113 responses to “May Women Teach Men at Church?

  1. Jimmy Stanfield

    Excellent and very needful stuff! You’ve posted a few times on this. Egalitarianism affects almost every aspect of our lives and culture today and needs to be confronted by what God’s word says and very few in the church have the courage or knowledge to do it. Might this be a future book topic?

    • Paul

      What were women like then?
      From what I’ve read, they stayed at home, were not educated and would rairly speak outside the home. Why would we expect anything different from Paul as he wrote his letters to try to fix the problems in the Corinth church. As for me and my family, we will do as Jesus did not what Paul said to the try to correct the problems in their church at the time.

  2. James,
    Good analysis of the text. I think you’re right – this prohibition applies to both the home and to public worship. But I wonder why we do not apply this prohibition to all areas of life: even the work place. If the text is given its full force it must mean that any circumstance where a woman has authority over a man is a perversion of the created order! Unless one adopts a religious-secular dichotomy where we have one set of rules for life in the church and another set of rules for life in secular society (which I do not think that the Bible envisages) I don’t think it can be taken any other way. That would have serious implication for a Christian man who has a female boss – should he resign? Should we petition against women in congress? This led John Knox to renounce the reign of Elizabeth I since a woman should not rule over men in a Christian nation. Viewed this way, what Paul says would resonate with Greco-Roman attitudes that thought it wrong for a man to let himself be dominated by an inferior. Jim, do you see an alternative to this perspective or is this taking the prohibition too far? I confess to be playing the devi’s advocate here, but this is something I’ve really been thinking about. That and the head-covering issue since Paul grounds that topic in the ordering of creation as well. A penny for your thoughts?

  3. Mike,

    Hey great to hear from you! Thanks for your kind words.

    I don’t want to adopt a sacred/secular dichotomy, but I do want to recognize that it is not the church’s job to impose biblical morality on the unregenerate. Paul refused to judge outsiders (1 Cor 5:12), and I think he would tell us that we should preach the Gospel to the society and if/when they believe the contours of the faith will leaven into their thinking, even their thinking about gender (assuming the word is being boldly proclaimed!).

    What about Christian ladies in the workplace? I think we should encourage women to take the text seriously, submit themselves to it, and wrestle with God in prayer as to how it should affect what they do. It may be possible for women to be very feminine in the way they handle themselves in corporate contexts. Perhaps they will exercise a “matronly” authority, and maybe there’s something from Proverbs 31 for them. But I think that the teach/authority prohibition in 1 Tim 2:12 matches what elders are commended for in 1 Tim 5:17–ruling well and preaching and teaching. So women should definitely not do these things in the church–teach/preach and exercise authority. Nor should women be elders in Christian churches.

    Head coverings: I think that Paul is happy for women to pray and prophesy in the church as long as they do so in an explicitly feminine way–so in that context women were to cover their heads and men were not to cover their heads. I think head coverings are like holy kisses–we’re not necessarily bound to the expression but we are bound to the principle. We need to greet each other warmly, even if we don’t kiss each other. Similarly, women need to be clearly distinguishable from men, even if they don’t have their heads covered.

    Your thoughts are welcomed.

    Great to hear from you!

    Jim

  4. Steve Walker

    Jim,
    I always appreciate when people interpret scripture in light of both the immediate and broader scriptural context. Good words!

    You’ve probably heard about the Sunday School teacher (81-year-old Mary Lambert) being removed from her class she had been teaching for 54 years. (See story here, and an example of someone taking 1 Tim 2:12 out of context.) Actually, I think the whole article is a good example of bad exegesis. :~)

    Do you see teaching and exercising authority as being inseparably joined in this verse (1 Tim 2:12)? I do. (In other words, its not either teach or exercise authority, but it is both teach and exercise authority, i.e., hold a governing position in the church.) I think because of the context flowing into chp3, Paul is specifically prohibiting women from being elders. Like Mike, I also see the connection with 1 Tim 5:17. However, I do not think removing Mary Lambert from her Sunday School class is a proper application of 1 Tim 2:12. What do you think?

  5. Steve,

    Thanks for your note. Andreas Kostenberger’s chapter in the book Women in the Church has established beyond dispute that teaching and exercising authority are indissolubly linked in 1 Timothy 2:12 (the grammar also establishes this, as both “teach” and “exercise authority” are infinitives that complement the main verbal clause “I do not permit”). Kostenberger says that teaching is one manifestation of exercising authority. I would add that in the church, authority comes from teaching the Word of God. I think Kostenberger is right when he says that Paul moves from the particular (teaching) to the general (exercising authority).

    On that lady Sunday School teacher, well, Paul says women are not to teach or exercise authority over men. So if she was teaching men (I think it’s okay for women to teach boys) the options are (a) take the men out of her class and put them under a male teacher, or (b) put a male teacher in that class.

    Hope this helps!

    JMH

  6. I am egalitarian, but I agree with your dismissal of this argument. I cannot imagine that it was advanced with much authority. As you thoroughly point out, Paul was without a doubt addressing public teaching.

    More to the point, Paul was addressing women used to having authority in their spheres and who were bringing that habit of authority into the church without understanding Christian truth. They had been deceived by early local gnostics, and were promulgating their errors. Among those was that Eve was created before Adam, and that Eve actually gave Adam life.

    Paul forbids to Timothy that these women should be allowed to teach that women were above men.

  7. casey bourland

    Dr. Hamilton, I was reading from the email that spurred this post on just a minute ago and decided to try to find your website and was so encouraged that you have a biblical response to the email already posted. I first want to encouarage you in that my father who decided to leave a class taught by a couple after I preseneted him with I Tim 2 got a call from his friend who attended your presentation. The friend apologized to my father because a year ago when he asked my dad for the reason he left, he said he almosted laughed but after hearing your presentation he is being convicted about the stance that he took. Praise be to God! Hearts were changed that night and I wanted to encourage you in that.

    Thank you for making the clarification that there is no distinction between home and public worship here in those scriptures. I agree with you and am perplexed by those who say that there is. The church has taken those scriptures and turned them backwards to make something from them that will fit into the femminist society we live in, not a biblical one. Many have conformed to the world on this. One comment I heard from your presentation from a lady was “this was the society that Paul lived in.” My heart is so saddened by that comment. May we be a church that believes that every God breathed word in the Bible has complete and utter authority over our lives.

    I have had many people laugh or get mad at me when I have spoken out against women teaching over men in my church but I know the stance that I take is in line with scripture and I will not conform to anything else. People need to hear a biblical response to this issue. Thank you again and again for presenting a hard subject to my church and not leaving it there but you are still responding.

  8. Dear codepoke,

    That’s an interesting interpretation. If you’re right, why doesn’t Paul forbid women to “teach false doctrine”?

    I don’t find your view persuasive because “teaching”–when it’s not modified by something like “false” or the like, is always used positively in the Pastoral epistles. I think if Paul was only forbidding false teaching, he would have said so.

    Thanks for your affirmation of what I wrote!

    JMH

  9. Casey,

    Hearty thanks for this encouraging word!

    JMH

  10. Steve Walker

    Jim,
    Thanks for the response. However, I doubt she was exercising authority over anyone. As you point out, teaching and exercising authority are two sides of a coin. I understand that coin to be eldership. She was not an elder. Nevertheless, I can live with our disagreement.

    I should have stated this in my previous comment, but it didn’t come to mind until I was out cutting my grass. I do not believe there is a biblical distinction that creates two classes of elders — ruling and teaching. I interpret 1 Tim 5:17 to be speaking of one class of elders who both teach and rule (like 1 Tim 2:12, both/and not either/or). This is a common interpretation held by conservative scholars and pastors. Mark Dever discusses the debate over this issue in his article Baptists and Elders (link). He states, “What Baptists finally, largely and rightly—I think—concluded, is that there can be no distinction between ruling and teaching in the eldership.”

    Grace & peace to you!

  11. Thanks Steve,

    I agree that there should be no distinction between teaching and ruling elders, and I agree that 1 Tim 5:17 is informative for interpreting 1 Tim 2:12.

    But since 1 Tim 2:12 says “I don’t permit a woman to teach . . . a man” rather than “I don’t permit a woman to be an elder,” I don’t think women should teach men.

    With you for the Gospel,

    Jim

  12. Jimmy Stanfield

    Well…at least we can all still agree that they shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

  13. Jim, this is a good word, and a timely one. Complementarians are divided on this very issue, and we need to be talking about it so that we can reach a consensus on what the Bible teaches.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  14. Debbie Wimmers

    Jim, What about in Timothy when Paul commends Timothy for learning from his mother and grandmother? I thought the role of the moms were to teach. I agree that dads should be the spiritual leaders in the home, but what about the homeschooling moms.
    i also agree that boys that are being taught by moms only tend to be confused about certian things when he grows up. I heard James Dobson talk the other day of some men not devoloping their masculinity because of tthe lack of male teaching in their lives.

  15. Debbie,

    I think what Paul says applies to women teaching men (that’s what he prohibits), not women teaching boys.

    Clearly, the Bible expects mothers to teach their sons (cf. Prov 1:8 “forsake not your mother’s teaching”).

    Hope this helps!

    JMH

  16. Jim,
    Just out of curiosity, what was the age of adulthood in the NT times and how does that affect this discussion? We commonly think of 18 but is that what they thought of when they thought of adults? What if they thought adulthood was younger or older? How then does that affect when Complementarians cut off the teaching of males for women?
    Jim have you ever read or learned anything from a woman Biblical scholar? There are plenty of really good ones out there. Does your position keep you from reading what they’ve written in Biblical Studies?
    Also it seems like the age leading up to adult hood would be some of the most important times for teaching and laying the foundation in a Christian’s life, and if women were able to teach then why not after? Do men have to then forget what they we’re taught as a child or teenager from a woman? Does that woman who has taught them for so many years all of the sudden cease to be of worth in their learning?
    Just some questions. If you only answer one please answer the first. Thanks.
    Blessing,
    Bryan L

  17. I am speechless at this entire discussion and article. It’s the most incredible example I have ever seen of a bizarre perversion of everything I have been taught about Christianity. You do realize that the nearest advocates of this point of view are the Taliban? Certainly you are aware of the suicide rate of intelligent, educated women under that system? Do none of you have daughters? Can you seriously mean you would rather they not drive, or work, or teach? What if they simply never meet anyone suitable to marry? Should they simply sit on welfare? What is your concrete vision of a viable future under this arrangement? I sincerely hope you’re just kidding?

  18. lightcontrast

    I am not surprised about what happened to the woman or about the entire discussion. The Bible teaches the old, conventional way of thinking that women should not teach men because back then, men ruled over the wives and provided for them. Notice that when they count people, they count men by “strength” or by number and women as “women and children” without specifying any number at all.

