Hundreds of pages have been written on this chapter, with almost as many interpretations, proving this to be one of the least understood and most contested passages of all time. Yet many Christians continue to cite 1 Timothy 2 as the foundation for their belief in male only leadership in the church. In today’s post Gail shares her “elevator speech” about why we need to stop using this passage in the debate.
Search Results for: 1 timothy 2:12
1 Timothy 2:12 continues to be an obstacle that prevents churches from moving toward a more robust theology of women.
In my recent post on 1 Timothy 2:12, discussion about the word “authentein” (often translated as authority) was especially rich. Here are some highlights:
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one who was deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But […]
In Lost in Translation, Part 1, Bob showed that some words in the Bible are translated differently when they refer to women as opposed to when they refer to men. Case in point: Phoebe’s depiction as servant and helper rather than minister and leader. Today he addresses the impact of translation on our understanding of […]
From the mailbox: “Just wanted to say thank you for your article on 1 Timothy 2. It was a great reference for me as my 13 yr old daughter asked me about it when she read it during her devotions. I was not sure how to respond to her until I found your article. Thank you!” God Bless, Brian. As long as 1 Timothy 2 continues to be used to restrict women from fulfilling their call to discipleship we will continue sharing good scholarship on this passage. Today’s “long form” post is by seminary professor Patrick Franklin. In it he identifies 3 general reasons and 6 specific problems with using the passage in this way. This is our most comprehensive post on 1 Timothy 2 to date – be sure to bookmark it for further reference.
They are the verses of Scripture used most frequently to silence women in the church: 1 Timothy 2:11-12. I remember reading them as a 26-year-old when first contemplating my call to ministry. God’s voice had been clear, but those three short sentences were not; “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit her to teach or have authority over a man. She. Must. Be. Silent.”
I’d sat there reading the passage over and over; trying to find something I hadn’t seen before. The black and white lettering seemed so stark, so clear; so… black and white. Why would Paul say such a thing? In my church, Paul’s instructions were taken literally. Women weren’t permitted to speak whenever men were present. They couldn’t lead, teach or even pray. Growing up, those words hadn’t particularly bothered me, but now they smarted like lemon juice in an open cut. No matter how I read them, the conclusion was still the same – I couldn’t follow God’s call. As a pastor today, it’s obvious that my understanding of those few verses has long since changed…
It wasn’t until I started attending a private Christian school as a 12-year-old that I became aware of the spectrum of views regarding the roles of men and women in the church and in the home. In seventh-grade Bible class, I was taken aback to learn that some Christians believe that the roles of teaching and authority in the church, and the sole leadership role in the home are reserved for men only. A small number of my classmates and I were more interested in carrying on the lively discussion than others, so our teacher agreed to mediate a debate on the issue outside of class time.
Throughout history, the church has been characterized by a male-dominated social hierarchy. This worldview has been so pervasive that some even consider it to be “God’s created order.” In light of the prevalence of this pattern, some people have asked me, “Has there ever been a female-dominated culture?”
A 1st century B.C. historian by the name of Diodorus Siculus provides us with the following information:
“Beside the river of Thermadon, therefore, a nation ruled by females held sway, in which women pursued the arts of war just like men…. To the men she [the nation’s Queen] relegated the spinning of wool and other household tasks of women. She promulgated laws whereby she led forth the women to martial strife, while on the men she fastened humiliation and servitude.”
Reflecting on his contemporary Paul’s theological writings, the apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:15-16:
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
There it is: “[Paul’s} letters contain some things that are hard to understand.” And God’s people said, AMEN.
Of course, we’re not certain which Pauline teachings Peter had in mind, but it seems like there’s a good chance he was talking about passages like 1 Timothy 2:8-15.
For years I struggled with my relationship with the apostle Paul. On the one hand, as a teenager, I was completely taken with books like Galatians and Philippians and studied chart after chart of the missionary journeys (I am a missionary kid, after all). But as an adult I had trouble reconciling the “clobber verses” often used to […]
From the mailbox: “I’m leading a discussion for our small group at church about the difference between the egalitarian and complementarian views of women in church leadership and looking for a video to show…Any help you can give is much appreciated!” After sending this reader some ideas we set out to find more options. Here are 20 free audio (A) and video (V) resources that present biblical gender equality (egalitarianism) in a clear, compelling way, have high production quality, and are available for free online. You’re welcome!
I sat down across the table from her. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and I was excited to catch up. She was a youth pastor, one of those with an obvious call on her life for ministry. But as I looked into her eyes, I could see she was worn out. She […]
The power of exposure and custom—and the lack thereof—etches deep marks in our inner beings. We associate pastoring with men because the pastors we have seen are men. Some older Christians recall the women ministers they knew as a child and how they led them to faith and service. But these folks are thinning out. Even in churches that affirm the ordination of women, women pastors are not common. Because of the power of exposure and custom, relatively few evangelical women go to seminary, start the ordination process, or remain with their first denomination after going to seminary.
I grew up never dreaming that women could be pastors, even though during my many hours in church as a kid, I often thought pastors were very lucky. They had the joy of helping people, studying the Bible and culture, and making disciples; but pastor was a word for boys.
I couldn’t study. I couldn’t think straight. I was distressed, overset with a spiritual crisis that rocked me to the core. Did God not love me, just because I was female?
I had been, by nature, a well-behaved and compliant child who didn’t really experience the rebellion thing as a teenager (heck, my “rebellion” was trying to find opportunities to go to church twice on a Sunday, which my unchurched family didn’t always appreciate!). “Following the rules” was, as far as I could see it, a big part of “doing the right thing,” and “being a decent person.” And obeying rules was something I didn’t usually find at all difficult. And conflict? Nope…definitely not something I would willingly enter into.