This message was presented on February 2, 2014 as part of the series on 1 Timothy.
How do you know when something in Scripture is culturally relevant or not? Does what Paul wrote in his day apply to us today? There are several questions from the text we must answer. For example:
- What does it mean for women to learn in silence?
- Why did Paul write that women are not to teach men?
- Is Paul saying women are more easily deceived?
- What does it mean that women are saved through childbearing?
In the following subject matter, a preacher will often tell the joke about when God created Adam and put him to work in the garden. God looked at Adam, and said, “I can do better than that.” But that would be blasphemous, so I won’t tell it.
There are three things that we must understand before we begin, however:
- If you take a text out of the context, you have a pretext (an excuse to say what you want). If you take this passage by itself, you may distort how to treat women and their role.
- Pauline letters are prescriptive. They are not merely descriptive of what happened at that time. The book of Acts is descriptive, because it describes what happened in the first century. Paul’s letter prescribes how we are to think and live.
- You interpret out of the text, not read into the text. If we don’t understand this important principle, we may wrongly prescribe something. This is the principle of “exegesis” (taking the meaning out of the text) versus “eisegesis” (reading into the text).
In the last message we covered these first two principles:
1) Disciple men to worship in dependence on Jesus 2:8
Paul directed men to lift holy hands in prayer. What does this mean? Remove all wickedness from your life, do not hold onto anything from the world, be open to receive God’s instructions and commit to following God in all things. And Paul adds, “without wrath or doubting.” These two factors cause more men to stumble than just about everything else. Anger, whether it be in the form of frustration, seething or explosive anger, bitterness, resentment, blaming or contention, indicates something is more important to the person than worship in dependence on Jesus Christ. Doubting says we have too much to think about and we don’t trust God to work out the details. But we can put on a phony façade and people may think we’re doing great, when we are struggling within.
What does it take? It takes courage to shrug off what other people think of our prayers and worship. It takes humility and brokenness to depend solely on the Lord for all things of life. It takes intensity of purpose to get the task done and reflect God in His actions. And it takes perseverance to keep getting up after falling down and getting muddy and bloody. Get up and depend on Jesus, not yourself. Then Paul directs our attention toward discipling women in worship.
2) Disciple women to approach Jesus properly 2:9-10
First, Paul directed that we disciple women to approach Jesus with a pure heart as written in verse 2:9a, “In like manner also…”This is internal transformation – to pray and worship in a similar way as the men from verse eight did. Secondly, Paul admonished us to disciple women to approach Jesus with modest apparel 2:9b, “with modest apparel, with propriety and moderation,” that is, emphasizing wisdom, modesty and humility, so the attention is given to Jesus rather than the one who is wearing the clothes. Thirdly, Paul focused on the heart when he said, “…not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire…” because these all attract attention to the outward appearance, rather than the heart. And fourthly, Paul stressed that true beauty was in works of blessing, “…but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works…” True beauty is so much more than “skin deep.” It is in the character and servant works of a woman dependent on Jesus Christ!
As we transition to this passage, we see that Paul continued to highlight how to disciple women to worship Jesus Christ.
3) Disciple women to worship Jesus in submissive silence 2:11
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. (1 Tim. 2:11 NKJ)
Let’s look at several words in this verse. First, Paul wrote, “Let a woman learn.” This is an on-going command, directive for women to be discipled. The verb comes from the noun translated “disciple” (mathetes) and means “cause to learn or be a learner.” If you ever saw the movie Yentl, you saw the cultural challenge of a woman wanting to learn. The cultural attitude was often, “Don’t waste your time teaching women. Their role is in the home raising children.” Yet, Paul raised and honored the role of women just as Jesus did.
Secondly, the word submission means “ under ranks.” There are many passages listed below, but one stands out. It’s from 1 Corinthians 11.
8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. (1 Cor. 11:8-12 NKJ)
The other passages (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Pet 3:1-6) all reference the submission a wife has with her husband. The issue is not so much about males and females as it is about the angelic conflict. Jesus is the Head of the church, just as the husband is the head of his wife. This is submission, not subjugation. This says nothing about intelligence, ability to speak, to discern or to train others. It doesn’t address levels of wisdom, financial acuity, or physical ability. Every organization requires authority. However, if you have a Socialist, Marxist, or Communistic government, they denigrate authority, unless it is with the central polity.
