 Tim. 2:12 and other Scriptures such as Gal. 3:28 (neither male nor female, all are one in Christ) and I Cor. 11:5 (women praying and prophesying). Those who describe themselves as biblical feminists contend that these verses in 1 Tim. 2 were conditioned by the culture of the first century and the verses are limited, therefore, to the historical situation of the Ephesian church (where Timothy was located. See 1 Tim. 1:3). Others reject these verses, claiming they were not written by Paul, and therefore can be ignored.

Few biblical passages have been subjected to so many different interpretations as has 1 Tim. 2:9-15. To be a consistent exegete of the Scriptures and for the sake of gifted women who have been handicapped by the traditional interpretation, I enter this minefield of controversy in an endeavour to discover what the text meant for the original hearers or readers. By application, what does this mean for women who are gifted and want to minister today?

When the contents of this passage are examined closely and the broader context (especially of the pastoral epistles) is taken into consideration, many of the problems of interpretation are open to a solution.

Here’s a contemporary example of how women preachers have been treated by male evangelical preachers.

Billy Graham has called his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, “the best preacher in the family,” [6a] yet Anne Lotz has experienced some shocking harassment (abuse?) by pastors in the evangelical community.    Here’s an example:

Anne Graham Lotz (Billy Graham’s daughter) wrote in the Washington Post (September 17, 2008),

Jesus Calls Women to Serve and Lead

What legitimate, Biblical role do women have within the church? That question demanded an answer early in my ministry when I accepted an invitation to address a large convention of pastors.

When I stood in the lectern at the convention center, many of the 800 church leaders present turned their chairs around and put their backs to me. When I concluded my message, I was shaking. I was hurt and surprised that godly men would find what I was doing so offensive that they would stage such a demonstration, especially when I was an invited guest. And I was confused. Had I stepped out of the Biblical role for a woman? While all agree that women are free to help in the kitchen, or in the nursery, or in a secretary’s chair, is it unacceptable for a woman to take a leadership or teaching position?

When I went home, I told the Lord that I had never had a problem with women serving in any capacity within the church. I knew that the New Testament declared that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) And God emphatically promised, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy… (Acts 2:17) But the problem the pastors obviously had was now my problem. And so I humbly asked God to either convict me of wrongdoing or to confirm His call in my life. The story of Mary Magdalene came to mind, so I turned to John 20.

Read what Anne Graham Lotz said about the September 11 disaster.

What are the problems with this passage from I Timothy 2? (This survey will not be comprehensive).

B.  Problems in the passage

1.    There is continuing disagreement among New Testament scholars as to exactly what Paul prohibits in this passage. Does he forbid women from teaching men only, or is it a comprehensive prohibition against female teaching of any kind? The problem is compounded by Paul’s failure to use the common word for “authority” (exousia) in verse 12. However, whichever interpretation one favours, the end result is that some kind of restriction is placed on the teaching ministry of women in the church.

2.    A limitation on female ministry seems to contradict the principle of “mutuality in equality” established elsewhere in the Pauline epistles (e.g.. 1 Cor. 11:5, 14:26, Gal. 3:28, Eph. 5:21).

3.    If women are excluded from a significant ministry of every church, this will have ramifications at a deep level in the local church. Should not this restriction have been included in the Pauline passages dealing with the churches’ teaching ministry (e.g.. Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4)? Except for this one sentence in 1 Tim. 2:12, the gifts of the Spirit to the church have never been  differentiated on the basis of sex in the entire New Testament.

4.    Some of Paul’s writings make the teaching ministry available to all believers, including women. In Colossians 3:16, “teaching and admonishing” is the responsibility of “one another,” which must obviously include male and female. If “teaching and admonishing” are restricted to males only, consistency of interpretation requires that compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, bearing with, forgiveness and love (Col. 3:12-14) must be practised by males only. Such a conclusion regarding Christian character is untenable. See also 1 Cor. 14:26 where “each one” (male and female) in the church is encouraged to minister via a psalm, teaching, revelation, tongue and interpretation when the church gathers. If women are restricted from teaching, consistency of interpretation requires their silence with psalms, revelations, tongues and interpretations.

