WHAT DOES THE BIBLE REALLY SAY About Women Pastors/Preachers?

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored ninety-two books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

1 Timothy 2:12 is a verse in the New Testament of the Bible that says: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”—Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

This verse has been the subject of much interpretation and debate over the centuries, and its meaning and significance have been understood in various ways by different people. Some interpret the verse as prohibiting women from teaching or holding positions of authority in the church. In contrast, others see it as more specific to the context of the early Christian community or as reflecting the cultural norms of the time in which it was written.

There is also a range of different perspectives on how the verse should be applied today. Some argue that it should be taken literally and upheld as a universal principle, while others believe that it should be interpreted more flexibly or seen as reflecting the cultural context of the time in which it was written and not necessarily applicable to contemporary settings.

Ultimately, the meaning and significance of 1 Timothy 2:12 will depend on the interpretive framework and hermeneutical principles used to understand it. What does that mean? It means that the interpretive method used by liberal-moderate Bible scholars is the Historical-Critical method, which is subjective and is based on or influenced by personal feelings, beliefs, or opinions Conservative scholars use the Historical-Grammatical method of biblical interpretation, which is objective, which means it is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

The Historical-Grammatical Method of Biblical Interpretation Brief Overview

The historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation is a way of studying and understanding the Bible that involves examining the text in its historical and linguistic context. This approach seeks to understand the meaning of the text as it would have been understood by its original audience and considers factors such as the historical and cultural context in which it was written, the language and literary conventions used, and the author’s intended audience and purpose.

The historical-grammatical method is a widely used approach by conservative Bible scholars in biblical studies and has a long tradition dating back to the Enlightenment period. It is based on the belief that the best way to understand the Bible is to approach it as a historical document rather than as a source of divine revelation or supernatural inspiration.

This method involves using various tools and techniques, such as textual analysis, historical research, and comparative analysis, to gain a more nuanced and accurate understanding of the text. It also involves paying careful attention to the grammar and syntax of the original languages in which the Bible was written (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic), as well as to the cultural and historical context in which the text was produced.

Overall, the historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation is an important tool for scholars and theologians who are seeking to understand the Bible in its historical and linguistic context, what the authors meant by the words that they used, and to gain a deeper appreciation of its meaning and significance.

The historical-grammatical method is what lies below.

What modern-day Christians fail to understand is this: to deviate, in any way, from the pattern, or likeness of how God brought his Word into existence, merely opens the Bible up to a book that reflects the age and time of its readers. If we allow the Bible to be altered because the progressive woman’s movement feels offended by masculine language, the condemnation of homosexuality, the husband as the head of the family, and forbidding the woman to teach the church, it will not be long before the Bible gives way to the homosexual communities being offended by God’s Words in the book of Romans; so modern translations will then tame that language, to not cause offense. I am confident that we thought that we would never see the day of two men or two women being married by priests, but that day has been upon us for some time now. Or a man and woman being married by a homosexual priest. In fact, the American government is debating whether to change the definition of marriage. Moreover, we are now doing away with gender in American society. Therefore, I would suggest that the liberal readers do not take my warning here as radicalism but more as reality.

women-preachers-iiWhen we look at the controversy over gender-inclusive language and the use of plurals, the above principles come into play, as does the historical-grammatical approach, which means that God personally chose the time, the place, the language, and the culture into which his Word was inspirationally penned. Who are we to disrespect that because we wish to appease the modern man or woman, who may be offended? Their offense is nothing more than self-centeredness, refusing to wrap their mind around the idea that the Creator of all things chose the setting, the language, and time in which his Word was to be introduced to man.

1 Timothy 2:12: I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

Before beginning, let us note that this is not to say that a female cannot carry out the great commission, which requires teaching in other capacities within the church and outside of the church. The female Christian can teach Bible study to young children (not baptized young men), or young women, or adult women within the church. The female can proclaim the good news to and teach unbelievers. These things are not in opposition to what the apostle Paul under inspiration penned on this subject and are permissible.

This article will be a careful discussion of the correct interpretation of 1 Timothy 11-15. Specifically, we will focus on 1 Timothy 2:12, where the natural reading of Paul is understood as instructing Timothy that women are not to teach or have authority over men in the Christian congregation.

There is little doubt as to why there are different conclusions as to the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:12. (1) The interpreter does not follow grammatical-historical principles of interpretation, but rather grammatical-critical-historical principles of interpretation. (2) In addition, the interpreter takes the passage out of context. (3) Moreover, the interpreter misinterprets historical-cultural background. (4) Furthermore, little or incorrect attention is given to lexical or grammatical matters.

1 Timothy 2:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)[1]

11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness.

