1 Timothy 2.11-15 – What This Does and Doesn’t Mean

This is one of those passages in the Bible that people get so wrong. Detaching verses from context is not right and true handling of the Word of God (verse numbers were not added until around the 16th Century, and they certainly aren’t inspired). So, what does this passage mean?

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Maybe you have heard this passage taught to say that women should never speak in church, full stop. That’s wrong. Take that chit-chat outside Eve, only Steve can talk in church…

But, think of the context; the whole letter is instructing Timothy on how to run this church as the leader, chapter two is about, predominantly, prayer. So, can v.11 be detached from both of these things and used against women speaking at all in church? No, it cant.

Quietly and with all submissiveness carries our thoughts back to v.2 wherein we read that the church and the believers are to live a quiet and peaceful life, dignified and Godly in every way. Throw in the culture of the day where some say that women and men never worshipped together, but now they can, so the women may talk to her husband across the room and ask him questions as to what it going on, and we begin to see that learn quietly doesn’t mean that women can never speak in church. That would be inconsistent with what Paul writes to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11.5.


The consistent and orthodox interpretation is that not permitting a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man is referring to when the assembled church gathers together, it is a male’s job to deliver the Word of God in an expositional sermon, the message, the Word, or however you refer to that part of a worship service. 


Other than that particular point of the service, other than the overall ‘who is in charge on earth in this church’, we see throughout Scripture that women have an equally important role in the worship of God to that of their male counterparts. Ladies lead worship, ladies lead prayer ministries, ladies lead children and youth ministries, ladies lead home groups/small groups, simply, ladies lead in churches. Having the ultimate earthly authority in the structure of the church be male takes nothing away from the value and leadership contributions of women, as we said yesterday, different roles for different people. 

So, ladies, yes, pray in church, talk whilst you are at church. Teach a home group, lead a Bible study, serve in Kids Church, lead us in worship, read our Scripture, pray aloud.

But also, everyone, read the Bible in context, don’t detach single verses from a paragraph, or a chapter, or a book, or even a section of the Bible, and things make much more sense.

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