Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

1 Timothy 2:12 in Context (Part 4)

1 Timothy 2:11-12 — Phrase by Phrase

I recommend reading parts 1-3 of 1 Timothy 2:12 in Context first.

So now we come to the passage that has been used by most of the church for most of its history to prohibit women from any ministry that involves teaching and leading men.

Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was created first and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity and self- restraint.  1 Timothy 2:11-15  

Verse 11: A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.

Verse 11 is the only verse in this passage that contains a command:  “A woman should learn.” This verse is wonderful and revolutionary, considering many women at that time were not well educated and were not encouraged to learn. Note however, Paul is not saying here that women must learn. Woman is singular and not plural in verse 11. It could be that Paul is writing about a woman, that is, one particular woman who was not quiet and who was misbehaving in the Ephesian church.

Verse 11 includes the word “submission”. This is a common word in the New Testament and it is used in a variety of contexts. The concept of women being submissive has been greatly over-emphasised by many Christians, but submission is simply the opposite of rebellion. In verse 11 Paul is simply instructing a woman to learn in a quiet, respectable manner—the usual conduct of a good student—and not to be loud, offensive or rebellious. [My article on Submission here.]

Verse 12a: I am not allowing a woman to teach . . .

Note again that the word for “woman” in verse 12 is singular and not plural. This verse is not saying that women cannot teach men, unless “woman” and “man” are understood generically as applying to all the Ephesian women and men.[1] It is important to note, however, that in the verses immediately preceding verses 11-12, Paul gives instructions to men and to women (plural). Why the marked shift from plural to singular?

Another point to consider here is that Paul does not use an imperative in 1 Timothy 2:12. Paul does not use any of the Greek command tenses in this verse. Instead he uses the present active indicative epitrepō with the negative ouk: “I am not allowing . . .”

Andrew Perriman (1993) notes that the use of epitrepō in the New Testament, in every case, is “. . . related to a specific and limited set of circumstances . . .”[2] Perriman goes on to say that, because of Paul’s choice of words, the instruction in verse 12 is more about [local] church governance and practise than theological authority. Moreover, Perriman believes verse 12 to be parenthetical and that Paul’s real concern is not with women teaching, but that the Ephesian women (or woman) should learn in such a way that they will not be deceived by false teachers. Perriman’s suggestion that Paul’s real concern was about women learning is worth considering; however, I am not fully convinced by it. [More on the use of epitrepō in the New Testament here.]

John E. Toews (1983) notes that the use of epitrepō in the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament), is likewise usually related to a specific and limited situation rather than a universal one (Gen. 39:6; Est. 9:14; Job 32:14; see also Wis. of Sol. 19:2; 1 Macc. 15:6; 4 Macc. 4:18-18). (Epitrepō in 4 Maccabees 5:26, however, is an exception and is not necessarily used in a limited sense.)

It could be that Paul’s instruction in 1 Timothy 2:12 was related to a specific, limited, local situation. The instruction may even have been limited to a particular woman in the Ephesian church.

1 Timothy 2:12 in Context: 1 Timothy 2:11-12 Phrase by Phrase (authentein)

Screen shot of the word AUTHENTEIN in 1 Timothy 2:12 as it appears in Codex Sinaiticus,  online here.

Verse 12b: . . . nor authentein a man . . .

Understanding the word authentein is vital to understanding 1 Timothy 2:12. It is not related to the ordinary word for authority (exousia) which is a fairly common in the New Testament. Authentein is used only once in the New Testament, but a related noun, authentēs, is found in other ancient Greek literature where it is used in reference to violent crimes including murder, suicide and even child sacrifice.[3] “The Greek orator Antiphon used this word in his legal briefs four times to refer to murder and one time to refer to suicide. Dio Cassius, Thucydides, Herodotus, Euripides, and Philo all used the word in this way.” (Braun 1981)  In the Septuagint, Wisdom 12:6 uses the word (in the plural) to describe murderous parents (authentas).

Catherine Kroeger (1979) has argued that authentia is sometimes used with a sexual connotation in ancient Greek literature, including literature contemporary with the New Testament.[4] Michael Green (1988:159-161) also suggests that authentia had a sexual meaning. He writes that Euripides, Philodemus, and Phrynichus used the word in an erotic sense, and that John Chrysostom understood it to mean “sexual licence”. Other scholars, however, disagree that there are sexual connotations in the authent– words.

