Hey lovely. So you have an anointing to preach, teach, and lead? Or maybe you’re a dude who knows a girl that fits this category. AWSOME! Are you confused, jarred and halted by certain scriptures plucked out of the New Testament? You know the ones I'm talking about ... women are to "keep silent". Or "I do not permit a woman to have authority over a man." Relax, girls - and boys, for that matter! Consider this as a little lamp on your way to bring some clarification and context to those scary little scriptures. One of the biggies we come up against:
/// 1 Timothy 2 : 11-15 ///
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
So. Very. Confusing.
Ok, Mr. Apostle Paul. What the HECK are you on about?
Are you, like, telling us that becoming baby-making machines is going to save us?
Pretty sure that’s not the gospel I heard…
Ok everybody hold up, take a breath and say CONTEXT! Understanding the cultural setting of 1st Timothy is essential for your correct understanding of what you just read. The book of 1st Timothy was written in response to heresy infecting the church. At the time of Paul’s writing (the author of this passage), false doctrine was spreading like wildfire. Time for Pastor Paul to pull out the stops and go into “protection mode” of this precious gospel and his precious people. Newsflash:
Paul was PROTECTING the girls, not condemning them!
Listen: Lies spread like wild fire and he was sheltering those who would be most vulnerable. In this case, it was the women who were most vulnerable to being deceived: they had never been seen “worthy” of education before now and consequently didn’t have the educational experience or level of teaching the men had. In this radical new freedom they now had (to be educated as a disciple!) he wanted them to learn the truth and not be infected by this rubbish. (See my blog post PAUL WAS NEVER TRYING TO KEEP WOMEN SILENT to shed even more light on the issue.)
There was one heresy in particular that was being spread by unlearned Ephesian women. They were mixing Jewish tradition, Christian and pagan doctrines. Even false teaching of the Greek goddess Diana (or “Artemis”) began to sneak into the church. The doctrine of Gnostics had just begun to appear with a different version of creation. First they taught that Eve was created first, called “The Originator”. Then they said that she was Adam’s mother, not his wife - and concluded that she must have illuminated the earth when she listened to the serpent. (The serpent, by the way, was said to be the ‘saviour’ and revealer of truth. Uhhh excuse me? NO.) Eve’s act of disobedience was actually viewed as “enlightenment” by the gnostics. Crazy huh?!
This. was. bad. Total deception - with huge ramifications if Pastor Paul didn't swoop in and shut it down real quick. Which is why the letters of Timothy are written in such strong terms and why Paul is all: “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.” He’s counteracting the deceptive heresy by saying “Hey! Eve wasn’t enlightened, she was deceived!”
Allegedly, these false teachers even disrupted the church services to teach their false doctrines and perform pagan rituals. Hello?! No wonder Paul commanded women to learn quietly -
it was written in response to this specific issue - not as a blanket statement for all women forever!
Sooo about the weird baby-making passages?!
/// 1 Timothy 2:15 ///
But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”
Paul is not saying a woman’s spiritual worth and salvation are determined by being a baby-making machine. Some translators believe this verse should have been translated “she shall be saved by the bearing of the Child (the Redeemer).”
It’s talking about Genesis 3:15 - the first prophecy ever made which said that Mary (a woman) would give birth to the Redeemer (Jesus Christ) who would crush the serpents head (Satan).
*Note: There are several alternative interpretations to this passage, NONE of which come to the conclusion that girls are saved from child bearing. Email P & T for references to other sources.
So - after ALL this - is Paul saying women can’t teach at all? No, because this would be inconsistent with other scriptures that he wrote. Quick bible study tip: always interpret unclear passages in light of clear ones. Galatians is pretty clear: Paul himself declares
/// Galatians 3:26-29 ///
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus”
Or perhaps Romans 16:7 where he refers to Junia, a woman, as an outstanding apostle. Or 1 Corinthians 11:3, 5 & 10 where women are clearly taught about their public praying and prophesying - which would obviously violate that supposed sentence of “silence”.
Ouch, that totally put a dent in my excuses
Check out The Message paraphrase in light of this information - the whole deal becomes a lot clearer. If it helps, you can picture the “classroom” filled with newbie women, who were unfamiliar with the setting, kind of bewildered that they were even allowed to be there, and slightly confused by this ridiculous new “creation” doctrine the false (women!) teachers were throwing around:
/// 1 Timothy 2: 11-15 ///
“I don’t let women take over and tell the men what to do. They should study to be quiet and obedient along with everyone else. Adam was made first, then Eve; woman was deceived first—our pioneer in sin!—with Adam right on her heels. On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation, reversing Eve. But this salvation only comes to those who continue in faith, love, and holiness, gathering it all into maturity. You can depend on this.”
So girls…wanna preach? GO PREACH! Do it with the right heart, attitude & conduct. We can sum it up by going right back to the beginning of the Church, when the Holy Spirit first poured out:
/// Acts 2 : 17 - 18 ///
“ ‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Holy Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions.
Your old men will have dreams.
18 In those days, I will pour out my Spirit on my servants.
I will pour out my Spirit on both men and women.
When I do, they will prophesy.
Boom. Drops mic.
For me, the question starts there, and it finishes there. Take off that muzzle!
If you want to unpack the "silence" issue even further, check out the blog PAUL WAS NEVER TRYING TO KEEP WOMEN SILENT !