Sermon No: 42238-Women leaders - Part 2

SERMON TOPIC: Women leaders - Part 2

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 1 September 2019


Sermon synopsis: Many believe that while women can serve as deacons, they are not to be appointed as elders/pastors, should not teach and must not exercise any authority over a man. What is the A/G position? The A/G (US) 'affirms the ministry of women in the church and allows them to be ordained and serve in pastoral roles.' Let’s consider the main objections raised by those who believe that there is no place for female elders /pastors / overseers.


Catholic, Orthodox and the Eastern churches are steadfast in their refusal to allow women into the clergy, as indeed, are many Protestant churches. Some believe that while women can serve as deacons, they are not to be appointed as elders/pastors, should not teach and must not exercise any authority over a man.

What is the A/G (US) position?

Women’s role in ministry: The A/G affirms the ministry of women in the church and allows them to be ordained and serve in pastoral roles. 1

1 https:// wiki/ Assemblies_of_God_USA


We saw that a prophet is someone through whom God speaks to his people. In terms of prophets, the NT is the most explicit regarding the role of women. Neither gender nor age are used to exclude anyone.

“In the last days… I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams. Even upon my servants, men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” (Acts 2:17,18 CEB)

Paul states that we are all equal in Christ:

Gal 3:28 (NIV) There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.


We also noted that an apostle, in its most literal sense, is an emissary. An apostle was a person “sent” with a mission and message and they spoke with the authority of their sender. One can argue that in this sense Mary Magdalene and all her companions at the tomb were apostles - commissioned by Christ himself to be the first witnesses of the resurrection.

Junia was not only an apostle, but “outstanding among the apostles”. Apostles were the most authoritative messengers of God. Elders were initially appointed by apostles. So how could a woman be an apostle, yet a woman could not be an elder/overseer/pastor?



Now let’s consider the main objections raised by those who believe that there is no place for female elders/pastors/ overseers.

1 Tim 3:1,5 seems to indicates that only men should aspire to being overseers (i.e. elders):

(KJV) This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work… (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

(NASB) It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do… (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)

1 TIM 3:1,5

The masculine personal pronouns that appear in many English translations of 1 Timothy 3:1 and Titus 1:6a —are absent in the Greek. Although the word “man” is used in 3:1, 5 for someone seeking the office of Bishop, the Greek word used is tis, a neuter word meaning male or female. Had Paul wanted to communicate that this office was to be limited to the male gender, he would have used the word andron which specifies male only. 1

Thus the CEV (Contemporary English Version) renders 1 Tim 3:1,5 as:

It is true that anyone who desires to be a church official wants to be something worthwhile... If they don’t know how to control their own families, how can they look after God’s people?

1 TIM 3:1,5

Paul says that an elder must be “the husband of one wife” (1 Tim 3:2, Titus 1:6) or literally “to be a one-woman man”. The same phrase is used of deacons (1 Tim 3:12).

Some argue that this immediately disqualifies women from being elders/pastors or deacons.

The phrase “a one-woman man” is, however, an idiom and if a strict literal interpretation is held this would also disqualify single men, divorced men or widowers.

Yet Paul says elsewhere that being single and celibate enables people to serve God better (1 Cor 7:32-35). Paul himself was single… The real intent of this phrase is marital faithfulness in a church leader who is already married. 1

1 https:// pauls-qualifications-for-church-leaders


Philip B. Payne writes, “The closest English equivalent to one-woman man is ‘monogamous’, and it applies to both men and women.” Even some notable hierarchical complementarians (Christians who are against women in certain leadership roles) acknowledge that the phrase a one-woman man does not exclude women, and it cannot legitimately be used to argue that women cannot be church leaders. This is because the phrase is essentially describing the moral quality of marital fidelity and is not primarily referring to marital status or gender. 1

1 Tim 3:2 (Contemporary English Version) That’s why officials must have a good reputation and be faithful in marriage. They must be self-controlled, sensible, well-behaved, friendly to strangers, and able to teach.

1 Ibid.



Peter endorses Paul’s writings as Scripture but notes that they “contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort”.

2 Pet 3:15-16 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Rather than gloss over these passages we need to seek out the meaning of passages like 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2 which many use to restrict women in ministry.


The following is one of two passages which are normally used in the prohibition of women having any verbal ministry.

