As a pastor, you can avoid a lot of heat at church by just skipping this book and this chapter. That is why we preach chapter by chapter to stop us from only teaching the bits we like.
But first a Warning
This passage is not a full-blown summary of women's ministry. Since the passage is drawing boundaries on who can preach and have authority in the church, the tendency is to talk about what woman can’t do. So, I want to intentionally begin where the Bible begins.
In Genesis 1, men and women are both made in God`s image, from the beginning males and females together are to rule this world under God, together. Under the Old Covenant only male Jewish priests were given limited access to the presence of God in the temple. With the coming of Christ
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus ~Galatians 3:28 (NIV)
Peter says we are all co-heirs with Christ
Ministry and Women
One picture of how men and women work side by side in the gospel is seen in Romans 16, you notice there are a lot of women mentioned. Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena and Tryophosa, Persis, Julia (trust me they are women) Paul calls these women fellow workers in the gospel who worked very hard in the Lord at great personal expense.
Women were engaged in teaching and evangelism. Both Priscilla with her husband Aquila instruct the gifted preacher Apollos more adequately in Acts 18. Then there are the ‘one another’ passages with no gender restriction.
…teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, ~Colossians 3:16 (NIV)
Paul speaks of women praying and prophesying in the church. So, it's with that background we pick up this passage, we are all mindful that this is an ancient text to a church in an ancient culture in Ephesus. They lived before feminism, before the
abolition of slavery. So, is this the word of God for us or a temporary instruction to a local church problem? We also can't be blind that we ourselves are shaped by culture as well.
Many years ago, I read 1 Timothy 2 with two groups, I got a sense that both were shaped by their culture. One group read the passage through a Middle Eastern lens and had no problem. The other read the passage through a Middle-class feminism lens and had a big problem. So we must work very hard to make sure what is driving our conclusions. We also need to come clean on our personal preferences.
For me, I wish there were no differences:
But we are people of the book, that book, including this passage is God-breathed. We refuse to think we are wiser than God. Let's first remind ourselves about the purpose of the whole book?
… I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. ~1 Timothy 3:14-15 (NIV)
God's appointed apostle Paul charges Timothy to guard the truth in God's church. This letter focuses on how we conduct ourselves at church.
Chapter 1: to silence false teachers; Chapter 2: to pray for everyone including rulers so that we can have peace. With peace, we can preach Christ, who wants all people to be saved.
For men in the church to pray and not fight. For women to focus on inner beauty not external wealth, not on how they look but how they live, to be known for good works not good looks. Then Paul speaks about the relationship between men and women at church.
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. ~1Timothy 2:11-12 (NIV)
Paul gives women 2 directives, one is about something they are to do, learn quietly and with all submissiveness. And one is about things they are not to do, to teach or exercise authority.
Don’t skip the wonder: A woman should learn - that was not the expected norm for any women in the ancient world. The equality and education of women is a concept uniquely promoted in the bible. Notice one idea informs the other, to learn is paralleled with to not teach. In full, submission is paralleled not to have authority over men.
While the word for woman can also be translated to wife, you notice no translation goes down that road because the purpose of the book is not marriage but church. Paul says “I do not permit..” remember its Paul the apostle not Ray the Dragons supporter who does not permit.
And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. ~1 Timothy 2:7 (NIV)
So let it be clear, it is God who does not permit women to teach and to have authority over men in the church of God.
Picture a pyramid with 3 levels of teaching:
1 Timothy 2 is speaking about one aspect of level two. Teaching here is authoritative teaching of sound doctrine to the whole church.
It's important that we don’t under apply or over apply this text. To over apply, stops women from having leadership in work or church it stops women from any teaching and preaching ministry. To under apply explains away any relevance for this passage for today's church. Its important that we don’t go beyond scripture. This principle is applied for us by Paul himself.
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well…especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. The teaching and authority restricted to men is the role of elders who teach and preach ~1Timothy 5:17 (NIV)
But this verse appears both limited and emphatic. She is not to be the teacher for the whole congregation nor its pastor elder.
This teaching restricts all women and 95% of men who will never be elders.
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. ~1Timothy 2:11 (NIV)
But not absolute submission-not if it violates God's word 1 Timothy 6:3-4.