11 Let a woman

Woman (Gr., gune), as it is used here in the singular, means women in general, not just wives,[2] as it has throughout this section of text (8-15). In verse 9, Paul addresses how women are to carry themselves, namely, their dress and outward appearance. In verse 10, Paul speaks of what is proper for women, who profess godliness, which is that they should be helpful to others; in other words, good works.

learn (let her be learning) (Why and How?)[3]

The apostle Paul, as an inspired writer, had actually extended to women more consideration than they ever had in Judaism. Having the privilege and right to Learn (Gr., manthaneto), outside of the home, was not something Jewish women of the first century would have ever considered. Paul was not borrowing from Judaism of the time, who also did not allow women to speak, having to remain silent. Judaism could care less about women growing in knowledge of God’s Word. Paul, on the other hand, had specifically said that they were to learn in silence, knowing that they were ministers of the good news as well, just not in the church, over the congregation of men, baptized brothers. 1 Corinthians 14:34; Genesis 2:18–25; 3:16

How to Interpret the Bible-1

In silence

In silence (Gr., hesuchia) meant that the woman was ‘to be quietness,’ ‘to be still.’ In other words, she was to show respect for her head, man, especially the leadership of the congregation by not raising questions, attempting to teach. This was not a life of silence, just at the Christian congregation meetings. They were quietly to receive instruction at the meetings, and to ask their husbands questions in private, at home. Thus, in the public meeting, the woman was to learn by listening, not teaching through questions.―1 Corinthians 14:34-35.

with all submissiveness

Submissiveness (Gr., hupotage) means to be in “subjection, subordination, or submission,” which is not being used in a negative sense. (2 Cor. 9:13; Gal. 2:5; 1 Tim. 2:11; 3:4) All Christians are to be submissive or in subjection to the Father, the Son, and superior authorities, which in no way detracts from their human equality to each other, male or female. In the same sense, women are to be submissive to their husband, man in general, and the men taking the lead in the Christian congregation.[4]

Here in verse 11, submissiveness is a reference to the relationship between women and men, especially men who hold a position of authority in the Christian congregation. Paul is very concerned that his words not be taken lightly, which stresses by his addition of “in all or in entire (NASB) or in full (NIV) submissiveness.” (See 1 Tim. 4:9; 5:2) While Paul is informing the Christian congregations that women are to take in as much knowledge about God and his Word, as any man; this is not a means to their usurping man’s position or authority within the congregation. In other words, the “all” is Paul stating emphatically that a woman’s learning is not to be a pathway, to the role of authority over man, by way of teaching him. (See 1 Cor. 14:33-34) Yes, women are to learn in the Christian meetings, but it is being qualified in that it is to be (1) in silence and (2) in all submissiveness. Again, this subjection is to a position of authority, not as to person, as though women were/are inferior. Just as man is in subjection to Christ as their head, so too is the woman to man, especially the husband.

1 Timothy 2:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 But I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness.

12 But I do not permit

But (de), could be rendered “but,” “and, “so,” “rather,” among other things. This Greek conjunction de (used to link sentences, clauses, phrases, or words), could be used to simply connect the previous verse (“and”); however, it is best to take it as a contrast here. Verse 11 is saying what a woman can do, namely learn, although the learning is qualified as to how. Now, verse 12, in contrast, a marked difference, Paul is stating what a woman cannot do. The woman may learn, but may not teach or have authority over a man.

If this were a descriptive present (as it is sometimes popularly taken), the idea might be that in the future the author would allow this: I do not presently permit… However, there are several arguments against this: (1) It is overly subtle. Without some temporal indicator, such as ἄρτι or perhaps νῦν, this view begs the question. (2) Were we to do this with other commands in the present tense, our resultant exegesis would be both capricious and ludicrous. Does μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ…, ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι in Eph. 5:18 mean “Do not for the moment be filled with wine, but be filled at the present time by the Spirit” with the implication that such a moral code might change in the future? The normal use of the present tense in didactic literature, especially when introducing an exhortation, is not descriptive, but a general precept that has gnomic[5] implications. (3) Grammatically, the present tense is used with a generic object (γυναικί), suggesting that it should be taken as a gnomic present. (4) Contextually, the exhortation seems to be rooted in creation (note v 13 and the introductory γάρ), rather than an address to a temporary situation.[6]

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 The TRIAL and Death of Jesus_02 THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1

“I do not permit” is not Paul’s personal opinion of things, this authority is in reference to Paul’s being an apostolic author, who conveys the words of God, and not that he is making some personal rule because he fancies it, but that this has been the case since creation. (vs. 13), In 1 Corinthians 14:34, Paul gives us the same prohibition based on the law, “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.” (Gen. 3:16) There, same subject matter, in verse 37 Paul tells us where he gets that authority, by stating, “The things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” When it comes to 1 Timothy 2:11-12, and women not being permitted to teach is this only applicable to the Ephesian and Corinthian Congregations, or the first-century culture? George W. Knight addresses this partially in his commentary on 1 Timothy.

