women preaching in the bible

Discover the Truths about Women Preaching in the Bible Now!

women preaching in the bible

"What does the Bible say about Women Preaching? Does the Bible advocate that women cannot become a pastor, or to teach men or even preach?"

1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthian 14:33-35

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    Paul's Letter to Timothy

    1 Timothy 1:12 has always been a difficult passage to explain and many scholars have written about what Paul meant in his epistle. Today, we shall investigate three views that clearly say, within reason, that Paul has a high regard for women as a leader and teacher in the church.

    But first, let's review the background of Paul's epistle or "letter" to Timothy.

    1. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy who was residing in the city of Ephesus
    2. Paul wrote a personal letter to Timothy regarding how to deal with certain issues happening in Ephesus eg. teaching false doctrines in 1 Timothy 1
    3. The Temple of Artemis (one of the wonders of the world) is situated at Ephesus. Hence the main religion at that time was the worship of the Artemis, the goddess of the Hunt.
    4. The worship of Artemis focused mainly on the importance of women in society and hence feminism.
    5.  Women in Ephesus were generally more domineering and outspoken because of the their worship in Artemis. Even new Christian converts still held some of these attributes.
    6. There were many high priestess of the Artemis cult and there were many wealthy women who assumed such positions in Ephesus. This likely resulted in female superiority at that time.

    OK. With that out of the way, let's now investigate the passage each verse at a time and see what Paul intended to say about women.

    "Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing." - 1 Timothy 2:8

    It was clear that the men in Ephesus were always quarrelling and angry from their discussion about Christianity. 1 Timothy 1:3-4, Paul charged Timothy to confront people who had been teaching false doctrines and focusing on new myths and beliefs.

    “..command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. “ - 1 Timothy 1:3-4

    I believe these were what had caused many anger and disputes among the men. Paul instructed Timothy that the men should pray with pure hearts and believed what was preached instead.

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

    Paul writes clearly to all women in Ephesus to be modest in their dressing.

    During that time, most of the Ephesus women were wealthy and they tend to show off their wealth when they meet to worship. Paul instructed them to be humble with modest dressing and doing good deeds instead of showing off.

    Isn't this similar to what we have in our churches today as well?

    "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission."  - 1 Timothy 2:11

    Surely, this passage clearly that states that women must not say a word when they are learning ! But wait, let's examine the text in detail.

    1. The text uses "A woman" in greek guné - singular. It does not indicate ALL women. So what does it mean? It is clear that Paul was referring to the one that seems to be causing problems within the church at Ephesus. In the Interlinear Greek Bible, the word refers to "a single woman" or "a wife"
    2. Paul could also be referring to the wife of someone who had been causing trouble - or perhaps all wives. And he requires the woman to "learn in quietness and full submission". In greek, the word 2271 (hēsyxía) refers to being "calm and inner tranquility". It does not mean "speechless" as in the greek word 4602 (sigḗ). So Paul did not intend the woman to be silent throughout but they are to be in a calm and peaceful manner when learning about God. She is to be obedient and observe the rules and laws in the church.

    Now, the crux of the passage..

    "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet." - 1 Timothy 2:12

    Surely, this means that woman cannot  have leadership positions in church, right?

    The greek word 831 authentéō is only used once in the bible. Paul could have used the word 1849: exousia instead, which meant "authority" but didn't. So what did Paul mean by "assume authority"? Scholars searched and studied how the word was used during the time of Paul.

    The greek word authentéō was translated as "to usurp authority" - domineering, with violence and forceful in a negative sense.

    Paul did not want the woman (remember the use of  "a woman") who was outspoken and feministic, not to treat man or husband harshly. The same greek word 2271 (hēsyxía) which meant "calm and tranquil" was used in v12. In other words, Paul instructed "a woman" to be calm and peaceful" when learning in the church.

    Paul also instructed "a woman" not to teach as well. It would seem that in her harshness and pride, the woman who does not understand the scriptures or in the right attitude and behaviour, should not teach others.

    She could well have been one of those who were teaching false doctrines mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:8 and needed to be stopped.

    Some argued that this phrase could also have been referring to husband and wife instead of generic male and female.

    Woman in the Bible

    Why couldn't this mean that women cannot be preachers? Isn't it obvious?

    If Paul forbade ALL women to teach or be in leadership position in the Church, then why did he contradict himself by holding such high regards for women church leaders and teachers? In fact, throughout the bible, we see many examples of strong female leaders leading the people of God. Here are just some mentioned by Paul:

