Women in Ministry: 1 Timothy 2. 9-15
“11) A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12) But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13) For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14) And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15) But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” 1 Timothy 2:11-15
When approaching this text, it is important to stand back and get the geographical and historical context. Timothy was left in Ephesus to deal with false teaching coming from men (1 Timothy 1:3-4) and to deal with spiritual warfare stemming from the cities immersion in paganism and the worship of the goddess Artemis. (See Acts 19:26-41) Her temple in Ephesus featured a special role for women who spoke as oracles. They were priestesses who spoke as mediums to give advice or prophecy from the goddess Artemis. The city was full of this kind of spiritism and the occult.
It is no wonder that Ephesians 6:10-20 was written to the church at Ephesus. This is the premier text in the New Testament on spiritual warfare. The city and the whole Greek empire was full of spiritism of every kind.
Notice that 1 Timothy 2:14 connects the vulnerability of Eve to Satan’s deception. According to Genesis 3:16, one of Satan’s schemes was to promote tension between women and men for dominance and authority. This battle was especially strong in the shadow of the Temple of the Greek goddess Artemis.
Women coming from this background in pagan spiritism in Ephesus and the surrounding regions were extra susceptible to deception, demonic influence and the tendency toward prominence. Pauls solution was for “women to quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness” and to focus on inner virtues. According to 1 Timothy 2:12, he did not allow women to teach or exercise authority over a man.
Unfortunately, this text has been used in some Christan circles to totally silence women and exclude them from crucial ministry. The role of women in ministry is often misunderstood in the New Testament.
It must be noted that Philip the evangelist had four daughters who were recognized and renowned prophetesses. (See Acts 21:8-9) Also, Paul made no distinction with the distribution of spiritual gifts between men and women in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Many of these gifts are very public and intended to be used in public worship services, but there were boundaries.
My conclusion from the study of the full New Testament is that Paul was not preventing godly and mature women from ministry, but the biblical principle is that they are to be under authority and not the ones in authority.
Jesus has a huge and crucial role for women to be involved in ministry in and through His Church. The Holy Spirit is given to both men and women at the time of salvation equipping them to be fruitful in service. I believe in equipping, empowering and unleashing both men and women to be world changers in fulfilling the Great Commission.
The charge to Timothy who was serving the church in Ephesus was to muzzle both men and women who were not godly, mature or biblically sound. Let’s put it in perspective. Paul devoted all of chapter one of 1 Timothy to exposing erroneous men who were false teachers in the church at Ephesus. By contrast, he only devoted seven verses at the end of chapter two for the discussion of women and pointing them to godly maturity.
Will the real problem please stand up! It’s time for men to step up, become mature, biblically grounded, godly and responsible. Paul was encouraging Timothy to raise up a generation of godly and mighty men. The same challenge faces the church today.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global
Women in Ministry: 1 Timothy 2. 9-15