Women Teaching Men: 1Timothy 2:11-15
In the context of the public assembly of the church, Paul gave the direction, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet” (1Timothy 2:12 NIV), he had just prefaced his remark a verse earlier. “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission” (2:11 NIV).
Verse 11: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission” (1Timothy 2:11 NIV).
A “woman” in the Greek is gunē for a woman or wife. “Should learn [Greek, manthanō, learn, receive instruction, understand] in quietness [Greek, hēsuchía, silence]” (1Timothy 2:11 NIV) speaks of the demeanor of women in public worship. “Full submission [Greek, hupotagē, obedience, subjection, submissiveness]” (2:11 NIV) is to accompany the woman’s quietness. These qualities would also wear well on her male counterparts: (1) Learn quietly at the feet of Jesus, i.e., “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29 NIV), and (2) Submit fully to God’s teaching, i.e., “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV).
Verse 12: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet” (1Timothy 2:12 NIV).
Here, we find apostolic and pastoral direction from Paul limiting the teaching or assumption of authority of the woman over the man in the public assembly of the church, with the addition, “she must be quiet” (1Timothy 2:12 NIV).
Why such a statement?
Verse 13: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1Timothy 2:13 NIV).
Paul immediately supports his directive forbidding women preaching to men. “Adam was formed first, then Eve” (2:13 NIV). Priority is essential to God’s ordering of the universe. For example: (1) God is prior to all of His creation, so God assumes authority over everything, e.g., “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 NIV), (2) Parents are prior to their children, so children must pledge them their obedience, e.g., “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1 NIV), and (3) Adam was created first, then Eve, so wives must be subject to their husbands, e.g., “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:24 NIV).
Verse 14: “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (1Timothy 2:14 NIV).
“Adam was not the one deceived” (1Timothy 2:14 NIV) is not an excuse for Adam. Though Adam was not the first human to sin — that ignominy belongs to Eve (Genesis 3:6a) — he is remembered by God for his failed headship, when he also ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6b). “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NIV). Adam wrongly chose his wife over God. He engaged in sin with his eyes wide open, being more emotionally attached to Eve than spiritually bound to the “Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV). “It was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (1Timothy 2:14 NIV) teaches us that the model woman — our mother — was deceived by the Serpent. She believed the lie that God was withholding goodness from them by forbidding the eating of the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17 NIV). Exactly the opposite was true. “No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11 NIV). How do we overcome temptation? Trust God. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1Corinthians 10:13 NIV). How do we defeat the devil? Resist him in faith, and “he will flee from you” (James 4:7). “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1Peter 5:8-9 NIV).
Verse 15: “But women will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (1Timothy 2:15 NIV).
What does this mean? The context is directed to married women. Childbearing is the exclusive ability of the wife, if she is not infertile. “Women will be saved through childbearing” (1Timothy 2:15 NIV) indicates a unique blessing to the wife, who obeys the command, “Be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:28 NIV), to bring forth “godly offspring” (Malachi 2:15 NIV). No one complains about “obedience to the faith” (Romans 1:5 KJV) or the “obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 16:26 NIV), as if anyone can earn heaven. So, “saved through childbearing” (1Timothy 2:15 NIV) is likewise obedience that results in the blessing of salvation, which even still, is conditioned by “if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety” (1Timothy 2:15 NIV).
“If they continue” is like numerous other Scripture teaching the necessity of perseverance to be finally saved. For example, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12 NIV). The prize for perseverance is the “crown of life” (1:12 NIV). Here, “crown” in the Greek, is stephanos, which is the prize to victors in public games. If our perseverance is simply a credit to ourselves, then we have good cause to place our trophy on the mantle as an acknowledgment of a job well done. But, our perseverance is a tribute to “God [who] is faithful” (1Corinthians 10:13), and the credit truly belongs to Him. What should we do? Place our victor’s crown at the feet of the Lord, to whom belongs the real recognition for our perseverance. And, that we will do, by His grace! “10 The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns [Greek, stephanos, victor’s crown] before the throne, saying, 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure [Greek, thelēma, will, desire] they are and were created” (Revelation 4:10-11 KJV). Lord, we love You, for You first loved us. “Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1 NIV).
Women Silent in the Churches: 1Corinthians 14:34-35
“Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (1Corinthians 14:34-35 NIV).
Verse 34: “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says” (1Corinthians 14:34 NIV).
The goal of Paul’s teaching is our submission to God. In this instance, the “women should remain silent [Greek, sigaō, keep silent] in the churches” (1Corinthians 14:34 NIV). Lucifer refused to give submission to God, and we are required to give it to God to gain victory over the devil. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV). “As the law says” (1Corinthians 14:34 NIV), refers to Numbers 30:1-3, where the OT references the law of what is expected of an unmarried woman or a wife concerning vows. The father of an unmarried woman living in her father’s home could nullify her vow. A husband could do the same for his wife.
Verse 35: “If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (1Corinthians 14:35 NIV).
Since authority is at issue, then the women’s silence addresses more the idea of communicating submission to that authority. This is more important, evidently, than even the edification of an open dialogue clarifying Biblical concepts. Such an idea is a novelty in most church settings. If the church meets in the individual’s home, then the dialogue may be more difficult to escape. The goal still is to respect authority, as much as possible, and privately consult with their husband, whenever possible, “for it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in the church” (1Corinthians 14:35 NIV).
An observation, two apparently, but not completely parallel lines begin to diverge more and more over time from their point of origin. Scripture, which may have been warmly embraced in the Early Church, may seem impractical and unnecessary, as we approach the end of the Church Age. But, the Canon of Scripture never fails, because it is God’s Word. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Luke 21:33 NIV).
Why then is authority so important? Lucifer fell from Heaven, when he refused to keep in his place, demanding, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14 NIV). Lucifer did not respect God’s authority. Jesus teaches us that Antichrist will assume God’s place — “when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel” (Matthew 24:15 NIV) — in a Rebuilt Jerusalem Temple in the middle of an upcoming Seventieth Week of Daniel (Daniel 9:27), because Antichrist refuses to stay out of God’s place. “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2Thessalonians 2:3-4 NIV). Antichrist will not respect God’s authority.
It is true everything will come out positive in the end with “a New Heaven and a New Earth” (Revelation 21:1), but the road will get bumpy in between now and then. “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away” (John 16:1 NIV).