Finishing a thought: 1 Timothy 2:12

So, yesterday, I addressed 1 Timothy 2:11. Today, I wanted to see just how many more people I could make angry by tackling verse 12, which reads:

“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet.”

Again, taken out of its context, it really looks sexist, but let’s dive in here and see what Paul is saying to young Timothy.

The New English Translation really captures the meaning of the Greek, lining out two points: 1) teaching, and 2) exercising authority.

Now, before the feminists run down to the comment box and hammer out a missive, what is the context? Paul is writing to Timothy about operating order within the church of Jesus Christ and he is is dealing with an issue within the church as dealt with in the previous post (see the above link). So, as women were coming in, as they were learning, there is a desire to want to share what one knows with others, but Paul wants there to be a clear distinction in the order of operation. Let’s be clear, Paul doesn’t use the word “ever” when he makes that statement, the only statement he makes is “over a man”.

Paul directs his reader back to Garden as an example. He’s not passing blame, but rather making a statement about the problem of sin. He’s calling to mind the story of the Fall of Man.

There are definite differences between men and women: the way our brains are wired, the way we think, the way we process information, the way we articulate information. Women have a tendency to be more emotionally driven, men tend to be more facts and figures driven. Women tend to be more relational, men tend to respond to clear hierarchical structures. Women tend to be more abstract, men tend to be more concrete. Are these differences bad? No, far from it, they make us unique, they draw us together, and yet they divide us. Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:6-7, seems to indicate that those who were trying to invade and corrupt the church were using the women as an entry point because of their differences, again pointing back to the Garden.

Paul, in effect, was advising Timothy to set a buffer in the teaching of the faith. He wasn’t forbidding women to teach or to have authority, rather he was setting a protective barrier to the faith and the faithful for, as his second letter seems to indicate, women were being targeted by false teachers because of their hunger for knowledge of the faith. This advice is not meant to be sexist, rather it is meant to establish a precedent where the gifts of teaching could be exercised under the authority of those who previously received the most authoritative teaching, which at this point, just happened to be the men who were the most familiar with both the Law and the Gospel.


  1. […] So, what is the obvious fallacy that is contained in this particular “proof”? Simply put, it’s a category error: a failure to distinguish between the parts that are descriptive (in regards to the national history of ancient Israel) and prescriptive (as an applicable rule of behavior), and when parts are particularly prescriptive, any acknowledgement of exegesis that help to give application to a particular passage. Two particular passages referenced I’ve answered here and here. […]

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