    But today, we’re in the modern age. She shouldn’t have lost her job. Why did she lose it now? Why not earlier on? I think it’s cruel and callous. “Yeah, you’re a woman and you shouldn’t be teaching men, never mind that you’ve dedicated so many years of your life to this church teaching Sunday school.” If we lived according to the Bible, we would not allow women to compete with men in the work force, no women would be CEOs or mayors or governors or other occupations that only men held in the past. My guess is that the young pastor, felt intimidated by her because maybe she had more respect than him or some internal politics, so he used that passage as an excuse to get rid of her. Notice, he was not sad to see her go. He was probably smiling and laughing about it later.

    And Arabs are not that far off from Jewish actually, according to the Bible. Abraham had a concubine, Hagar who gave birth to Ishmael. After Sarah gave birth to Isaac, Hagar and her son were expelled to the desert to die, but they survived to become the Arab race.

  19. Aaron

    This whole position assumes that the senior pastor is the “governing authority” in the church. The authority in the church always has been and always will be the “elders”. The Pastor has become the “Wizard of Oz”but this was never intended to be so. The way in which people interpret this passage always makes me laugh. SO if I understand this correctly, Eve was deceived so woman can never teach, Adam wasn’t deceived, He just outright chose to transgress, so this makes “Men” better qualified to “lead”.

    Also, If there is neither Jew nor Gentile, Male nor Female, etc, If we are no longer under “law” but under “grace”, if the “old testament” is now “obsolete”, can someone please tell me where “the church” comes up with all of these “laws” that they use to weigh people down and set themselves up as the authority and leaders?!

    As a Jewish Beleiver, I find the present thinking to be utterly ridiculous, and it shows the type of hypocrisy that is rampant in the church today.

    Let me give you an example….If I were to say that we should honor the Sabbath (sun down friday to sun down saturday) there would be a host of people telling me why that’s not true and that is “the law” and the “law is dead”.

    But these very same people will then begin to tell of all “the laws” they love to follow because it enables them to be “lord’s over women”.

    I think every christian should just take Hebrew and Greek courses and stop listening to lunatics that try to make the Will of God into a battle of the sexes.

  20. Here is my two cent for what it’s worth… I study scripture with other scripture because it all has to come together as a whole and in the right context etc…

    In John 3:29
    He who has the bride is the bridegroom; and
    Rev 19:7b
    for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”
    Ephesians 5:23-24
    For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
    That’s pretty clear to me.

    We know that Christ is the bridegroom and the church is His bride. We “the church” must answer to Christ because He is the head of the church. The wife in the same way must answer to her husband.
    In God’s word there is an order to things and it is not necessarly one better than the other. In Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus and
    Matthew 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. As far as I can tell angels are male or sexless but it implys that they are all the same whatever they are. It is here on earth that this order of husband and wife takes place. The husband answers to God for the unit and the wife answers to the husband the kids answer to their parents. The husband must treat the wife with respect and the wife must treat the husband with respect. Both are accountable for their actions. If there is a disagreement in the marriage and it is in the guidelines of what scripture says the wife is to submit to her husband and he answers to God. If the issue is against God’s truth and would cause the wife to sin then she has permission to say NO! to her husband. In Genesis 12:13 Abram says to Sarai “Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.” Sarai should have told him NO you will cause me to sin just trust God. See the order?

    I believe a woman is over stepping that line of authority and out of order in putting herself out front in the senior position it blurres the line. I’ve heard missionaries (woman) speak at reachouts and woman Sunday school teachers teach which doesn’t seem to bother anyone, its not a senior position and everyone knows it. Usually all can speak up in a Sunday school class its of a lighter nature and open for discussion.

    Anyway that is my feeble attempt at this controversial subject.

  21. I do see what you’re saying, thank you, Linda. I appreciate it. I wish I could embrace this teaching in such a way that every question didn’t cause me such confusion – but I fear for now my own struggles with pride/self-sufficiency prevent it. Maybe someday I’ll get it! =)

  22. lightcontrast–nothing against arabs in general, just Taliban policies in particular.

    The God I believe in would not expect me to hide and pretend not to have the talents He has seen fit to give me. Why would I have them otherwise? If I get promoted at work because I do my job well, am I supposed to refuse just because I might have male subordinates? How does it serve Him better if my family has less to live on?

  23. With all the harm that has been done to women throughout history due to the ridiculious notion that women should be submissive to men, it makes me sick to my stomach to know that there are still people arguing over nonsense such as this.

    Good day to you.

  24. Jimmy Stanfield

    It’s amazing how shocked people are when the Word of God comes into conflict with contemporary worldly prejudices and illustrates how serious the need is for this discussion to be happening, and not just on here either. A lot of people want to follow Jesus, but only if Jesus goes along with what they believe is right or wrong. The Bible’s teaching is pretty clear and unambiguous and it’s funny that no one thought to question or deny it until after the feminist movement of the 1960’s.

  25. I am a bit buzzed for time, so I shall have to be quick. Firstly, I am very confused as to why you base your entire arguement on 1 Tim and do not refer to any other Pauline texts. Perhaps you are using your text as pre-text? Now, I can see how not utilising other texts would make understanding on such an issue easier – because Paul’s position on women is actually a far more complex issue than you have outlined. In relation to ministry, what of Phoebe and Thecla? Paul greets these women as equals. What of Paul’s rhetoric of freedom and love? And what of Paul’s attack on the law? For we are all one in Jesus Christ – Christ and God do not recognise such boundaries.

    You mention that Paul gave women a better condition in Greco-Roman society, which he most certainly did. What of carrying on in the spirit of Paul?

    Secondly, I am also incredibly confused with your reference to Paul as the author of 1 and 2 Tim. 1 Tim. is widely recognised to be a pseudo-Pauline text. It was written late 1st century, early 2nd in a reaction to cultural climate. I am wondering why you base your arguement on a text that is essentially a fake. Although, of course it is still a part of the canon – but it’s not Paul’s.

    I’m actually going to upload my interpretation of Gal 3: 28 later today. It will approach many of the problems that I see here. (and your welcome to point out problems that you see in my own writing)

  26. I forgot – I also think that your interpretation of Eve is problematic. I’ve written on this as well: Eve A Reinterpretation of Genesis 2-3

  27. Jim,
    Thank you for the respect in which you have handled this post. I see my response follows Natalie’s comments above in which I sense what seems to be a near ad hominem argument and a blasphemous rejection of the authority of scripture. I fear God’s judgment with her concerning her careless handling of scripture.
    In regards to your blog entry and teaching on the subject. I have yet to hear a thorough rebuttal from the opposing side. I have heard your stance referred to as an opinion. In doing so, those in disagreement are able to dismiss the argument based on the premise that it is okay to hold differing views. This sorrows me and I long for adequate wrestling with the text to assertain the truth. I uphold a quote attributed to St. Augustine then reaffirmed by Richard Baxter: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.”
    Your brother in Christ,
    David Wells, not the scholar

  28. The Bible’s teaching were never called into question until after the feminist movement?

    You must be joking. Tell me you are joking.

    Blessings.

  29. Jimmy Stanfield

    On this particular issue. There was no serious movement towards egalitarianism by those in the church until the world went egalitarian in the 60’s.

    • Karen

      Study history. The Protestant Reformation. John Knox got in a lather over his political differences with Scottish Queens who were Catholic and tried to get rid of them by using this scripture. So, yes, this was an issue even in the 1500s.

  30. lightcontrast

    Aaron, that’s probably true in most cases that the elders are the ones in control. But from a news report, it implied or said that the pastor laid her off over a biblical passage. There was no mention of the elders, if they assented or dissented with his decision to tell her that she can’t teach there anymore. Fortunately, she was offered another position at another church.

    The old testament is not entirely “obsolete.” I think about it as law. In law, there have been many laws written in the past, but we don’t still abide by those laws. There have been some unusual and funny state and local laws. Times change and so have society’s morals and values and expectations about what the law should be like. On that line of reasoning, in church, leaders should change or make adjustments to what is expected of Christians. Like, it’s not a practice for stoning of harlots. Back then, that’s what they did to trashy women and women who committed adultery. The Puritans had public humiliation for that. Do you think churches should revert back to that old practice of stoning? I don’t think so.

    Veltis – I understand. I just felt like mentioning a fact that’s usually golossed over by Christians who believe the Bible.

  31. Steve Walker

    Jim,
    Thank you for the dialogue and the challenge. For me, the honest dialogue through various blogs has been a great blessing, and I can always count on you for civility, charity, conviction, sound reasoning, solid exegesis…essentially everything that is needed for iron sharpening iron in a Christlike manner. I concur with Denny that we need to be talking about this. A long time ago I settled the issue of what authority would be the foundation of my life. It is honest, substantive discussions prompted by your original post that can help us wrestle with real world issues.

    Grace & peace to you

  32. You’re wrong. All the verses you listed aren’t referring to just at home. Women may teach at home, but they have no place in the pulpit. Why do you think there are no female apostles if Jesus thought it was alright for women to teach? Would you honestly say Jesus wassexist? Because that’s the only other way you can explain that. You can’t interpret the bible. Period. You either understand it or you don’t. God left no room for interpretation. It’s so easy to understand, why would you need to think about it? Unless you were looking for a way to get what you want. You know that a teacher that leads the flock away will burn in a hotter place in Hell? If I were you I’d watch what I posted.

  33. Hi David! I actually didn’t know what ‘ad hominen’ meant so I had to look it up. Here is the wikipedia definition:

    An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin, literally “argument against the person”) involves replying to an argument or assertion by attacking the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself.

    A (fallacious) ad hominem argument has the basic form:

    A makes claim X.
    There is something objectionable about A.
    Therefore claim X is false.
    A classic example derives from the Deutsche Physik movement, which argued as follows:

    Einstein claims relativity is correct.
    Einstein is Jewish.
    Hence relativity is false.

    I don’t think pointing to other Pauline writings is fallacious. I was questioning why Jim hasn’t included these in his arguement that women can’t teach. In actuality, these texts are widely considered crucial to the current arguement, from both sides!

    Perhaps you were referring to my questions on the matter of 1Tim being pseudo-Pauline. I reiterate – I am confused as to why one would refer to such a text as Pauline. This does not mean that Jim’s arguement is pointless, but it does mean that it is futile if one is making such an arguement on the basis that it is Pauline. One cannot argue that A= 2xB if A is in actual fact B.

    My is with the construction of an entire arguement on the basis that it is Pauline, when it does not in fact deal with Pauline thought on the matter: this would apply even if one was arguing for the ability of women to teach and only rely on Rom 16. An arguement is not made on one text within Bible or Pauline studies.

    Hamilton states that one cannot qualify such a statement without drawing “foreign data into the study” thus distorting what Paul meant. But the thing is, 1 Tim was not written by Paul – it was written in reaction to a) contemporaneous problems in the post-Pauline church and b) in reaction to Paul’s own teachings that stated otherwise. 1 Tim is in actual fact drawing ‘foreign’ data into the Pauline discussion to clarify what the author wanted.