Paul affirmed the teaching ministry of women (Acts 18:26, Titus 2:3) and commended women in ministry (Rom. 16:1-15; 1 Cor. 11:5, 16:16; Phil. 4:2ff.).

5.  According to the remainder of Scripture, salvation is obtained by grace through faith. First Tim. 2:15 links salvation to having babies: “. . . Yet she will be saved through child-bearing . . .”  How is this possible?

The above difficulties concerning the interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:9-15 should be a warning not to proof-text a verse in isolation from the biblical context. A satisfactory explanation of the passage demands more than a superficial reading.

C.  Possible solutions

1.    The Purpose of 1 Timothy

The epistle begins (1:3) and ends (6:20-21) with a concern about false teaching. The issue of false teachers and their teaching, mentioned throughout the letter (chs. 1, 4, 5, 6), also appears in the wider context of the pastoral epistles (2 Tim. chs. 2-4 and Titus chs. 1 and 3). The purpose, then, of 1 Timothy was to provide instructions to combat the Ephesian heresy which Timothy encountered. Within this context, I propose that 1 Tim. 2:12 is not a universal norm applied to every Christian church, but a specific direction given to Timothy to correct the Ephesian error.

2.    The Ephesian Heresy

Since the inception of the Christian church, not all Christians at the time of conversion immediately have discarded all of their previous beliefs and behaviours. It has been the responsibility of Christian leadership since the first century to refute and correct error. Several of the New Testament epistles were written to combat heresy (e.g.. Colossians, 1 John and Galatians), and the early church fathers in the later history of the church’s development spent much time and energy in opposing erroneous doctrines. The pastoral epistles return us to the theme of correction of heresy.

a.  Its Nature

Those embracing false doctrines at Ephesus were involved in “worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ (gnosis)” (1 Tim. 6:20-21). This Gnostic heresy included

elaborate systems of intermediate beings who bridged the gap between God and man, complete with astounding genealogies and fantastic myths about these primordial beings. Other Gnostics were considerably closer to Jewish traditions and gave exaggerated roles to Adam, Eve, Cain and Seth. [7]

See 1 Tim. 1:4, 4:3, 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:18, 23, 3:6-8, 4:5, 14, Titus 3:9.

The Ephesian church was pioneered in the midst of confrontations with occult and pagan practices (Acts 19:9, 13, 18-19, 27). The apostle Paul warned of the “savage wolves” who would attack the believers (Acts 20:29-30). He exhorted them not to be “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness, in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). However, the Ephesian church reeled under the impact of various kinds of false teachings, influencing many to defect from the faith (cf. 2 Tim. 1:15, 4:14-15).

Some of the prime targets of the false teachers were women who listened to anybody, without coming to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:6-9).

However, there is every indication that women were involved in propagating this Gnostic heresy through their roles of mediatorship (suggested by 1 Tim. 2:5-9). The city of Ephesus contained thousands of female prostitutes associated with the temples of Artemis (or Diana) and Aphrodite (Venus). It was considered a commendable duty to be a temple prostitute. There was a long tradition in ancient religions of female figures serving as mediators. Women were supposed to possess a special affinity for the divine. This “mystic-sexual principle” was evident in early Christian heresies. [8]

Some sects revered Eve as the mediator who brought divine enlightenment to human beings. They said that secret gnosis was given to Eve by the serpent, making her the originator of the knowledge of good and evil. It was even proposed that Adam received life through Eve’s instruction. [9]

A Gnostic sect, the Nicolaitans, promoted heretical views in Ephesus (see Revelation 2:6). They revered a book which, they claimed, was the work of Noah’s wife, Noria. Sexual immorality was exalted because of its sacred nature, they said. [10]

If the heresy of 1 Timothy involved Gnostic groups, women probably were among their teachers. Many early Christian writers showed that “women performed all churchly roles within many Christian gnostic groups.” It is reasonable, then, to conclude that women in Ephesus were teaching heresy. [11]

A compounding problem was that

virtually without exception, female teachers among the Greeks were courtesans (prostitutes). Active in every major school of philosophy, these (prostitutes) made it evident in the course of their lectures that they were available afterwards for a second occupation. [12]

False teachers were prohibiting marriage (1 Tim. 4:3) and may have encouraged women to leave their homes and meet together (1 Tim. 5:13).