It has also been suggested that the present indicative form of [epitrepo, “permitting”] indicates a temporal limitation and thus limits Paul’s statement to the then and there of Ephesus. An examination of other occurrences of Paul’s use of first person singular present indicative (Rom. 12:1, 3; 1 Cor. 4:16; 2 Cor. 5:20; Gal. 5:2-3, Eph. 4:1; 1 Thes. 4:1; 5:14; 2 Thes. 3:6; 1 Tim. 2:1, 8) demonstrates that he uses it to give universal and authoritative instruction or exhortation (cf. especially Rom. 12:1; 1 Tim. 2:8).[7]


a woman to teach[8] (Why / in what sense?)

As is true in verses 9 and 11, “woman” (γυνή, gune), is a reference to all women, women as a whole, which is underscored by the anarthrous (without the definite article) forms for both γυνή (a woman) and ἀνήρ (a man). In verse 11, it was women as a whole that was required to remain silent, and here it is women as a whole that is to refrain from teaching or exercising authority over a man.

These two verses are drawing an ever-increasing amount of comment today, but Paul’s injunctions in 1 Timothy 2:11–12 require no special historical insights to understand. He says that women are not called to serve in the office of teacher or of elder in the church. A crucial distinction to understand here is that between special and general office ministries. Ordained men are called to a special office by Christ (e.g., Rom. 10:15; Eph. 4:11), while nonordained men and all women in the church have a general office to serve the Lord in various capacities. If we did not have the chapter division between 1 Timothy 2:15 and 3:1 (which is a modern invention), this special office context of Paul’s statements on women in 2:11–12 would be more obvious to us, since he proceeds directly to the requirements for male overseers of the church in 3:1–7.[9]

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS Young Christians

or to exercise authority over a man[10]

The Greek coordinating conjunction oude (and not, neither, cannot, either, even, neither, no, nor, nothing, or, then), plays more of an important role here than one might first imagine. Let us start with feminists, such as I. H. Marshall, who have argued that “authority” (Gr., authentein) has a negative connotation. In other words, they are arguing that Paul is not saying that women are not to teach because they would have authority over men in the Christian congregation, but that Paul is only against their negative authority in the church. Looking at the lexical study first, we turn to H. S. Baldwin on the word authentein, “have or exercise authority,” who demonstrated that the Greek word was very rare in the New Testament period, and it occurs only once in the New Testament, in 1 Timothy 2:12. Outside of that, it only occurred a couple times prior to 65 C.E.

We then look at the syntax, by turning to A. J. Köstenberger on the word oude, “or,” joining the words “teach” and “have authority.” Köstenberger carried out meticulous searches of the use of oude in the New Testament and in as well as biblical Greek literature outside of the Greek New Testament and he found over 100 parallels. His research showed that oude served as a coordinating conjunction, which linked verbs of like meaning. It was also discovered that either bother was positive, or both were negative. An example can be found in Matthew 6:20 where Jesus said, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where . . . thieves do not break in and (oude) steal.” You immediately notice that “break in” and “steal” have a negative meaning. Therefore, if didaskein (“to teach”) has a positive meaning and oude is only known to link verbs of like meaning, we are only left with the conclusion both reasonably and syntactically authentein(“authority”) must have a positive meaning as well. This then, removes the argument by the feminist scholars, as Paul is not just prohibiting a negative exercise of authority by women over men in the Christian congregation, but rather the exercise of authority period. Simply put, men alone are to serve as elders and overseers in the congregation. 1 Timothy 3:2

αὐθεντεῖν … [authentein, “authority”], once thought to be unique to Christian literature (e.g., Thayer, Lexicon), occurs in the papyrus BGU 1208:38 (27 b.c.) and in Philodemus, Rhetoric 2 (first century b.c.; see BAGD for further documentation and later occurrences) and is referred to as Hellenistic (Ἑλληνικῶς) over against Attic αὐτοδικεῖν by the second-century a.d. Attic lexicographer Moeris (ed. J. Pierson [1759], 58; [43 in 1831 edition]; cf. also the account of the word and its meaning and that of related words, especially αὐθέντης, in MM; Deissmann, Light, 88f.; Robertson, IV, 570; MHT II, 278). Contrary to the suggestion of KJV’s “to usurp authority” and BAGD’s alternative, “domineer” (so also NEB), the use of the word shows no inherent negative sense of grasping or usurping authority or of exercising it in a harsh or authoritative way, but simply means “to have or exercise authority” (BAGD; LSJM: “to have full power or authority over”; cf. Preisigke, Wörterbuch I, 235f., giving three nuances for four different papyri, all in the sphere of the above definition; cf. finally Lampe, Lexicon, whose four main meanings are in the same orbit; so NASB, RSV, TEV, NIV: “to have authority”).


