2. Men and Women in God's Household (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (36:18)

First century Roman couple Paquius Proculus and his wife, Pompeii, House VII, 2, 6; fresco, National Archaeological Museum of Naples.
First century Roman couple Paquius Proculus and his wife, Pompeii, House VII, 2, 6; fresco, National Archaeological Museum of Naples. Larger image.

In chapter 1 Paul has outlined his charge to Timothy to stop the false teachers. Now he begins to spell out the specifics that need to be corrected, initiated with the phrase: "I urge, then, first of all...."

We'll get into the details in a moment, but first let's look at the big picture of chapter 2 where Paul discusses three things that need correction:

  1. Exclusivist attitude towards the lost (1 Timothy 2:1-7). Prayer should be made for everyone and the gospel message be taught to the Gentiles, implying that the false teachers have been promoting a kind of Jewish exclusivity both in Ephesus as well as in Crete (Titus 1:10-16).
  2. Men engaged in angry disputes (1 Timothy 2:8). Men should pray in holiness, not amidst the anger generated by the controversies and disputes stirred up by the false teachers.
  3. Out-of-order women propagating false doctrine (1 Timothy 2:9-15). Women should conduct themselves modestly and appropriately in church, not trying to dominate or set others straight, suggesting that the false teachers had made inroads into the church through ignorant women susceptible to their false doctrines (2 Timothy 3:6-7).

As you can guess, we have our hands full working our way through the 15 verses in this chapter.

2.1 Praying for Leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-7)

Prayer for All (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Paul begins with the problem of a club mentality. The false teachers' emphasis on Jewish genealogies and myths tended to leave out the Gentiles all around them. So Paul instructs:

"1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone -- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Paul's mention of requests,73 prayers,74 intercession,75 and thanksgiving76 is to emphasize that all kinds of prayers should be made. The object of these prayers should be universal -- all people. "Everyone" (NIV, NRSV), "all men" (KJV, NASB), "all people" (ESV) is comprised of two words: pan, "all" and anthrōpos, "human being, man, person," the generic term for a person of either sex. There are two reasons given for these prayers to be made for all:

  1. Civil order. "Kings and all those in authority" are the ones who bring civil order, but also can prevent persecution of Christians, as happened from time to time during Paul's lifetime. Prayer for rulers also positions the Christian community as submissive citizens, not as a nest of subversives seeking to overthrow the government (Romans 13:1-7).
  2. Salvation of all mankind is God's purpose through Jesus Christ. God himself is titled Savior for this reason, a common Old Testament title of God.77 Prayer for the lost pleases God because he "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (2:4).

Apparently, the false teachers with their Jewish myths and genealogies had lost their focus on salvation for the Gentiles, which has been God's purpose for Israel for centuries (Isaiah 45:22; 49:6; 55:1). God's desire is our mandate:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

"... He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

Many of our churches today suffer from this same kind of navel gazing that the false teachers in Ephesus engaged in. They were so focused on Jewish genealogies and myths, the minutiae of the Scriptures, that they forgot the Great Commission, Christ's command to declare the gospel to the whole world.

Q1. (1 Timothy 2:1-4) Why does Paul emphasize salvation of all mankind in this letter? What does this suggest about the practice of evangelism in the Ephesus church?

One Mediator and Ransom (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

A Great Commission mentality is so important that Paul doesn't let it go at that. He declares:

"5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men -- the testimony given in its proper time." (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

This is a powerful statement. It uses two nouns to describe Jesus' redemptive role:

1. "Mediator" (mesitēs), "one who mediates between two parties to remove a disagreement or reach a common goal, mediator, arbitrator."78 The analogy or picture here is two parties that are separated by some issue. An emissary or negotiator, perhaps a Secretary of State or Prime Minister, is sent to resolve the problem and bring the parties together. The word used in the New Testament for this task is "reconciliation."

"When we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son...." (Romans 5:10)

"God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them." (2 Corinthians 5:19)

"But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight." (Colossians 1:22)

The important thing to realize here is that our Mediator didn't just talk us into a new stance with God through endless rounds of negotiation. As Mediator he acted -- which leads us to the second noun.79

2. "Ransom" (antilytron). This is a very rare word in Greek.80 According to Leon Morris, its meaning does not seem to differ greatly from the simple lytron ("' price of release, ransom' especially also the ransom money for the manumission of slaves"81), but "the preposition [anti-] emphasizes the thought of substitution; it is a ' substitute-ransom' that is signified."82 So Jesus acts as the Mediator who brings reconciliation by presenting himself as a ransom or price of release. Jesus saw this role very clearly, for he said:

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

You'll find more on concepts of ransom and redemption in Lesson 8.1.