Albert Wolters, (a complementarian scholar) states that, “The abstract noun authentia (also spelled authenteia) almost always refers to authority or sovereignty . . .” He also notes that “authentia played a prominent role in Gnosticism; for example it was the name of the supreme deity in the systems of early Gnostics Cerinthus and Saturninus, and in the gnostic writing Poimandres (first and second centuries AD).”[5] Authentia is typically translated into English as “supreme power” in works by Early Church Fathers who addressed Christian Gnosticism. There is a clear link between the word authentia with Gnosticism. (In Part 3 of this series I pointed to several indications within Paul’s first letter to Timothy that the heresy in the Ephesian church had some similarities with Gnosticism.)

What Paul meant by the word authentein is difficult, if not impossible, for us to fully grasp. For this reason, caution must be taken when interpreting and applying 1 Timothy 2:12. Yet most churches interpret and apply 1 Timothy 2:12 as though its meaning, and Paul’s intention, are perfectly plain.

Another important consideration in interpreting and understanding 1 Timothy 2:12 is the conjunction oude which joins didaskein (“to teach”) with authentein. In New Testament Greek, words joined by the correlative conjunction oude may join to make a single point. They may even share and blend their meanings to some extent.[6] Perhaps this phrase may be interpreted as: “I am not allowing a woman to teach in a way that domineers a man.” Or: “I am not allowing a woman to teach or influence a man with Gnostic-like beliefs and practices.” (Cf. Rev. 2:20 KJV)[7]

Andreas Köstenberger (2000), who staunchly believes that 1 Timothy 2:12 is a universal and timeless prohibition of any woman authoritatively teaching Christian doctrine to any man, concedes that a possible translation of this phrase might be: “I do not permit a woman to teach [error] or to domineer over a man.” (Köstenberger’s use of square brackets.) While Köstenberger rejects this translation himself, it actually fits the context of 1 Timothy, with its concern of false doctrine, very well.

Verse 12c: . . . she must be silent (NIV 1984).

The Greek word hēsuchia which is translated in the NIV (1984) as “silent” really means “calmness” or “quietness”, with the implication of “keeping one’s seat.” This same word is more correctly translated as “quiet” a few verses earlier in 1 Timothy 2:2 and 2:11. Paul wants the woman (or women) to learn quietly.

As well as strengthening the meaning of hēsuchia by translating it as “silent”, the NIV 1984 adds the unwarranted qualifier of “must”, as in “she must be silent  There is no “must” in this verse, there is no command in the Greek. Why did the translators overemphasise this phrase? Is this an example of bias when translating passages about women? (The NIV 2011 retains “must” but replaces “silent” with “quiet”.)

I suggest that Paul’s instructions in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 were a correlation of his censure of a badly behaved and ill-informed woman (or perhaps, women) in the Ephesian church who was teaching, or spreading, a heresy with some similarities to Christian Gnosticism, perhaps even in a sexual manner much like Jezebel of Thyatira (Rev. 2:20KJV).

If you have read all four parts of this article, please don’t stop now. Part five helps it all to make much more sense.


[1] New Testament verses which speak about a singular man and a singular woman usually refer to a husband and wife. In the Greek, the same word is used for an adult male and for a husband. Similarly the same word is used for an adult woman and for a wife. 1 Timothy 2:12 may be referring to an activity that involves one man and one woman, a couple.

[2] For example, the use of epitrepō is used in Matthew 19:8 and Mark 10:4-5 indicates that Moses’s permission for divorce was a concession with limitations. All the occurrences of epitrepō in the New Testament are listed and briefly discussed here.

[3] In his book, Insight into Two Biblical Passages, Leland Wilshire concludes that authentein in 1 Timothy 2:12 means “to instigate violence”, but he doesn’t explain what this violence may have looked like. (2010:37, 38) Considering that the authent– words did mean “murder” and “suicide”, if this kind of violence was the issue in the Ephesian church, I imagine Paul would have used much stronger language than he does in 1 Timothy 2:12 and surrounding verses. Wilshire (2010:30) does mention the possibility of “outspoken women” in the Ephesian church, but being outspoken hardly qualifies as violence, even if hyperbole is used in 1 Timothy 2:12, as Wilshire suggests.