1 Cor 14:34-35 (NIV) women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says… for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

What did Paul mean here? It has been the subject of much debate. At a cursory glance it might seem quite clear that this is an outright ban on women speaking in church.


But it cannot refer to absolute silence or Paul would be contradicting himself. Earlier in the same book, he acknowledges that women pray and prophesy in church – something that is not possible if you “remain silent”.

1 Cor 11:5 And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head… 1

We dismiss the notion that Paul could ban what he earlier permits. As the Bible does not contradict itself, Paul cannot be giving an outright ban on woman speaking in church as this is inconsistent with what he wrote earlier in 1 Corinthians.

1 This verse itself has sparked much debate. Some believe that “head” refers not to a woman’s physical head but to her husband. Thus they hold that a woman can have a verbal ministry provided her husband is present.


Complete silence cannot be what Paul had in mind as that would entail women not even singing. And we know that women played music and sang in the tabernacle and Temple (cf. 1 Chron 25:5-6, 1 Psalm 68:24-25 2). We have also noted that women featured prominently in Paul’s ministry team.

1 1 Chron 25:5-6 (NASB) … for God gave fourteen sons and three daughters to Heman. All these were under the direction of their father to sing in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of the house of God… 2 Psalm 68:24-25 (NIV) Your procession, God, has come into view, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary. In front are the singers, after them the musicians; with them are the young women playing the timbrels.


“We’ve had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues - I see the world is rotten because of silence.” ~ Catherine of Siena (1347–1380)

Let’s consider some of the views that endeavour to explain the 1 Cor 14:34-35 passage.

An interpolation

Silence only in public settings


A Corinthian quote with Paul’s rebuttal

Nuisance chatter by women in general

Disruptive wives in meetings


Some claim that 1 Cor 14:34– 35 is a later interpolation (i.e. added by someone else, not Paul) made when the church had become more patriarchal.

In support of this view a typical argument goes:

All manuscripts of the Western Text-Type put these two verses after 1 Cor 14:40. Virtually all other manuscripts put these two verses after 1 Cor 14:33. Such divergent positioning is one of the hallmarks of interpolations. 1

1 https:// blog/ why-would-1-cor-143435-be-an-interpolation


We reject such explanations because:

Just because a passage is difficult, we cannot assume it was interpolated. It also sets a dangerous precedent because one could use the same type of logic for any other problematic passage.

There are other reasons to explain the shifting of the passage in a few manuscripts. Assuming interpolation undermines the reliability of other scripture.

Tertullian (c. AD 200) cites 1 Cor 14:34–35, as do Origen (AD 253–254), Chrysostom (AD 407) and Theodoret (AD 466).

The earliest witness to 1 Cor 14:34–35 is a manuscript called P46, which probably dates between AD 126–138.


Could this be a restriction on women prophets exercising their gift in a public setting and recommending that they rather do so in private?

Hardly! We are told that the prophetess Anna “never left the temple but worshiped night and day” (Luke 2:37). She had no husband as a covering either because “she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four” (vs 36-37).


It was in the Temple that Anna publicly exercised her prophetic gift – audibly – and “to all” (not just other women).

Luke 2:38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

The masculine gender of the signifiers describing her intended audience suggests Anna prophesies to both men and women. Elsewhere, Luke uses the feminine signifier to define an audience of women only (15:9). 1

1 https:// resources/ article/ mutuality/ q-who-are-women-prophets-bible


There is often separate seating for men and women in modern Orthodox Jewish synagogues. A physical divider called a mechitza is placed between the men’s and women’s sections in synagogues and at religious celebrations.

Thus another popular explanation for “it is shameful for women to speak in church” is that men and women were segregated in the Corinthian church; and women were calling out questions to their husbands, seated some distance away, thus disturbing the meeting.

However Paul is addressing Gentile Christians in a church, not a synagogue. First-century churches were generally in people’s houses and there is little evidence for gender-separated seating in these churches.