  34. Bryan,

    I don’t think first century folk shared our modern notion of adolescence, so the answer to your question is probably that the age of 13 or so was seen as one’s entrance into adulthood. I have not researched this question, however, so I might be wrong on that point.

    I think that each woman who teaches males who are not men should wrestle with the text and seek the Lord on what the cutoff age for them should be. Some women will feel comfortable teaching college students, some high schoolers, some only middle schoolers.

    I do read female biblical scholars, and I don’t think Paul’s comments in 1 Tim 2:12 prohibit women pursuing writing ministries.

    I think an important question for us to ask as we consider the issues you raise is this: as a boy becomes a man, which in our culture seems to happen some time between ninth grade and the age of 30, would it be most helpful for him to be taught the Bible by a man or by a woman? It seems to me that as a boy becomes a man he needs to see that it’s okay for a man to love Jesus. He needs to see that the rednecks don’t have a monopoly on manliness. He needs to see men eager to walk with the Lord and stand on the truths of Scripture. He needs to see that Christianity is not a wimp’s religion.

    Becoming a man does not at all involve a repudiation of what we have learned from women. Becoming a man means that we begin to shepherd and protect women, that we care for them and love them and become their champions, desiring what is best for them.

    Hope this helps!

    Jim

    ————-
    Shelah,

    Thanks for your note.

    It seems to me that Paul grounds the prohibition in 1 Tim 2:12 in an appeal to the pre-fall created order. Some complementarians limit the statements that women should not teach or exercise authority over men to the home and the church. Other complementarians say that since the appeal is to creation, Christians should seek to embody the ideas here in all areas of life.

    The policy at the school where I teach (www.swbts.edu) is that women will not teach men in the school of theology (which means they won’t teach Bible and theology to men). Women can and do, however, teach men in non-Bible, non-theology classes.

    I think you should seek the Lord on how broadly the prohibition in 1 Tim 2:12 should be applied in your own life.

    I don’t think this prohibits women pursuing writing ministries, and I think a woman should take every opportunity to share the Gospel with a man. I don’t think this prohibits music. Paul allows women to pray and prophesy in church in 1 Cor 11–as long as they do so in a feminine way (this is what I understand to be the point of the head covering).

    I don’t think it would be appropriate for a woman to become the regular Bible teacher of a group that included men.

    I think women can share testimonies to groups that include men, and I think maybe a woman with expertise in world missions (or a similar subject) could speak on the topic to a group that included men.

    But I think a line is crossed when a woman becomes an established, regular teacher of mixed groups.

    I don’t think you were wrong to comment in the class you mention.

    I hope this helps, and I pray God’s best for you in Christ Jesus,

    Jim

    ———
    Natalie,

    I would encourage you to consider the arguments for Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy in William D. Mounce’s commentary on the Pastoral Epistles in the Word Biblical Commentary Series.

    I think it highly unlikely that some Christian would falsely attribute a document he had written to Paul (this is called “lying,” and the Bible roundly condemns it). Even more unlikely is the possibility that such a “pseudonymous” writing would fool the whole church for 1800 years, only to be “discovered” by some scholars in Germany . . . .

    I would also encourage you to consider the treatments at http://www.cbmw.org. And, for a wholistic presentation of Paul’s theology that shows that what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:12 fits with everything else he says, please see Thomas R. Schreiner’s book, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ.

    Blessings!

    JMH

  35. @jimmy stanfield: “no one thought to question or deny it until after the feminist movement of the 1960’s.”

    This has been questioned all through history by quite a few people, or in fact not even interpreted the way you interpret it. Finnish women have been members of Parliament as early as 1911, long before the 60’s. The pagans had been driven out by the monks decades prior, I promise you–these were very faithful, churchgoing people who read the Bible daily and considered every action in the light of God’s word. Why did they not see a conflict here?

    I’d still like a clear example of how you, in an ideal world, see this interpretation working in a practical daily context on a grand scale in a way that does not injure half the population and turn them into second-class citizens. I think the Taliban example is fitting in that it shows exactly what would happen if your interpretation was implemented to its full extent. Is that what you’re ultimately going for?

  36. I think what is most modern here is this odd new American version of Christianity.

  37. Veltis,

    I’m not sure what you believe, but the aims of Christians are not like the aims of Muslim groups such as the Taliban.

    Muslim groups like the Taliban send terrorists to kill unsuspecting people. The Quran does say that if infidels will not convert, they should be killed.

    There is nothing parallel to this in the Bible. The Bible says that God will judge. We seek to persuade people to believe, and we warn them that God will judge them if they reject Jesus, but the Bible does not call Christians to kill people. (In the Old Testament, Israel went to war as a nation, but Christianity is not a nation. The instructions for warfare in the OT were for the nation of Israel to follow. No Christian should think that those instructions are for the church. Christianity is international. We conquer through preaching the truth about Jesus, loving people, and, if necessary, martyrdom.

    Christians send missionaries to tell Muslims about the love of God and the forgiveness he offers through the death and resurrection of Jesus. These missionaries don’t intend to kill anyone, and they’re ready to be killed for having the audacity to tell people that God loves and will forgive them if they will trust Jesus.

    Christianity does not put women, or anyone else, down. It is not an oppressive religion. Christianity does proclaim that God is God, and humans who want to be god might be offended by this and think that they are being “oppressed.” The reality, however, is simply that Christianity puts all people and things in their proper place. God is God, we are not.

    Christianity denounces all abuse of women.

    Christianity also contends that God created men and women, so he has the right to tell men and women what they can and cannot do. If God says women should not do something because they are women, it is our responsibility as Christians to obey God. By not allowing women to do what God has said that women should not do, we are not oppressing women, we are simply treating them as women. We are obeying God.

    If a woman is not a Christian, I am not going to talk to her about what the Bible says about women. I am going to tell her that Jesus died for her sins and that if she will believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised her from the dead, God will forgive her and she can be saved from the wrath of God. If she becomes a Christian, she’ll gladly submit to the Bible for herself (if she’s truly a believer).

    For the kind of example that you ask for, I would encourage you to look at this review of a recent book called Soft Patriarchy. Or, you might go to a conservative church in your city that believes the Bible and look around. I hope you’ll find there at least a few couples that live this out. If the Bible has been taught, you’ll find them. If the Bible has not been taught, you might not. . .

    Hope this helps!

    JMH

  38. Jimmy Stanfield

    Veltis. I clearly meant and said that there was no movement within the church towards worldy egalitarianism until the 60’s. Women in the Finnish parlaiment? Hahaha1 Come on girl, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? I’ll tell you what-if I’m not correct then name me ten female pastors in the history of Christianity. Come on, just ten in the last two millenia! You can’t obviously and that proves my point. Apparently God didn’t call any women to go into go into the ministry until the women’s liberation movement and now all of a sudden, following the world’s lead-he’s changed his mind.

  39. I think veltis missed the point of the bit of humor regarding driving. Comments about the Taliban are absurd, I am afraid. At any rate, as Jesus’ disciples we can either believe His word in the Scriptures or decide that we know better. Certainly there may be complementarians who have preexisting attitudes about women. However, there is no need to impose one’s views on the Bible to see that it teaches the complementarian perspective. On the other hand I do not think one can come to an egalitarian point of view WITHOUT having an overriding pre-commitment that colors the interpretation of Biblical passages. It is true there are many passages that enter into the mix. Paul wrote of “neither male nor female” with a specific application in mind, and in the context it had nothing to do with functional roles. However, might we not infer these from Paul’s words? Well, where do we look for Paul’s own (and the Holy Spirit’s own understanding of the implication of these words? Elsewhere in the Scriptures, of course. And it is clear from every other relavant passage that the egalitarian take on “neither male nor female” is foreign to Paul and to the Bible. Please, don’t confuse what the Bible DOES say with oppressive regimes like the Taliban (please eschew the absurd histrionics!). It is not domination by males, it is not ancient versus modern, it is not past versus present educational levels. I’m sorry but this is all drivel. The text is really extaordinarily clear. I suggest taking it or leaving it without the Chubby Checker exegesis (doing the twist).

  40. Cy

    Unless you guys speak fluent Greek of 2,000 years ago and have the original text, you are just reading teacups. If you DO qualify as aforementioned, you are STILL missing all the points.

    Rather than pretend that some dead dude knew the whole deal, SCIENCE questions EVERYTHING and does it each generation, continually (except in the case of a few certain, fully-established principles such as the movement and nature of moons, planets, stars and galaxies).

    Make up your OWN minds from what you observe NOW about the best role of men and ladies working together in human society. You dare not! Having bought into the idea of punishment if you get the deal wrong, you bow and scrape and grovel and suck-up to the imaginary guy in the sky via his self-styled and/or reputed intermediaries and only dead dude deals are worthy of consideration to you BECAUSE THEY ARE UNAVAILABLE FOR COMMENT.

    If by a zillion to one chance, afterlife is a natural phenomenon and the dudes of dogma are floating around on the cosmic energy filed, you may be sure that they are thoroughly ashamed of themselves for having taught such tripe, and detest heartily the newly-dead dudes who grovel up asking for guidance. “Thin out you creeps. Go and ask your Mum or your Granny.” is the jist of their likely response.

    cyquick.wordpress.com

  41. Cy

    PS. Moderator: please replace ‘filed’ with ‘field’. Of course, you may have already decided to delete my comment. Sure thing. Cy

  42. Cy

    PS. Blogger: please replace ‘filed’ with ‘field’ and then delete this PS. Of course, you may have already decided to delete my entire comment. Sure thing. Cy

  43. Cy,

    I pray that God will give you eyes to see the beauty of Jesus, and that you will understand that God is going to judge you.

    I pray that you would flee to Jesus for mercy. You can be forgiven of your sins if you will trust him.

