Q. Our cell group was studying the issue of women preachers in 1 Tim. There is much disagreement as there are different opinions which is very confusing. Some say sisters shouldn’t preach and submit to the plain teaching of the Bible, which is also given in 1 Co. Scripture’s demands are not subject to cultural background, except the issue of head covering which was mentioned only in the church at Corinth. Others say the only situation where sisters can preach is when the brothers of the church are not up to the task. What is your view on this?
A. The passages you referred to are 1 Tim 2:11-14 and 1 Co 11:3-10. There is much debate on whether women should preach and be ordained as pastors, with three main positions:
1. Traditional view: Women should not be elders or pastors;
2. Egalitarian view: God calls women as well as men to be elders and pastors; women should serve alongside men in all positions as equals;
3. Mediating view: Women serve under male leadership as their extension; they step in as replacement in the absence of men candidates.
Your cell group seemed to be split along views 1 and 3. There are books and dissertations written in support of all three views. All I can give you is my opinion in this brief article.
Actually I wrote on 1 Tim 2:12 before:
But I will approach it from another angle to answer your question specifically.
Let’s look at 1 Tim 2:11-14 below:
• A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.
• But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
• For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.
• And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
First, the context is 1 Tim 2, which can be divided into two segments:
• 1-8 A call to Prayer, which ends with Paul calling the men in every place to pray (v 8);
• 9-15 Women Instructed
So the context is that of a contrast between the role of men and women.
Second, observation. I will use “W5” to summarize the key findings:
Who. The word “woman” translates the Greek word “gyne“, as in gynaecology. It can mean either:
• a woman (129 X in the KJV) of any age, whether a virgin, married, a widow; or
• a wife (92 X in the KJV), or a betrothed woman.
Some choose the latter meaning for v 12, and interpret the verse to mean Paul disallowing a wife to teach or exercise authority over her husband. This does not fit the context and the former meaning is the proper one.
What. The word “teach” translates the Greek word “didasko“, and in v 12 is used in the absolute sense, to give instruction. It is formal teaching. Paul is not forbidding a woman to teach informally, but formally.
Where. The chapter did not specify the setting explicitly, but it is quite obvious that a church environment is assumed, as Paul was not regulating situations inside the home.
When. Time was not specified, but given a church setting, the timing would be during public gatherings whenever the congregation get together, and not private meetings.
Why. Paul gave two reasons for not allowing a woman to teach:
• Adam was first created, and then Eve;
• Adam was not deceived, but the woman was.
The reasons go all the way back to:
• The order of creation, which specified man’s priority, and
• The Fall. Eve was deceived and Adam went along. She stepped out from man’s headship (leadership) and fell into transgression first.
Since the reasons involved our first parents, they apply to all their descendants and are trans-cultural. They do not apply just to a particular time in history or cultural background, but to all humanity.
(To be continued)