BLOG: Peaceable Women vs. Rebellious Women



WRITTEN BY MELISSA H. STRAUTMAN, LMT

Peaceable Women vs. Rebellious Women
Companion blog to our Adult Discipleship Class: “What’s the Difference?

In our Adult Discipleship Class lessons, “Women Be Quiet(October 7, 2018) and Women Be Quiet, Part Two (October 14, 2018), Pastor Steve Wilson takes a controversial text about women’s behavior in the church and wrestles it to the ground.

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”.


Your response might be…

  1. The Bible is written by sexist men and we have to ignore these.
  2. God is punishing women because Eve screwed up.
  3. Women taught all over the New Testament.  This was written to a certain group of women who were causing trouble and just doesn’t apply to women today.

The Pastor’s Response

“If a woman is to remain quiet, how is she to have any part in going out into the world and spreading the Gospel[1]?  How can she do that with her mouth closed?” – Pastor Steve Wilson

There is so much misrepresentation about this passage and its implied meaning that it’s no wonder no one wants to talk about it.  It is certainly one of the most controversial topics in all of Christendom.  Our very unity as a church can often be at stake.  For that reason, we are going to have to dig down and find out what God is saying and not what we feel like He’s saying.  How do we do that?

Hermen-who?

We have to use Biblical Hermeneutics. This is just a fancy term for using sound, scholarly methods to understand the truth of scripture.  Funny enough, this also helps us get to know who God really is (as best we can).  We have to know…

  1. What does the passage actually say?
  2. What does it mean?
  3. What is the Biblical principle in view?
  4. What is the context (historical, immediate) and the language?
  5. With all this knowledge, how do I apply the verse?

First, let’s do a little sorting out of all the noise in our heads.  What rubs you wrong or irks you about 1 Timothy 2:12?  Here’s a little snippet from my brain…

  1. 12I do not permit…”

Q:  Who is this guy and who does he think he is to tell any woman what to do?
A:  Paul, an Apostle called by Christ directly and given all authority to teach.

My Response:  Maybe I’d better check my feelings until I understand a little more.

  1. 12I do not permit a woman to teach…”

Q:  What part can a woman play in teaching and praying publicly in the church? – – Sounds like “be seen and not heard.”  How can this be right if we are all equal in God’s eyes?
A: Some churches take this passage so literally that women can’t even speak in the sanctuary.  Here we have to consider…

  • The historical context of the book of Timothy – Paul is writing a letter to Timothy, his protege.  He is telling him to stay in Ephesus and clean up the mess in the church.  There were all kinds of false teachers and openly sinful things going on.  This letter was instruction for behavior in the church. This mattered so much because the church is where Christ deposited the truth of God’s holy and revealed Word.  He declares the church to be “the pillar and buttress of the truth”[2].  This book is not instructions on how anyone should behave outside of the church and it isn’t written for unbelievers.
  • The immediate context – We have to see 1 Timothy 2:8-12 to understand the place and specifics that were being taught.  We should never just pluck a passage out of context.  Paul is actually saying the same thing about men’s and women’s behavior in this passage.  He just says it in descriptive language for their culture.  The Greek word for “quiet” here means “peaceable” or “non-confrontational”.  He is telling both sexes that their hearts and relationships need to be right before they are fit to pray and teach in the corporate setting (church).  There were men and women who were not fit for public prayer and teaching given their personal deportment.

My Response: Ah, good.  So, women can pray out loud and teach[3] the word of God in the church as long as they are respectable, modest and known to be peaceable.  This letter (and passage) was not written to me, but it was written for me.[4]

  1. 12I do not permit a woman to….exercise authority over a man…”

Q:  Wait!  What?  Why can’t exemplary, intelligent women, who are equal in the eyes of God not exercise spiritual authority in the local church?  This seems like a ridiculous rule!
A:  Because we have to deal with what God said in verse 11 first…
11Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, rather, she is to remain quiet”

 How is a woman supposed to obviously show that she “learns in submission”?  The answer comes in verses 13-15 when Paul reflects back to the rightly ordered relationships modeled in creation …

13For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor [first]. 15Yet she will be saved through childbearing – if they [kids] continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control.”

NOTE:  “While a woman may have led the human race into sin, women have the privilege of leading many out of sin to godliness [raising Godly children]. This is a promise, to women, of deliverance from any inferior status.”[5]

God backs this right-order thing up when He says that women’s “desire shall be contrary[6]” to their husbands, thus the man will rule over the woman.  God set this tension up between men and women.  He needs us to continually die to our own self-will and become more submissive in our relationships with one another and with Him.  Women can be equal in everything except they cannot exercise final authority over a man in the home or exercise spiritual authority in the church.  Headship (order) and dominion stay intact even after the fall.

Yes, it can be a tough bite to take for some women but consider the options of lying outside of God’s created order.  Ask Satan how refusing to submit to God’s headship is going to work out for him.

…Never mind.

He’d just deceive you by planting seeds of doubt as he did to sweet little Eve.  Satan selected Eve first because she, like most women, are more sensitive and thoughtful.  Adam may have just ignored the talking snake and moved on with his day.  Eve was hospitable to the snake.  She was attentive and engaging in the conversation.  These are good and helpful qualities that seem almost ingrained in females.  It also makes us more naturally open to manipulation; where men are more naturally impermeable.  God made these different gender qualities to enhance the roles of His creation.  Satan was just a jerk and exploited that for his own ends.

Every creature on earth is under some sort of authority and has an assigned role.  Remember, our hearts on the matter are not hidden from God.  If we declare God as our Lord, then we must submit to His authority and His order as He instructs us…anything less is rebellion.

Next week I’m going to move beyond “submission” to God’s Word as a reason for women not being allowed to be pastors and focus more on “authority”. This will be taken from Pastor Wilson’s teaching, “Those Who Lead (November 11, 2018). If you wish to listen ahead, click here: What’s the Difference?


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[1] Matthew 28:19, the great commission was for men and women

[2] 1 Timothy 3:15

[3] Titus 2:3-8; Acts 18:26; 1 Corinthians 11:4-5

[4] 2 Timothy 3:16

[5] MacArthur, John (2016). The MacArthur Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, page 2257, ref. to 1 Timothy 2:15

[6] to Genesis 3:16