The truth is many find this verse contradictory. They often use it when it suits them or applies it to their current position. There are different opinions and perspectives on this verse. However, we will deep dive into this article to know what the verse means.
James 2:10 mentions that
“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
All verses of the scriptures have the same biblical equality. No verse is lesser or greater than another.
I Corinthians 14: 33 made us to understand that God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. God does not prefer a man over a woman but loves everyone. All men in this regard do not mean only men, it comprises both sexes.
We are all created together both male and female in the image of God according to Genesis 1:27
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Thus, God can use anyone He pleases.
The above scripture in 1 Tim 2:12 says,
“And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence”
The important point is that Paul was speaking to his brother, Timothy addressing what appropriate behaviour should be exhibited during a particular situation in 1 Timothy chapter one where there was a specific situation on false teaching and doctrines which causes disputes rather than godly edification in faith.
Paul’s letters were deliberate to address specific issue his co-worker Timothy was facing at the local church in Ephesus.
Believers today, misinterprets this verse to mean that Christian women are not permitted to teach or have authority over men in the church, but to be quiet. I encourage you to come with me to have a full understanding of this verse.
Who wrote I Timothy 2:12 and when was it written?
I Timothy 2:12 was written by Apostle Paul. It was written about 64 A.D. However, some modern scholars say it was not written by Paul but by an unknown author.
What is the context of I Timothy 2?
The context of I Timothy 2 is about prayer, worship service and the role of women in ministry. Everyone needs prayers, men and women including our enemies. There is hardly a person who does not need prayers. Apostle Paul urges Timothy of the importance of prayers by the church for all people as well as governing authorities because it is acceptable by God according to Verses 2-3 of the above chapter.
“For kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.”
The sole reason why Jesus died was for all to come to repentance because one cannot be saved without knowing who Christ is and what He stands for. Hence, Paul mentioned to Timothy in Verse 4,
“Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” John 14:6 tells us saying “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
He gave Himself as the sacrifice for the atonement of our sins. This was the message Paul preached as a teacher and apostle in Verse 7.
Paul desires that men pray everywhere which must be done in faith and lifting holy hands to God. One of the arguable verses is verse 9 which says “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing”
I believe women teachers are to dress in respectfully and in modesty, especially at church services, meetings or at home. Both words, propriety, and moderations will help us understand better what modest apparel should be or look like.
Propriety means decency, morality, or appropriateness while moderation means self-discipline, self-control, or composure. In this context, modest apparel means women teachers are to dress appropriately, decently, and in good composure in such gatherings or at home.
There is a saying that goes thus “Too much of everything is bad”. Either through consumption or what we wear. We are to do all things in moderation. Nevertheless, the most crucial adornment is our good work.
Good works are better than good adornments. When a woman dresses decently and in moderation with good deeds, she is well dressed.
The most difficult passages to understand are verses 11 and 12 which state that “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”
These verses are often misinterpreted in churches when there is a need to exclude younger women from exercising spiritual authority in leadership which ought not to be.
The word “silence does not mean to be mute. Of course, Paul would not want a woman to be quiet or not to say anything. There are a lot of women who ministered in gatherings in the whole bible.
Otherwise, we would not have read in the book of Acts where Priscilla, wife of Aquilla was one of the teachers that taught Apollos the way of the Lord. Apollos must have sat under the kind of teaching of Priscilla and Aquilla. Paul who was very happy about this called them his co- labourers.
Other women like Phoebe, Junia, and Anna, the prophetess also played different roles in ministry (Romans 16:1-2, 7) (Luke 2:37-38). Women like Deborah (Judges 4:4-7) and Huldah (II Kings 22:8–20 and II Chronicles 34:14–28) in the old testament just to mention a few.
Paul’s use of the word “silence” was used in verse 2 of this same chapter and if it means to be mute then kings and those in authority should be made to be quiet too. Paul’s words here are that the same way women are to be dressed appropriately, so also their actions or attitude in church must be quiet and self-controlled.
They are to receive God’s teaching with full submission to men of God that He has chosen. They are to respect the office of elder in authority and not to take much advantage of them.
Remember that we are also Kings and Priest according to Revelation 5:10 “And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” If we are kings and priests and are meant to reign on the earth, we cannot be silent or quiet.
It does not mean that the women are less superior or slaves but it is an order from God. The relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equal but have a distinctive function when it comes to command or control.
Just as Christ is the head of the Church, He has made man the head of the woman such that they have command and responsibilities. This does not imply that all women are under the control of every adult man in the church. Rather, women must respect the authority structure as ordained by God.
