Can women teach the Christian faith? Let us hear the word of the Lord.

1 Timothy 2

"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (1 Timothy 2:11-14)

2:11 “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” : The woman is not to speak as the Christian faith is being taught to her. This includes asking questions during the teaching. The men are to allow the women to learn the Word, but she must remain silent and subject herself to the Word.

2:12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” : Women are not to be teachers of the Christian faith; this is meaning spiritual teaching, not secular teaching (1 Timothy 2:7). That is not the role that God has given women, but is rather given to the men. This is not just Paul's preference, but rather God speaking through Paul to teach believers what it is prohibited in the Christian religion. This includes any kind of position as a teacher of the faith such as a church preacher, church teacher, Bible teacher, small group teacher, and Sunday school teacher. Women can speak the Word of God in conversational settings, for this is not teaching, although others may learn some things from the woman’s speech. Rather than teaching, the women must be in silence as is proper for their place of submission to the authority of the man. Women are not to have authority over men, for that would be usurping, wrongly taking, that which rightfully belongs to men. The man is the head of the woman (1 Corinthians 11:3). The Lord gives two reasons for these prohibitions for women in the next two verses.

[Note on the Greek of 1 Timothy 2:12: It does not say that women should not teach only men. If we notice the placing of the comma after “teach,” (KJV), and after “the man,” the trustworthy translators clearly believed that there is a separation between “suffer not a woman to teach,” and “usurp authority over the man.” If we go to the Greek ourselves, I think we can also see the separation in thought between the women not teaching, and not usurping authority over the man. Keeping the Greek word order, the text literally says,
“2woman 1but to teach 3not 1I 2suffer nor to usurp authority over man”.
Rearranging yields: “but woman to teach I suffer not nor to usurp authority over man.”
By reading it in the Greek word order, the separation of the two thoughts is strongly seen. He is not saying, “I don’t suffer women to teach men.” The word for “to usurp authority over” is in the infinitive giving more evidence that teach does not go with the man, rather they are separate thoughts. Again, this is what the KJV translators recognized and put in the translation: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (KJV). The NIV also agrees with this. The NIV does not have a comma and uses the word “or” instead of “nor.” However, the most proper translation of this Greek Word is “nor,” being a conjunction of two words, literally “not and.” The proper word “nor” also adds to the separation. A different Greek word is used for “or.” The NIV correctly translates the infinitive “to have authority over.” In English, if we were connecting teaching with men, we would not use the infinitive as the verse stands in the NIV. We would instead say: “I suffer not a woman to teach or usurp authority over men.” One could also say, “I do not suffer a woman to teach men nor to usurp authority over them.” The NIV did not use either formula, thereby leading us to conclude that the NIV translators saw them as separate.]

2:13 "For Adam was first formed, then Eve." : Adam is first by the divine order of creation. Therefore, he ranks above the woman and is not to be taught by her, which is an activity for the superior.

2:14 "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." : The woman was deceived, not the man. Deceived about what? about the Word of God. The Holy One had said that in the day man ate of the tree, he would surely die. Yet, the woman believed Satan over God. This shows a weakness in woman with regard to believing Satan over God. Adam was not deceived like Eve. Therefore, again man ranks above her, and she is not to teach God's Word, for she is more vulnerable to being deceived about it. Also, the woman was the first in sin, not the man.

1 Corinthians 14

Let us also see what the Lord says in 1 Corinthians about this.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35:

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

We see then that women are commanded to remain silent in the church and not speak, for the Greek is in the imperative form for "Let your women keep silence." The church means the meeting, not the building. When 1 Corinthians 11 mentions women praying and prophesying, it does not say they were doing it in the church. They can pray silently in the church and prophesy out loud outside the church. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 11 can’t be used to contradict the command for women to be silent in the church. 1 Corinthians 14:26, which talks about the brothers having doctrines and psalms and hymns cannot be used to contradict what he says not many verses later about women being silent. Putting them together, we understand verse 26 is speaking only about men, not women. Female silence in the church is a New Testament commandment, for he says “as also says the law.” This shows the Old Covenant Law agrees with this New Covenant commandment. The silence of the women in church signifies their proper place, which is being “under obedience” to the authority of men. This means no introductions, no prayer requests, and no sharing testimonies for women, in other words, no speaking during the church meeting.