Paul refers, then, with αὐθεντεῖν [authentein, “authority”] to exercise of a leadership role or function in the church (the contextual setting), and thus by specific application the office of ἐπίσκοπος/πρεσβύτερος [episkopos overseer/presbuteros elder], since the names of these offices (especially ἐπίσκοπος) and the activities associated with them (cf., e.g., 3:4, 5; 5:17; Tit. 1:9ff.; Acts 20:17, 28ff.) indicate the exercise of authority. It is noteworthy, however, that Paul does not use “office” terminology here (bishop/presbyter) but functional terminology (teach/exercise authority). It is thus the activity that he prohibits, not just the office (cf. again 1 Cor. 14:34, 35).[11]

“Man” (Gr., aner) is referring to “a man,” not the more confined sense of the “husband.” As in verse 8, “man” is being used as a distinction from woman. That it is in the singular means that it is a reference to men in general, just as the singular γυνή gune (“woman”) here and in verse 11 refers to women in general.

but to be in quietness

Thus far, it is all too clear that a woman may not teach on the Christian congregation, nor may she teach a man biblically, doctrinally. This is emphasized, “but to be in quietness.” The alla, “but,” is used here to mark a contrast to what came before, “not to teach or to exercise authority.” For those that would argue that we are only talking about certain types of authoritative teaching, this exhortation to ‘be in silence,’ would negate that argument. Of course, this does not rule out conversations before and after meetings, commenting at Bible studies, and singing. It is dealing explicitly with teaching and the exercise of authority.

1 Timothy 2:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve,

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve[12]

The conjunction “for” (Gr., γάρ, gar), signifies that we are about to get the first reason as to why for the command in the previous verse. We go again to Paul’s words to the Corinthians, because he offers the same reason there for man’s headship over woman. “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3) Paul goes on to say, “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” 1 Corinthians 11:8-9


The Hebrew and Greek word “Adam” is a transliteration and occurs as “man,” “mankind,” as well as the proper name of the first human male created by God. The use here is not a generic use like “mankind,” but rather as the “male” was created “first” (Gr., πρῶτος, protos, predicate adjective), making the contrasting point that “Adam” or the “male” was created prior to the female and is the chronological priority over the female. In other words, Paul is making the point that because the male was created first, it carries with it the head, the leadership role. Not only did God create Adam, the male first, but also he created the female from Adam, for the sake of Adam, to serve as a helper or complement to Adam. (Gen. 2:18–25; 1 Cor. 11:8-9)

Embedded within Adam was the natural inclination to take the lead, while Eve’s natural inclination was to follow that lead. Her body was created from a piece of Adam’s body, his name in Hebrew is ish, meaning “man,” while hers was derived from his name, ishah, meaning “woman” (literally, a female man). As Paul makes all too clear, we do not sidestep the order of things, when it comes to our worship in the Christian congregation. We are given one time, where Eve took the lead, without consulting her head, resulting in her being deceived by the serpent (Satan, John 8:44; Rev. 12:9). Eve led the way into sin, and Adam followed. Since the feminist movement of the 1960s, the divorce rate has risen steeply. We have asked women to go against their natural inclination to follow or support the lead of their head, and it has resulted in fractured families and homes, as well as the partial reason for some of the fragmentation of the Christian congregation.


Head Covering Excursion

Many Christians understand this section as a cultural issue that had application in first-century society but which does not apply to today. They see it in much the same way as 1 Corinthians 11 which also uses the Genesis account as a basis for women covering their heads in public worship.[13]

This would be a mistaken notion. It is not culturally bound to the first-century C.E. that women are not to teach or exercise authority over a man and that women are to wear a head covering under certain circumstances. They are both permanent and are applicable today.

The wearing of a head covering has a spiritual import within the Christian congregation. Paul, whose written word is inspired of God, lays out the God- designated principle of how headship was/is to take place in the Christian congregation, saying, “I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” Paul informs the Corinthians, and by extension, us that the head covering is “a symbol of authority” that women are required to wear that man is their head when she “prays or prophesies.” In other words, if a woman is called on to substitute for her husband or a man that relates to some form of worship, she should wear a head covering.—1 Cor. 11:4-6, 10.

For example, all families should have their own family Bible studies within their home. If the husband is not present for any reason (deceased, separated, divorced, or called away), and the wife has to conduct the family study, she is not obligated to wear a head covering, because the husband is not present. The same would hold true for saying the family prayer at meals as well. If for some reason the husband is present but is unable to speak (maybe throat issues), she would wear the head covering. The wife would not have to wear a head covering with the children, as the woman is divinely authorized to teach the children.—Proverbs 1:8; 6:20.

However, if the husband is not present, and one of the children is a son, an adult born-again Christian, he would conduct the study. If the son were a younger born again Christian, she would then wear a head covering. (1 Timothy 2:12) Since the son is a Christian, he is to receive his instruction from other male Christians.

Again, if a woman is called on to substitute for her husband or a man that relates to some form of worship, she should wear a head covering. Within the congregation, women may be called on to teach a Bible study group for women or children, because there are not enough men, which means she would have to wear a head covering. If the woman is in a Bible study group that is conducted by a male, she does not have to wear a head covering to participate. Outside of the Christian congregation, both men and women are obligated to preach and teach the unbeliever, meaning she does not have to wear a head covering.―Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.

