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.

Jude 1.20-21 – We Must

Hot off the heels of the kind of criticism and challenge believers are to expect, and the kind of person this will come from, today Jude hits us with another contrast.

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Straight away we see the contrast, don’t we, but you, beloved. There needs to be a marked difference in your life when compared to the lives of those around you who are not walking with the Lord, who don’t know Jesus, who don’t believe that God raised Him from the dead. This will be our actions, and maybe even more importantly, our reactions. 

Jude tells us to keep yourselves in the love of God, to wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life, and we do this by building ourselves up in your most holy faith and by praying in the Holy Spirit. 

There is such a personal element to this short sentence, isn’t there. David Guzik writes on this, 

“…we are responsible for our own spiritual growth. It means that we cannot wait for spiritual growth to just happen, or expect others to make us grow.”

We must keep ourselves in the love of God, we must wait for the mercy of Jesus, we must build ourselves up in faith, and we must pray in the Holy Spirit.

One of the wonderful things about our faith is that it is lived out in community. The things we must do and the things we are responsible for may seem difficult or even insurmountable some days. This is where a committed, caring, and challenging church family will come into play.

They will be committed to caring for you as you wait for the mercy of Jesus, and they will encourage you and help you to build yourself up in your most holy faith. They will challenge you to do all of those things, and more, all to the ultimate glory of God, and all to the ultimate praise of Him who saved us from darkness to light. 


Point to ponder – Am I an active part of a church family? Am I getting this kind of help? Am I giving this kind of help?


Prayer – Father, help us to be different. Help us to live the love that you showed us when you sent your Son to die for us. Empower us today through your Holy Spirit to build ourselves up in our faith, and to support those around us doing the same. Amen.