[4] Catherine Kroeger notes that Chrysostom used the word authentia to denote “sexual license” in his commentary on 1 Timothy 5:6, and that Clement of Alexandria used the word authentia to describe Christians who were engaging in lewd sexual activity. While it may be difficult for us to imagine, sexual licentiousness was not an uncommon problem for the Early Church—especially in congregations where heresy was taught—and so these problems needed to be addressed by church leaders such as Paul. Jezebel was a female false prophet and teacher who was teaching (didaskei) and seducing (planâ) her followers in the church of Thyatira (Rev. 2:20 KJV).

“Licentious doctrines continued to vex the church for several centuries, to the dismay of the church fathers. Clement of Alexandria wrote a detailed refutation of the various groups who endorsed fornication as accepted Christian behavior. He complained of those who had turned love-feasts into sex orgies, of those who taught women to ‘give to every man that asketh of thee’, and of those who found in physical intercourse a ‘mystical communion’. He branded one such lewd group authentai (the plural of authentēs).” (Kroeger 1979)

More on sexual licentiousness in the Early Church here.

[5] Cerinthus had a school in Galatia in Asia Minor, and we have an account from Irenaeus that he visited Ephesus (Against Heresies, 3.3.4). Perhaps disciples of Cerinthus were teaching their ebionite heresy in Ephesus.

[6] More on 1 Timothy 2:12 and oude here The Early Christians at Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius, by Paul Trebilco (2004:513) [More info on this in the comments section below.]

[7] The teaching of a pre-Gnostic heresy may have involved sexual practises. I remember coming across this suggestion years ago and reacting with disbelief. I completely dismissed this idea. But the more I read about the problems in Early Church and incipient Christian Gnosticism, the more I see a possibility that a woman in the church at Ephesus was teaching, or spreading, the heresy in a sexual way.

© 8th of December, 2009, revised 12th of June, 2011; Margaret Mowczko

« Part Three: The Heresy in the Ephesian Church

» Part Five: 1 Timothy 2:13-15 – The Creation and Salvation of Woman

Related Articles

6 Reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 is not as clear as it seems
Why 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34 are not timeless regulations (epitrepō)
Questions about how to implement 1 Timothy 2:12
The Consensus and Context of 1 Timothy 2:12
The Bible and “Plain Sense” Reading
New Testament Church Culture: Sexual Licentiousness
Jezebel of Thyatira: A Female False Prophet
The Prominence of Women in the Cultic Life of Ephesus

Posted April 17th, 2013 . Categories/Tags: Equality and Gender Issues, Equality in Ministry, The "Difficult" Passages, , , , , , , , , ,

Unkind, judgemental, bizarre, and off-topic comments will be deleted.

25 comments on “1 Timothy 2:12 in Context (Part 4)

  1. Cameron Blair says:

    Dear Marg,

    Thanks for this interesting article. It has certainly caused me to think again about this important and controversial passage of God’s word. I’m afraid that I have to disagree with your interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 and a number of points and on a number of levels both theologically and grammatically.

    Firstly to your comments on v.12a. It is true that the word for woman and man in the original Greek of this verse is in the singular. However, one of the reasons why many preachers and theologians are able to interpret this verse as applying generally to women not teaching men is because the noun for woman here is regarded by leading Greek Grammarians as a generic singular noun (see Daniel B. Wallace, “Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics” p.253-4. You could ask, ‘Why is it in the singular and not in the plural’?. The answer may be that Paul’s use of the generic singular makes his prohibition of women teaching men even more stronger because of it’s particularity. In other words, it’s almost as if Paul is saying I do not permit “any woman to teach or have authority over any man”.

    Secondly, you write that “there is no justifiable reason to apply this verse in a church leadership or church service context”. On the contrary, there is one very justifiable reason for applying this verse in such a context and it is in the very next chapter of 1 Timothy. Paul’s purpose statement for writing this letter is so that Timothy (and by his example the church in Ephesus) might know how one is to behave in the household of God (1Tim 3:14-15). The “household of God” is one of the way the NT describes the church (see Gal 6:10, 1 Pet 4:17).

    Thirdly, you say there is no command here. This is indeed true, but if we believe that Paul is “an apostle of Christ by the command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope” (1 Tim 1:1), then surely when he says “I do not permit” we should take this prohibition as coming from God? If we reject Paul’s apostleship at this point then why not at other points of his letters too? (It is worth knowing that in Koine Greek commands don’t have to be in the imperative mood to be a command – they can also be in the future or the subjunctive moods.)