All of this concern for public reputation, model domestic life, appropriate décor, and maternal domestic roles of women, clearly implies that the opposition Paul and Timothy faced in Ephesus, constitutes an assault on marriage, and what were considered appropriate models and roles for women. [13]

b.  Correction Procedures

The apostle is adamant about what should be done with false teachers: “Instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines” (1 Tim. 1:3). They “must be silenced” and reproved severely (Titus 1:11, 13). Could it be that this is the meaning of 1 Tim. 2:12? Since women were involved in practising and teaching errors which plagued the Ephesian church, they were forbidden from teaching, as a temporary measure, until they received adequate instruction (1 Tim. 2:11). One view is that “evidently the ban on teaching by women had been issued as one of several emergency measures during an extremely critical period in the history of the Ephesian church.” [14]

At the core of Paul’s strategy was the elimination of all unqualified or deviant would-be teachers, both male and female, so that the church’s teaching ministry would be carried out exclusively by a small retinue of approved “faithful men” who would be able to take from Timothy the teaching he had himself received from Paul and transmit it to others (2 Tim. 2:2). Thus, neither women nor all men could teach in Ephesus, but only a group of trained and carefully selected individuals. [15]

D. The text

Elizabeth Hooton (1600-1672): First Quaker woman preacher

Mrs Elizabeth Hooton Warren (19c engraving after 1772 painting by John Singleton Copley or an associate public domain)

The above contextual and historical background provides a framework for the interpretation of the biblical text of 1 Tim. 2:9-15.

    1.  Verses 9 & 10

The “likewise” of verse 9 and the “therefore” of verse 8, seem to indicate that the remarks about female teachers (vv. 9-15) are linked to Paul’s concern that Christ be proclaimed as the only mediator between human beings and God (vv. 5-8).

In the cultural settings of the first century AD, external adornments for women, such as pearls, gold jewellery, hair styling and expensive provocative clothing, indicated material extravagance and sexual infidelity. These verses were “intended specifically to protect women from the enticements of the false teachers, from the temptations of sexual infidelity within the Graeco-Roman culture.” [16] Paul encouraged women to dress and wear adornments that promoted high moral standards, so that the church would have an honourable reputation.

The specifics of these verses related only to the Ephesian heresy. By application (not interpretation), contemporary believers are warned against identifying with (conforming to) questionable worldly standards in external dress.

   2.  Verses 11 & 12

Being in the same paragraph as vv. 9 and 10, the statements in these verses are a response to the false teaching and its use of women at Ephesus. The proposed interpretation here is that these are instructions addressed to a crisis situation with relevance only to the Ephesian heresy. They are not universal instructions to be applied to women in ministry in all churches at all times in all places. However, wherever false doctrine is being taught, it must be silenced is the general principle being taught.

To combat heretical teachings by women, Paul instructed all women in the Ephesian situation to become “quiet and submissive learners instead of struggling to assert themselves as teachers.” [17] This is not the silence of the passive, mute woman in the synagogue, but the quietness of the disciple who receives instruction without self-assertion. The word for “silence” or “quietness” in verses 11 and 12 is the same word as in 1 Tim. 2:2, where it indicates “quietness.” To prevent the spread of heresy, women were prohibited from teaching, temporarily, until they became instructed in the Word.

These instructions in vv. 11-12 are

directed against women who, having been touched or captivated by the false teachings, at least to some degree, are abusing the normal opportunities women had within the church for participation in the exercising of teaching and authority within the ministry. [18]

Interpretation of verse 12 is complicated by the use of an unusual word for “authority” (authentein). This is the only time the word appears in the entire New Testament, and it is used infrequently in the ancient Greek literature. Its meaning is not clear, although New Testament scholars are currently “in an extended debate on the issue and all of the evidence has not yet been assessed.” [19] One thing is sure: This word represents a departure from Paul’s normal vocabulary for “authority” (exousia) in the church. The choice of this unusual term seems to indicate that a different meaning was intended.