    May the Lord bless you with faith in Jesus,

    Jim

  44. Stephen

    Nicely handled, Mr. Hamilton

  45. well by faith i am a muslim but have a stong interest in christianity…………i have some christian friends i put the same question in front of them.there reply was like a boy not like a religious person many of them said yes there should be but then i asked some women they said they don’t want this.i asked them the reasons but they were reluctant to give any arguments for this. i don’t know the reasons but this was my survey……..well i think there should be because sometimes you felll it esay with a female then a male…………

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  48. Marv,
    You wrote, “Paul wrote of “neither male nor female” with a specific application in mind, and in the context it had nothing to do with functional roles.”
    I see this view brought up often when egalitarians bring up this passage. Usually it’s dismissed as invalid because it’s speaking about soteriological matter (eschatological salvation I guess). But knowing that Paul’s theology was always theology that worked itself out in the real world and in the present life of the believers then what does this passage look like worked out in real life? How could this passage be dealing strictly with just salvation if women, Greeks and slaves were able to receive God’s salvation before Christ? What did it mean in the churches life for there to be neither slave nor free, male or female, Jew or Greek? Do you think they were still advocating the current distinctions in the church? Do you think Greeks or Slaves weren’t allowed to do certain things because they were still Greeks and Slaves?
    This passage isn’t at all irrelevant to this discussion but carries much weight, especially since it seems to be one of the earliest witnesses of Christianity and definitely earlier than 1 Tim. It seems like Complementarians too quickly dismiss this passage as not important to the discussion when it fact it may be even more important than the Timothy passage (especially considering how much of a situation specific letter 1 Tim is; which may explain best why Paul doesn’t want a woman teaching a man).
    Just some thoughts.
    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  49. lightcontrast

    I feel that men AND women should be able to worship and serve God equally. Serving God, to me, means not only going to church and praying and praising his Name, it also means teaching others-telling others of how great God is. A woman should be able to serve God that way too. God doesn’t forbid people from serving Him in any way that glorifies him. By not allowing that women to teach, that is like telling her she can’t serve him in that way. Since when is there only a certain, acceptable way for women to serve God? Are we to revert to the Puritanical or Pilgrim way? Or should we live like the Amish, all secluded from the rest of society and the rest of the world, for the most part.

  50. Many confessions of faith say that the Bible is “the only rule of faith and practice.” That’s all I’m arguing for,

    JMH

  51. Natalie,
    Jim suggested:
    I would encourage you to consider the arguments for Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy in William D. Mounce’s commentary on the Pastoral Epistles in the Word Biblical Commentary Series.

    I think it highly unlikely that some Christian would falsely attribute a document he had written to Paul (this is called “lying,” and the Bible roundly condemns it). Even more unlikely is the possibility that such a “pseudonymous” writing would fool the whole church for 1800 years, only to be “discovered” by some scholars in Germany . . . .

    I would also encourage you to consider the treatments at http://www.cbmw.org. And, for a wholistic presentation of Paul’s theology that shows that what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:12 fits with everything else he says, please see Thomas R. Schreiner’s book, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ.
    ——
    I readily admit your initial comments are not a direct ad hominem argument, but in your recent research on the topic of logical fallicies, you must have seen some similarities that cause me to consider it so. I found some research that may have been along the lines of what you are viewing at http://www.bookrags.com/wiki/Ad_hominem.

    In chapter one of John’s Gospel, we see that Jesus is the Word who came to dwell among us. It is Jesus who writes via Paul in I Timothy. You raise a larger question to be debated that must be answered before engaging in the current topic of Dr. Hamilton’s blog entry. This larger debate being the canonicity of scripture, whether we believe God as the author of the Bible. Christians accept God’s Word as being divinely inspired. Ironically, we often refer to 2 Timothy 3:16 as one text supporting this. At the risk of offering a circular argument here is my case, Paul in I Timothy is speaking the Word of God, the Logos, which the Bible in John 1:1 says is Jesus. If I argue against His Word because I don’t believe in His diety, then perhaps I am engaging in an ad hominem argument – arguing against the source of the message instead of what the message really means. This is why Christianity requires faith.
    David Wells

  52. Although I don’t agree with it, I’ll have a look at this book if we have it at the library. Aside from the authenticity and authority of 1 Tim: my initial post asked why only reference to Tim. Any convincing arguement on the basis of Paul’s authority would have to deal with MORE THAN ONE Pauline writing, which I have repeatedly pointed out and asked WHY NOT?

    Also, Mr Hamilton’s article doesn’t seem to consider the context of Paul’s arguements. I don’t agree with turning Paul into a contemporary feminist at all, as I have clearly outlined . However, if we are to justice to Paul, and understand where he is coming from, surely an understanding of the social circumstances he was referring to is needed. The thing is, Paul is not just presenting theological arguements in his writings, – he is often responding to problems in his churches as well. If 1 Tim. is such a response it would ridiculous to apply such notions to our situation: we are not in New Testament times, and are not under Roman rule. Just as we should not bring Paul into out social understanding and transform him into a feminist, it doesn’t seem right to bring him into out times and transform ourselves into a scarred, huddled group trying to maintain some formality and adhere to Roman laws. (Remembering that there were Roman laws contemporaneously that prohibited women speaking in public)

    Also, what about re-interpretation of ‘the law’, which is something another commentor to this blog has brought up. Paul himself radically reinterpreted the law – he insisted that one must follow the law internally – not externally. To throw out (using the same example) such practices as stoning, and yet retain other socially grounded practices, such as the subordination of women, seems a little bit of a contradictory method.

    Yet – I have outlined these previously, and it has seemingly been ignored. Am I to consider that these other texts are not important? Are they not the word of g-d? Although I obviously disagree with the interpretive outcome, I would actually be very interested to see how one would come to this outcome whilst dealing with other Pauline texts.

  53. @Marv: It simply seems to me that you are doing exactly that: imposing your own personal views on the Bible, and acting as God’s sole representatives on Earth, which strikes me as a tad arrogant and somewhat blasphemous to boot. My brother is a priest, and also finds your interpretations convoluted. He’s pretty average as far as priests go around here. If there are such extreme disagreements concerning the interpretation of specific lines in Scripture among educated Christians, it strikes me that casually referring to Scripture as an obvious set of exact rules is foolish at best and incredibly damaging at worst. My comparisons to the Taliban concern only their tendency to take a Holy Book shared by others of their faith and decree themselves sole interpretors and executors of it, to disastrous effect. Their belief that God created woman as a kind of class II human also has echoes here.

  54. lightcontrast

    Two interesting concepts to consider are laws and seclusion. Back in maybe the ’50s I think, all shops were closed on Sunday. Today, most shops and stores are still open on Sunday. And you’ll find many places open 24 hours. Back then, closing time was in the evening, around dinnertime. What do you make of that?

    Some laws are guidelines while other laws endure. The one that comes to mind is, “thou shalt not kill.” That will always be a law to leave the same. That law did originate from the Bible. It’s a taboo, because it’s morally and basically wrong. But even with that, there is some flexibility. There are different degrees of guilt, first degree, second, etc and there’s mens rea-guity state of mind, what were the circumstances behind the killing, etc. In the judicial branch, judges when they preside over a case, judge on the merits of the case and also on the verdicts of past cases-precedents, and they can choose to interpret the case by what they think the verdicts signify or by how they interpret laws or amendments to mean. Laws are written in an ambiguous manner, as is the Bible. I don’t believe there is a single interpretation of the Bible, or a single meaning for a specific passage in the Bible either. It all depends on the person’s background, their upbringing, what they were taught to believe and what they think it means. What I’m saying is, the Bible is open to interpretation and should not always be applied to be one thing. Divorce wasn’t accepted for centuries. I think it was maybe in the 1920s when divorce became more accepted by the public.

    Seclusion in the world has failed in the case of Brook Farm. If you keep letting people move in and out of that utopia, ideas are bound to come in. And ideas have changed our world. When you change the world, beliefs about everything changes. If you want to live strictly by the Bible, then everyone who owns a big house, many cars, a pool or some other luxury, should give it up. If we lived in the old mindset, there wouldn’t be inventions like computers, cellphones, or stereos. Doesn’t the Bible teach us to be content with what we have- a place to live, family, and things to eat? Think about it.

  55. lightcontrast

    Jim, who is the author of Soft Patriarchy?

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  57. Cy

    REPLY FROM CY

    Thanks for your well-meant, kind thoughts. But I went through it all as child, until I put away childish things. Yehoshua was a fine guru with the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables. I group him with Gautama and Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi. But he was hi-jacked by Meschiach-ist wildmen, equally as foolish as zealots in their way.

    If this cosmos is insane, as you theists effectively state, and the Judgement Day arrives, I will be the guy amongst the goats slagging off the guy in the nightie for his pathetic performance with the thorns, thistles and roast lamb …but it aint gonna happen Jim bud. A dude who can make the atom does not piss about with sacrifice and timetables.

    I am profoundly sorry for you in your ludicrous delusion. But I am even more sorry for the people who have the ability to think staright and ask questions and who get tortured by fundamentalist, extremist loonies (like you seem to be) as soon as they get power.

    If afterlife there would be (and there aint gonna be) it would be natural, just like everything else in the cosmos. So if deity there would be (and there aint gonna be) it would institute such a protocol rather than fiddle around with minutea, and there would be no reason for theists to object to it.

    You could tidy up your comments by fixing my typo above and deleting the second and third comments of mine as requested. Too busy, I guess; but not too busy to have at least responded. For that, due credit.

    cyquick.wordpress.com

  58. Natalie,

    Thanks for your note. I attempt to deal with other texts in Paul and interpret them all in context in my essay, “What Women Can Do in Ministry: Full Participation within Biblical Boundaries.” (http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/jhamilton/documents/4-12-05.pdf)

    I have linked to this essay elsewhere on my blog, but it’s hard to get all that info into a post–I doubt people would read it all!

    I hope you will read my attempt to do exactly what you have called for.

    Every blessing in Christ Jesus,

    JMH

  59. Natalie,

    Under the tab “articles and essays” on my blog, you will find an article posted called “The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman: Inner-Biblical Interpretation of Genesis 3:15.” In the introduction of that essay I briefly lay out my understanding of how the NT authors interpret the OT.

    This is a massive issue that many books have been devoted to exploring. It’s awfully hard to compress these big things into blogs and responses to comments, so I’ll refer you to that essay.

    Hope this helps!

    JMH

  60. Natalie,

    Maybe you’ve already seen it, but in my latest post I link to a document that explores how Paul, I think, understood Genesis 1-3.

    Blessings!

    JMH

  61. Bryan L,

    Please observe that in Gal 3:16 Paul says that the promise was to Abraham and his seed, and then Paul emphasizes that the seed is singular. Then in Gal 3:26-28, Paul says that through faith all Christians are one in Messiah Jesus, and since they are united to Christ by faith, they are heirs of the promise to the singular seed of Abraham. This has to inform our understanding of “neither male nor female” etc. Paul is not abolishing ethnic identity (he will later write in Romans that the “natural branches”–Jews–will be saved when the Redeemer comes from Zion (Rom 11:25-27). Nor is Paul abolishing gender roles, as seen in his later utterances on this topic in 1 Cor 11, 14, Eph 5, Col 3, and 1 Tim 2.

    Hope this helps!