The phrase, "the testimony83 given in its proper time," is difficult, but seems to mean that the time God will show mercy to all people has now arrived, as witnessed in the death of Christ for all.84

Q2. (1 Timothy 2:5-6) In the context of the salvation of all, why do you think Paul emphasizes the roles of Mediator and Ransom? In what way did Christ fulfill both these roles?

Paul's Three-Fold Commission (1 Timothy 2:7)

"And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle -- I am telling the truth, I am not lying -- and a teacher of the true85 faith to the Gentiles." (1 Timothy 2:7)

The same three titles used in this verse appear again in 2 Timothy 1:11.

  1. "Herald/preacher" is kēryx, originally, "an official entrusted with a proclamation, herald," then "one who makes public declarations, especially of a transcendent nature, herald, proclaimer."86 Some pastors may see themselves as professional speakers who are to entertain, uplift, and inspire. But the basic idea is to be a public proclaimer of the Gospel.
  2. "Apostle" (apostolos) is used in ancient Greek to designate "persons who are dispatched for a specific purpose," such as an "ambassador, delegate, messenger." In the New Testament it carries the idea of "messengers with extraordinary status, especially of God's messenger, envoy."87
  3. "Teacher" (didaskalos) is one who teaches.88 Didachē ("doctrine") comes from the same Greek root, as we saw above in 1 Timothy 1:3-5. Specifically, Paul calls himself "a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles," a teacher who has evangelism on his mind.

2.2 A Word about Men (1 Timothy 2:8)

Tablet with epitaph of Bessula showing orante figure. Section V, Museo Pio Cristiano, Vatican, Rome.
Tablet with epitaph of Bessula showing orante figure. Section V, Museo Pio Cristiano, Vatican, Rome.

Paul has spent several verses underscoring the need for a renewed evangelistic spirit among the house-churches of Ephesus. Now he turns to another area that needs correction. Due to the controversies stirred up by the false teachers, the men in the church of Ephesus have been embroiled in disputes. So Paul writes:

"I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." (1 Timothy 2:8)

This verse speaks specifically to males in the church, using the term anēr, "an adult human male, man, husband,"89 in contrast to anthrōpos (used in 1 Timothy 2:1, 5), the generic term for human being of either gender. Men are enjoined to "lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing."

He is referring to the ancient Jewish practice of lifting90 of the hands when praying to and blessing God, as well as blessing people.91 Drawings and frescos in the catacombs of Rome, known as orante figures, indicate that this practice was common in the early church for both men and women.92

But here Paul has the men in mind. They are going through the motions of prayer while their mouths and hearts are full of anger93 and infighting.94 The controversies of the false teachers have seriously affected the purity of worship in the church. Centuries earlier Isaiah the prophet had chided the Israelites:

"When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean." (Isaiah 1:15-16a)

Similarly, Jesus had instructed his disciples that worship must be pure:

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)

Anger and controversy must not intrude on the worship of God.

Q3. (1 Timothy 2:8) What problem among the men of the congregation is Paul referring to in this verse? What is so serious about worshipping with the opposite of love in your heart?

2.3 A Word about Women (1 Timothy 2:9-15)

Women: Show Modesty with Decency and Propriety (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Paul has a message for the women in the Ephesian church, as well.

"9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

First, Paul states the goal for women's apparel95 in the church: reserve, restraint. Let's look at the words he uses:

"Modestly" (NIV, NRSV), "respectable apparel" (ESV), "modest apparel" (KJV) is katastolē, "The basic idea is keeping something in check, hence the use of this term in the sense of ' reserve, restraint,' "96 with the meaning of "' propriety, ordered conduct,' then ' clothing' (as a visible expression of decorum)."97

"Decency" (NIV, cf. NRSV), "modesty" (ESV), "shamefacedness" (KJV) is aidōs. "This term expresses the opposite of considering or treating something in a common or ordinary manner; a respect for convention. Modesty."98

"Propriety" (NIV), "suitable clothing" (NRSV), "self-control" (ESV), "sobriety" (KJV), "discreetly" (NASB) is sōphrosynē, "practice of prudence, good judgment, moderation, self-control as exercise of care and intelligence appropriate to circumstances ... decency, chastity,"99 also repeated in verse 15.

