Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
Many, many people hold up one verse as the ultimate of prohibition of women teaching men in the church. That verse is 1 Timothy 2:12.
1 Timothy 2:12 And I do not allow a woman to teach nor to exercise authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. That is the literal translation.
I am not attempting to retranslate the Bible, nor am I saying that the men translators from eons ago got it all wrong. What I am saying is that there is a tendency toward assumptions that perhaps have a bit of prejudice in them rather that objectivity. Mostly, this comes from current social psychology rather than biblical times culture.
I would like to suggest that this prejudice perhaps tinted the translations of Paul's teaching to Timothy. The reason I say this is because the whole of Scripture has evidence of women Spiritual leaders (Deborah and Lydia and Junia et al) plus today there are numerous women who are the only Spiritual leader their children ever see in the home. Please understand there are so many beautiful men Spiritual leaders and this is no detraction toward them. It is more a focus on the legitimacy of God's use of women in leadership roles.
With this in mind...
The word translated "man" is Aner and means: 1. with reference to sex: male, husband, betrothed or future husband; 2. with reference to age: distinguish adult man from young boy; 3. used generically of a group of both male and female, thus people or mankind.
Now, why is it that this word that is used generically of a group of both male and female is used in this particular verse? Why wasn't Paul more specific? Why didn't he use the word husband? Oh, actually Paul did use the word aner which is the word husband. And Paul used the word gune which is the word wife in verse 12. And he followed up with a reference to Adam and Eve the very first married couple.
So let's look at the entire verse from the original Greek along with the Greek translations.
But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. didaskein (5721) de gunaiki ouk epitrepw, (5719) oude auqentein (5721) androv, all' einai (5750) en hsuxia.
didaskein = to teach, to instruct
de = but, moreover
gunaiki = gune = wife, betrothed, woman of any age whether widow or virgin.
ouk = no, not
Epitrepo = 1. to turn to, transfer, commit, instruct; 2. to permit, allow, give leave Oude = but not, neither, nor, not even
Authenteo = one who with his own hands kills another or himself; one who acts on his own authority; autocratic; an absolute master; to govern, exercise dominion over one
Aner = with reference to sex: of a male, of a husband, of a betrothed or future husband; with reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy any male; used generically of a group of both men and women
Alla = but nevertheless, notwithstanding an objection an exception a restriction nay, rather, yea, moreover forms a transition to the cardinal matter
Einai = to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
En = in, by, with etc.
Hesuchia = stillness; quietness; description of the life of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others
So, with all those words translated from the original Greek with all their meanings. This verse says to me: (de) But (epitrepo) give leave or allow (ou) not (gune) the wife to (didasko) teach or instruct (oude) nor to (authenteo) to take control or dominate the (aner) husband (alla) but rather (hesuchia) being quiet and staying at home minding her own business and not officiously meddling in affairs of others.
For me, it is evident that Paul is teaching both men and women how to conduct themselves. In verse 8, Paul is telling them to pray always, lifting up their hands, without anger or dissention. In verse 9, the women are to adorn themselves with proper clothing and verse 10, they are to pursue good works (as opposed to gossiping etc. I would assume). Verse 11 is crucial to the context. She is to receive instruction from her husband with submissiveness and to (verse 12) not be autocratic or domineering in teaching and instruction for this will kill, but to learn from her husband in quietness, being at home about her own business of raising and providing for her family.
In other words, it is not the wife who should teach her husband, but the husband who should teach his wife in an ideal world. God commanded Adam to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge and through Adam, Eve learned the command from Adam for the command was given before Eve was created.
Should a woman teach if asked to teach a class? Yes, she should as long as her husband is not in the class in the perfect world. However, the husband will learn many things from his wife, and I know of many husbands who have learned to love Jesus from their wives.
This is a back door instruction to the men so that they should study deeper to stay ahead of their wives.
What I see in these verses is far superior to just an instruction to women to be quiet in church.
The ultimate responsibility is the husband’s.