1 Timothy 2:14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and came to be in transgression.

Genesis 3:6 Excursion

Almost all translations translate Genesis 3:6 as follows.

 Genesis 3:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6 Lexham English Bible (LEB)

6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and the tree was desirable to make one wise, then she took from its fruit and she ate. And she gave it also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6 American Standard Version (ASV)

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.

Genesis 3:6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

As you can see from these English translations, the plain sense of the text is, Adam was with her. This creates a real Bible difficulty. Before I delve into why, I will say that if almost all of the translations are in agreement, generally, this should be respected, and accepted. It is very unlikely that the very best Hebrew and Greek scholars of the past 100 years are all mistaken. Now, the difficulty arises because, if Eve and Adam are standing there before the tree of knowledge, as the serpent spoke to Eve, it means that Adam, the head, was very much involved in this process. Think as you read this commentary below, trying to rationalize how the situation played out, with the both being there.

Eve “was indeed deceived,” but Adam “was not deceived.” Of course, this cannot be taken absolutely. It must mean something on this order: Adam was not deceived in the manner in which Eve was deceived. See Gen. 3:4–6. She listened directly to Satan; he did not. She sinned before he did. She was the leader. He was the follower. She led when she should have followed; that is, she led in the way of sin, when she should have followed in the path of righteousness.[14]

The reason for the difficulty is this, they are taking it as though Adam and Eve are standing before the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the serpent, Satan, starts to speak to Eve. They carry on a conversation, with Adam simply passively listening. Satan deceives Eve, but Adam is not deceived, yet he does not argue with the serpent, snatch the fruit from Eve, but rather just stands there letting Eve eat fruit, knowing she will die. Really? I just cannot see how that can rationally be the case. I would argue that Eve was alone before Adam joined her.

Was Adam standing beside Eve when she had the conversation with the serpent, was deceived and chose to rebel against God? The Bible shows no indication that this is the case. The translations above make it appear that way, though, “she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”

The Hebrew verb translated as “gave” is in the imperfect waw consecutive, as a result, it points to a temporal or logical sequence (usually called an “imperfect sequential”). Hence, a Bible translator or committee can translate the several occurrences of the waw, which tie together the chain of events in verse 6, with “and” as well as other transitional words, such as “subsequently,” “then,” “after that,” afterward,” and “so.”


Genesis 3:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6 Updated American Standard Version (ESV)

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desirable to make one wise, and she took of its fruit and ate, then she also gave some to her husband when with her, and he ate.


One has to ask themselves, would Adam had passively stood beside his wife Eve, listening to the conversation, between her and the serpent, as the serpent spewed forth lies and malicious talk of Satan through this serpent, especially when Paul tells us explicitly that he was not deceived by the serpent? Adam just stood there and remained silent? Adam just chose not to interrupt the peddling of lies. Listen to the Bible scholar below, he sure thinks this is reasonable.

Genesis 3:6 makes it clear that he was “with her” during the interchange with the serpent, but he remained silent. He should have interrupted. He should have chased the serpent off. And when it comes down to it, when he is offered the fruit himself, he eats it—no questions asked, no protests given. Adam and Eve together rebelled against their Creator, so they both suffer the horrible consequences.[15]

The conversation with the serpent reveals that Adam had previously carried out his responsibilities as the head, informing her of the command not to eat from the tree. (Gen. 3:3) It seems far more likely that Satan, through the serpent ignored this headship, going after the newer person in the Garden of Eden, Eve, when she was alone. Eve later replied, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Let us assume that I am simply mistaken, and it should be translated, “and she also gave some to her husband who was with her.”

Adam need not be clear on the other side of the Garden; he could have just been out of hearing range and still have been with her. Suppose he was across the field, visually in sight but still out of hearing range. It could still be said he was with her. Husbands, have you ever been in a huge store with your wife, like Walmart, and at the same time, you are on one side of the store (lawn-garden or automotive), and she is on the other side of the store. If you were to say you were with your wife at Walmart, would that mean that you were necessarily standing right beside her? Say an issue came up in the store, so you walked over. The Garden of Eden was no small place, like a city park, but more like the size of a state park, possibly 18,000 acres of land and 3,000 acres of water. If Adam were in eyesight but out of hearing range, it could still be said that he was with her. She could have called him over after her transgression, at which point, he demonstrated that his love for her was greater than that of his Creator, and so he ate.