In other words, the women (and men, for that matter) aren't to dress primarily to draw attention to themselves, but are to dress in a way that projects propriety and decency. He's not focusing on dressing in sexually provocative ways here, but dressing in ostentatious ways.

Here Paul gives four examples of what this meant in the culture of his day: braided hair, gold, pearls, and costly garments. Peter offers a similar list for women to avoid: "braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes" (1 Peter 3:3).

Clothing is an entirely cultural matter, signaling different things in different ages. In Paul's era these elements were associated with the woman who desired to draw attention to herself -- her prosperity, her sense of fashion as a well-to-do wife. A number of contemporary secular writers critiqued the excesses of the time. But in a situation in which many of the women would have been slaves, unable to afford such clothing, such an act of pretentious display of wealth would have been offensive, in poor taste, and accentuated the divide between the rich and the poor.

Christians have interpreted these verses literally in some denominations, such as among the early Quakers and the Amish. But few churches today would refuse to allow girls to braid their hair, women to wear gold wedding rings, etc. The appropriateness of clothing and jewelry cannot be set in stone for all time. It must be applied within a particular culture on the basis of principle, not of law.

In contrast to pretentious attire, Paul counsels that the women clothe themselves...

"... with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." (2:10)

Rather than outward show, "good works" (KJV, NRSV, ESV) or "good deeds" (NIV) are appropriate, since they represent "the hidden person of the heart" (1 Peter 3:4).

Good deeds are "appropriate" (NIV) or "proper" (NRSV, ESV)100 for godly women. "Worship" (NIV), "reverence" (NRSV), "godliness" (KJV) is theosebeia, "reverence for God or set of beliefs and practices relating to interest in God, piety, godliness."101 This is a different word for godliness than Paul usually employs in the Pastoral Epistles, eusebia, which is discussed in detail on 1 Timothy 4:7-8.

Q4. (1 Timothy 2:9-10) How did women dressing in fancy clothes threaten to compromise the church's witness in Ephesus? How do we apply the principle of Paul's directive in twenty-first century churches without instituting a new legalism?

Women Learning in Quietness (1 Timothy 2:11)

Now we come to one of the most debated passages in current Western Christianity -- the appropriate role of women in ministry. First, let's consider the passage itself. Only then will we consider its modern-day application.

"11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner." (1 Timothy 2:11-14)

It is rather clear that Paul prohibited women from teaching in public congregational ministry both in Ephesus and in Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:33-34). False teaching was the central problem in Ephesus, and apparently part of the problem stemmed from some of the women (1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 3:6; Titus 2:3-4).

Before we consider how to apply this passage today, let's examine Paul's directives in this letter by considering the words he uses.

"Woman" (gynē, from which we get our word "gynecology") can mean both "woman, adult female" as well as "married woman, wife,"102 the exact connotation to be determined by the context. Here the context seems to be submission to one's own husband, rather than the submission of all females to all males.

"Learn" (manthanō) means "to gain knowledge or skill by instruction, learn."103 This may seem obvious until you realize that in Judaism women were looked down upon and not really expected to be able to learn what was taught. As a result, though Jewish women attended synagogue, they wouldn't attend the school that the boys were expected to attend, thus were most often illiterate. It is noteworthy that Paul makes no assumption about the inability of women to learn. Paul fully believes that women can learn, which makes him more progressive than other Jewish leaders of his time.

"Quietness" (NIV; cf. NASB, ESV), "silence" (KJV, NRSV) is hēsychia, "the state of saying nothing or very little, silence"104 The word occurs in both verse 11 and verse 12. However, this probably doesn't mean absolute silence. We see the same word in 1 Corinthians 14:34 in the context of women interrupting the teaching with questions, which appears to have been a problem in Corinth. Paul says rather that they should ask their husbands at home. However, women were allowed to prophecy and pray in the service (1 Corinthians 11:5), so this is not an absolute silence. Fee suggests the translation, "in a quiet demeanor."105 In fact, Paul exhorts both men and women in Thessalonica:

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life (hēsychazō), to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you...." (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

"Full submission." "Full submission" (NIV, NRSV), "all subjection" (KJV), "all submissiveness" (ESV), "entire submissiveness" (NASB) translate two words: pas, "all," or "whole, pertaining to a high degree of completeness of wholeness,"106 and hypotagē, "the state of submissiveness, subjection, subordination, as opposed to setting oneself up as controller."107 It is formed from two words: hypo, "under" + tassō, "to place." It does not mean exactly "obedience;" there is another word for that. It suggests rather voluntarily placing oneself under another. Wives, according to the teaching of the apostles, are to be in voluntary submission to their husbands.