    • Priscilla, also known as Prisca, was a Christian woman who, together with her husband Aquila, collaborated with Paul in spreading the gospel. Both Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos, another disciple of Christ. : Acts 18:2, 18, 26, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19
    • Phoebe, a deaconess from Cenchreae, is mentioned in the Book of Romans. Paul highly recommended her to the Roman church and entrusted her with delivering his letter to them : Romans 16:1-2
    • Junia, a woman mentioned by Paul in his letter to the Romans, is thought by some to have been an apostle, and Paul held her in high esteem for her efforts in teaching and spreading the gospel : Romans 16:7
    • Euodia and Syntyche, two women mentioned in the Book of Philippians, are described by Paul as fellow laborers who have toiled alongside him in the gospel : Philippians 4:2-3
    • Lois and Eunice, the grandmother and mother of Timothy, a companion of Paul, are praised by Paul for their faith and influence on Timothy, who became a significant figure in the early Christian church : 2 Timothy 1:5
    • Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis, mentioned in Paul's letter to the Romans, are commended for their diligent work in the Lord : Romans 16:6, 12
    • Lydia, a wealthy woman from Thyatira, was one of the first converts to Christianity in Philippi. Paul and his companions met her by the riverside where she was worshiping, and she later welcomed them into her home : Acts 16:14-15
    • Apphia, mentioned in the Book of Philemon as a recipient of the letter along with Archippus, is referenced by Paul with a sense of respect and esteem : Philemon 1:2

    So it is not reasonable that Paul had forbidden ALL women to teach or preach. Rather, Paul was correcting bad conduct observed in the church of Ephesus.

    Furthermore God clearly states that both male and female are equal in God's eyes.

    "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." - Galatians 3:28

    Women Saved through Childbirth

    Then how about 1 Timothy:2:15? Doesn't this contradict Christian beliefs?

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

    Did Paul contradict Christianity belief that child birth can lead to salvation?

    There are 3 views on this:

    (1) Some scholars believed that the phrase "saved through childbearing"  is similar to :

    “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” - 1 Corinthian 3:15

    The above verse means that the man would be saved as "if through the danger of fire burning".

    In the same way, 1 Timothy 2:15 would also imply that women would be saved "as if through childbirth pains". Childbirth pains was a curse for all women when mankind fell. And here, God reminds us that all women will be saved as if going through pains of childbirth.

    This verse does not teach that childbirth grants salvation - only through Christ can we be saved.

    (2) Some believe that this was the fulfillment of genesis in genesis 3:15

    “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” - Genesis 3:15

    This verse refers to the descendent of Eve - referring to Jesus who would crush Satan and Satan would injure his feet (perhaps nailing and dying on the cross?).

    But Satan was defeated when Christ resurrected from the dead!

    (3) The cult of Artemis believed that the goddess would save them through childbirth. Verse 15 was simply Paul reaffirming the converts that their salvation was by God instead and not by the goddess Artemis.

    All of these views do not contradict Paul's teaching on Christian beliefs.

    Paul teaches us that we can ONLY be saved through Christ for

    “We were reconciled to God through the death of his Son" - Romans 5:10 and

    “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" - Romans 10:13

    Paul's Letter to Corinth

    How about 1 Corinthian 14:33-35? Doesn't this verse reinforce that Paul is against women at that time?

    Let's look at the verse closely.

    "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. " - 1 Corinthian 14:33-35

    In v33, Paul talks about God is of peace in the churches. He continued in V34, instructing the women not to talk in church. It would seem that women talked a lot in church frequently; And this is likely so because almost all women at that time, were uneducated.

    Naturally, they would ask their husbands about their beliefs during worship; And the chatter would have been distracting. Hence Paul instructed the women to speak about such things to their husbands only at home instead.

    The greek words used for "women" is guné and "husband" is andros . These are the same words used in 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

    But here in the letter to the Church in Corinth, the translators used "wife" and "husband" instead of "a woman" and "a man".

    Putting them together..

    You have examined the texts. What do you think?

    In my opinion, it would seem very likely that both letters were referring to "husbands" and "wives".


    Well, for one thing, the words used for "a woman" and "a man" were the same in both context.

    And if we study 1 Timothy 2:13-14 closely, we see Paul changed his focus to speak about Adam and Eve to explain why the "wife" cannot teach or "usurp the authority" of her "husband" (at home).

    If you were to replace the "a woman" and "a man" in the verses 11-12 with "wife" and "husband", you would see that his letter to Timothy becomes clearer and makes more sense :

    "A wife should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a wife to teach or to assume authority over a husband; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the wife who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. " - 1 Timothy2:11-15

    If this is true, then Paul did not advocate that women cannot preach or be in leadership position in church.


    We have examined 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthian 14:33-35.

    Whether or not it is a mistranslation with "a man" and "a woman" as "husband" and "wife", it is clear that Paul :

    1. holds high regards of women who are capable leaders and preachers in Church
    2. instructed all men to be holy in prayer and not with anger and dispute
    3. instructed women (whether married or not) to be humble, clam, tranquil when treating men; and to be modest in their appearances and focus on helping others with good deeds
    4. instructed wives (during that time when women were uneducated) to ask their husbands at home about spiritual things instead of talking during worship
    5. affirmed salvation for all women even though they might feel being cursed because of childbirth

    So it is within reason that  the verses in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthian 14:33-35 do not belittle women or forbid educated, humble and modest Christian women from taking up leadership positions or teach or preach in the Church.

    What do you think?

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