14 and Adam was not deceived

Adam was absolutely not deceived; he simply chose that his love was greater for Eve than it was for his Creator. Paul is not shifting the blame on Eve; it is Adam, who was responsible for sin old age and death entering the world of humankind. (Rom 5:12, 19; 1 Cor. 15:22) He, unlike Eve, was not deceived by the lie that they would not die, or that God was withholding good from them, such as special knowledge. Both Adam and Eve intentionally and willfully went in a course of self-resolve, rebellion against God. Adam’s sin was far more grievous than Eve. Moreover, it is his status as the head of Eve and of the human race, which laid the full accountability at his feet.


but the woman was deceived

Genesis 3:13 has Eve herself stating, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Eve had been completely deceived by the serpent, consumed by the desire of the eyes, mind and heart for the prospects lay before her, having only to eat of the tree, and she transgressed the law of God. This tree of knowledge of good and evil looked no different from any other tree; it was a mere symbol of God’s sovereignty. However, look again at Eve’s words, after she succumbed to the serpent’s deception, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.”

Both Adam and Eve had a natural desire to do good. We in this imperfect age and flesh, have the natural desire to do bad. Listen to the words of one of the greatest Christians ever to walk this earth. “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:21-24) However, Paul knew the real source of his strength in weakness, as he goes on to answer his own question, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin.”

With Eve’s natural desire to be toward good, it means that she really had to go against the grain, to violate her conscience. James gives us an answer, as to how that can happen, even to a perfect person, with the natural desire toward good. “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (Jam 1:14-15) The human eye is a wonder of creation, but it is also a direct channel of communication to the mind, which in turn affects the emotions and actions, the figurative heart, the seat of motivation. Satan tempted Eve by having her look at a tree that was no different, giving it a whole other look with the desire of the eyes. He did the same thing with Jesus, trying to persuade him to sin by reaching out inappropriately for things Jesus saw with his eyes. (Lu 4:5-7) The apostle John warns us,

1 John 2:16-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and its lusts; but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

and came to be in transgression

Sin can be in the form of a “transgression.” The Greek parabasis basically means “overstepping.” It is an “act of deviating from an established boundary or norm,”[16] especially in relation to a law.

1 Timothy 2:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with soundness of mind.[17]

15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing

No one would reasonably believe women are saved by simply bearing children. This being “saved” is not meant as eternal salvation, but more of being kept safe. You may remember the woman, “who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment,” and was healed. Well, it literally says, “your faith has saved you.” However, translations render it as “your faith has made you well.” Jesus was not telling this woman that her faith gave her eternal salvation, but that she had been healed and made safe from this ongoing affliction by her faith. The same is true of what Paul is saying here, for women in the Christian congregation. Women have a role to play in the marriage arrangement, which is to bear children and raise them with the teachings of God. If you encompass that with the preaching and teaching work of the Great Commission, and congregation responsibilities, she will not have time to feed off the spirit of this world that encourages women to forgo a family for career, nor will she have time to desire the position of pastoring a congregation. Moreover, her role in the family will keep her safe from being an idle gossiper and interfere in other people’s affairs. (1 Timothy 5:11-15) The context of 1 Timothy is 2:15 is verse 9 says that “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.” Paul’s additional counsel, in chapter five, has this to say about the unmarried women, that they are “idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.”


if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with soundness of mind.

Turning again to the fifth chapter of this first letter to Timothy, Paul goes over some of the stumbling blocks that women (unmarried) suffer from, “idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.” He then gives them the following advice, “I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.” Many young women stumble out of the faith, “straying after Satan,” because they are idle from their responsibilities that they were given by God.

To be “sound in mind” comprises displaying good sense, being able to judge between right and wrong, modest, sensible in our speech and actions. It also means that women and men are to let God’s Word be the guide to our thinking and actions. Roman 12:2

In conclusion, the natural reading of 1 Timothy 2:12 is that Paul in his apostolic authority prohibits women from teaching and exercising authority over a man, which means that women cannot serve as pastors or elders in the Christian congregation. We are not to mold to the pressures of the modern day feminist movement because this position goes back to before the fall, has always been applicable, and will always be applicable.


Men serve as overseers, servants (deacons). In the discussion of “gifts in men” given by Christ to the congregation, there is no mention of women. The words “apostles,” “prophets,” “evangelizers,” “shepherds,” and “teachers” are all in the masculine gender. (Eph 4:8, 11) Ephesians 4:11 is rendered by the American Translation: “And he has given us some men as apostles, some as prophets, some as missionaries, some as pastors and teachers.”—Compare Moffets; also see Ps 68:18, ESV, UASV, NASB, and ASV.

In complete harmony with this, when the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about who would qualify for the positions of “overseers” (episkopoi), who were also “older men” (presbyteroi), and of “servants” (diakonoi) in the Christian congregation, he clearly states that they must be men and, if married, ‘the husband of one wife.’ No treatment by any of the apostles discusses any office of “deaconess” (diakonissa).—1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9; compare Ac 20:17, 28; Phil. 1:1.

