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

Did Priscilla Teach Apollos?

There is only one verse in the entire Bible which disallows a woman from teaching a man—1 Timothy 2:12. Some Christians see this verse as comprehensively declaring a universal and permanent ban on every woman teaching any man. However other verses in scripture indicate that there is nothing wrong with a godly woman teaching a man. Acts 18:26 is one such verse. Acts 18:26 tells us that Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, explained theology or, more precisely, the doctrine of Christian baptism, to a man named Apollos.

This article will briefly look at who Priscilla and Aquila were, and it will explore the meaning of the Greek word for “explain” used in the statement: they [Priscilla and Aquila] . . . explained to [Apollos] the Way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:24-26, NASB). This article will answer the question, Did Priscilla, a woman, teach Apollos, a man?

Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul

Did Priscilla Teach Apollos?Priscilla (or Prisca)[1] and Aquila are mentioned by name six times in the Greek New Testament. They are always mentioned together, and, significantly, in four of those occurrences, Priscilla’s name is mentioned first. This unconventional order of the wife’s name before her husband’s may be an indication that Priscilla’s ministry ability was more prominent than Aquila’s. [I have included all verses which mention Priscilla and Aquila in endnote 2 below.]

Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, were devoted friends and ministry colleagues of Paul.[3] At some point, or perhaps several times, they even risked their lives for Paul’s sake (Rom. 16:3-5).

Paul first met Priscilla and Aquila when he went to Corinth as part of his second missionary journey. Priscilla and Aquila had just arrived in Corinth from Rome in around 49 AD.[4] Paul then spent eighteen months living and working together[5] with them (Acts 18:1-3, 11, 18). After Corinth, Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul travelled together to Ephesus (Acts 18:18). Paul had confidence in the abilities of both Priscilla and Aquila as church leaders, and he left them in Ephesus to lead a church that met in their house (1 Cor. 16:19). It was while Priscilla and Aquila were leading a church at Ephesus that they met Apollos.

Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos

Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures.  This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. Acts 18:24-26 (NASB, underline added)

In Acts 18:24-26, Luke, the author of Acts, introduces his readers to Apollos. Apollos was a Jewish Christian from Alexandria. Alexandria was a renowned centre of learning in the ancient world and famous for its impressive and extensive library.

Apollos is described by Luke literally as a “man of words”. This indicates Apollos was well-read, well-educated, and trained in rhetoric. Luke portrays him as both an eloquent orator and as someone with a thorough (literally, “powerful”) understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. Apollos would go on to become an outstanding minister of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4-6, 21-22; 4:6, 9).

Despite Apollos’ notable credentials, something was lacking in his teaching. He was ignorant of Christian baptism. Priscilla and Aquila recognised this lack and, as leaders of the local church, they took Apollos aside, possibly into their home,[6] and explained to him “the Way of God”, that is, theology, more accurately.[7]

The verb “explain” is plural in the Greek indicating that both Priscilla and Aquila were involved.[8] However, the fact that Priscilla’s name is listed first, before her husband’s in Acts 18:26, seems to indicate that Priscilla was the more active one in giving the explanation.[9]


Many different verbs are commonly used in the New Testament in the context of someone communicating aspects of the gospel message and Christian faith.[10] And much of this communication would have included a degree of teaching and instruction.

Some people quibble about the meaning of the word “explain” (ektithēmi) used in Acts 18:26. They claim that it does not mean “teach”. Didaskō is the Greek word usually translated as “teach” or “instruct”. BDAG (p.241) defines didaskō as “(1) to tell someone what to do, tell, instruct; . . . and (2) to provide instruction in a formal or informal setting, teach.” Apollos is himself described as someone who was “speaking (laleō) and teaching (didaskō)” about Jesus (Acts 18:25).

In chapter 19 of Acts (the chapter immediately following the passage about Priscilla and Aquila’s “explaining”) Luke writes about Paul’s three month speaking ministry in the synagogue at Ephesus. Luke uses the cognates of three different verbs in reference to Paul’s speaking about the Kingdom of God: (1) parrēsiazomai–speak boldly or freely, (2) dialegomai–discuss or reason, and (3) peithō–persuade (Acts 19:8-9). Luke does not use the word “teach” (didaskō) here, and yet there can be no doubt that, during those three months at Ephesus, Paul did in fact teach. He taught boldly with reasoning and with persuasion.

It is unreasonable to suggest that Paul’s ministry in Acts 19:8-9 did not include teaching simply because Luke did not use the word didaskō. It is equally unreasonable to suggest that Priscilla and Aquila’s explanation to Apollos did not include teaching just because Luke did not use the word didaskō. Priscilla and Aquila did, in fact, teach Apollos. This becomes clearer when we look at the meaning of “explain” (ektithēmi) and at the circumstances where Luke uses the word elsewhere in Acts.