    Fourthly, understanding the meaning of ‘authentein’ is indeed one of the most important aspects to understanding this passage. It is true that 1 Tim 2:12 is the only occurrence of the word authentein in the NT. It is common for scholars to look to extrabiblical sources to try to determine the meaning of a word. One scholar H.S. Baldwin has studied the 88 occurrences of the verb in extra-biblical literature and found five possible meanings one of which includes “to tyrannize” as you have mentioned above. The other possible meanings include “to rule”, “to domineer”, “to act independently of” and “to instigate/be responsible for”. The question is how do we know which of the five meanings Paul has intended here? Maybe Paul is using it with a different meaning altogether! It is interesting to note that Baldwin has suggested that the unifying concept of these five possible meanings is “authority”. But we must still be very careful at this point not to let our presuppositions determine which meaning we assign to the word. In the end it is the context (theological and grammatical) that must the final determiner of the meaning of a word and not an outside source or our presuppositions.

    So in your interpretation of this verse you have appealed to the use of the conjunction that joins ‘didaskein’ and ‘authentein’. It is true that conjunctions join words together…that is afterall what conjunction means! But different conjunctions join words differently and it is not precise enough to say that “words joined by a conjunction often combine and share meaning”. The conjunction connecting the words ‘didaskein’ and ‘authentein’ is ‘oude’ which means “and not/neither/nor”. You have concluded that this particular conjunction is acting adverbly by subordinating ‘authentein’ to ‘didaskein’. I can see why you would want to conclude this because it leaves the door open to the interpretation that women are permitted to teach men – as long as they don’t do it tyrannically or in a domineering way. It is at this point that you have let your presuppositions didicate your interpretation of this verse! For the NT Professor Dr. A. J. Kostenberger has shown that this conjunction does not function as a subordinating conjunction but as a co-ordinating one. In other words, Paul is talking about two separate and distinct events/activities here not one. That’s not to say that they are unrelated. Theologically these two activities are closely related but not grammatically in the way you have concluded. In addition, Kostenberger has argued that when ‘oude’ is used the two words that it joins must be both positive or both negative in meaning. We would naturally take the word didaskein as being positive in meaning. Grammatically speaking then, authentein must also be positive in meaning. Therefore ‘authentein’ cannot mean “to tyrannise” or “to domineer” – unless you think that tyranny and domination are positive things! I certainly do not and would reject any teaching that suggests that men where to lead in a domineering way over women. This leaves us with the options of “to rule”, “to act independently of” or “to be responsible for” – all of which clearly describe the state of having authority.

    Furthermore, this verse comes in the immediate context of Paul commanding a woman (generic noun) to learn (imperative) “with all submissiveness” (1 Tim 2:11). Since submission is usually acted out in response to someone in authority, the most natural rendering of authentein in this context is “authority”.

    I have further comments to make about your interpretation of the following verses which I will make separately. In the meantime, I would be interested in your response to the points that I have made. Thanks.

    Cameron Blair

    • Marg says:

      Hi Cameron,

      About your first point. I think what I have written about the singular “man” and “woman” is fine and fair. I have not made any conclusive statements about it, just drawn the readers’ attention to it.

      As to your second point: I stand by my opinion that Paul’s prohibition does not necessarily refer to a church service/meeting setting. Your text of 1 Timothy 3:14-15 comes immediately after Paul’s instructions about how church leaders/elders and ministers/deacons should behave in God’s household – the Church. Paul could hardly have been saying that the moral behaviour he requires of church leaders and ministers is only applicable during church services or meetings. Church leaders, and (of course) all true believers and followers of Christ, are part of God’s household, the church, 24/7, even when it is not assembled for a meeting. I doubt that Paul’s prohibition to a woman teaching a man in the Ephesian congregation was limited to a church meeting setting; especially as the false teaching was being spread “door to door”. (See 1 Tim 5:13 and15).

      As to your third point: I definitely recognise Paul’s authority, however if he was really making a permanent, universal prohibition, or a denouncement of all women church leaders, one would expect much stronger language. My point is that Paul chose to use the milder language of the present active indicative in this statement, and not the imperative nor the hortatory subjunctive nor the future, etc. [I am aware that many theologians do not believe that 1 Timothy was written by the Apostle Paul, but as 1 Timothy is included in the New Testament canon, it has the authority of Holy Scripture.]

      Fourthly, I have had a VERY good look at “authentien” over the years, from many sources, including primary sources of Ancient Greek literature. Whatever Paul’s specific meaning may have been, he was definitely talking about a very negative, sinful and selfish action – the complete antithesis of godly leadership!