    JMH

  62. Jim,
    But what does it mean then for there to be no more of those distinctions in the church?
    Is this just limited to slavation or does it extend to other areas of life too?Why would he mention male and female? Why would he mention slave or free? The topic was about Jews and Gentiles why the need for the extra pair. Why even pair the things he did in the first place?
    Do you think this would have meant much to the Galaitians if nothing changed because of Christ except that they could all be saved (although I’m not sure that wasn’t possible in Judaism before Christ) Do you think slaves would have cared much about this? Do you think women would have cared much about this?
    Why does he say male and female not man and woman (which could have meant husband and wife).
    In an empire that tmade distinctions between these things so that women and slaves had less (or no) rights than free men what did this mean for these people when they became one in Christ and worshipped together in the church?
    What does it mean to be heirs to the promise of this singular seed and why should they care?
    Blessings,
    Bryan

  63. Bryan,

    I suggest you pose all these questions of Paul himself, and then look for his answer as you read and re-read the whole epistle of Galatians over and over again with these questions in mind.

    I think that Paul is affirming human equality in the image of God, but I don’t think he’s suggesting that this nullifies the roles that humans find themselves given.

    So, for instance, elsewhere he tells slaves that they should obey their masters. But here he says there is neither slave nor free. I think this means that before God slaves are just as human and just as justified through union with Christ by faith as the free people are. But I don’t think Paul would say to these slaves in Galatia that they shouldn’t continue in the state in which they were called. He says in 1 Cor 7:21 that they should take their freedom if they can get it, but if they can’t get their freedom they’re to obey their masters.

    I think the same goes for one’s race, except that race is not something we can shed if we have the opportunity. Jews and Gentiles are justified and stand on equal footing through union with Christ, but this doesn’t mean that their race is irrelevant. God is going to be glorified by racial diversity when all nations gather around the throne.

    Similarly, women and men stand on equal footing through union with Christ by faith, but this doesn’t mean that they are now free to cast off the God-given gender they have been given. Nor does it mean that they can cast off the roles that God has assigned to the genders. God means to be glorified by gender diversity, and by humans who gladly accept the gender roles he assigned to them.

    Hope this helps!

    JMH

  64. So you’re saying that Paul was just comforting these people and basically saying that even though society places these distinction on you (including the church) God still loves you and thinks you’re swell?
    You said, “But I don’t think Paul would say to these slaves in Galatia that they shouldn’t continue in the state in which they were called.” I don’t think they had the choice unless they were looking to be killed and Paul was trying to get Christianity to be branded the wrong kind of rebel movement. Even if he didn’t expect the roles to change in society do you think he expected the slave master relationship to be different in the church and if so how? The same question with the other things. Do you think Paul expected the Jews and us to continue having the same relationship and distance that we had before Christ, because after all we can’t throw off our ethnicity?
    As far as I can tell, in your view, when Paul said there is no longer these distinctions, it didn’t really make a difference in the church to these people but was just comfort to them to let them know one day things would be different.
    I agree with Fee when he emphasizes the need for the people of God to start living and modeling the resurrection life now in the assembly of believers as much as we can so that we can show the world a different and better way.
    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  65. I’m glad that you find Fee convincing.

    May you have peace and rest in your soul,

    JMH

  66. um… ok. I guees I’m glad you find Schreiner convincing.
    Thanks for the conversation.
    Blessing,
    Bryan

  67. Bryan,

    As I think on your comments, you seem to be suggesting that Paul is saying something more “relevant”, something that would make more of a difference in people’s lives, than the mere declaration that before God they are counted righteous through union with Christ by faith. You seem to suggest that perhaps if they were no longer encumbered by the roles assigned to humans in this world, that would be more significant than the fact that by faith in Christ they are heirs of the promise to Abraham and thereby inheritors of the age to come.

    May I commend to you the four volume series by David Wells: No Place for Truth, God in the Wasteland, Losing our Virtue, and Above All Earthly Pow’rs?

    One of the big points Wells makes in these books is that God rests lightly on the American evangelical church. In this situation, the big truths of the faith, like justification, have no cash value. They are deemed irrelevant, when nothing could be more relevant.

    Yes, Paul was comforting those Galatians. Just as John was comforting the 7 churches, and thereby the whole church, in the Apocalypse, Revelation.

    May the holiness and majesty of God be so real to us that we find nothing more relevant, nothing that matters more, nothing that makes more of a difference than the declaration that by faith in Christ we are united to him, possessing his righteousness because he took our sin, justified before God such that though we possess nothing we have all things, though we are beaten down we are not destroyed, though we suffer affliction we are always rejoicing.

    What shall we say in response to these things. . .

    JMH

  68. Jim,
    I’m sorry if I gave the impression that the Galatians being “counted righteous through union with Christ by faith” wasn’t that important and they needed something more relevant. I believe it is. My point was more that being “counted righteous through union with Christ by faith” held implications and relevance for their present life, especially in the assembly of believers, beyond (but definitely including) comfort for the future.
    My main point over and over is what did something like this mean for the believers when they came together. If the church was to hopefully model resurrection life (as much as possible), then how did they do that and how does this passage guide us?
    If you have a chance please answer some of the questions that I asked in my last lengthy post. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on some of them.
    BTW what is it about Well’s books that would be relevant to this conversation so that I should read them? Before I go out and buy 4 books (unless you want to send them to me) I’d like to know a little about the content and why I should read them.
    Also I keep mentioning Fee (as you’ve noticed). Have you ever read anything from him besides his articles in DBE? If not I suggest you check out his book Paul the Spirit and the People of God, or his larger book on the same topic God’s Empowering Presence.
    Thanks again Jim.
    Blessing,
    Bryan L

  69. Denise

    Cy,
    My heart breaks for you…

    I often respond in this manner to those who don’t believe…

    Jesus Christ has given me peace on earth unlike any other. I fully expect to one day spend the rest of eternity with Him in heaven. If I’m wrong about heaven, and we truly are just cosmic beings in the universe, as you suggest…oh well! I guess I’ve been duped If you’re wrong, and the Word of God is true, not only will you have missed out on the peace of Jesus here, you will burn forever, eternal torture, in hell.

    It only takes the faith of a mustard seed!

    May God bless you!

  70. pat

    Here’s my 2 cents:
    This looks alot like the Pharisees debating over the laws and what scripture says and they miss the whole point. I think Jesus would be (and will be) outraged at the way some believers THINK that somehow women lack spiritual maturity, wisdom and intelligence to serve the Lord in roles of teaching and leadership. Can you imagine a woman being accused and thrown at the feet of Jesus for teaching others about God’s love and salvation through Jesus. I can not see Jesus condemning her for this “sin.” I can however, see judgement on those who prevented women from serving as they were called to do. God is all powerful and capable of any miracle….but never making a woman fit to be a pastor, teacher of adult men or elder. Hmmmm. Kind of limits God’s power.

  71. Keith Quan

    Bryan,
    Dr. Hamilton’s PhD dissertation was on the Holy Spirit and much of his published work is on the Spirit as well including several articles and a book. He is probably quite familiar with Fee’s work on the Spirit.

    Dr. Hamilton,
    I greatly appreciate your patience and the graciousness with which you answer questions. Some of the comments of people to your post have been very harsh and you have dealt with them well. All too often I come across examples where intellect and graciousness are inversely related. Thanks for being a good example.

    I have also greatly appreciated your articles on the Holy Spirit and your recent article in Southern’s journal. I look forward to reading your book sometime.

  72. Keith,

    Hearty thanks for your kind words!

    Jim

  73. Keith,
    As it is I don’t have a copy of his dissertation (but I’d like one if you don’t mind sending it to me) so I don’t know what he’s read, that’s why I was asking him the question, which he never responded to (and I’m still wondering. If you have read them, did you like them?).
    We have to be careful that we don’t hear every comment that people make that disagrees with Hamilton as hostile and angry and every comment that Hamilton responds with as peaceful and sweet (and vice versa depending on what side of this issue you fall on). We don’t know the attitudes and tones of people when they write on these things and things can easily be misunderstood.
    I agree that Jim has handled these issues with patience and graciousness and has been very kind even to those who weren’t that kind to him and I enjoyed the conversation while it lasted.
    Blessing,
    Bryan L

  74. Pingback: Jeff Wright’s Blog » Blog Archive » Wondering About Women Teaching Men

  75. Christianj

    Women are only interested in futhering their importance under the feminist male-hating guise that women are realy the surpreme sex and anyone else is really just third rate as far as they are concerned.

    Most churches have already sold their soul to the devil by allowing female ministers to administer to males, this is an abomination according to the bible.

    But women just do not care about the teachings of the bible. They want to write their own version and then demand everyone on the planet cow-tow to them while they administer their blasphemy.

    Then they wonder what the problem is..

    They do have a major problem with cause and affect, it is something that escapes them completely.

  76. Christianj,

    I don’t agree with your assessment, which strikes me as a bit harsh.

    I think that we all make mistakes, and I think we’re all wrong at some points in our thinking. So I think it’s possible for someone to be well meaning, but nevertheless wrong, on this issue.

    Hope this helps,

    JMH

  77. lightcontrast

    Christianj,

    How can women be “furthering their importance” when this is a male-dominated society? Ever heard of male chauvinism or machismo?

    Anyone can make up a meaning of the teachings, not only females.

  78. KW

    I don’t know why it has taken me so long to explore this argument. I guess it just never bothered me that women weren’t allowed to teach men in my church–that is until I worked in a church office. I heard a lot of women bashing statements that my pastors honestly believed were perfectly backed up by the Bible. It was appauling and gave me pause. The only place that a woman teaching men is specifically denied in Scripture is Paul’s letter to Timothy. I’ve since paid more attention to the text in this letter and the one thing I keep coming back to is the word “I”. Paul is speaking in the first person and does not say “God does not permit”, instead he say “I don’t permit”. I feel this rule in its context is a cultural statement of the times, which became a church tradition because of Paul. I choose to follow Jesus’ example of His interaction with the women which showed they had value beyond their cultural limit in a time when women were not taught. Jesus’ Great Commission is for all Christians–men and women–and if we limit ourselves based on sex then we hinder the spread of the Gospel and the raising to maturity of our young men and women. I think this widespread church “rule” for women should be shelved beside the the ones for wearing a veil, not allowing men to sit where a woman having her period has sat, etc. They are outdated ideas that reak of legalism. I do however still believe that only men should be pastors and elders. Christ was a man and therefore men alone are given that blessing, just as women alone are given the blessing of being able to give birth.

  79. KW,

    Just a couple thoughts here:

    By saying that this “rule” “reaks of legalism” you are implying that the one who stated the rule is at least inclined toward legalism–that would be the Apostle Paul. I’m not going to follow you on that one.

    Also, Paul’s appeal to the pre-fall created order makes his statement in 1 Tim 2:12 trans-cultural.

    Finally, saying that women should not teach or exercise authority over men does not mean that they should not evangelize men whenever they get the opportunity to share the gospel.

    Blessings!