Some argue that this only means women cannot teach or preach in the church. Is that true? no. We understand that these prohibitions are against speaking generally, for women cannot even ask questions during church (verse 35). If they want to learn something, they are to wait to ask their husband, or man, at home. If they have no Christian men at home, then they can ask a brother outside of the church meeting, which agrees with the scripture. Why can they not ask in church? the reason God gives is that it is a shame for women to speak in the church. We see that the prohibition is not just regarding teaching or preaching, but general speaking by a women.

Here are some answers to some common issues. We can meet them after service. They don’t need to introduce themselves during the meeting. Prayer requests and testimonies can be submitted in writing as some churches do, shared at weekly fellowship and prayer meetings, or informally discussed after the church meeting. “Speak” in 1 Corinthians 14:34 means to make known one’s mind in words and includes, according to Ephesians 5:19, a special song by a woman who wants to communicate her words to the congregation through singing. Therefore, this is also prohibited.

So the test of obedience is pretty easy. Is the woman speaking her own mind in church? If she is, she is breaking this Scripture. Not only that, but if the men allow their women to speak in the church, the men are transgressing the commandment of God under the New Covenant.

Titus 2


The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [to be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:3-5)

Many use these verses to argue that women can teach the Christian faith and Word of God. Is that good application? Are the elder women here teaching the younger women general Christian doctrine? no. The elder women are teaching the young women lessons on how to be good wives and mothers, and how to properly behave. That is allowed. At the same time, this is different than teaching the Word of God. Notice, one of the lessons for young women is to be obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed. Do the same people who use these verses wrongfully to justify women teachers, also teach that wives are to be obedient to their own husbands? In summary, these verses cannot be used to justify women being teachers of Christian doctrine, because they are rather talking about elder women being teachers of good behavior for young women.

Priscilla


And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto [them], and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. (Acts 18:26)

Was Priscilla a Bible teacher to Apollos? no. Was Priscilla teaching, giving religious discourse to Apollos? no. This was a private informal conversation between believers. Sure, Apollos could learn something from Priscilla, but that does not make her a Christian teacher. Priscilla is not here teaching the Word of God to Apollos in any official or formal capacity. This is an example of believers having fellowship and discussing the Word of God, not Priscilla teaching Christianity. In this case a husband and wife with more knowledge and understanding were expounding the Word of God to a brother. Was Apollos Priscilla's student? no. Was she authoritatively teaching Apollos from a position as a teacher? no. So this verse cannot be used to support the argument that women can teach the Christian faith. We already have heard God speaking through Paul directly, saying, "But I suffer not a woman to teach," (1 Timothy 2:12). Yes, women can talk with brothers about the Word informally and communicate their understanding; and brothers can learn from them in such settings. However, women cannot be teachers of the faith.

Timothy's Mother and Grandmother


Did Timothy's mother or grandmother teach him the Christian faith?

Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. (2 Timothy 1:4-5)

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)

Neither one of these verses say that Timothy's grandmother or mother taught him the Christian faith as teachers. According to 2 Timothy 1:5, we learn Timothy's grandmother and mother had "unfeigned faith," which also was in Timothy. This does not mean they were his teachers. Yes, he could observe their walks of faith and godly words, and learn from that, but that does not mean they were indoctrinating him. According to 2 Timothy 3:15, we find that Timothy learned the holy scriptures from when he was a child. However, it does not say his mother or grandmother were his teachers. Some who argue for women teachers want to assume and argue that it was his mother or grandmother, but the scriptures do not teach that.

Again, God has directly spoken on this issue through his servant Paul. Those who try to find a way around it, wrongly make light of and dismiss that direct prohibition, instead arguing from incorrect inference using other unclear verses. God does not contradict himself. 1 Timothy 2:12 must be obeyed.

Connected to this idea is the following verses:

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: for they [shall be] an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)

This does not mean mother's are teaching their children the Word of God. Rather, this is referring to the instructions and commandments of a mother in raising her children, especially regarding how they are to behave.

What is the answer to our original question? Can women teach the Christian faith? The answer from the Word of God is no.