Author: Ron Graham
Verse by verse study of Paul's first letter to Timothy. In this lesson we examine chapter 2 verses 9-15, looking at God’s will for women.
The first word in this passage is "Likewise". In a previous lesson we studied "God's Agenda for Humanity" and we found some basic principles that God wants for every human being (1Timothy 2:1-8). So when Paul then goes on to address women, we must take it that he is simply making some particular applications to women of those same principles.
The term "all men" (1Timothy 2:4) includes both the "men" of verse 8, and "women" of verse 9. In the beginning, when God said, "Let us make man in our image" God then "created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:1). You will notice that the words "man" and "him" in this passage include both male and female. Paul follows this pattern of speech.
God does not have a separate agenda and a separate law for the male and female halves of mankind. He has one agenda and one law for all. That is what Paul meant when he told the Galatians, "...you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ... there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus... heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:26-29)
When you look at the skeleton of what Paul mentions as God’s will for women, you can see that there is really nothing there that is not equally required of men...
Modesty, Good works, Submissiveness, Quietness, Parenthood, Faith and love, Sanctity, Discretion (1Timothy 2:9-12).
Whilst Paul has interpreted these points in a manner applicable to women, he could just as well have interpreted the same points with a masculine perspective. We must understand that both women and men are obeying the same will of God for the same salvation.
Within this general sameness, Paul makes a difference between women and men with regard to spiritual teaching in circumstances where authority over men is exercised. He gives his reasons for this difference.
Paul goes back to creation, to Adam and Eve. Adam, the man was the one whom God first created. Eve, the woman, was the one whom Satan first deceived (1Timothy 2:13-14). These facts do not mean that man is superior to woman, but these distinctions do make a difference giving reason for God to permit a man to teach God’s truth in circumstances where he does not permit a woman.
Paul shows that women are priveleged by the task of motherhood. Eve, you will remember, was called "the mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20). It is fair to say that the mother has the dominant role in bearing and raising children. It is also fair to say that, in a Christian home, children learn more of God’s word from mum at home than they learn from dad at church. Paul is pointing out that the privelege of giving birth to children, and of bringing them up in the faith, more than compensates women for what they are not permitted in certain teaching situations.
In an age of liberation from male domination, Paul’s prohibition here has been greatly misunderstood.
It is obvious from this passage that women are permitted, indeed commanded, to learn. God does not wish women to be kept in ignorance. Of all his wondrous revelation, not a single word is forbidden to women or restricted to men. In most religions there is knowledge that is for men only. In Christianity there is no such thing. The command, "Let women receive instruction" (1Timothy 2:11) applies to all women and to all the knowledge of Christ. A woman is permitted to learn as much as a man is permitted to know.
Women are not allowed "to teach or exercise authority over a man" (1Timothy 2:12). This is not a blanket prohibition against women being teachers. It does not preclude women teaching women and children. Nor does it precude a woman from teaching a man in proper circumstances. If a man and a woman are discussing spiritual things, and in that conversation the man learns something from the woman, surely no sin has been committed?
If I read Mary's magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) and learn something from it (as indeed I do) has Mary sinned by teaching me, or I by learning from her? Women are not permitted "to teach or exercise authority over a man" (1Timothy 2:12). This means no more than that a woman should not teach a man in such a manner that reflects a lack of the submissive spirit, in such a manner that she excercises, or for that matter even appears to exercise, authority over a man. Not all teaching involves an exercise of authority.
Paul clearly implies that a man is permitted to teach in all circumstances, even where he exercises authority over others. Paul does not imply, of course, that a man is permitted to teach if he doesn't know what he is talking about, or that he may dominate a Bible class which another person has been appointed to teach.