Yet Cyril of Jerusalem (c. AD 313–386) 1 and Augustine (c. AD 354–430) 2 do refer to separate seating of men and women in the 4th to 5th century church. However John Chrysostom (c. AD 349–407) believed that men and women were not separated during the time of the apostles, but this practice was introduced later do to the decline in modesty of how women dressed. 3

1 If the Church is shut, and you are all inside, yet let there be a separation, men with men, and women with women, lest the pretext of salvation become an occasion of destruction. Even if there be a fair pretext for sitting near each other, let passions be put away. - (Protocatechesis, 14, NPNF 2:7) 2 [See] the masses flock to the churches and their chaste acts of worship, where a seemly separation of the sexes is observed… - (City of God and Christian Doctrine, Chapter 28, NPNF 1:2) 3 It would be best if you had within yourself the wall to part you from the women. But since you do not desire this to be so, our fathers thought it necessary by these boards to wall you off. I hear from the elders that in the early times there was nothing like these partitions, “for in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female” [Galatians 3:28]. - (Homily LXXIII on Matthew, NPNF 1:10)

In an article where he justifies the inclusion of women in ministry in the A/G based on the scriptures account of the inclusion of the Gentiles in the early church George O. Wood argues that while experience is not a substitute for Scripture, Peter’s experience (i.e. his vision in Joppa) shaped his understanding of Scripture in terms of the inclusion of Gentiles into the early church.

Wood writes, “Why is this discussion on the inclusion of the Gentiles relevant to the issue of women in the ministry? Because we learn from the New Testament itself the process by which the Early Church resolved issues when texts appeared to collide. Their understanding of the text was impacted by their experience in the Spirit. Let me cite some examples from my own Pentecostal roots.

I spent some of my early years growing up in northwest China. The women sat on one side of the church, and the men on the other. The educational level of the women at that time was considerably less than that of the men. Married women called out across the sanctuary to their husbands, seated on the opposite side, with questions related to what was being said or done in the service. That experience helped me put into context Paul’s admonition that women should remain silent in the churches, asking questions of their own husbands at home (1 Cor 14:34,35; 1 Tim 2:11,12). Clearly, he had not forbidden them to speak within the context of prayer or prophecy (1 Cor 11:4,5). My experience shaped my understanding of the text. It was no different in regard to women preachers.”

1 http:// 200102/ 008_exploring.cfm


Others claim that 1 Cor 14:33b–38 has Paul citing a quotation from the Corinthians’ letter to him, while verses 36–38 constitute his refutation of that quotation. Thus v. 36 is construed to be a rebuttal of the preceding “it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church”.

v36 (ESV) Or (é) was it from you that the word of God came? Or (é) are you the only ones it has reached?

Dr. Kirk MacGregor, a proponent of the “Corinthian quote” view, argues that “Paul introduces both rhetorical questions in v. 36 with ‘or’ (é), which he does 6 times elsewhere in 1 Corinthians to argue against the Corinthians’ position (1:13; 6:16; 9:6, 8, 10; 11:22) and 5 times to express disapproval of a Corinthian practice (6:2; 9, 19; 10:22; 11:13). 1

1 https:// resources/article/ priscilla-papers/ 1-corinthians-1433b-38-pauline-quotation-refutation-device


He argues that “The accuracy of our conclusion is secured by the undisputed presence of this device five other times in 1 Cor (6:12–13; 7:1–2; 8:1, 8; 10:23), in which Paul quotes a position from the Corinthians’ letter with which he disagrees and then refutes it.” 1

E.g. Paul does this earlier in 1 Cor 1:13. He cites what the Corinthians say:

1 Cor 1:13 (ESV) … each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”

And then immediately refutes it.

1 Cor 1:14 (ESV) Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or (é) were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Ibid.


MacGregor terms this literacy device of Paul a QRD (Quotation-Refutation Device). Another example of QRD is in 1 Cor 7:1–3, which makes this passage much clearer.

1 Cor 7:1 (ESV) Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

Paul clearly identifies the source of the topic that he now discusses as “that which you wrote about” and follows with his refutation.

1 Cor 7:2-3 (ESV) But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.


This lines up with what Paul teaches elsewhere. Contrary to what some believe, Paul does not discourage marriage. In fact, he tells Timothy that forbidding people to marry is one of the “doctrines of demons”.

1 Tim 4:1-5 (NIV) The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.


MacGregor asserts that assessing the grammatical structure of the other instances of QRD in 1 Corinthians logically necessitates the presence of QRD in 14:33b–38”.

In support of this argument, it must be noted that if Paul is stating his own opinion, he is appealing for support to a law that is not in the OT.

1 Cor 14:34 (ESV) the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.

If this is Paul speaking, what Law (requiring submission and silence of women) did he mean?