What kind of guy are you training your daughter or granddaughter to marry? Do you let her settle for romance? Emotional attachment? Intimacy before marriage? That leads to lifetime frustration, especially when you know he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer? Or are you training your daughter to say yes to a guy she can respect for the rest of her life because of his character and his godly way of life?
Thirdly, what does the word “silence” mean? The word was already used in 1 Timothy 2:2, so we should look at it there for help.
2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (1 Tim. 2:2 NKJ)
You might think it is the word “quiet”, but it’s the word “peaceable.” Then look over at 1 Peter 3:4.
4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Pet. 3:4 NKJ)
Here the word is “quiet,” but it is not referring to absolute silence. By the way, the word “gentle” means “power under control.” A godly woman has tremendous power under the control of the Holy Spirit. That’s good! I love that about godly women? They are not bossy or horsey (overbearing!); they are under control of the Holy Spirit! Why does Paul say a woman should learn in “silence.” It’s very simple – “You don’t learn while talking.” Silence shows a desire to understand, an acceptance of authority and dependence on God’s design for mankind. The purpose is worship, not an intellectual exercise of mere learning!
We should note one other key passage that is often used. Paul was trying to help the Corinthian church work through their mixed up understanding about spiritual gifts. Women had become controlling and boisterous in their service. They may have greatly distorted some of the spiritual gifts. So Paul brought order to the situation and told women to ask their husbands at home rather than disrupt the service and others.
34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. (1 Cor. 14:34-35 NKJ)
The word for silence here means they were not to talk while God’s revelation was being communicated. Again, it is not an absolute, because it must harmonize with the rest of Scripture.
This is a good lesson for men. Men, you need to sharpen yourself, humbly ask questions and make sure the women have all their questions answered at home ( Heb. 13:7,17). The problem is not women; the problem is men who do not take leadership roles. Next, Paul addresses the Divine order for worship.
4) Disciple women to worship Jesus in divine order 2:12-15
- Jesus gave women limited authority 2:12
And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. (1 Tim. 2:12 NKJ)
Paul wrote that he does not permit a woman “to teach a man.” Does this mean ever? Or is there a time when it would be okay? Under what circumstances? Consider that Priscilla was the main communicator to Apollos in Acts 18. At what point could a woman teach a man? Can she if he is two-years-old? Remember, she is directed to instruct younger women in Titus 2.
I need to get a little technical at this point. I realize, however, some people might say, “Don’t go over my head, just let me do what I want.” Or there might be some who would say, “Don’t use big words, just tell me stories and make me laugh.” I would direct you to the secular theaters if that is what you want. I try to keep things clear and simple, but in some cases I may need to stretch your thinking.
Too many men have jumped around this passage, because women have or are controlling them. Too many other men come down hard on women, because they can. There is only one basis for Truth and that is “What does God say?”
So let’s understand what Paul means. In this first year Greek grammar book written by Dana & Mantey, they wrote on page 199,
It is well to notice particularly the difference between the aorist and present infinitives [note on a time line the difference between the different tenses]. The aorist infinitive denotes that which is eventual or particular, while the present infinitive indicates a condition or process. Thus pisteusai is to exercise faith on a given occasion, while pisteuein is to be a believer; douleusai is to render a service, while douleuein is to be a slave; hamartein is to commit a sin, while hamartanein is to be a sinner.
The Aorist tense means something that happens at a point in time, whether in the past, or present or future, or even a series of events that are considered as happening at one point. The Present tense means something that happens over a period of time. The infinitive refers to the action or the object of the main verb in purpose, result, or time or a number of other possibilities based on the context.