      Also, I haven’t concluded but have suggested that the use of the conjunction “oude” can be used epexegetically as it is in Romans 2:28; 3:10 and 1 Corinthians 5:1; 15:10. Furthermore, I take both “teaching” and “authentein” to be taken in a negative light, considering Paul’s disapproval of it. Why would Paul disapprove of excellent teaching? Furthermore, “authentein” and “didaskein” are VERY closely related grammatically; and I wonder why you would say otherwise (?).

      Finally, students should be submissive to their teachers. Being submissive to the authority of a good and godly teacher has nothing whatsoever to do with “authentein”.

  2. Kate says:

    Hi Marg,

    You mention the apparent ‘harsh treatment’ in the translation of ἡσυχίᾳ (silence/quiet). I’m wondering why you mentioned this considering the translation you used (NASB) translates it as quiet both time?

    (I’ll note so does the ESV, and the HCSB translates it as silent both times and none of these add the word ‘must’)

    I’m also unsure of why you feel that ‘silent’ is a harsh treatment. Whether someone is to be quiet or silent, isn’t it really the same thing?

    • Marg says:

      Hi Kate,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I do think there is a difference if someone is quiet or silent. If I ask my class to be quiet, they may turn the volume down but will still feel free to talk quietly to their neighbour, etc. If I ask them to be silent, for an exam for instance, they understand that no sound is permitted. I do believe that at the heart of the word ἡσυχίᾳ is the idea of calmness and peace.

      I used the NASB only at the beginning of this page. The comments you are referring to are my objections to the NIV, which I quote twice for 1 Timothy 2:12c, because I do think it is an unecessarily harsh translation of this phrase. I have clearly marked these two quotes as coming from the NIV. However, I can see that my point is poorly made so I will be rewording it shortly.

  3. Mark says:


    I agree with much of Cameron’s point.

    All NT uses of didasken are positive except one in Titus 1:11 where the context makes clear it is false teaching. Therefore here is must also be positive to be consistent with the rest of the NT. Also, all uses of ‘teach’ in the pastorals relate to authoritative teaching done by the leaders…thus church context.

    Note also that Paul emplys a seperate verb ‘teach falsely’ twice elsewhere in the same epistle yet why not here if it is false teaching. Again teach must be positive not negetive?

    Not being in the imperative is not an issue. There are plenty of other NT ‘commands’ that are not in the imperative, e.g Romans 12:1 that are binding for all time.

    Oude cannot function the way you want it to. Syntactically it cannot as Kostenberger has shown…read his article. In fact read the whole book, ‘Women in the Church’ if you are serious about this issue.

    The singular is generic. Paul emplys the same thing in Titus 1, swtiching from plural ‘elders’, to the singular ‘an overseer’, but obviously has ‘all overseers’ in view.

    Final point. You spent three whole posts setting up you historical revision before even touching the text. Can u seriously expect us to take such an approach seriously. Let’s not downgrade scripture for personal speculation.

    • Marg says:

      1 Timothy 2:12 was written to a specific church experiencing specific problems that many people today have no idea about, hence I provided background material. In preceeding posts I have also drawn attention to other relevant verses in 1 Timothy, rather than just view 1 Timothy 2:12 in isolation from the rest of the letter.

      Learning about Biblical times and places can hardly be seen as a frivolous pursuit. Most people find it helpful to have some idea about the author’s reasons for writing, and the situations and issues that were being addressed. It is also helpful to have some understanding of the culture of the protagonists in historical narratives, or the culture of the recipients of the New Testament letters.

      I would think that my approach actually showed my seriousness, much more than if I ignored Paul’s reasons for writing, or ignored the problem of false teaching in the Ephesian church and the emerging threat of Gnosticism, or ignored the cult of Artemis which had a huge influence on Ephesian culture. In answer to your question, Yes, I do expect my readers to take my approach seriously.

      As mentioned in my posts, the whole context of 1 Timothy is about false teaching. I actually completely disagree that “teaching” in 1 Tim 2:12 is positive.

      There are at least 3 instances in the Pastoral letters where the cognates of didaskō are used for evil and corrupt teaching: 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:11; and I believe 1 Timothy 2:12. In fact false teaching was such a problem at Ephesus and Crete, that Paul often used adjectives such as “sound”, “fine”, “godly”, etc, to distinguish the good teaching he was encouraging in Timothy and Titus from the prevalent false teaching.