Kirk MacGregor

The Law of Moses?

Paul normally means the Mosaic law when he uses the word nomos. But the OT law does not have any prohibition on women speaking in public or of general submission of women to men. In fact the OT provides examples of women who had leadership roles in civil government, in publicly praising God, and in giving authoritative answers about spiritual matters to male civil leaders (e.g. Deborah, Miriam and Huldah).

The oral Torah?

It could be a reference to the Oral Torah as both the both mandates (silence and submission) are explicit there. (The major repositories of the Oral Torah are the Mishnah and the Gemara.)


The Mishnah (M. Ketub. 7:6) states that it is sinful for a woman to “speak with any man” in assemblies, and the first-century AD historian Josephus (Ag. Ap. 200–1) relates the following instruction from the oral Torah: “The woman, says the law, is in all things inferior to the man. Let her accordingly be submissive.” 1

But this makes it unlikely that it is Paul’s own argument and points rather to Judaizers within the Corinthian congregation.

As Payne observes, “although 1 Cor 14:34 is out of harmony with Paul’s use of ‘the law,’ it fits Jewish appeals to oral law perfectly.” 1

1 Ibid.


In addition, the rationale of 14:33b–35 flies in the face of one of the dominant themes running throughout the entire Pauline corpus: the freedom of believers from the oral Torah. Far from exhorting believers to keep these rules, Paul consistently admonishes his congregations not to observe them, even going so far as to state that embracing them spells rejection of Christ. 1

1 https:// mod/ book/ view.php? id=4261&chapterid=12 The following portions of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians are representative: Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back to the weak and miserable principles, whose slaves you want to be once more? You are observing special days, months, seasons, and years! I am afraid I have laboured over you in vain… It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery… You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Gal 4:9–11; 5:1, 4)


In light of Paul’s emphasis on liberation from the oral (and even the written) Torah, coupled with his warning that observation of the oral Torah could only be required on pain of alienation from Christ, it is unthinkable that Paul would have demanded the ecclesiastical silence of women by virtue of obedience to the oral Torah. Among the Corinthians, rather, it seems clear that 1 Cor 14:33b–35 originated in the Judaizing faction of their church, which stressed obedience to the oral Torah as necessary for salvation and which Paul vehemently opposed. 1

1 Ibid. Regarding these Judaizers who identified themselves as “belonging to Cephas” (1 Cor 1:12) and disputed Paul’s apostleship (1 Cor 4:1–5, 9:1–18), Paul inveighed against them as “false apostles and deceitful workmen who masquerade as apostles of Christ” (2 Cor 11:13) and warned their fellow Corinthians that such self-proclaimed “super-apostles” (2 Cor 11:5, 12:11) preach a “different Jesus,” a “different spirit,” and a “different gospel” than the Way which leads only to damnation (2 Cor 11:3–4).


David Guzik

Some believe that this was a restriction on nuisance chatter by women in general.

There are multiple cases of women prophesying in the Bible – something that is impossible if you “remain silent”. Calvary Chapel pastor, David Guzik, known for his popular online Bible commentary writes, “Because Paul affirmed the right of women to pray and prophesy in 1 Cor 11:1-16, the context suggests that this refers to disruptive speaking. Alan Redpath points out that Paul uses the ancient Greek verb laleo, which means, ‘to talk, question, argue, profess, or chatter.’” 1

1 https:// Comm/ guzik_david/ StudyGuide2017-1Cr/ 1Cr-14.cfm


Unlike the Corinthian Quote View, the appeal to the law (1 Cor 14:34) is seen as Paul making a case from the Roman civil law (or etiquette).

E.g. Plutarch (AD 46-120), a Greek philosopher and magistrate who became a Roman citizen, considered it rude to who challenge a speaker without yet understanding his point. This principle was particularly applicable to uneducated questioners who wasted everyone’s time with questions they had not bothered to first research for themselves. So also those who nit-picked too much, questioning points not relevant to the argument. 1

1 SOURCE: https:// mod/ book/ view.php? id=4261&chapterid=12



Craig Keener is professor of New Testament at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina and author of “Paul, Women, and Wives”. He notes that Plutarch explains “that a woman’s talk should also be kept private within the home… she ‘ought to do her talking either to her husband or through her husband.’” 1

It was rude even to whisper to one another during a lecture, so asking questions of one another would also have been considered out of place and disrespectful to the speaker. 2