Women Not Permitted to Teach (1 Timothy 2:12)

Now let's consider Paul's directive about teaching itself:

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." (2:12)

"Permit" (NIV, NRSV, ESV) or "suffer" (KJV) is epitrepō, "to allow someone to do something, allow, permit."108

"Teach" is didaskō, "to provide instruction in a formal or informal setting, teach."109 Paul isn't speaking here about informal teaching, such as that conducted privately by Priscilla and Aquilla with Apollos (Acts 18:26)110 or older women instructing younger women in their duties as wives and mothers (Titus 2:4).111 He is referring to teaching in the main church gatherings.

"Have authority" (NIV, NRSV), "exercise authority" (ESV, NASB), "usurp authority" (KJV) is authenteō, "to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to"112 While some contend that this word simply means "to have or exercise authority" without any negative connotation,113 others (including myself) see this as a word used specifically here (and nowhere else in the New Testament) to describe a kind of unhealthy pushiness that is well described by the KJV's translation, "usurp authority." It is derived from autos, "self" + entea, "arms," from an earlier usage, "one who with his own hand kills either others or himself."114

Elsewhere in the New Testament, verbs of exercising authority come from the word groups based on kyrieuō ("to be lord of, have dominion over")115 or exousia ("power, authority").116 But this word is different, unique. Paul is making a special point here of the self-anointed authority being exercised by would-be women teachers. In this context, Towner believes that the word is likely to have carried "the negative valuation of inappropriate exercise of authority -- perhaps ' domineer.' "117

"In silence" (hēsychia), repeated from verse 11 above -- "in a quiet demeanor."118

The Example of Adam and Eve (1 Timothy 2:13-14)

Paul clearly prohibits women from teaching in the meetings of the church at Ephesus. To back up his position here, he cites the examples of Adam and Eve:

"13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner." (1 Timothy 2:13-14)

Notice that Paul doesn't quote the actual Scripture here. Rather he cites Adam and Eve as examples or illustrations of the points he is making. Rather than making his argument from Scripture, he seems to be making a kind of sermon illustration or allusion to illustrate his point, in the manner of rabbis of his time. In 2 Timothy, where Paul cites the story of Jannes and Jambres, according to Jewish tradition the names of the Egyptian magicians who withstood Moses before Pharaoh (2 Timothy 3:8), he isn't giving an authoritative exposition of Scripture; he is just citing a well-known story to illustrate his point.

Paul's first point in our passage seems to be that the wife should submit to her husband, since the man was formed first. His second point seems to be that Adam wasn't as open to deception as Eve. Eve was deceived by the snake, but Adam was persuaded by his wife. In all fairness, of course, Adam was clearly at least as guilty of sin as Eve.

Paul recalls this same allusion in a letter to the Corinthian church:

"I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)

The word "deceive" in both 1 Timothy 2:14 and 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 is exapataō, "to cause someone to accept false ideas about something, deceive, cheat someone."119 In 1 Timothy his point is that Eve was deceived, not Adam. In 2 Corinthians his point is that the church (as a pure virgin) might be deceived (or seduced) by Satan's treachery.120

When it suits his argument, Paul can use Eve's deception to illustrate either the church's deception in general (2 Corinthians) or women's deception in particular (1 Timothy). For this reason, I see this as an illustration from Scripture, rather than an appeal to the essential nature of all women, that somehow women in general are more gullible than men. It was true in Ephesus that the women were being deceived by the false teachers (2 Timothy 3:6), and that is Paul's reference here. Of course, to be totally fair, men were being led astray, also.