The uncertainty about its meaning is seen in the various translations: “to usurp authority” (KJV); “to have authority” (RSV, NIV); “to exercise authority” (ESV, NASB); “to domineer” (NEB). The Greek lexicons translate it as: (a) “to have authority, domineer over someone,” [20] and (b) “to govern one, exercise dominion over one.” [21] The leading theological word studies [22] do not deal with the word, except to quote the lexicons.

Catherine Kroeger proposes that the word, authentein, describes “both the erotic and the murderous,” [23] but other scholars reject this conclusion. [24] A tentative suggestion is that the word means to “domineer or usurp authority.” [25] This understanding is consistent with the interpretation of verses 11 & 12 offered in this article.

These injunctions are directed against women involved in false teaching, who have sought to abuse proper exercise of authority in the church, not denied by Paul elsewhere to women, by usurpation and domination of the male leaders and teachers in the church at Ephesus. [26]

3.    Verses 13 & 14

These verses give the rationale for the instructions of verses 11 & 12. The rationale is: (a) Adam was created before Eve and (b) Eve, not Adam, was deceived and she sinned. There are some interpreters of this passage who assume that because the apostle Paul referred back to the creation account of Genesis 2 and 3, these instructions are absolute for all people at all times.

However, such an assumption must be challenged. In 1 Cor. 11:7-9, an allusion to Genesis 2 is made. Why? To support Paul’s argument that in the Corinthian context, women were to have their heads covered in worship. This was not a universal command. Also in 1 Cor. 11, Paul makes the point that man is the “image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man” (1 Cor. 11:7). But he does not say that woman was not created in the image of God. To assert such would be to deny the Scriptures (Gen. 1:27). Therefore, Paul’s point in 1 Cor. 11 was to choose aspects of the creation account to support his argument that women were to wear head coverings in worship. He was deliberately selective.

The same is true for 1 Tim. 2:13-14. Elsewhere (Rom. 5 and 1 Cor. 15), Paul attributes sin and death to Adam, not Eve. So, why does he focus on Eve’s part in 1 Tim. 2?

Many Gnostic groups (perhaps those in Ephesus) distorted the Genesis account by glorifying Eve as the one who brings life and knowledge. Epiphanius told of one group that “pretended that the fact of having been the first to eat of the fruit of knowledge (gnosis) was for Eve a great privilege.” [27]  For some Gnostics,

the Genesis accounts were enormously embellished, and sometimes they gave to Eve a prior existence in which she consorted with the celestial beings both sexually and intellectually. She was even credited with being the instructor through whom Adam received life. [28]

To silence the Ephesian female heretics, Paul needed to refute their use of Eve as a revealer of truth to man. Adam was not deceived (1 Tim. 2:14) because “having been created first, he had received God’s command in person. His chronological primacy did not make him more righteous but more knowledgeable and therefore less susceptible to deception.” [29]

The point of this passage is deception. Adam was not deceived because, being first, he was better taught. Eve was deceived because she came later and did not have Adam’s experience. Likewise, unqualified teachers bring a greater risk of deception and false teaching into the church. [30]

Eve’s error was that she took leadership initiative for which she was unqualified. Adam is not absolved of responsibility for the fall (see Rom. 5:1-14, 18-19; 1 Cor. 15:22), nor are qualified women excluded from holding positions of leadership. The principle of the passage (1 Tim. 2:13-14) is that leadership positions should be entrusted to qualified people only. [31]

4.  Verse 15

Most recent interpretations that focus on the exclusion of women teachers (2:12) in the church, with the supporting reasons (2:13-14) often ignore verse 15. In fact, verse 15 requires verse 14 for its subject.

To ignore the immediate context and the historical situation of Ephesus has resulted in many diverse, even contradictory interpretations. I endorse Mark D. Roberts’ view that this verse “presents the most theologically perplexing claims of the entire passage.” [32] An example of Bible translations confirms this:

  •  “Not withstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (KJV);
  • “Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty” (RSV);
  • “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control” (ESV);
  • “But women will be kept safe through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (NIV);
  • “But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint” (NASB).

