This week, I’ll be looking at 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Here is a link to John MacArthur’s commentary on these two particular verses. I strongly suggest you read what he has to say before you read what I have to say.
1 Timothy 2:11-12 is as follows:
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. (Emphasis added)
As it relates to verse 11, MacAruthur speaks at length about the word learn in this verse. The reason for this is because in Ephesus, women were very quickly coming into the full knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus. The church leaders at the church of Ephesus, who were primarily Gentiles, were stuck in the old way of not allowing women to learn be apart of the corporate learning, but were only allowed to receive the knowledge from their husbands. Of course, when the women were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were given the seemingly unnatural desire to learn. Also, it’s important to note that women were considered unequal to men in the Gentile and Jewish culture, which also added to women wanting to come out from under “the man” so to speak.
MacArthur says that Paul through this in as a reminder to the church leaders that women are “allowed’ to learn alongside the men. He claims, and I agree with him, that men and women are spiritually the same (he quotes a few OT verses that mention giving instructions to all of Israel) but how that spiritually is lived out is different, which is another way of saying their roles and responsibilities.
Now that men are well aware that women are allowed to learn, Paul had to say how they are to learn; Submissively is how women are to learn. The reason Paul had to throw in the how is because as stated 2 paragraphs before this, women were not given instruction on how to act in public worship. To be submissive, specifically when learning, means to be obedient (according to Strong’s translation) which is usually done quietly, which is the most respectful way to be submissive.
The Greek for quietly can be translated two ways:
- Quietness: description of the life of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others (1 time)
- Silence (3 times)
More progressive people will choose to translate the Greek word for quietly as “not loud” and is used in favor of women pastors. MacArthur says that progressive persons will say that women pastors who preach the Gospel in a corporate setting, will be quiet, meek, and honorable to God’s word.
With all of that, Paul then makes himself even more clear in verse 12: Women can learn in the public worship, but they cannot teach during the corporate worship, which is a way of having authority over a man. Paul says this twice to make it super duper clear that women should not teach God’s word in a corporate setting.
My biggest takeaway from these two verses when I first listed to MacArthur was: I’m hearing a lot of “Don’ts”. I also had a lot understanding towards the women in Ephesus who felt like they were unequal to men and wanted to live out what God was doing in them. As I stated to think about it, I realized that the women were “acting out” because they didn’t have a supportive community teaching them; because the church leaders didn’t believe they were “allowed’ to learn.
What I really like about all that MacArthur said is reiterating that men and women are spiritually the same. Being a man doesn’t make you closer to God and being a woman doesn’t mean God’s judgement is less.
Being a man or a woman doesn’t change God’s love towards you.
What it does change it your role in the Church, notice how I didn’t say the body. In the Body of Christ, everyone has a role and I believe that women can be teachers of God’s Word in a private setting, have a pastoral spirit, share the Gospel with those who those who need to hear it, share a prophecy with someone. MacArthur would agree with me but I’m not sure he would use my same verbiage.
My second thought when I read about women being quiet and submissive, I thought about how I’m not very skilled at either of those. I felt myself being very hard on myself and trying to fit myself into this box (for about a day) of how a woman should worship God.
I shared this with a mentor of mine and she reminded me that some w0men aren’t designed to be quiet and submissive naturally but it takes maturity, faith, and trust to believe that if that is where God wants me to be, he will make it so I can be like that.
Even if it’s only for 2 hours on a Sunday.
Next week is the last week of this series! I’ve been praying about what to write about next but nothing has stuck. Please pray for me too!