      At this point in time I believe that didaskein and authentein are both negative, joined by oude, and thus their meaning is combined to make a single prohibition. Why would Paul prohibit good teaching?

      Also, I understand that woman (singular) can be used in a generic sense to mean women in “I am not allowing a woman . . .” However I believe it is less likely that man (singular) [or husband ] is meant to be understood generically as men (plural).

      I believe that if Paul had wanted to prohibit a woman, or women, from teaching men (plural) he would have said so. However, whatever the intention of “man”, it is important to note that Priscilla taught a man; and no one seems to have had a problem with this.

      In regards to your comment about Romans 12:1, as wonderful as it is, because of the way Paul has written it, I don’t think that you can classify it grammatically as a command.

    • Daniel Jones says:

      “Let’s not down grade scripture for personal speculation.”…? I hardly think that is what she, and the plethora of serious scholars who have arrived at this position, are doing. You also assume that there can only be one linguistic representation for a given concept when you assume that what “Paul” uses for teach falsely should remain constant. I use quotations because you seem to forget the secretary and the coauthors in “Paul’s” letters (see E. R. Richards work on Paul and amanuesis (secretary). Differences in diction could very well be the result of a secretary, coauthor, or socio-rhetorical situation.

  4. Mark says:


    I agree that background info is helpful. Where i disagree is when we step beyond what the epistle teaches and insert things like ‘gnosticism’ into the text. Clearly Paul wrote to counter false teaching, that is not an issue. But we must be careful not to allow our own revisionism to interfere with exegesis. I feel you have done this as shown by your exegetical comments that are simply not possible.

    The issue is whether 1 TIm 2:12 refers to the false teaching. It simply cannot as shown by the syntatical parallels shown by Kostenberger, Balwin’s research on authentein etc…

    To argue that both teach and have authroity over are negetive is to outright reject the evidence at hand. I encourage you to look further as you stated.

  5. Marg says:

    Paul himself identifies the heresy as Gnosticism. Please read 1 Timothy 6:20-21 in the Greek. Tertullian also identified the Ephesian heresy as an early form of gnosticism. Tertullian quoted from 1 Timothy 1:3, and referring to Paul, added “which the inspired apostle by anticipation condemned, whilst the seeds of heresy were even then shooting forth.” Tertullian, Against the Valentinians, chapter 3. Ireneaus also identified the Ephesian heresy as an early form of Gnosticism in his Against Heresies.

    You have quoted from noted theologians; allow me to also. Philip B. Payne (p244-246) notes that, “Paul’s typical use of oude elsewhere to convey a single idea shows oude is the perfect conjunction to combine “to teach” and “to assume authority” into a single prohibition. To interpret oude in 1 Tim 2:12 as separating two different prohibitions for women, however, one against teaching and another againsy having authority over a man, does not conform to Paul’s customary use of oude. . . . Of the passages listed in Kostenberger’s Ibycus search of ancient Greek literature, only one other passage perfectly replicates 1 Tim 2:12’s syntactical structure: (1) a negated finite verb + (2) infinitive + (3) oude + (4) infinitive + (5) alla + (6) infinitive. This is in Polybius (ca 202-120BC), History . . . The next closest parallel to 1 Tim 2:12 . . . is in Josephus (ca AD 37-100) Ant 7.127.1-3 . . . Both of these passages use the oude construction to convey a single idea. Click on Payne’s name in this comment to see the full explanation of the use of oude in these passages.

  6. Don Johnson says:

    What Mark and Cameron both do not see is that they are themselves bringing their presuppositions to the text.

    I think that ultimately, this passage is not clear. If one has an egal assumption, it can be read in an egal way; in fact there are many egal ways to read it. If one has a comp assumption, then it can be read in a comp way, in a few ways. But with all these possibilities, it remains unclear. Therefore it is incorrect as a prot to try to determine any doctrine on it.

  7. Marg says:

    It is so unclear to us what Paul was getting at, and so I come to a similar conclusion: Don’t use 1 Timothy 2:12 as a proof text.