While it is true that Phoebe is mentioned (Rom. 16:1) as a “minister” (diakonos, without the Greek definite article), it is obvious that she was not an elected female servant in the Christian congregation, because the Scriptures make no stipulation for such. The apostle did not tell the Christian congregation to take instructions from her but, rather, to accept her favorably and to “help her in whatever task she may have need from you, for she herself also has been a helper of many, even me myself.” (Rom. 16:2, UASV; See also LEB, NASV, ASV) When Paul referred to her as a minister, it clearly had something to do with her sharing the Gospel, and he was speaking of Phoebe as a female minister who was connected to the Christian congregation in Cenchreae. (Compare Ac 2:17-18) Some translators mistakenly view the term in an official function and therefore render it “deaconess” (Rom. 16:1-2; RS, JB, footnote: ESV, LEB, NASB, CSB). However, the Scriptures do not make any provision for female servants. Goodspeed’s translation sees the term in a general function and translates it “helper.” However, as was stated above, Paul’s reference is apparently to something having to do with the spreading of the Gospel, the Christian ministry.

What About Romans 16:7?

Romans 16:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
Greet Andronicus and Junias,[111] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are well known among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.


Junias received a special greeting from Paul at the end of his letter to the Romans. (16:7) Andronicus and Junias were his “kinsmen.” While the Greek word used here (συγγενής) can mean “a man from one’s own country,” “fellow countryman,” the primary meaning is blood relative, including the extended family,” of the same generation. The two were Paul’s “fellow prisoners,” meaning that they had been in prison with him somewhere. Paul calls them both “well known among the apostles,” perhaps remembering their fine reputation with the apostles. Note that it does not call Andronicus and Junias apostles but only says that they were well known among the apostles. The Greek term (episēmos) rendered well known is a plural masculine adjective. Therefore, it could rightly be rendered, “men who are well known among the apostles.”

James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

What About the Argument That Paul Wrote Those Things Because He Lived In a Patriarchal Society or Culture that Influenced Him?

No, it does not follow. First, what if the Bible was written today, we could make the same counter-argument, saying Paul wrote this or that because of the liberal-progressive culture. Second, Paul himself clearly states or does he that “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16) and that “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:21) Yes, God allowed the authors to use their writing style but what they wrote was God’s thoughts, and clearly, God is not influenced by any human society or culture.


What about Deborah of Ancient Israel?

In the Old Testament Deborah was a prophetess* in Israel. Deborah the wife of Lappidoth encouraged Judge Barak in the work he was assigned by God. So, Deborah encourages judge Barak like a wife would encourage her pastor husband of the church, offering moral support. Deborah had yet one other responsibility as well. She was also apparently settling conflicts by giving God’s answer to problems that had come up.—Judges 4:4-5.

Again, Deborah was a prophetess in Israel. There was never a female ruler or judge in ancient Israel. Deborah was a proclaimer of God’s Word. Her being an Old Testament prophetess is not the same being a New Testament pastor (elder). She never taught the Word of God. The prophets were not the teachers who taught the Israelite people. They were given the responsibility of sharing God’s Word. They were a spokesperson for God. It was the responsibility of the priests and Levites to teach God’s law to the nation of Israel. (Lev. 10:11; 14:57; 2Ch 15:3; 35:3) Yes, Judges 4:4 tells us that “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.” In the Old Testament, there was no hesitation in Israel to involve women as prophets. Women identified as prophets in ancient Israel were Miriam (Ex. 15:20), Deborah (Judg. 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Noadiah (Neh. 6:14), and the unnamed wife of Isaiah (Isa. 8:3). We could rightly add Hannah as well (1 Sam. 2:1–10) See also Anna in Luke 2:36. Lastly, Deborah was used to offer moral support for Barak, who was shirking his responsibilities.

* Other prophetesses included Miriam, Huldah, and the wife of Isaiah.​—Exodus 15:20; 2 Kings 22:14; Isaiah 8:3.


What About the Women Who Claim That They Are Called to Pastor a Church? The Women Say, ‘It Is Our Calling? Who Are You to Reject a Person Called by God?’

1 Corinthians 7:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her.

Notice that Paul is saying, I am inspired by God, so I can say this and the Lord (Jesus), did not touch on this, but I am. Let us take a look at the context and historical setting.

1 Timothy 2:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
12 But I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Here again, we notice in 1 Timothy 2:12 that Paul is exercising the authority that he has been given and his word is, in essence, God’s Word. So, the Bible says so that you cannot pastor a church at any level, including deacons. The other thing to consider is what if a homosexual man says he has the gift to pastor a church, or a man with many wives says he has the gift to pastor a church. The Bible says homosexuality is a gross (very serious), unseemly, shameful sin and that the homosexual “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Rom. 1:26-28; 1 Cor. 6:9) Not every emotion that moves one to think they are gifted to do something gets to carry that out. Just because you feel like you have the gift to do something, that goes not give you the right to overrule, set aside the Word of God. God said ‘the office of the elder must be the husband of one wife ‘ (1 Tim. 3;2), which means the office is held out to men alone. The Bible is very clear that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men. There is absolutely no justification or any feeling of a calling for a woman to hold the office of pastor/teacher or to exercise that authority. No one’s feelings of being called can conflict with the plain language of the Bible. If one is wrong, it will be the one who has the feeling of being called and all who participate in that sin.