1 Keener, Paul, Women and Wives, 81-83 2 https:// mod/ book/ view.php?id=4261& chapterid=12


Craig Keener

Why would the women in the congregation have been more likely to have asked irrelevant questions than the men? Because, in general, they were less likely to be educated than men”. Although some first- century women were well-educated, most were not. They married young and stayed at home. Keener advocates this as the primary problem—the women were speaking up, asking questions to learn what was going on during the prophecies or the Scripture exposition in church. 1

1 https:// mod/ book/ view.php? id=4261&chapterid=12


Marg Mowczko writes, “It is very likely that the silence called for in verse 34 is also addressing a specific situation and is not meant to be a blanket statement to silence all women for all time in church meetings. If Paul condones verbal ministry from women in chapter 11 it is very unlikely that he censures it in chapter 14. Paul was probably prohibiting a certain form of speech from the women in 14:34- 35… If the intent… was to silence women who were disrupting congregational meetings with inconsiderate chatter, then these verses cannot be used to silence women who have a valid speaking ministry. 1

1 https:// interpretations-applications-1-cor-14_34-35

Marg Mowczko


Some maintain that Paul is not referring to women in general but wives who were disruptive in meetings. It is important to note that the word “gynai” translated “woman” in this passage can also be rendered wife. In fact the NASB renders the word as such 40% of the time:

wife (71 times), wives (11), wife’s (1), woman (96), women (33), woman’s (1), bride (1).

If so, then it better fits the context (which mentions their husbands) and is an instruction for wives who do not understand something to enquire of husbands at home, rather than disrupting the service.

1 Cor 14:34-35 (WEB) let your wives (gynai) keep silent in the assemblies… If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home


Brian Brodersen from Calvary Chapel writes, “The historical context for the passage is that certain women, which obviously should be translated wives in this case (the Greek word for women and wives is the same), were disrupting the services with their questions and their husbands were passively allowing this bad behaviour to go unchecked. Paul rebukes them and tells them to discuss these matters with their wives at home. When he says, “for it is shameful for women to speak in church,” he clearly means speaking out disruptively. So, he’s not forbidding women to speak in the assembly, he’s forbidding them to speak out in a disruptive manner. 


Brian Brodersen

 Only those who disregard the context and take an extreme view are going to conclude from what Paul said here that all women are to always be silent in the church.” 1

The context is clearly regarding order in the service. The Corinthian church was noted for the chaos and lack of order in the assembly.

1 Cor 14:29-34 (WEB) … But if a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first keep silent. For you all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the assemblies of the saints, let your wives keep silent in the assemblies…

1 https:// posts/ further-thoughts-on-women-in-ministry


Everyone in the church service was participating with whatever expression they desired, whenever they desired, as loudly as they desired. Those with the gift of tongues were speaking simultaneously, and no one was concerned with interpreting what was being said. Those with a revelation from God were shouting out randomly, even if what was said could not be heard above the din, and apparently no one was evaluating what was being offered as prophecy. The meetings were characterized by chaos, and no one was being edified or instructed (see verses 5, 12, and 19). 1

1 https:// women-silent-church.html


To remedy the problems, Paul instructs 3 groups of people to “be quiet” at certain times and under certain conditions:

Vs. 27–28 (WEB) If any man speaks in another language, let it be two, or at the most three, and in turn; and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the assembly, and let him speak to himself, and to God.

Vs. 29–31 (WEB) Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the others discern. But if a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first keep silent. For you all can prophesy one by one…

Vs. 34-35 (WEB) let your wives keep silent in the assemblies… If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home…


The A/G US Position Paper on The-Role-of-Women-in-Ministry states regarding this passage:

Paul uses a word to limit the speech of women (sigato) that previously has been used to limit the speech of those speaking in tongues if there is no interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:28) and prophets if a prophecy is given to another person (v. 30). It is only under such specific circumstances that the speech of tongues speakers, prophets, and women are to be silenced in the church. 1

While the precise nature of Paul’s prohibition in this text is a matter of ongoing study, we do conclude that it does not prohibit female leadership, but like the rest of the chapter, it admonishes that “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (1 Corinthians 14:40). 1

1 https:// Beliefs/ Position-Papers/ The-Role-of-Women-in-Ministry


SUMMARY: If we are to believe as some do that 1 Cor 14:34-35 is a blanket prohibition on women speaking, we are in effect saying not only that the Bible contradicts itself, but that Paul is contradicting himself in the same book.