Therefore, when one studies Paul's statement "I do not allow a woman to teach or have authenteo (dominion, domineer, authority) over a man AND when Scripture holds many examples of women having church in their homes (Nympha, Junia, and Pricilla), or Lydia by the river, Deborah a judge, Anna in the Temple, Paul's fellow workers Euodia and Syntche at Philipi, and all the women that sat at Jesus feet gathering His dust as He walked through Gallilee and Judea soaking up His teaching who numbered among the original one hundred twenty believers who were called apostles – One must broaden the scope to understand, since there are no contradictions in the Bible, Paul must have a broader meaning than "no women teachers". Paul's teaching to Timothy cannot mean no woman may teach a man or preach. All of Scripture does not uphold that interpretation! Instead, the Greek words used mean "wife" and "husband" in almost the same breath Paul speaks of the very first married couple Adam and Eve. Paul is talking about authority/order of a husband and wife. Not any woman having authenteo over any man and vice versa. There are too many examples – but even one example would be enough to make a Bible student take a step back from the deliberate statement 'No women teachers of men'.
Because the culture of the times considered slavery as the norm, and women owned men slaves, and because there were probably as many Christian men slaves as Christian women owners the authority of woman owner over men slaves takes precedence within that culture. Paul ordered all Christians to recognize the proper authority, including master over slave. Women had authority over men slaves and Paul taught repeatedly that slaves were to submit to their master's in Christian love.
Let's take a look at a seldom noticed example of a woman having a gentle authority over a man in the book of John chapter 2: Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there. 2Jesus and his disciples were guests also. 3When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus' mother told him, "They're just about out of wine." 4Jesus said, "Is that any of our business, Mother--yours or mine? This isn't my time. Don't push me." 5 She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it."
Did Mary yank the reigns out of Jesus' hands? No. Did Mary tell Jesus what to do over His objection? Most certainly. Did Mary sin in doing this? No. She was His mother and therefore had a great amount of authority over Him. Up to the point when the crippled man was let down through the roof and Mary along with Jesus brothers asked to see Him and He took the authority from her at that point when He said, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" and He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers!" Matthew 12
I realize no one is disputing the authority a mother has over her child, but Jesus was 30 years old at this time. However, Mary also exerted authority over someone else's servants! She told them what to do and they did it. The fact is, there are God-ordained instances where a woman does have authority over a man such as the authority a wife has over her husbands body. His body is hers and no other woman's. The authority a woman has over her boy children—no matter their age. "Honor thy father and thy mother."
And the duty is also directed toward the parents "Parents do not provoke your children to anger."
When a woman (or a man) teaches/preaches, is she exerting authenteo over anyone?
The Teacher is imparting wisdom. Does a Pastor exert authenteo over the church? He had better not. That word implies dictatorship rather than leadership. A Shepherd leads with gentleness and wisdom and protection. What sheep listen to orders or even are in the proper mood to obey when the shepherd is a tyrant without regard to feelings of others, who takes away another's ministry/job for himself and portrays the opposite of Christian love--which is exactly what that word authenteo means?
If you go to the Lifeway.com website and do a search on Spiritual Gifts, you will find a PDF file about it. In it, there is teaching concerning the ministry gift of Pastor/Shepherd. It states that women have a natural inclination toward this ministering gift. Women "do it" better than men because we have the mother instinct. Pastoring is not a motivational Spiritual gift. Those motivational gifts are listed in Romans 12: a. prophet/perceiver b. exhortation/encouraging c. teaching/edifying d. service/ministry e. giver f. administration/organizing g. mercy/compassion
Ephesians 4:11-16 lists the gifts which are specifically for the perfecting of the saints for the works of the ministry and for the edifying of the body which are: a. apostles b. prophets c. evangelist d. pastor e. teacher. These are basic jobs which carry on the work of God for His children through His chosen workers for each specific job.
1 Corinthians 12:7-12 we find gifts that are the manifestation of the Spirit. These gifts are given by the Holy Spirit specifically for the Glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are: a. Wisdom through the Spirit b. Knowledge through the Spirit c. Faith through the Spirit d. Healing through the Spirit e. Miracles through the Spirit f. Prophecy through the Spirit g. Discernment of spirits through the Spirit h. Various tongues i. Interpretation of tongues.
Where in any of these lists of gifts which are God Given is the Overseer or Elder? In fact, after Paul's first mission trip from Antioch, Luke reports that Paul appointed the Elders and Overseers. In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas as missionaries to do the work that He had called them to do.
So my question is this -- How many men in the pulpit and leading churches are God-called; and how many teachers are God-called? How many are man-called?
How many teachers are “filling-in” because no one else will take the job? Have you gotten burned out yet?
"Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life" from
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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