As has been stated already women can be ministers or teachers in other capacities. They can evangelize and teach unbelievers, unbaptized boys, and girls regardless of baptism, and women in church Bible studies. They can serve as missionaries.

1 Corinthians 14:34 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
34 let the women keep silent in the congregations, for it is not permitted for them to speak, but let them be in subjection, as the Law also says.

What Did the Apostle Paul Mean  Women to Keep Silent in the Congregations? Are The Women Not to Speak at All?

“Let the women keep silent in the congregations,” wrote the apostle Paul. (1 Corinthians 14:34) What did Paul mean? He was not saying that they could not even speak at all or that they could not teach in any capacity, which would require speaking? No. In fact, he that “they are to teach what is good” in certain capacities. (2 Timothy 1:5; Titus 2:3-5) Here in the letter to the Corinthians, Paul told not only women but also persons who had the gift of tongues and prophecy to “keep silent” when there was another believer who was speaking. (1 Corinthians 14:26-30, 33) It is possible that some of the Christian women may have been so thrilled because of the newfound faith that they spoke up with questions interrupting the brother who was speaking, which actually was the custom in the first century throughout the Roman Empire. But Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit to avoid disorder; Paul urged them, “If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”—1 Corinthians 14:35.



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About the Author

Andreas J. Köstenberger (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is the professor of New Testament and director of Ph.D./Th.M. studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author, translator, or editor of ten books.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; 2 edition (August 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080102904X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801029042


Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Arnold, Clinton E. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary Volume 3: Romans to Philemon. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.

Brand, Chad, Charles Draper, and England Archie. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary: Revised, Updated and Expanded. Nashville, TN: Holman, 2003.

Comfort, Philip W. New Testament Text and Translation Commentary. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.

Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000.

Kelly, J. N. D. The Pastoral Epistles, Black’s New Testament Commentary. London: Continuum, 1963.

Kistemaker, Simon J, and William Hendriksen. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, New Testament Commentary . Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001).

Knight, George W. The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992.

Lange, John Peter, Philip Schaff, and J. J. van Oosterzee. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 & 2 Timothy, trans. E. A. Washburn and E. Harwood. Bellingham: Logos Bible Software, 2008.

Lea, Thomas D., and Hayne P. Griffin. The New American Commentary, vol. 34, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992.

Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus, and to Philemon. Columbus, OH: Wartburg, 1946.

Liddell, Henry George, Robert Scott, Henry Stuart Jones, and Roderick McKenzie. A Greek-English Lexicon, Rev. and augm. throughout. New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press, 1996.

Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. New York: United Bible Society, 1994.

Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Oak Harbor, MI: Logos Research Systems, 1997.

Scholars, 25 Bible. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes, Proverbs.Richardson: Biblical Studies Press, 2006.

Vincent, Marvin. Word Studies in the New Testament. Bellingham: Logos Research Systems, 2002.

Wuest, Kenneth S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997, c1984.

Zuck, Roy B. Basic Bible Interpretation: A Prafctical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth.Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 1991.

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the Updated American Standard Version, 2016 (UASV).

[2] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus, and to Philemon (Columbus, Oh.: Wartburg, 1946), 562.

[3] In quietness, with all submissiveness

[4] (1 Cor. 14:34; Eph. 5:21-22, 24; Col. 3:18; 1 Pet. 3:1, 5; Heb. 12:9; Jas. 4:7; 1 Cor. 16:16; 1 Pet. 5:5; Rom. 13:1, 5; 1 Tim. 3:4; Tit. 2:9; 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:18; Tit. 2:5; 1 Cor. 11:3, 4, 5, 7, 10; Eph. 5:23)

[5] Gnomic: containing proverbs or other short pithy sayings that express basic truths

[6] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics – Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, 525 (Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software, 1999).

[7] George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary, 140 (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992).

[8] First qualifier as to “in silence”

[9] Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary Volume 3: Romans to Philemon., 457-58 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002).

[10] Second qualifier as to “in silence”

[11] George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary, 141-42 (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992).

[12] Causal connection: First reason as to why women are to learn in silence (submission [vs. 11] rather than “teach” or have “authority” [vs. 12] since the beginning)

[13] Knute Larson, vol. 9, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Holman New Testament Commentary, 170-71 (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000).

[14] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, vol. 4, Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, New Testament Commentary, 110 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001).

[15] Longman III, Tremper (2005-05-12). How to Read Genesis (How to Read Series How to Read) (p. 111). Intervarsity Press – A. Kindle Edition.

[16] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., 758 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000).

[17] σώφρων, ον, gen. ονος strictly having a sound or healthy mind; as having ability to curb desires and impulses so as to produce a measured and orderly life self-controlled, sensible.―Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg and Neva F. Miller, vol. 4, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library, 373 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000).

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