Saved through Childbearing (1 Timothy 2:15)

Finally, let's look at a verse that is notoriously difficult to interpret with certainty:

"But women will be saved through childbearing -- if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." (1 Timothy 2:15)

The subject is "childbearing," Greek teknogonia, "the bearing of children."121 The difficulty, of course, is to determine in what sense childbearing saves a woman. The most popular interpretations are:

  1. Kept safe through childbirth, the position taken by the NASB and Weymouth translations. But this is unlikely for several reasons: It doesn't really fit the context well and, sadly, in real life good Christian women die in childbirth. Moreover, Paul regularly uses the word "saved" (sōzō) in terms of redemption and uses another word for "preserved" (rhyomai, 2 Timothy 3:11; 4:18).
  2. Saved from the errors of verses 11-12, of lack of submission and quietness, teaching and usurping authority. But Paul doesn't use the word "saved" in this manner, especially without qualifying it carefully.
  3. Saved through the ultimate Childbirth, that is, through the birth of Christ Jesus. Since he refers to Adam and Eve, some suggest that Paul is referring to the so-called "protoevangelium" of Genesis 3:15 that foreshadows Christ's salvation from Satan's power.

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

But this interpretation seems like a stretch to me, since Genesis 3:15 wasn't interpreted as referring to the death of Christ until Irenaeus in the second century.

  1. Women will live out their salvation in the context of the typical feminine role, symbolized by childbearing, the context of home and caring for children. Women's salvation from similar deception (as Eve) is to be found in her being a model, godly woman, known for her good works. Women are saved as surely in their calling as wives and mothers as those who are public leaders in a teaching capacity in the church. Of course, Paul does not mean that women can earn their salvation through childbirth and homemaking! Nor is he casting aspersions upon women who for some reason can't bear children or are called to the single life.

What makes most sense to me in the context is the fourth alternative, though many evangelical commentators see the birth of Christ as the reference.

Women in Ministry in the Twenty-First Century

We've considered carefully what Paul taught about women in ministry in the church at Ephesus. The pressing question, however, is this: Does Paul's instruction in 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 prohibit women from teaching ministries in the twenty-first century? Were his instructions on this subject based on the basic nature of man and woman from creation, or were they subject to the cultural and historical situation in the Mediterranean in the first century?

There is a huge controversy about this question in our day! And there's no way in the short scope of this chapter that I can consider all the aspects of the question.

Many books have been written on the subject since the rise of Christian feminism in the 1970s. As I was reviewing this, I found Women in Ministry: Four Views122 quite helpful. Four evangelicals with different viewpoints present their arguments, which are then commented on by the other three authors. It helps you see the differences in approach more clearly.

In brief, the traditional view is that Paul appeals to the order of creation to back up his assertion of both the headship of the husband (verse 14a) and the gullibility of women (verse 14b). Therefore, Paul's prohibition on women teaching and leading in the church (verse 12) is an eternal command, not culturally conditioned.

Others argue that while submission of wife to husband is clearly taught in the New Testament, the prohibition of a woman teaching in the church meetings is culturally conditioned for the following reasons:

1. Education. Most women were not taught in the synagogue schools or well educated in the Greek and Roman educational systems of the time. Therefore, most were unfit to teach due to lack of education and training.

2. Grasping authority. The word authenteō in verse 12 carries the negative connotation of "assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to."123 Thus Paul seems to be dealing with a group of "uppity," rebellious women in Ephesus who were trying to grasp authority.

3. Problems among women. False teachers had made particular inroads with their teaching with women (2 Timothy 3:6), and it is this group of women that Paul needs to prevent from spreading inaccuracies or corrupted teachings.

4. Cultural view of women leaders. Women in leadership positions were considered scandalous in the Greek and Roman cultures of the time. While the Christian church was trying to establish itself as a viable force in society, this wasn't the time to buck the trend with women leaders and freeing slaves, and so create another "cause" that would alienate people from the faith unnecessarily. Thus, both slaves and women were instructed to respect their present social positions, "to give the enemy no opportunity for slander" (1 Timothy 5:14; 6:1), though the seeds of their essential equality are clearly sown in the Gospel.

5. Essential equality in Jesus. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). This verse is often cited by egalitarians as support for women teachers. However, I don't think that by itself this verse is a compelling argument that gender roles should necessarily be the same.