    JMH

  80. judy

    The teaching of the Bible from my understanding is that in the church setting women are not to “speak” in a gift of prophecy, tongues, or teaching, as in the context of the verse of the Bible. They are not to exercise that gift of “speaking” when the church comes together and are to learn in silence, but my question is what to do if your husband is not in church? How do you learn if he is not in church or saved? Judy

  81. Judy,

    I suppose you would learn the same way a single woman would learn. Through attention to the instruction given at church and study of the Scriptures.

    See also 1 Pet 3:1-6. . .

    Blessings,

    JMH

  82. Karen

    Why is my comment gone? Hummmm…….Just asking……..

  83. KW

    Jim, I noticed my email reply to you did not make it to your blog, so I am resubmitting it.

    Just to clarify, when I said it “reaks of legalism” I wasn’t referring to what Paul wrote. I was referring to present day interpretation of the intent of his writing. While the Bible’s truths are timeless, it was written in a different era and culture and is therefore rich with historic and cultural significance. I’m sure you’ll agree that over the centuries cultures have been greatly influenced by the writings of the Bible and not only spiritually. For example, I remember as a child wearing a hat or scarf to church, while my father removed his hat on the way in the door. Where did this custom begin? With the Bible, of course.🙂

    In cross-referencing the passage in 2 Timothy, other passages refer to women being submissive and remaining silent in church. I again submit to you that these statements are indications of the culture at the time and Paul’s statement in the first person (“I” do not allow” in 2 Tim. 2:12) backs this up as does the fact that the cross-references in the N.T., 1 Cor. 14:34 & Titus 2:5, as well as 2 Tim., are all written by Paul. None of the other writings in the N.T. have such strong reproach as to what women should or should not be doing as do Paul’s writings. Clearly Paul was dealing with some particular issues in the churches he was ministering to through his writings.

    With regards to the fall… Eve received her punishment (and for all of womenkind) from God in Genesis. His pronouncement was clearly stated that she would endure much pain in childbirth and yet would be submissive to her husband. There is nothing in that passage to indicate women are to be forever submissive to men in general or that we would be unable to enjoy the same rebirth in Christ as men. For in Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek…there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 4:28) and this is backed up by Jesus’ own words in John 17:11, which gives it much more weight than Paul’s often misinterpreted statements about women. We are ALL offspring of Abraham and therefore heirs according to promise. Free from the Law! If men are free from the Law and therefore (for example) are free from the rite of circumcision, then modern man has no right or cause to try to enslave women to a made up law that was never pronounced by God at the fall.

    I maintain my stance on the understanding of the statement “women may not teach men”. Paul’s intent was to stop a tide of busybody women, who were ignorant and untrained as were most women of that time as they were unschooled. Thankfully, Jesus Himself changed the notion that women could not be taught. But of course, in the churches of that day women were not able to teach both because of the culture and they simply were untrained.

    Christian teaching of Scripture should be done by men AND women who are mature Christians, well versed in the Bible, and led by the Holy Spirit to teach. Then they should teach to whomever is seeking knowledge of Scripture without regard to the gender of teacher/student. For we are ALL one in Christ Jesus!

  84. Heir with Christ

    God is not one to change his mind, who can surprise God? He knows the past, present, and future…He will not apologize to all those who are inconvenienced by His word. The word is written straight forward…and confusion comes when you add or take away from
    the word to satisfy personal desires or to exercise your own misunderstanding. Is God the author of confusion? Of course not! Study, believe, and keep the faith!

  85. Nina Yar

    Hello All,

    This is a subject dear to my heart because I am a woman, I am gifted in teaching and my only desire is to please our Lord and use this gifting only as He wishes me to use it. I am currently learning in Bible School how to interpret the scriptures using classic literal grammatical historical interpretation principles. It is a wonderful thing to learn how to divide God’s word objectively and honestly. It takes great humility and courage to apply it to one’s life.

    I have recently received a challenge to perform a literal grammatical interpretation on the subject of women in ministry. I truly am open to the truth either way because there are so many confused and hurting women and children and youth out there to teach that it keep me plenty busy, even if I don’t teach men.

    What is undeniable in my life is that God is bringing to me hurting women and youth without a good male figure in their lives. He is also bringing me young married career women (because I am an older career woman) with strong personalities to mentor. God has led me to be involved with women inmates. It’s heart-breaking.

    A common theme in all these lives is the damage and trouble that is brought on by their ignorance of roles, authorities, boundaries, and domains. The Lord leads me to gently teach and encourage them to embrace biblical truths about these matter that agree with the things Jim Hamilton has been saying here. And the results are simply amazing. The ladies feel “liberated” to know what responsibilities are truly theirs and which are not. The ladies I minister to are very active and take on way to much responsibility- and their men reluctantly let them. When they unburden themselves of what the bible says the men are responsible for- what joy and peace fills their hearts. They become so much more effective in living and men are no longer seen as threats or opponents. They are co-heirs working together within their God-assigned roles and domains. It is beautiful to see. Neither feels deprived or cheated. Only fulfilled.

    All this to say that the traditional biblical views are powerfully unburdening women of burdens that I don;’t think they were meant to carry. This is my experience in personal ministry. The “male nor female” concept just doesn’t seem to work in the practical realities of life. It actually brings problems and confusion into the relationships of life.

    It will be interesting to test what I am teaching with a fresh grammatical study of God’s word. I have been a Christian for 25 years and have read the bible deeply for all that time. I have not been aware of all this controversy until just recently since my new church allows women to teach men. It surprised, grieved and concerned me because of my fear that men’s identity and leadership is being hurt by it. And if they get hurt, women get hurt with lack of spiritual protection. Women’s identities change too. I observe that they become more masculine and aggressive. It is an unseemly thing to see. They talk less about their children, and cool in their affections toward their husbands. The very two things women are to excel in start diminishing (Titus 2:4,5).

    I sense that women have a big test in life concerning humility. We need to make sure that we do not refuse roles that are God-ordained to mature us. We can all agree that we are all destined to be servants of God forever. But will we pass the test on this Earth to be servants to each other now? If we are more eager to rule in this life instead of to serve and support, will we be given good privileges to rule with Christ in the afterlife?

    To end, Isaiah 3:12 brings a chill down my spiritual spine. If you read the context, especially verses 6 and 7, it is clear that women and youths became rulers in Israel in a time of moral decline and when men themselves refused to rule. Women filled the empty slots. But it was not commended as a good thing by Isaiah or God. It was one of the many signs of a godless society that has lost its way. I have never heard anyone bring this scripture up in a sermon, study, or lesson. Thought I’d throw it in the mix for those who previously brought up so confidently that it was unthinkable to think that women in ruling positions in society could actually be a bad thing. God speaking through Isaiah seemed to think so. Am I interpreting this passage incorrectly?

    Blessings on you all! I’ll keep you posted on my studies.

  86. SAM

    Didn’t we move from the “confines” of the OT to liberty in the New? If so, why did we have Miriam as a prophetess and a leader with Moses and Aaron; A king found it necessary to consult Huldah, a prophetess, and then you have Deborah, who was not only a prophetess, but a Judge of the Jewish Law.
    In the NT you have women receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues at Pentecost, Philip’s 4 daughters, plus many women who assisted Paul. Women were the first ones Jesus told to “go tell”. You cannot isolate the restrictive texts from the context of the rest of the NT. “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…Your sons and daughters will prophecy”.

  87. Sam

    Funny, nobody seemed to mention what if the woman isn’t married? Where is it written that a woman is to submit to any other than her husband (whether she’s married or not? What about the historical cultural context of the passage? Have any of you looked researched this? Have you considered these women were uneducated, and trying to teach what they had no knowledge of. I know many spiritually gifted women that would be better suited for the pulpit than many pastors. Would you say that Benny Hinn teaches “with authority” because he’s male?

    Also, in regards to the “coverings” Paul said they nor the churches of God had any such tradition.

  88. amber

    This passage, I will say it is written by Paul, clearly says what Paul allows, not what the Lord deams appropriate. I believe that Paul, living in the time and place he lived made that rule for HIMSELF (let’s not forget he was a Pharasee) because that is what was acceptable at the time when Messianic Jews left their group (not their faith, but their temple) and joined with Gentiles. There was a host of issues with the new church and the appostles were attempting to sort it all out. As I said, though, Paul is clear that that is his rule and he did not follow that rule very well. Pricilla was the main teacher of Apollo, Paul frequently used women and had them in high positions in the church, even deconesses. We also know that God does not follow Paul’s rule or even agree with it. The first believer was a woman and she was instrumental in converting (teaching) many people, not just women. Anna prophesied in the temple in front of many people at the birth of Christ. Deborah was a judge and men went to her for instruction.

    From my own experience, my pastor, a woman, is the best teacher I have had (my husband agrees and in our home he is the head of the house and he decides where we attend church). She preaches strictly from the word. I have had many male pastors and even a couple of priests and they all had issues with leaving their personal feelings out of the Bible. God would not have given myself the gifts He bestowed on me if I were to remain silent and not teach people.

    I am sorry so many of you choose to keep 50% of the population from being able to exercize their spiritual gifts. I agree with Aaron’s assessment. We are no longer under the law, the law became death and bondage when it was supposed to bring freedom. Christ saved us from that bondage and death. I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me, I will not deny the urgings of Christ and His mission for me because some people seem to think I am not included in that and because some men think they can learn nothing from God working through me. If it is Christ who lives in me and I no longer live then I truely am under a new covenant and if I subject myself to the law then I am making Christ’s sacrifice for me invalid. “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Galatians, also written by Paul by God-breathed urgings.

    Mrs. Amber

  89. teekaay

    It’s simple people. Women can teach in schools at business seminars, university lectures ect, ect. But in the Church God has established that men are to teach his word. As Christian women, we can teach children, teens, and younger women in the church (this is enough to keep us busy and using our teaching abilities to glorify God without disobeying His Word through the apostle Paul). In evangelism outside the church we can teach unbelieving men about the Good News of Jesus Christ, as Eudia and Syntyche did in Phillipians 4. So there is plenty to do without getting up in the pulpit. I’d say our motives are definitely wrong if the only place we can think of to serve God is in the pulpit teaching men. Here’s something else you won’t like-Christian women should be practicing head covering in church. Forget about women’s lib or what others have told you or even what you think. Read 1 Corinthians chapter 11. Let’s stop being culturally and politically correct and just obey the Bible as it is written in the NT. It takes so much explaining just to do away with obvious instructions in Scripture. Wouldn’t it just be easier, and of course pleasing to Yeshua if we just obey?
    Shalom

  90. teekaay

    oh and by the way I am a women who is madly and passionately in love with my Lord and Savior Jesus (Yeshua) Christ.