In the beginning, Adam was formed first, then Eve which is the order of creation and he was in charge of the authority on earth. Paul advises women not to overtake male authority in church gatherings but to live as godly women who have regard for the role of elders as they continue in love with self-control.
What is the message of I Timothy 2:12?
The message of I Timothy 2:12 is about the way or the appropriate behaviour of women when in spiritual gathering or meetings. Paul did not say women are not to teach in church. A good understanding of verse 12 can be seen from verse 11 which states
“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”
It does not restrict women from taking leadership positions in churches as believed by some people nor does it mean a total life of silence or never saying any word in such gatherings because living peaceably cannot be in complete silence. Instead, it means being submissive to the appropriate authorities of the church leadership.
Women are never to be contentious when in authority but have a right and gentle conduct towards appropriate authorities. Submission to the right authority is not solely for women but both gender.
They are allowed to teach in the assembly of both men and women as long as they are not domineering in their teachings such that they unlawfully assume authority or exert power in an unholy way to God’s people. The reason is that God created Adam first before eve and there must be order in the house of God also.
Take note that “quiet” was earlier used in Verse 2 and 11 of this chapter “For kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission “ While “silence” was used in both verses 11 and 12.
Both words do not connote total or absolute silence. A peaceable and quiet life is a stress-free life with all submission. Silence in this context does not mean being in total mute but what we call “calmness or quietness”
Apostle Paul made a clear statement in 1 Corinthians 14:4 -5,
“He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.”
If we are expected to prophesy using our tongues, why then should we be quiet or silent? How then can the spiritual gift given be used in church? They are expected to use their gifts in church services or meetings.
Otherwise, Paul would be contradicting himself in the above stances. Every role taken by women either through teaching or speaking must be done in submission to the men of God in authority by the church.
“And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man meaning
“And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man means a woman is not permitted to disdain or disrespect the authority over her. Rather must be teachable and submissive to the appropriate authority. This verse does not restrict women in ministry as often thought by many.
“But to be in silence” meaning
“But to be in silence” means women are to learn quietly and not argumentatively. They are meant to be peaceful people not causing any usurpation.
It means to be open-minded and submissive to authority. Not as slaves but with quiet and gentle conduct.
Moreover, 1 Corinthians 14: 34 tells us “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.”
Paul was not restricting well-behaved Christian women from speaking or prophesying in church. Both Christian complementarians and Egalitarians agree with the saying of Paul.
Wayne Grudem, a complementarian ideologist thinks that this verse prohibits women from prophesy evaluation while Craig Keener, an egalitarian ideologist believes that this verse restricts uneducated women from asking too many questions in church gatherings.
However, some Christians believe that first Corinthians 14:34 is not as straightforward as it seems in English translations, yet, many of these same believers support the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:12 as ordinary as it appears in most English versions.
What is the difference in biblical translations of 1 Timothy 2:12 (NKJV, KJV, NIV & ESV)?
1 Timothy 2:12 New King James Version biblical translation “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”
1 Timothy 2:12 King James Version biblical translation “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
1 Timothy 2:12 New International Version biblical translation “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. .”
1 Timothy 2:12 English Standard Version biblical translation “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”
There is no difference in the four biblical texts. The four translations have the same meaning but written differently.
What is 1 Timothy 2:12 prayer?
God of all grace, thank You for Your grace and privilege to pray. Thank You for Your mercies and compassion that fails not. Heavenly Father, teach me to seek You always, to know Your principles and instructions, and carry them out wisely everywhere I go.
Make me loving, prudent, and be in awe of You Lord. Grant me a teachable spirit so that I can have respect and pray for those in authority. This I pray through Christ our Lord. AMEN.
As Christians, our responsibilities must be done in the fear of the Lord irrespective of our sex. We are to emulate Christ in all our doings because our race in this kingdom is done individually.
Women should not be restricted in ministry because Jesus loves all souls equally and we will all end our journey in the same place – heaven irrespective of our sex.
Our mission on earth is to finish the race and end well. It does not matter if you are a man or woman, heaven should be your focus. Women are equally important as men in ministry.
We have read of great women of God both in the old and new testament who did great in ministry. Presently in the world, women are moving mountains.
Have you asked yourself that what if the men are not ready to take the world by a storm, do you think the work of the Lord will remain dormant? God is looking for ready and willing souls, He does not force Himself on anyone.
He desires that women minister in an appropriate manner. She should not be disrespectful to leadership or be seen as the head because God is a God of order. He created Adam “first’, then Eve.