Under Christ we are all called to submit to someone, Children to Parent, Wife to Husband, Congregation to Elders, Citizens to Government. We are all called to submit ultimately to Christ, who himself will submit all things to the Father. By submission we mean “a voluntary and willing acceptance of the leadership and responsibility of another.” [Claire Smith] Gods good design
The verse begins and ends with quietness, that is without a rebellious spirit toward either the teaching or the teacher. What I see at MBM are Godly women who humbly accept God`s order of ministry in the body of Christ. Women who have wide ranging personalities, who graciously serve, and love, gifted women who lead teams, and serve on staff, women who raise children and raise issues, and who respectfully stand their ground for Jesus, women who are marked by modestly, prayer, and a generous heart, whose words are drenched with wisdom, patience, and knowledge, who are able to encourage and rebuke when appropriate. Making us a healthy church.
But are we over reading the text?
Was this a temporary ban for a local problem
But this teaching is consistent with other passages that teach of differences between men and women in the family and family of God (1 Corinthians 14). Paul never makes a blanket statement for a specific problem. (Romans 14)
Just as Jesus went to Genesis to affirm Marriage, Paul goes to Genesis where Gods plan revealed and rejected. In contrast Paul may encourage Slaves to obey Master but he never argues for slavery in God's purpose for humans in Creation. In fact he says to slaves if you get your freedom, take it. He doesn't say of women if you get the chance to be an elder take it. Paul gives 2 reason why women are not to teach and have authority over a man in the church of God
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. ~1Timothy 2:13 (NIV)
Adam and Eve represent the first couple, the first family and the first church. Adam is given the authority of the first born to lead Eve in ruling the world under God. You see that authority when Adam NAMES Eve or when Adam is held responsible for the Fall. Eve was made from Adam to be his helper and ally, together they would rule this world under God. The second reason-show where God plan is rejected
And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. ~1Timothy 2:14 (NIV)
Adam and Eve both sinned in the garden but in different ways,
Adam sinned by failing to lead Eve by his silence when Eve was tempted, by listening to Eve and taking the fruit, Eve names her sin as deception. She was deceived into listening to the lies of Satan and then leading Adam into sin
Paul is saying this pattern is not to be repeated in the church. God is saying, I want men and women to work together in the family and family of God. Within that I want men to teach and lead the whole church. This is not about women being more gullible or less intelligent or less gifted than men. Women are encouraged to TEACH, women and children prophesy and pray. This is a specific instruction on how women are to use their gifts of teaching in the church of God. Just as WOMEN cant be ELDERS so MEN cant be MOTHERS
The section ends on the note of good works fit for a woman of God which includes motherhood
But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. ~1Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
In case you’re wondering, its not saying you’re going to heaven because you have a baby or you wont feel any pain if you do have a baby. Singleness and Marriage are deemed as gifts from God by the apostle Paul. Here child bearing is part of a long list of good works that marks out women of the Lord who will be saved. She will be saved with a faith marked by godly living. Notice how Paul describes godly widows
well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. ~1Timothy 5:10 (NIV)
Our culture is increasingly anti motherhood
Question: What do you do?
Answer: I am just a mother?
Because in our culture value is only tied to income and not Gods purposes. Just a mother – the Bible views motherhood as more important than that of the Presidency of USA or running a company of 1000 people, hence the grief for women who cant have children
Feminism has rightly pursued equality and justice at multiple levels for women and there is more to be done but it has done two dreadful things.
But Chauvinism under the guise of the bible has done even worse, it has corrupted the beautiful notion of Christ like sacrificial leadership, it has denigrated to hyper headship - an excuse to control, abuse and manipulate women. No wonder that domestic abuse is not lower in churches then in the world.
There is a dance before us in Gods church and in every
Christian family, a dance between men and women who are called to serve together as equal partners. Men and women working together marked by love and respect, not control and fear.
We are missing our chance to show the world how God's order can lead to women flourishing and men leading with sacrificial love. Men who will operate not from fear and insecurity but love and service. At present the elders of MBM are M pastors, each of us work closely with women on staff. Learning together, celebrating each others success, wanting each other to flourish as we all submit to Gods plan.
The pressure of the world is to change God's teaching, the pressure of the flesh is to abuse Gods teaching. Lets stand with God on this issue. Which means we stand with the apostle Paul
But by end of his life Paul says:
At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. ~2 Timothy 4.16 (NIV)
On this issue not many want to stand with the apostle. This truth not to be tolerated- like some awful tasting medicine. This is Gods precious loving word for our good and His Glory. Will we be the church of God which is the foundation and pillar of the truth? And yet will we love our brother and sisters who differ on this important issue?