  91. Jeff

    Reading this article, and the comments that follow it, are deeply saddening. While anyone who argues against the interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12 given in the article can be labelled as people who “reject the truth of scripture” I believe those who adhere and agree with the interpretation given in this article are in fact the ones rejecting the truth of scripture – and in fact at basing their interpretation of the narrow and un-Christian cultural condition sown and nurtured by Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and many other ancient Greek and Roman (and Jewish) philosophers, who taught that women were a curse against men, a possession or property of men, formed from a separate and worthless material from that of which men were formed and on a par with beasts of burden.

    While you might think any pro-women interpretation of 1 Tim 2:10 is only a modern, post-feminine 20th/21st century reaction to timeless truth, I believe the interpretation of the text when studied in the ancient languages they were written in, in light of the rest of scripture, shows Paul’s teaching not only to have been radically different from the culture in which he was writing, but is radically different from the interpretation presented in this article.

    Now if you believe that 1 Tim 2:12 prohibits men from sitting under the authority of a woman, then you have to come up with a whole range of unwieldy and un-Biblical standards and exemptions to allow female school teachers & lecturers, Sunday School teachers, mothers, bosses, politicians and rulers, for the text makes no mention of this ‘prohibition’ being church, age, context or relationship specific.

    As some people have mentioned above, there is a whole host of other scriptures that should enlighten our understanding of the interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12, including the equality and partnership between men and women in God’s original design (Genesis 2:18 & 24); the prophesies of Joel 2:28 “…I will pour out my Spirit on ALL people. Your sons and DAUGHTERS will prophesy… Even on my servants, BOTH men and WOMEN, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” as quoted by Peter at Pentecost; and of King David “The WOMEN who proclaim the good tidings are a great host” (Psalm 68:11b); Jesus’ attitude to women (e.g. the Samaritan woman, the Syrio-Phoenician women, Mary Magdalene, et al); prophetesses, female teachers and witnesses in both testaments (e.g. Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Anna, Isaiah’s wife, Phillips daughters, Priscilla, Phoebe, Chloe, Stephana, Mary, Martha, the Samaritan woman, Joanna, Salome etc); and finally, the teachings of Paul from the rest of 1 Timothy and his other letters.

    These are by no means an answer in their own right, but should be the lens through which we read 1 Tim 2:12, rather than the lens of 2000 years of male-dominated church and 3500 years of male dominated culture!

    I will take two quick examples. When I read “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” in Galatians 3:28 and “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent” there appears to be a contradiction for which there are only 2 possible explanations. 1) God’s Word is in error, or 2) my understanding is in error. I do not believe God’s Word is erroneous, therefore my understanding must be in error. This is broken down into two further possibilities 1) I have misunderstood the equality and attitude of God in Galatians 3, or 2) I have misunderstood the message of 1 Timothy. Given all I know and love of God from the rest of scripture, I know God is not biased, that women are not inferior to men and that we are all united as one in Christ, then I know that it is my understanding of 1 Timothy that is in error, for I cannot reconcile the loving, inclusive God of the rest of scripture whom I know, with a God who would knowingly bias against half of his children based only on their gender, nor a God who would actively seek to cut his warrior fishers-of-men workforce in half.

    Secondly, unless you are extremely skilled in ancient Greek, I would advise not to holding too tightly to any interpretations that rely on only modern language translations of the Bible without exploring the underlying original language text. For example, in 1 Tim 2 Paul uses a literary device called a ‘chaism’, where ideas are expressed in an ABA, or ABCDCBA etc pattern, either to back up the point made at the middle of the chiasm, or to differentiate or contrast the point at the middle of the chiasm. In 1 Tim 9-15, Paul follows the ABA pattern, talking of women, a woman, and women again. The switch to singular is very important as it defines which bits of the teaching are generally applicable to women as a whole, and which are applicable to a specific instance, probably in response to a specific woman in the church at Ephesus which Timothy was leading. If Paul wanted to make the prohibition general, there would be no need to switch from ‘women’ to ‘a woman’

    More importantly, the extrapolation of the argument given in the article, that “Paul shows that verse 15 applies to women in general when he switches from the singular “she” (referring back to Eve in verse 14) at the beginning of the verse to the plural “they” in the middle of the verse. What is true of Eve is true of all women” is incorrect. Not because what Paul says in verse 14 doesn’t apply to all women, but because the author misses the point when he used the word childbirth as a verb. It isn’t. In all the Greek manuscript originals, the word is a noun, meaning it should be translated as “But she (still referring to Eve) will be saved through THE childbearing” making it a reference to a singular event. Do we know what this singular event was? The references to Eve in the preceding verses are a good indication that this refers to the childbearing of Eve’s offspring, of one who would crush the Serpent’s head, Christ. In this light, the application in verse 15b is that, likewise, all women will be saved through Jesus Christ, not through any work, and removing the need for such longwinded, vacuous, confusing and pointless explanations as given in the article – but does not in any way lend itself to the application of the prohibition on ‘a woman’ being advanced upon all women. It’s just not a viable interpretation of the Greek text.

    There are many more examples of scriptures that back up Paul’s calling and affirmation of women as leaders, deacons, teachers, prophets etc and there is a huge amount of good literature which goes into far more detail about the cultural background to Paul’s writings, the huge revolutionary attitude that both Paul and Jesus had towards women as they sought to teach the original divine plan for male-female unity in the world, the detailed grammatical structure of the New Testament that allows us to grasp more fully the truths of scripture that Paul and others wrote, which are lost when we read English translations (which often suffer sub-conscious (I hope) bias of the usually male translators*), all of which are of vital importance to anyone seeking to form opinions on issues of Christian morality, particularly this issue, where sadly, many men and women take such a wrong interpretation of scripture(s) and use it to crush the God-given mission and gifting of many fearfully and wonderfully made daughters of the King of Heaven.

    While I know many of you will be brimming with disgust and contempt with the words I have written, I urge you to re-examine your attitude to women teachers, to ask why you believe what you believe, and if it’s just because so-and-so told me based on just a handful of verses through out the New Testament, please, please do not simply finish reading this and dismiss it. Ask yourself if the God you know would really restrict and devalue half of His created offspring, and contradict His Word and character. If the answer is yes, the I don’t believe you know the God of the Bible and I pray that you do come to know him with an open heart and mind before you hurt forever, the spirit of one of His Holy Princesses and inhibit the spread of the Kingdom by her servanthood.

    I end by quoting Frederik Fransen, writing 100 years ago:

    ”It is amazing how one can get such a false idea that not all God’s children should not use all their powers in all ways to save the lost world. There are, so to speak, many people in the water about to drown. A few men are trying to save them, and that is considered well and good. But look, over there a few women have untied a boat also to be of help in the rescue, and immediately a few men cry out: standing there idly looking on, and therefore having plenty of time to cry out: “No, no, women must not help, rather let the people drown.”

  92. savedbygrace

    What if God calls a woman to be a preacher/pastor? I know of a wonderfully gifted woman of God who is pastor/co pastor of her church. (Kathy Campbell) God has given her the gift of prophecy and she has been to my church and my summer camp many times; she has a high calling on her life. I think it is ridiculous to say that women cannot preach and teach God’s word to others.

    I’m not sure if I am a ‘feminist’ or not. I just disagree with most of you on this issue. I really don’t see what the problem is with women preaching. I’ve been reading many different articles and such on this ‘issue’ because I shall be writing about it for my Basic College Composition Class at EBI. And one interpretation of what Paul said in one of his books is that some unlearned women in the church would, being new Christians, be constantly whispering and asking their husbands what something meant that was being taught WHILE the preacher/teacher was speaking. So, Paul was saying that women should wait until AFTER church to ask their husbands about something that they did not understand.

  93. Sara

    Mr. Hamilton,
    I must admit I am struggling with this topic and would like your input. I have read your post and the many comments and it is still unclear for me. I have been raised with strong Godly parents who were always active in church. I am grown – 39 years old and have watched my parents joyfully serve the Lord. My parents jointly taught the young married couples Sunday School class for the last several years. Three months ago my father passed away after 8 months in the hospital due to hospital negligence. It had been a true test of our faith. Within the next few weeks the church, without talking to my mother or the couple who had been filling in during my dad’s illness, offered the Sunday School class to another couple who had not expressed any interest in leaving the college class they were teaching and did it all under the teachings of 1 Timothy 2. I am having a hard time believing that the loving, gentle God I was raised to believe and have honored throughout my life would say that my mother, with all her wisdom, was not allowed to teach younger couples. My parents had a long and strong marriage and I cannot believe that this scripture teaches that her wisdom is useless since she does not have her husband teaching the class. If this is the case, why don’t we follow the rest of the chapter? Is it ok for me to wear my silver bracelet to church – it’s not gold? Or should I remove all forms of jewelry? Can I wear my wedding ring? What about the clothes I wear? What determines if it is expensive? I have some label/brands of clothes but I got them on sale so are they ok? I do not mean any disrespect but why interpret certain verses literally but be more relaxed on the other verses? Why is it ok for me as a 39 year old female to teach young males 20 to 25 years younger but not ok for my mother at age 68 to teach males 30 to 40 years younger? Mr. Hamilton, I would greatly appreciate your input on these questions.
    Sincerely,
    Sara

  94. Sara,

    Thanks for your note. I’m sorry to hear about your father’s passing, and I’m sorry if less sensitivity than was perhaps necessary has been shown toward your mother. As I see it, there are several issues in your email. Easiest ones, in my opinion, first.

    On clothing and jewelry: If Paul’s point in 1 Tim 2:9 was “never, ever, wear these things,” then Peter’s point in 1 Pet 3:3 (“or the putting on of clothing”) is “never wear clothes.” Obviously that’s not Peter’s point. Similarly, Paul’s point is in 1 Tim 2:10–women are to adorn themselves “with what is proper for women who profess godliness–with good works.” So the idea is that women are to be known for their good deeds not their stylish, expensive clothing. Paul is no longer a Pharisee. He is not teaching like a Pharisee in 1 Tim 2:9. It would be possible to avoid wearing what he says not to wear and still be fixated on the external appearance. Paul doesn’t want that. He wants women to focus on their character and their treatment of others. We have to obey that, whatever we wear.

    On teaching: I don’t know the situation in the church you’re describing. Has there been a change of leadership? Did a former pastor allow women to teach men and the new one doesn’t? Whatever the case, Paul says that women are not to teach men.

    I would suggest that women are valuable in the church, and that Paul’s instructions for “older women to teach the younger” (Tit 2:3-5) doesn’t relegate women to “second string ministry.” My question for you is whether those who suggest that women must be allowed to teach men aren’t implicitly declaring that teaching women isn’t important enough? Which side is degrading women?

    So regardless of how you or your mother have been treated, we’re under biblical authority. The questions for you and your mother, in my opinion, are these: can you embrace Paul’s instructions that women are not to teach men but can have valuable ministry in teaching other women, and can you embrace the leadership that God has placed over you in the church?