Literally from the Greek, the verse reads, “But she will be saved through the [her] child-bearing, if they remain in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.”

a. Interpretation Difficulties

1. How do we account for the change from the singular, “she will be saved,” to the plural, “if they remain”?

2. How is it possible for a woman to receive eternal salvation through childbearing when Paul’s teaching is salvation through Christ (Rom. 5:9, 10:9)?

3. What is the meaning of “saved” (sozo)?

b. Possible Solutions

1. To overcome the difficulty of “childbearing regeneration,” one interpretation is, “She will be saved by means of The Childbirth” (i.e.., the birth of Christ). [33] I reject this view because it does not harmonise with the context and disagrees with the “clearest and most likely meaning of the word for childbearing.” [34]

2. “She will come safely through child-birth” (similar to the NIV translation) is another explanation. The context does not endorse such a view and human experience refutes it. Many godly women have died in childbirth.

3. Dr. David M. Sholer [35] provides an interesting alternative. The singular, “she will be saved” refers back to vv. 13 and 14, Eve. Thus, it is grammatically natural to shift from the singular “woman” as woman-kind, to the plural “women.” While the verb “to save” can have a range of meanings, the apostle Paul’s “virtually inevitable sense is that of salvation of God in Christ.” This is confirmed by the next clause, “If they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” This latter clause “would make little sense otherwise, ” says Sholer.

But how can this mean eternal salvation? Dr. Sholer points out that Paul is addressing a threat or challenge to a “woman’s domestic role of decency and propriety in the Graeco-Roman society. . . The opponents against whom Paul is writing and warning Timothy, forbid marriage.” It would not be surprising that Paul also dwells at length on marriage concerns when he addresses the plight of widows in the church (1 Tim. 5:3-16). A similar concern is also addressed in Titus 2:3-5.

What does this point to? It appears that there was an assault on maternal domestic roles for women and their public reputation. To refute this heresy, Dr. Sholer concluded that verse 15 means that “women find their place among the saved, assuming their continuation of faith, love and holiness, through engagement in their maternal and domestic roles.”

4. Mark Roberts [36] believes that “as long as we understand ‘she shall be saved through childbearing’ as referring to a woman’s eternal salvation from sin and death, we face what seems to be a glaring contradiction in Pauline teaching.” [37] He proposes the following solutions:

(a) Could sozo (“I save”) have another meaning than eternal salvation? It has in Mark 5:34: “Your faith has made you well,” where sozo refers to the restoration of a woman to health and wholeness. Sozo has such a meaning in 1 Tim. 2:15, “Woman will be saved through childbearing, not from death, but from the theological condition which outlaws her teaching. She shall be saved into ecclesiastical wholeness.” [38]

(b) How can childbearing achieve such salvation (wholeness)? The answer is found in 1 Cor. 11, where Paul says that women should wear veils, partly because of the created order in Genesis 2 — man prior to woman (1 Cor. 11:8-9). However, after using this argument from creation, Paul shows another side of the issue in 1 Cor. 11:11-12.

Seen “in the Lord,” that is, from a Christian point of view, men and women depend upon each other. The created order with man as source of woman is offset or balanced by the natural order with woman as the source of man. In the act of childbearing woman illustrates her natural, divinely ordained preeminence over man, even as man showed his preeminence over woman in creation. [39]

Whatever the ramifications of the woman being created second, these are cancelled through her giving birth.

(c) Why the change from the singular, “She will be saved” [literal] to the plural, “They continue”?

Paul uses the plural verb “they continue” . . . to emphasize that particular women, not womankind, must live appropriate Christian lives if they are to teach. Whereas woman shall be restored because woman bears children, specific women shall be restored only if they themselves act as Christians should. . . In 1 Timothy the failure of Ephesian women to “continue in faith,” not their femaleness, demands their silence. These women will be saved, thus permitted to preach, only if their thoughts and actions deserve this responsibility. Of course the same standard applies to any man as well. [40]

Thus, 1 Tim. 2:15 is not an explanation of how a woman can earn eternal salvation, but a theological response to Paul’s argument for the temporary silence of women teachers.