The idea that this refers to an unruly disruption in the service is far more reasonable and harmonises with the rest of the book and the overall message in Scripture.

Women (or rather wives) are not the only people Paul tells to be “silent.” He uses the same word in verses 28 and 30 to tell tongue-speakers and prophets to be silent when others speak. In all cases, he is calling for a temporary silence, not a complete and permanent prohibition.

The passage addressed bad behaviour and was not meant to silence godly women and forbid their ministry.



The other common passage used to prohibit women teaching men is:

1 Tim 2:11-12 (NIV) A woman (gynai) should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman (gynai) to teach or to assume authority over a man (andros); she must be quiet.

Firstly we note that the context is not about maintaining order in a church meeting as we have in 1 Cor 14.

And again we have the same Greek word that can legitimately be rendered “wife”. Likewise the word translated “man” can be translated “husband”. The NASB renders it husband (39 times), husbands (13), man (71), men (70), brethren (13), man’s (2), gentlemen (1), virgin (1).


In fact these exact words are used in the well-known passage in Eph 5:25.

(NIV) Husbands (andres), love your wives (gynai), just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…

No one thinks that Paul is saying that men must love all women – the context indicates a husband-wife situation.

But the context in 1 Tim 2:11-12 is about a husband and wife as the next 2 verses refer to Adam and Eve, a husband and wife.

1 Tim 2:13-14 (NIV) For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.


So if it applies to husbands and wives and not a general rule of men and women, what is Paul prohibiting with the word authentein (usually translated in English versions as “to usurp authority”)?

Authentein is unrelated to “exousia”, a common word sometimes translated as ‘authority’ in the NT.

Normally we can see how a word is used elsewhere in Scripture but this is a rare Greek verb, found only this once in the entire New Testament (what we call a “hapex legomena”). Thus it is impossible to determine how Paul or others used it from other contexts. It is a good hermeneutical principle never to build a doctrine upon a hapex legomena. With no “control text” to determine its meaning, what exactly might Paul be forbidding?


We need to research outside of the Bible to try understand the meaning of the word in other Greek literature at that time. But in Greek classical literature (prior to 322 BC), no root words have been found for the verb authentein as used in 1 Tim 2:12. The nearest related root words to authentein, such as auqentein, were nouns meaning “to kill by one’s own hand / murder / suicide.” 1

Apart from one occurrence in a disputed passage, authentēs meaning ‘master’ does not occur until the first century AD; but ‘master’ became the more usual meaning from the first century onwards in ordinary Koine Greek, gradually eclipsing any sense of ‘murderer.’ 2

1 E.g. authentēs is used with the sense of ‘kin-murderer’ in the Wisdom of Solomon (generally dated to the mid 1st century BC) where it describes parents who killed their own children (Wisdom 12:6). 2 Wolters, “Semantic Study,” 45.


How did early Christians who lived closer to the time of the writing of 1 Timothy and who knew Koine Greek understand “authentien”?

In the Vetus Latina (Old Latin) (2nd – 4th centuries) and Vulgate (4th - 5th centuries) “authentein” is translated as “dominari” (‘dominate’).

This has a more negative connotation than “assume authority” (NIV) or “exercise authority” (ESV & NASB) which can also be used in a positive legitimate way.

To dominate or domineer is to assert one’s will over another in an arrogant way. It is unacceptable behaviour for any Christian, man or woman and certainly has no place in Christian marriage.


Whatever the restriction is, we believe it applies to a husband-wife situation and not to woman and men in general. Thus 1 Tim 2:11-14 can be rendered as follows:


(Common English Bible) A wife should learn quietly with complete submission. I don’t allow a wife to teach or to control [authentein] her husband

(Williams New Testament) A married woman must learn in quiet and in perfect submission. I do not permit a married woman to practice teaching or domineering over a husband

So besides the husband-wife relationship, can a woman ever exercise godly authority over a man?

Deborah exercised authority over men.

Judges 4:4-5 (NIV) Deborah, a prophetess… was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel … and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.


Lois and Eunice taught the apostle Timothy in his youth and were commended by Paul for this (2 Tim 1:5, 3:14-15). There’s no indication that his father was alive or – if he was - a Christian.