So what does it mean in 1 Timothy 2:12. If these were Aorist infinitives, Paul would have meant “I do not ever allow a woman to teach a man.” But they are in the present tense so Paul meant that she could not be the ongoing teacher, or authority. In other words, she could be a missionary speaker, or one time speaker, or give a testimony, say a prayer, or even be the chair of a special ad hoc committee. In other words, Paul did not permit a woman to teach through the Bible, or rule as an elder, or serve as pastor over the church. That is why Gabe is a man. The music pastor carries a tremendous amount of authority and he is always teaching through his words and music. It is not Biblically appropriate for a woman to be in that position. Again, it is not because of a lack of ability, intelligence, or anything else. This is not a reflection of women’s incompetence in any way, but in a man’s primary responsibility to receive and communicate truth. It is part of the consequence of the Fall as we will see next Sunday. Will you be humble in your role, or step out of your role to “fix” the situation? If you do, you are not trusting God to do His work.
I appreciate how the question is answered in “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,”
When Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent,” we do not understand him to mean an absolute prohibition of all teaching by women. Paul instructs the older women to “…teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women” (Titus 2:3-4), and he commends the teaching that Eunice and Lois gave to their son and grandson Timothy (2 Timothy 1:4; 3:14). Proverbs praises the ideal wife because “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26). Paul endorses women prophesying in church (1 Corinthians 11:5) and says that men “learn” by such prophesying (1 Corinthians 14:31) and that the members (presumably men and women) should “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). Then, of course, there is Priscilla at Aquila’s side correcting Apollos (Acts 18:26)….If Paul did not have every conceivable form of teaching and learning in mind, what did he mean? Along with the fact that the setting here is the church assembled for prayer and teaching (1 Timothy 2:8-10; 3:15), the best clue is the coupling of “teaching” with “having authority over men.” We would say that the teaching inappropriate for a woman is the teaching of men in settings or ways that dishonor the calling of men to bear the primary responsibility for teaching and leadership. This primary responsibility is to be carried by the pastors or elders.” (pp. 69-70, emphasis added).
Next week, we’ll look at order in worship:
- Jesus established the order of authority 2:13-15
Was Paul anti-women? Was he just a crusty old man or bachelor? Didn’t he appreciate all that women are, have and can offer?
Christianity has always elevated women in history. Consider the burka Islam requires and their brutality. Many cultures gave women a low status, because they were weaker and could be controlled. Instead of criticizing Paul, women ought to thank God for their elevated status, protections provided and blessings acknowledged by Christianity!
As men and women worship in Spirit and Truth,
they will emphasize their roles over their equality!
- Men and women equally bear God’s image but are also strapped with a sin nature. Paul describes the bondage of this sin nature in Romans 7. Both men and women are completed in Christ, yet both bear the guilt of sin, yet further still they both are viewed by God in a state of glory (Rom. 8:30).
- Men and women have God-given roles that are equally important for the unity and harmony of the Body. Stepping down from or usurping the other’s role is detrimental to Christ’s Body – the Church.
- Men are not superior to women even in their role. They have a different role just as there are different roles in the Trinity. Men are often influenced by appearance; women are influenced by dialogue. The roles that women serve in are essential to the Body of Christ.
Here is an excellent definition of Biblical femininity:
At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships. (p. 46) Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) Was your mother and/or grandmother involved in serving in a church? How so?
2) Read Genesis 3:1-19. Did Adam have a consequence for his sin in Genesis 3? ________ What was it? Was that just for Adam? How do we see it today?
3) What was Eve’s contribution to the sin problem of Genesis 3? _________________ What was the consequence that God imposed? Is that consequence still experienced today? Does this passage have anything to do with the consequence of Genesis 3? How so or how not?
4) How quiet is quiet? ______________ Consider the word quiet in 1 Tim. 2:11. It is used in Acts 22:2 and 2 Thes. 3:12. Then compare another word for quiet in Luke 18:39 and 1 Cor. 14:34. What difference do you observe? What does that mean for the context of 1 Tim. 2:11?
Making application of the message to life:
5) How would you disciple young women that their role is not a role of subjugation? What kinds of things should you disciple?
6) What are consequences of either men or women who step out of their God-given roles?
7) Who and what kind of people at Grace may need help in discipling women in these principles? What can you do specifically, besides pray for them?