Roberts’ paraphrase of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 (with corroborating evidence from the book of Titus) helpfully brings a coherent summary of conclusions:

Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness (not with loud disputes as some Ephesian women do). For the time being I am not permitting any woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved from that which demands her silence and will someday be able to teach. This is possible because through child-bearing woman counterbalances the created priority of man and produces the “seed” which bruises the serpent’s head, namely Jesus Christ. But woman will be restored only when individual women continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty, thereby demonstrating the maturity of faith demanded of any Christian teacher. [41]

E. Conclusion

First Timothy 2:9-15 is not a command to prevent all women from teaching in the church for all times. Paul’s intention was not to place a permanent limitation on women in the ministry. Rather, these verses were addressed to a problem situation in Ephesus where women were teaching heresy.  I endorse Mark D. Roberts conclusion:   “So today, if women fail to continue in faith and love and holiness with modesty — like men who fail similarly — they should not teach. Ones like these, whether female or male, need to learn in silence and to practice what they learn. But if women have learned, if they have persevered in the Christian faith, if the Holy Spirit has gifted them for teaching, let us not quench the ministry of the Spirit through women. . . We must encourage our sisters as they seek to serve Christ in his frighteningly patriarchal church.” [42]

In support of women in ministry see:
For a contrary view on Junia see:


1a.  James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981, p. 248.

1b.  John MacArthur, Jr., Different By Design.  Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1994, p. 139.

2. Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible. Anaheim, California: J. B. McCabe Company, 1977,

3. Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, General Ed., R. V. G. Tasker). London: The Tyndale Press, 1957, p. 76.

4. William Hendriksen, I & II Timothy and Titus (New Testament Commentary). Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1960, p. 109, emphasis in original.

5. In D. Edmond Hiebert, First Timothy. Chicago: Moody Press, 1957, pp. 60-61.

6. Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament (complete and unabridged in one vol.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1962, p. 782.

6a.  Wendy Murray Zoba 1999, “Angel in the pulpit: Though she eschews the title, even her father says that daughter Anne Graham Lotz is the best preacher in the family,” Christianity Today, April 5, Available from: [cited 29 March 2006]

6b. Anne Graham Lotz on The Christian Broadcasting Network, “700 Club,” July 31, 2003, available from: <>.  [As of 24 June 2006, this link was no longer on line.]

7. Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger, “May Woman Teach? Heresy in the Pastoral Epistles,” The Reformed Journal, October 1980, p. 15.

8. Ibid., pp. 15-16.

9. Ibid., p. 16.

10. Ibid.

11. Mark D. Roberts, “Women Shall Be Saved: A Closer Look at 1 Timothy 2:15,” The Reformed Journal, April 1983, p. 19.

12. Catherine C. Kroeger, “Ancient Heresies and a Strange Greek Verb,” The Reformed Journal, March 1979, p. 14.

13. From an address given by Dr. David M. Sholer, Dean of the Seminary, Professor of New Testament, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicago, “The Place of Women in the Church’s Ministry: 1 Timothy 2:9-15.” The address was delivered at Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia, on March 15, 1985, sponsored by Zadok Centre, Canberra, Australia, and available on cassette tape.

14. Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: A Guide for the Study of Female Roles in the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1985, p. 261.

15. Ibid., p. 182.

16. Sholer.

17. Bilezikian, p. 179.

18. Sholer.

19. Ibid.

20. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957, p. 120.

21. Joseph Henry Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Associated Publishers and Authors Inc., n.d. p. 84.

22. Colin Brown (Gen. ed.), The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (3 vols.) Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978; and Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich (eds.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 vols.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976.

23. Kroeger, “Ancient Heresies,” p. 14.

24. Sholer.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid.

27. Kroeger, “May Women Teach?”

28. Ibid.

29. Bilezikian, p. 259.

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid., p. 260.

32. Roberts, p. 19.

33. Hendriksen, p. 111.

34. Sholer.

35. Ibid.

36. Roberts, pp. 18-22.

37. Ibid., p. 19.

38. Ibid., p. 20.

39. Ibid.

40. Ibid., p. 21.

41. Ibid., p. 22.

42. Ibid.

1 Cor. 12:14 (ESV),

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”


Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.