Can Women Preach?
Hands down the most annoying question that I receive on a weekly basis comes from men who think that I’ve never read 1 Timothy.
“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” – 1 Timothy 2:12 KJV
I can tell you about the specifics about the Holy Spirit, Jewish customs that reveal Jesus in Passover, and how to decode Hebrew letters – but apparently, I’ve never in my life heard of 1 Timothy 2:12 until these men were so gracious to remind me that “Paul said women can’t teach.”
Scripturally Illiterate Men
It always astounds me how prideful and arrogant men, who have zero experience with exegesis or reading the Bible in context, act like they really got me.
Let’s just jump in and put this stupidity to rest by checking out two answers I wrote on this topic on Quora.
“Why was Priscilla in the Bible allowed to be a preacher?”
Because Paul wasn’t against women teaching! Let me repeat that again, PAUL WAS NOT AGAINST WOMEN TEACHING!
Now unfortunately, lots of people have no idea how to read or study the Bible and treat verses as if they have zero context or any surrounding verses to explain what a verse means.
Scripture interprets Scripture. Period. Not Jerome. Not the Pope. Not your Bible teacher. Scripture interprets Scripture.
When there looks to be a discrepancy, SCRIPTURE ALONE INTERPRETS SCRIPTURE.
1 Timothy Is About Refuting False Teachers’ Theology
The entire book of 1 Timothy, which is 6 chapters in length, is refuting false teachings and false teachers which have crept into the Church.
1 Timothy 1 begins with a rebuke against false teachings:
“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:3-4 ESV
1 Timothy 6 ends with a rebuke against false teachings:
“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” – 1 Timothy 6:3-5 ESV
Now I know that many people are very poor writers, but such was not the case with Paul’s letters. While many people go off on tangents and insert nonsense in odd places, Paul stayed consistent throughout his letters.
1 Timothy is all about false teachers and how to weed out false teachings. At no point did Paul randomly go off on a tangent for two verses about not allowing women to preach the truth of the gospel.
What people don’t understand is that Paul is responding to a letter that we don’t have asking for advice about a particular situation, which is why 1 Timothy is written as a response with a plan of action to tackle the problems that the Ephesian church was facing.
Read It In The Greek
In 1 Timothy 2, Paul specifically uses the Greek epitrepo, a temporary injunction, against a single particular woman.
Jesus also used this same temporary permission, when He permitted the demons in the Gaderene demoniac to go into the herd of pigs.
Did Jesus allow all demons to go into any and all pigs at any time? No! Only these specific demons, at this specific time, were allowed to go into this specific herd of pigs.
Jesus didn’t give all demons carte blanche to go into all pigs, likewise, Paul didn’t prohibit all women from speaking in all churches.
After that, in this response, Paul goes on to refute some basic tenets of Gnosticism, such as that Sophia & Eve created Adam and taught him their wisdom.
“For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” – 1 Timothy 2:13-14
“Eve as Revealer of Gnosis
After the day of rest Sophia sent her daughter Zoe, being called Eve, as an instructor in order that she might make Adam, who had no soul, arise so that those whom he should engender might become containers of light.” – Nag Hammadi (115:31-35), Another Eve
Paul finished it up with refuting another Gnostic teaching that he went on to refute more in depth in 1 Timothy 4, and had already refuted in Corinthians and Colossians – the Gnostic belief that a woman would lose her salvation if she had sex or got pregnant.
“Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” – 1 Timothy 2:15
Paul was saying that you’ll still be saved through out the duration of your pregnancy – you’re not going to lose salvation for having sex.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-3
Paul didn’t forbid women from teaching as you saw with Priscilla (Prisca) and all the other women Paul mentions in Romans 16 and other letters in the New Testament.
Can Women Be A Pastor?
Even JESUS travelled with women preaching the gospel!
“Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” – Luke 8:1-4
Chloe of Corinth
Chloe was leading a congregation and wrote to Paul for help with in fighting in her church. Paul responded. Case closed.
“For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.” – 1 Corinthians 1:11
The Prophetess Huldah
Even in the Old Testament, apart from Miriam and Deborah, you had the Prophetess Huldah.
“So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her. And she said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me,
Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read.” –2 Kings 22:14-16 ESV
Paul’s Female Coworkers In Christ
If you think women weren’t leading, please read Romans 16 and count all the women named.
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.” – Romans 16:1-16 ESV
Want To Know More?
Watch #CrackYourBible’s series on Can Women Teach:
- Episode 1 talks about 1 Timothy
2. Episode two talk about how Paul was addressing financial and social status discrepencies in the Corinthian church.
3. Episode three talks about how Paul was addressing Gnostic heresies in the church at Ephesus.
People love to quote stuff out of context, which is why you have people all confused about women’s roles in the church. Yes, women can teach.
Originally posted to Quora on February 6, 2018.