6. Gifting. Some women seem to have been given extraordinary gifts for teaching and leadership. If the Holy Spirit has gifted, how can we humans deny the exercise of the gift? Deborah (Judges 4-5) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20) are often cited as examples of exceptions to the norm of male leadership. Robert Clouse observes that Protestant groups that have had a stronger emphasis on the Spirit's gifting and calling (such as Methodism, Quakers, some Baptists, and those in the pietist, holiness, and Pentecostal movements), have tended to be more open to women in ministry than others.124

7. Consistency. Most traditionalists are not consistent in their application of New Testament commands. They insist on excluding women from being teachers based on 1 Timothy 2:12, but are often silent in their cultural application of (1) women wearing head coverings (1 Corinthians 11:3-16), (2) Christians eating meat with blood in it (Acts 15:20), (3) espousing congregational government, even where the majority of the voting members are women, thus placing male leaders under female authority; (4) allowing female missionaries to teach in foreign fields, but not in churches in their homeland; (5) forbidding any kind of expression of slavery whatsoever (1 Timothy 6:1-2; Ephesians 6:5-8); and (6) wearing of braided hair, gold jewelry, pearls, or expensive clothing (1 Timothy 2:9).

As to my own views on this, I believe that Paul teaches submission of a wife to her husband as an abiding principle, as he does in Ephesians 5:21-33. However, I believe that because we live in a drastically different cultural situation from that of the first century Mediterranean world, women teachers and leaders are appropriate in many, many church situations. For me the "gifting" argument above is especially compelling.

I know that this is much too brief to cover such a large and involved topic, but at least We've made a start.

Dear friends, since this is a topic in which various Christ-loving groups disagree, let's be especially careful to state our views with Christian love and gentleness. Denomination bashing and unloving attitudes are cause for suspension of Forum privileges.

Q5. (1 Timothy 2:11-15) How should Paul's instructions about women teaching and leading in the church be applied in the twenty-first century? How do you support your view?


1&2 Timothy and Titus: Leadership and Discipleship Lessons from the Pastoral Epistles, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Available in paperback, PDF, and Kindle formats.

Since Paul's corrective instructions in 1 Timothy 2 ran against the status quo, I'm sure that a number of people were upset -- the navel-gazers who neglected evangelism, the men who worshipped while engaged in rancorous disputes, and the women who were usurping authority in the church. But Paul's instructions were necessary to help the church at Ephesus become stable and strong. Taking steps to correct wrong directions and false doctrine is never easy. But when executed with the help and direction of the Spirit of God, they can be health-producing to a congregation that has been ill and dysfunctional.


Father, thank you for apostles and pastors who have to sometimes bring difficult correction to bring healing to your church. Help us, Lord, to live out our lives and ministries in ways that are pleasing to you and bring credit to the Gospel that we proclaim. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:3b-4, NIV)

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men -- the testimony given in its proper time." (1 Timothy 2:5-6, NIV)


References and Abbreviations

[73] "Requests" (NIV), "supplications" (NRSV, KJV), "entreaties" (NASB) is deēsis, "urgent request to meet a need, exclusively addressed to God, prayer" (BDAG 213).

[74] "Prayers" is proseuchē, "petition addressed to deity, prayer" (BDAG 878, 1).

[75] "Intercession(s)," "petitions" (NASB) is enteuxis, "a formal request put to a high official or official body, petition, request," here "prayer, intercessory prayer" (BDAG 339, 2a).

[76] "Thanksgiving(s)" eucharistia, "thankfulness, gratitude," here, "the expression or content of gratitude, the rendering of thanks, thanksgiving" (BDAG 416, 2).

[77] Psalm 25:5; 27:9; 38:22; 42:11; 43:5; 68:19; 79:9; Isaiah 45:15; 62:11, etc.

[78] Mesitēs, BDAG 634.

[79] Some Roman Catholics refer to Mary as Co-Mediatrix, though it has not achieved the level of official dogma. However, since verse 5 says that there is "one mediator between God and man," it is difficult to see how this could be. The concept of Co-Mediatrix has two meanings in Catholic thought: Mary gave birth to the Redeemer, who is the fountain of all grace. Therefore, she participated in the mediating of grace. A second opinion states that Mary, assumed into heaven, participates in the mediating of divine graces of her Son.

[80] Liddell-Scott defines the word as "ransom" in 1 Timothy and as "antidote, remedy" in Orphica Lithiaca 593, the only two examples given.

[81] Lytron, BDAG 605. Used in Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45.