  8. Betti says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. Two incredibly gifted woman pastors have played an important role in my spiritual growth with the clear authority of the Holy Spirit on their work, so I have always been convinced that women cannot be probihited from preaching. Yet as I always wish to view the Bible as the Word of God, this passage really discouraged me and even caused me to think of the Scripture as something not so credible as I had thought. I was tormented by the thought that maybe I cannot trust the Bible as much as I had believed, as here Paul is forbidding something which obviously should not be forbidden. I have read various interpretations of the passage which aimed to defend woman pastors, but – as much as I wanted to – I simply was not convinced by them… until I read your article. It has truly been a huge blessing to me 🙂 (By the way, I’m sorry for any possible grammar mistakes, my native tongue is Hungarian…) God bless you 🙂

  9. Marg says:

    Hi Betti,

    Thanks for your comment. It is nice to ‘meet’ a visitor from Hungary. Your grammar (and punctuation) is very good.

    I’m so glad, that my article has helped you. I also believe that the Bible is uniquely inspired by God. It is the interpretations – and even some translations – that can miss the context and intent of what was really being said in certain passages.

    You might like this article: http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/portrayal-of-women-and-biblical-inspiration/

    God Bless you too! 😀

  10. Dan says:


    Thank you for an interesting read on this verse. I believe you are correct. Mark and Cameron seem to have a closed mind on this. As Christians, we are always supposed to be seeking answers and truth. In the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ ‘call no man teacher’. Should we literally take this to mean man/male? If so, then ONLY women should be teacher since Jesus DID NOT say ‘call no woman teacher’.

    I hope the time is coming quickly that ALL people (both male and female) will realize that we are all equals and equally loved by God.

  11. Marg says:

    Hi Dan, I’m glad you found it interesting.

    I find it a real concern that many Christians find it hard to see and treat men and women as equal. What’s with that?

  12. Dan says:


    You asked ‘why is that?” I can only speak for myself. In my case, it was because I was a pig-headed, male-entitlement minded, superior human being. I both was and am a sinner. I almost lost my 34 year marriage from that attitude that my beloved was suppose to submit and be my servant. I was in deep sin, and in deep do-do in my marriage. Only through my wife’s grace was our marriage saved. And I admit, she was done with me. Only when I saw how I had broken her spirit, did I open up my heart to the Holy Spirit and His Word.

    I wish I could go back in time. I would tell other sisters to NEVER submit, but to ONLY submit AS THE CHURCH TO CHRIST. And Christ would NEVER ask a woman to be a doormat. Never. He loves us too much.

    Our marriage is based on equality now. My wife has never been happier. And I have never been happier. It is actually very freeing to be able to love Christ first, and then my sister/wife/equal second.

  13. Marg says:

    My husband and I have found egalitarianism freeing also, and our marriage has never been better.

    Bless ya, Dan.

  14. Kyle says:

    All this attempting to justify the letter of the law is good, but unnecessary. Just as Jesus tells the Pharisees, the spirit of the living God’s law is what is important. If the spirit lives within us, then, although we can choose to commit sin, we will feel convictions about them if they truly are sin. I have zero convictions about allowing a woman to teach in the church, and considering the culture was in lower respect for women at the time, it makes sense why Paul would have said something about it. Scripture is God-breathed, but his spirit lives within those words, and transcends time, culture, and even language. Stop looking to the letter and look to the spirit. That’s my opinion, anyway.

  15. Marg says:

    Hi Kyle, I take your point, and understand why you left your comment.

    My aim is to look to the Spirit, and look to God’s Word, as I discover God’s will and how to please and serve him.

    I deeply rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me as I study God’s inspired Word, particularly the New Testament. That’s not to say that I get things wrong sometimes.

  16. Hi Marg, I totally agree with you. Many don’t understand because they just heard about it or they have not done any research about it. That’s why its very important to read and understand the bible from cover to cover and not just rely on one teaching.

  17. Krysta says:

    Hi Marg! I am currently reading Kostenberger’s “Women in the Church” and it has been very helpful to read your articles on 1 Timothy and the following comments and responses! I so easily get bogged down in all the details which I find very confusing since I don’t know greek and all the language rules that apply. It helps me to back up and see the big picture and whether the complementarian meaning fits with the whole of scripture, which it does not! I completely agree with you and Don. It is far too confusing and complex a passage to use as a proof text and I find a lot of freedom in that. 🙂 Let’s build our theology on clear and explicit statements that are not so contested like how Adam and Eve were BOTH given dominion over the earth and that they both bear the image of God. Let’s start there and view the tricky passages through that lense and not the other way around! Sure takes the pressure off! Turns out I don’t have to be a language expert to understand the bible and the gospel!! Thank you Marg for bring balance and rich insight into my studies!

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