Thus those who place a restriction on women teaching men will often permit them to teach other women or children. Yet Priscilla instructed and corrected the learned apostle, Apollos. This is also a strange view – are we to say that it’s alright to teach nonsense – provided you’re teaching children or women?

Prov 1:8 (NIV) … do not forsake your mother’s teaching.


In 2 Kings 22, Huldah the prophetess provided council to King Josiah’s delegation, headed by a priest, but including Shaphan (the Secretary) and Asiah (the king’s attendant).

Thus a male religious leader and male political leaders, including a righteous king, were taught and instructed the word of God by a woman.

This was despite the fact that she was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Zephaniah, who could have been consulted had Josiah so wished.


In the early church, many Christian women engaged in the study of spiritual matters so that by the early 5th century Augustine declared that “any old Christian woman” was better educated in these topics than many philosophers. 1

Marcella (325–410) was a high-born Roman Christian woman renowned for her intellect, who befriended Jerome. He spoke of her as a teacher “in the study of scriptures and sanctimony of mind and body”. When Jerome left Rome in AD 385 Marcella remained, studying, teaching and taking an active role in religious controversies. He remarked that after he left “she answered any arguments that were put to her about scripture, including obscure and ambiguous inquiries from priests”. 2

1 https:// magazine/ article/ women-in-the-early-church 2 https:// woman/ 35.html


17 of Jerome’s extant letters are addressed to her, a small proportion of the actual correspondence. The letters we have reveal a deep personal friendship as well as scholarly collegiality. 1 When the theologian monk, Tyrannius Rufinus came to Rome, Marcella was among those who objected to some statements in his translation of Origen’s “De principis”. She suspected that Rufinus had suppressed heretical statements by Origen and was offended by his insinuation that - by his translations of some of Origen’s works - Jerome was sympathetic to all his views. 2

2 Ibid. 2 In a reply to letters sent by Marcella and Pammachius , Jerome declared that though he admired Origen, he disagreed with some of his most questionable speculations, “his doctrine of the resurrection, of the previous existence of souls… the ultimate restoration of all spiritual beings… of the use of falsehood in certain cases; and some expressions about the relation of the Persons of the Godhead which, at least to Western ears, seemed a denial of their equality.


Marcella urged the pope Anastasius to condemn Origen and his defenders; and, when he hesitated, went to him and pointed out the passages which, she contended, though veiled in Rufinus’s translation, demanded the pope’s condemnation. 1

Anastasius was persuaded and condemned Origen and his supporters. Jerome wrote “This glorious victory originated with Marcella, she was the source and cause of this great blessing.” 2

1 Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies - by Henry Wace 2 Letter 127, 10


Paula of Rome (AD 347–404) was a member of one of the richest senatorial families. After being widowed at the age of 32, she became an member of Marcella’s semi-monastic group of women. Paula helped Jerome in his translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. The work was done at her suggestion, and she provided the reference works necessary for the undertaking. Being versed in Hebrew, she edited Jerome’s manuscripts. She and her daughter Eustochium copied the work for circulation. 1

So highly did Jerome value the assistance given him by his two devoted co-workers, that he dedicated nearly all his works to them. Those that were not dedicated to them were inscribed to his old friend, Marcella. 2

1 https:// wiki/ Paula_of_Rome 2 https:// culture/ library/ view.cfm?recnum=2945


The Pharisees of the time reproached Jerome with his persistence in dedicating his books to women, which they regarded as scandalous, but he responded, “There are people, O Paula and Eustochium, who take offence at seeing your names at the beginning of my works. These people do not know that Olda [Huldah] prophesied when the men were mute, that while Barak trembled, Deborah saved Israel, that Judith and Esther delivered from supreme peril the children of God. I pass over in silence Anna and Elizabeth and the other holy women of the Gospel, but humble stars when compared with the great luminary, Mary… I shall add but one word more. Was it not to women that Our Lord appeared after His resurrection? Yes, and the men could then blush for not having sought what women had found.” 1

1 Preface to the commentary on Sophonias


Paula did not live to see the completion of the version from the Hebrew [the Vulgate], of which she had been the chief inspirer and promotor. Little, however, remained to be done after her death. This Jerome, although almost crushed by the loss of one who had been his consolation and support in countless trials and difficulties, and persecutions, hastened, under the gentle but unceasing stimulation of Eustochium, to bring to a happy termination. 1

When the last page was finished, he placed it on the tomb of his friend as a tribute to her memory. In the preface he wrote, “now that the blessed and venerable Paula has slept in the Lord, I have not been able to refuse you, Eustochium … these books which I promised to your mother.”

