Answers 07 – Doesn’t The Bible Say That Women Shouldn’t Teach Men? – David Hibbert.
In this series called “Answers”, my goal is to help you, by sharing with you short, Biblical answers to questions that people have been asking me. Today’s question:
“Doesn’t the Bible say that women shouldn’t teach men?”
1 Timothy 2:12, NIV – “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”
So people say, “So there it is. End of story. No women should be a preacher”. However, before we stand on this verse, we must consider several tests of proper Bible interpretation.
- The Logical Test.
First, there is the logical test. If women should not teach men, then every mother is sinning, because every mother teaches her son, and is instrumental in the forming of her son into a man. Also, today, every primary school is about 85 percent woman teachers, and every high school is about 70 percent women teachers, so every parent who allows their children to go to school, is sinning.
- The Cultural Test.
Next, there is the cultural test, meaning that certain rules may only apply to a certain culture or a certain time. There are actually many things in the Bible that are cultural.
Deuteronomy 22:8 says that if you do not build a fence on your roof and someone falls off, you are guilty of bloodshed. However, in the Old Testament times, houses had flat roofs, and much of the evening was spent on the roof. If you did not have a fence on your roof, a visitor might fall off. Today, most houses do not have flat roofs, and so the command no longer applies.
Deuteronomy 22:5 says that a woman is not allowed to wear a man’ clothing, so people say that a woman who wears pants is sinning. However, in the first century, both men and women wore robes, but men’s robes were different than women’s robes. Today, there are men’s pants, and women’s pants, and men’s pants are different than women’s pants. So people who say that women should not wear pants are in error, since there are pants made just for women.
So perhaps Paul was speaking to the culture at a time, when he told women not to teach men.
- The Historical Test.
Next, there is the historical test.
Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned 5 times in the book of Acts, and 4 out of 5 Priscilla is mentioned first. A woman was never mentioned first in first century culture before her husband, meaning that she must have been much more prominent in ministry than her husband.
In Romans 16:7, Junias was referred to as an outstanding apostle. However, the name “Junias” is feminine, meaning that Junias was a female, and one of the roles of an Apostle was to preach and teach.
- The Geographical Test.
Next, there is the geographical test. This means that certain commandments were for a certain place.
Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, who was the pastor at Ephesus, which had been the home of the Temple to Diana (also called Artemis). In the temple of Diana, they worshipped Diana as a female god, who dominated men, and those who worshipped Diana rejected marriage, and the role of men. Also they used female prostitutes as part of their worship.
So could it be that Paul’s command was specifically for the church in Ephesus, because people were coming out of a woman-dominated pagan religion, and he didn’t want that to creep into the new church.
Was Paul saying, that for the sake of people in Ephesus becoming Christians, women were not allowed to teach men, because that resembled too much the worship of the goddess Diana?
- The Original Language Test.
Next, there is the original language test.
1 Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”
The phrase “to have authority over” (Strongs G831) is the Greek word “αὐθεντέω” [authenteō]” which means “to usurp authority over” or “to dominate”, which again may be referring to the practice of goddess worship in Ephesus. However, if a man gives permission for a woman to teach, then she is not usurping authority.
Also, the word “quiet” (Strongs G2271) is the Greek word “ἡσυχία” [hēsuchia]” can mean “silent or quiet”, but it can also be translated as “stillness” or non-contentious”.
So, since Junias, a female apostle would have been involved in teaching men, and every mother is involved in teaching her son to become a man, I personally believe that Paul’s command was a cultural and geographic command, that was addressing a specific situation in the new church of Ephesus, and it does not apply to the whole church, or to future generations.