[82] Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (Eerdmans, 1955), p. 48.

[83] Martyrion, "that which serves as testimony or proof" (BDAG 619, 1a).

[84] Fee, p. 66.

[85] "Verity" (KJV), "true" (NIV), "truth" (NRSV) is alētheia, "the content of what is true, truth" (opposite pseudos), "especially of the content of Christianity as the ultimate truth" (BDAD 42, 2b).

[86] Kēryx, BDAG 543, 2. The word is also used in 2 Timothy 1:11. The related verb, kēryssō, is found in 1 Timothy 3:16.

[87] Apostolos, BDAG 122, 2c.

[88] Didaskalos, "teacher" (BDAG 241).

[89] Anēr, BDAG 79, 1a.

[90] "Lift up" is epairō, to cause to move upward, lift up, hold up something" (BDAG 357, 1).

[91] Ralph F. Wilson, "Lifting Hands in Worship," Paraclete, Winter 1986, pp. 4-8 (www.joyfulheart.com/scholar/hands.htm). This article traces all the references in the Bible on lifting hands in supplication, blessing, and praise.

[92] Ralph F. Wilson, "Orante (Orans) as Early Christian Symbol," JesusWalk.com (www.jesuswalk.com/christian-symbols/orante.htm).

[93] "Anger" (orgē) describes a "state of relatively strong displeasure, with focus on the emotional aspect, anger" (BDAG 720, 1).

[94] "Disputing" (NIV), "argument" (NRSV), "doubting" (KJV) is dialogismos, "verbal exchange that takes place when conflicting ideas are expressed, dispute, argument" (BDAG 232, 3).

[95] "Dress" (NIV, NRSV), "adorn themselves" (KJV, NASB) is kosmeō (from which we get our word "cosmetics"), "to cause something to have an attractive appearance through decoration, adorn, decorate" (BDAG 560, 2aα).

[96] Katastolē, BDAG 527.

[97] Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, stéllō, ktl., TDNT 7:588-99.

[98] Aidōs, BDAG 25, 1.

[99] Sōphrosynē, BDAG 987, 2.

[100] Prepō, "be fitting, be seemly/suitable" (BDAG 861).

[101] Theosebeia, BDAG 452.

[102] Gynē, BDAG 208, meanings 1 and 2.

[103] Manthanō, BDAG 615, 1.

[104] Hēsychia, BDAG 440, 2.

[105] Fee, pp. 72-73.

[106] Pas, BDAG 783, 4.

[107] Hypotagē, BDAG 104. For more on this word group see "Christian Husbands and Christian Wives (Ephesians 5:21-33)," in Ephesians: Discipleship Lessons (JesusWalk Bible Study Series, 2006).

[108] Epitrepō, BDAG 384, 1.

[109] Didaskō, BDAG 241, 2a.

[110] The verb in Acts 18:26 is ektithēmi, "to convey information by careful elaboration, explain, expound" (BDAG 310, 2).

[111] The verb used in Titus 2:4 is sōphronizō, "to instruct in prudence or behavior that is becoming and shows good judgment, encourage, advise, urge" (BDAG 986) from sōphrōn, "of sound mind, discreet, prudent;" in Attic Greek especially, "having control over the sensual desires, temperate, self-controlled, chaste" (Liddell-Scott).

[112] Authenteō, BDAG 150.

[113] Knight, pp. 141-142.

[114] Authenteō, Thayer.

[115] Katakyrieuō (Matthew 20:25; 1 Peter 5:3), kyrieuō (2 Corinthians 1:24).

[116] Exousiazō (Luke 22:25), katexousiazō (Mark 10:42).

[117] Towner, p.223. He has an extended discussion of this word in pp. 220-223.

[118] Fee, p. 73.

[119] Exapataō, BDAG 345.

[120] "Cunning" (NIV, NRSV), "subtilty" (KJV) is panourgia, "cunning, craftiness, trickery," literally, "readiness to do anything" (BDAG 754). The word is used in the Septuagint in Genesis 3:1 ("the serpent was more crafty...").

[121] Teknogonia, BDAG 994.

[122] Bonnidell Clouse and Robert G. Clouse (editors), Women in Ministry: Four Views (InterVarsity Press, 1989).

[123] Authenteō, BDAG 150.

[124] Clouse and Clouse, Women in Ministry, pp. 9-21.


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