1 https:// culture/ library/ view.cfm?recnum=2945


George O. Wood

George Wood (General Superintendent of the General Council of the A/G in the US from 2007-2017) says:

When texts have been thrown against us–such as 1 Corinthians 14:34,35 and 1 Timothy 2:11—15 – our experience told us that these texts must be interpreted in light of Joel 2, Acts 2, and Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is the same pattern we find when dealing with the Gentile inclusion question. Had the issue been presented for debate prior to Peter’s going to Cornelius’ home or prior to Paul’s Gentile mission, the Jerusalem church would have voted against both 


 endeavours of bringing in the Gentiles without prior observance to Jewish law and culture. But the debate took place after the endeavours of Peter and Paul–and their experience helped the Early Church reach an appropriate understanding of the text. With the advent of the modern Pentecostal movement in 1901, the Holy Spirit began to be poured out copiously on both men and women. Six of the 12 elders at the Azusa Street mission were women. They granted credentials and laid hands on believers to go forth as missionaries and evangelists. At the organizational meeting of the Assemblies of God in 1914, women were granted the right of ordination as evangelists and missionaries, but not as elders. Ordained women were, at first, not permitted to vote in the General Council since such was regarded as an eldership function. 


 However, women were accorded voting rights beginning with the 1920 General Council, the same year the 19th Amendment was adopted which granted women in the United States the right to vote. The ban on eldership meant that ordained women should not serve as pastors, marry people, and administer the ordinances of water baptism and the Lord’s Supper. However, the Assemblies of God had ordained women fulfilling all these functions anyway… In 1935, the General Council itself recognized that ordained women may pastor and administer the ordinances of the Church. If the Early Church took a few years to sort out the Gentile inclusion issue, it is not surprising that we took a few years at the beginning to work through the issue of women’s inclusion in ministry. 1

1 http:// 200102/ 008_exploring.cfm



In Titus, Paul speaks of “presbytidas”, the female equivalent of the male “presbytas” (elder). As such, some hold that this is listing requirements for female elders.

Titus 2:2-4 Teach the older men (presbytas) to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women (presbytidas) to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children…

Although the same word for “elder” is used here as for the office in the church, the context could indicate that it is about elder men and women in general. Nevertheless the principles still apply to elders holding office.


Yet these requirements do sound similar to what we have already noted for the overseer/elder.

Not addicted to much wine – This is already listed as a requirement for an overseer in 1 Tim 3:3 and Titus 1:7.

Reverent in the way they live (the overseer in Titus 1:8 must be “holy”).

To teach what is good. As the overseer in 1 Tim 3:2 is needs to be “able to teach”, this seems to indicate that the general congregation is not the target of this passage. If so, two requirements are added for the “presbytidas” or female elder.


“Not to be slanderers” – slander is the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation.


“Urging the younger women to love their husbands and children” – i.e. acting as a mentor to younger women in particular, in terms of being a godly wife and mother.

Gail Wallace has a B.S.N. and M.A. from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph.D. from Walden University. She is the Associate Pastor at Foothill Free Methodist Church in Azusa and Co-founder of The Junia Project – an organisation which advocates for the inclusion of women at all levels of leadership in the Church.

She writes, “Contrary to what you may have heard, egalitarians do NOT believe men and women are “the same”. 


Dr. Gail Wallace

We are keenly aware of the differences, which is why we advocate for the full inclusion of women in leadership. Women often see things differently than men and have different lived experiences. Having qualified women elders on your board can lead to a more accurate and holistic perspective of the health and needs of the church body.” 1

1 https:// six-reasons-women-on-board-1


Marg Mowczko (BTh from the Australian College of Ministries and an MA with a specialisation in early Christian and Jewish studies from Macquarie University) says, “The church is weaker and the world is poorer for not allowing appropriately gifted Christian women, women such as Priscilla, to lead.” 1


When God said “it is not good for the man to be alone”, he was referring not just to companionship, but to all areas of life – including the successful operation of a church.

1 https:// elders-in-new-testament


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