    May the Lord bless you richly,

    JMH

  95. Sara

    Mr. Hamilton,
    I do not want to be antagonistic but it still seems that interpretations of the verses are not matching up. If one is to say that Paul’s words on women teaching means for women to teach only other women then that seems to contradict other words from Paul. What about Junia the apostle? What about Priscilla teaching? Paul also refers to women who prophesy and one can look at prophesy as proclaiming God’s message. There seems to be a relaxed interpretation of clothing and jewelry in comparing 1 Tim 2:9 and 1 Peter 3:3. People seem to take the verses on women teaching and interpret them as the stand alone without referencing other words from Paul but when it comes to clothing and jewelry they don’t want those verses to be interpreted as they stand alone. If one is to reference other scripture for clothing and jewelry why not reference other verses for women teaching.
    As for the situation at our church. The same pastor who my father prayed with weekly and encouraged daily is still the same pastor. The decision to remove my mother as the Sunday School teacher for the young married class was based solely on the notion that my father was no longer here to teach the class, therefore my mother could not teach the class as a woman. I certainly do not consider teaching of any age or gender to be “second string ministry” but to suggest that a woman who has served the Lord steadfastly for 60+ years is not adequate to help younger couples in their walk with the Lord is quite insulting. How can someone talk about the incredible strength and faith in the Lord during an unbelievably trying time turn around and say she is not equipped to teach any age or gender? Certainly there would be topics that men would want to discuss with only men or women with only women but that should not keep my mother from being able to help lead these young couples and share her wisdom with them. I guess I am not able to embrace the idea that Paul meant for his words to mean women should not teach men. I think some young men would miss out on some incredibly useful insights that only a woman can provide.

  96. Sara,

    I refer you to my essay, “What Women Can Do in Ministry,” which you can get to by clicking on the book cover Women, Ministry, and the Gospel on the right side of the page on my site.

    The examples you cite regarding women in ministry in the NT do not establish that women taught men, and therefore they do not conflict with Paul’s instructions that women not teach men. Moreover, Paul bases his command on an argument from the created order. See further my essay.

    I think your pastor did the right thing,

    JMH

  97. Sara

    Mr. Hamilton,
    I do wish you would address the referencing of different verses for one part of the text but not for the other but I understand you must have more important issues. The good news is that this does not determine our salvation and the question will be answered when we are in glory. I wish you well in your endeavors and pray for God’s grace for you.
    Sincerely,
    Sara

  98. Thanks Sara,

    I would contend that I have answered the issues you raise. You are just not content with the way that I understand the text.

    I think that Paul’s issue in 1 Tim 2:9-10 is that women be more focused on good works than on good looks. I don’t want that neglected, and I don’t want the verses that follow neglected either.

    Blessings!

    JMH

  99. Sara

    Mr. Hamilton,
    What I don’t understand is why the verses pertaining to jewelry, clothing, and head covereing can be interperted so loosly and can be supported by other verses but there is this very rigid and literal intepretation of the verses pertaining to teaching. I contend that a man telling a woman it is OK to wear jewels or uncover her head does not cause any complications for men but to tell a woman it is OK to teach other men does cause complications for men so that receives a much more rigid interpretation. Both sides of the “camps” can defend their interpretations which causes me to take it one step further to exactly how Jesus treated others while here on earth and how God’s word instructs us to treat others and it always points back to compassion and grace. I am afraid that your more rigid interpretation lacks compassion and grace. Again I feel that we will both know how God would want it when we both find our home in glory. Regardless of the interpretations of these verses, my relationship with a merciful and gracious God is intact and I will see my earthly father again when I see my heavenly Father in heaven.
    Grace to you,
    Sara

  100. And I contend that I am not interpreting 1 Tim 2:9-10 “loosely” but in accordance with Paul’s intended meaning.

    You tell me: would no woman ever wearing “braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” (1 Tim 2:9) accomplish what Paul is after? Would the avoidance of those items of clothing ensure that women would be concerning themselves with good works?

    Does braided hair cancel out good works in some way?

    So I think the point is not that women should never braid their hair. I think the point is that women should be concerned with good works, not their appearance.

    I submit that this isn’t a loose interpretation.

    Blessings!

    JMH

  101. Sara

    How can you know what Paul intended if you have not spoken to him or were not there at the time it was written? I agree that the intent is most likely to dress modestly. So who decides what is modest? That is open for all degrees of interpretation form rigid to loose. My point is simply that because of the changes in culture the interpretation of that verse has changed over time. Why is that permissible but the interpretation of teaching not affected by the changes in culture. Jesus treated women with a higher degree of respect than what was typical of the times showing he saw women in a different light. Women are more educated today than in the New Testament days. I feel I must state that I do not feel a woman should be head of a church and there are roles that are designed for men and those designed for women but to say, because of 3 verses in the bible, which can be interpreted in more than one way, that a woman’s wisdom or spiritual insight is inadequate for a man to accept is very demeaning and not reflective of how Jesus treated women. I can assure you that there are some things only a woman could teach you and a perspective that is unique to a woman.
    God’s Grace to you
    Sara

  102. Sara,

    Thanks for your note. Paul’s instructions in 1 Tim 2 9-15 don’t change over time b/c he backs them up with an appeal to the created order in 2:13-14.

    Blessings!

    JMH

  103. Jenny

    After reading all of the informative and interesting comments on this blog regarding this sticky subject, I find Nina Yar’s comment (March 21, 2007) is precise, poignant and exhibits a quiet and meek spirit. In her soft-spoken way, she has captured the essence of this text, as well as God’s message for us through His Word: freedom. Maybe we don’t have all the answers or the reasons “why?” the Lord has called us to certain roles with certain boundaries. But we know His ways are higher than ours and His will for us is liberty. The crazy thing about God’s ways: they seem oxymoronic. The more you give the more you receive? Lose your life to gain it? Obedience (submission)is the path to freedom?

    God’s boundaries and provisions protect us and, as women, isn’t that a cry of our hearts? The problem lies not with God and His mandates, but with people’s desire to twist and pervert it for their own gain. Of course men will use this passage to oppress women. Men are human. Of course women will rebel against it. Women are human. But true freedom lies in surrendering to a God that made you, knows you, understands what you need to fulfill HIS purpose for your life. Take Him at His Word.

    Much love,
    Jenny

  104. marti

    How does a Pharisee become a Pharisee? By obeying the letter of the Law instead of the spirit of the Law. The Lord desires husbands and wives to live in mutual love and submission and instructed them on their respective roles. One will lead, the other will assist (“helper”). But we read Paul mentioning Genesis 2:13-14 and we say this is an appeal to created order and therefore man is ‘lord’ over woman. What is the spirit of the Law? Listen to what Jesus has to say, “The first shall be the last and the last shall be the first. He who is to be the greatest, must be the servant of all.”

    Who wants to qualify as the shepherd of the flock? The one who is willing to die for the flock.

    We have a foolish man who is disobedient to the Scriptures and we have a wise lady who is obedient to the Scriptures. We have an immature male believer and we have a mature female believer. Whom shall we appoint as pastor of the our little congregation? Shall we obey the letter of the Law or shall we obey the spirit of the Law?

    How does a Pharisee become a Pharisee?

  105. Julio

    Mr. Hamilton,

    I agree with your interpretation of the scriptures in this matter. What do you have to say about Women leading the congregation (man included) in song; More commonly called as female
    Worship leaders.

  106. mika

    I agree with you but my only question is ‘what does the word ‘teaching’ in greek actually means. The other day I was telling my husband all about the research I made and what I’ve found about women ministry, the he stopped me and said is this you teaching me?(not that he was in disagreement) I replied that I was just informing him so because he did not know about the topic, was that teaching? when Paul referred about teaching over men was that referring to the word of God all everything in general?

    • Mika,

      Paul is not saying that you can’t have conversations with your husband where you inform him of things he doesn’t know.

      Paul is saying that women should not be the authority figures over men in the home or the church, and he is saying that women should not be installed as the regular teachers of men in the home or the church.

      Blessings!

      JMH

  107. Destaen

    To the purpose of this article, I agree that the context of what Paul is writing Timothy is not only for the home and your logic is sound. There are however a few things I’d like to look more closely at.

    “But lest anyone think Paul is talking about women accomplishing their own salvation through childbearing, he adds, “if they continue in faith. . .” I take this to mean that childbearing is evidence that a woman has embraced her role as a woman, which is evidence that she has genuine faith.” – I can see how you may interpret this part of the passage this way. It is a highly interpretable part. But I would instead suggest that “childbirth” is interpreted as referring to “the” childbirth, as is a common translation. I believe that women who God leads to remain as daughters all of their life embrace their faith no less. We don’t find lineage being a fruit of faith, and faith is followed by “love, holiness, and modesty.” These are simply the terms of the Christian walk. The truth of this passage is that a woman is saved by faith, but I believe Paul was wanted to tie-in the fact that Christ was conceived by a woman.

    Less related but possibly more important, you quickly referenced Corinthians 14:35. I was highly speculative and critical at first of the proposal that I will describe, but I have found that it better fits the context of the letter, the passage, and language of Paul. This has no effect on the 1 Timothy verses concerning women, but in Corinthians 14 passages concerning women, I believe that Paul is quoting the Corinthians.
    #1 There are no punctuation marks in the Greek, so quotations would have been recognized only out of context.
    #2 Paul begins the section by saying, “let’s summarize,” yet he does not refer women speaking in the church previously, although every other thing following has been previously talked about. #3 If these verses really do precede verse 36, the “what?” (e, in Greek) and the series of questions could be closely related to the extreme quotation about women.
    #4 The Greek word for silence used here is very strong, but the word used in Timothy is much more like “soft spoken” or “quiet.”
    #5 If compared, the verses found in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians concerning this matter don’t flow together well. One is well thought out and explained for teaching purposes, while the other is short, quick, and used for correctional purposes.
    #6 The quotation includes a reference to the law but there is no direct reference, and there is no law in the bible concerning such things, New or Old testament, not to mention this is the only part out of this larger passage that includes any mention of law.
    #7 Woman not speaking at all in church meetings may or may not be contradictory to them prophesying.
    #8 Women learning only at home may or may not be contradictory to the mention of them learning quietly with no reference to place. With all of these aspects of these verses seeming contradictory, it makes much more sense that in a passage concerned with reviewing his teaching and also with pointing out the Corinthians misconceptions, that he would not be adding on more teaching, but instead by quoting them in their skewed misconceptions.

    Also, I’d like to point out that although our culture tends to clump the positions together, that the teacher who teaches, feeding the flock, has a different role than the pastor who pastors, caring after the flock, who also has a different role than the preacher who evangelizes, herding in more sheep into the kingdom.

    As always, sheep are dirty, as are we. All thanks to the Father for the life and death of His son that makes our wool as pure as crimson blood. Thank you for your study. I agree completely with the heart it was done through. God bless.

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