Luke is the only New Testament author to use the Greek word ektithēmi. He uses it four times, and only in the book of Acts. There are two basic meanings for the word ektithēmi. In its most literal sense it means to “place outside” or “expose”. With this sense, BDAG (p.310) gives the definition of ektithēmi as “withdraw support or protection from”. Luke uses the word with this sense in Acts 7:21 where he recounts Stephen speaking about the baby Moses who was placed outside and left exposed on the Nile.

Ektithēmi also means “to put forth, declare, explain”. (Perschbacher 1990:131)[11] With this sense, BDAG (p.310) gives the definition of ektithēmi as “to convey information by careful elaboration”. This sounds a lot like teaching to me. Luke uses the word with this sense three times in Acts: in Acts 11:4 of Peter’s teaching, in Acts 18:26 of Priscilla and Aquila’s, and in Acts 28:23 of Paul’s. It is important to note that there is nothing at all trivial in these three instances where “explain” (ektithēmi) is used.

Peter’s Explaining in Acts 11:4

But Peter began and explained it to them point by point, saying . . . Acts 11:4 (NIV, underline added.)

In Acts chapter 10, we read that the very first gentiles had become Christians and were baptised through Peter’s ministry. The apostles and brothers in Judea were disturbed by this turn of events and when Peter went to Jerusalem they “took issue with him” (Acts 11:3 NIV). Peter responds to their criticism, and in Acts 11:5-17 he explains (ektithēmi) the remarkable events “point by point” (NIV), or “in an orderly sequence” (NASB). Peter does not merely relate his recent experiences, he persuasively presents his own conclusion (Acts 11:17-18). Peter’s speech about the inclusion of the gentiles in God’s plan for salvation was a huge turning point for the Christian church which up to that point was completely Jewish. Luke uses the word ektithēmi in this context.

Paul’s Explaining in Acts 28:23

When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. Acts 28:23-24 (NASB, underline added.)

Luke’s final use of the word ektithēmi occurs in a passage where we read that Paul was explaining, testifying, and trying to persuade many people about Jesus using Old Testament scripture. While Luke does not use the word didaskō in this passage, we can see that Paul was, in fact, teaching his visitors about Jesus.

As an accomplished and careful writer, skilled in Greek, Luke has a large vocabulary. Throughout his narratives, he avoids the repetition of words and uses synonyms or words with similar meanings. Ektithēmi and didaskō have similar and overlapping meanings.

An Objection to Priscilla “Teaching”

Daniel B. Wallace disagrees that Priscilla “taught” Apollos. In his article Did Priscilla “Teach” Apollos? An Examination of the Meaning of ἐκτίθημι in Acts 18:26, he writes:

“The word [ektithēmi] is actually somewhat of a vanilla term, basically meaning “lay out,” or “expose.” It can be used in various contexts, but in collocation with information being passed on it tends to be restricted to simple explanation without concomitant urging or rhetorical persuasiveness.”

It is unclear why Wallace regards ektithēmi as a “vanilla term”, especially considering how Luke uses the word in Acts. It is highly unlikely that Peter told his audience the amazing events recounted in Acts 11:5-17 dispassionately, with no desire or intention to change the minds of those present. Moreover, in Acts 28:23 there is unmistakable evidence of “rhetorical persuasiveness”.

Wallace also states that:

“From the primary data and the lexical tools that interpret [ektithēmi], there was seen to be almost no unusual meaning, virtually no sense that could be viewed as approaching didaskō and its cognates in the NT. . . . the force of ektithēmi never seemed to transgress into the realm of exhortation.”

I agree that it is a straightforward exercise to translate ektithēmi into English as there are “almost no unusual meanings”; however it is difficult to understand why Wallace believes its meaning cannot be viewed as approaching didaskō. “Explain” can often be practically synonymous in meaning to “teach” and “instruct”, whether in English or Greek. Furthermore, it is unclear why Wallace implies that didaskō involves exhortation and ektithēmi doesn’t.


Typically, most English dictionaries define explain as “make plain and comprehensible”. This is surely one of the major aims in teaching. I would be very happy if my teaching was described as explaining. To discount Priscilla and Aquila’s “explaining” as true teaching simply because Luke didn’t use the word didaskō is unwarranted, especially when considering the context of ektithēmi in the book of Acts.[12]

Did Priscilla, with her husband, teach Apollos the Way of God more accurately? Did a woman, Priscilla, teach and correct a man, even a male teacher? When we understand the word ektithēmi and read Acts 18:26 objectively, it is hard to see otherwise.[13]

As church leaders, there would have been many occasions for Priscilla and Aquila to teach, either informally or in slightly more formal house church meetings. Neither Luke nor Paul gives any hint of censure or disapproval about Priscilla teaching Apollos, or her role as a house church leader. In light of the fact that Priscilla did explain Christian doctrine to a man, the blanket ban by some which prohibits women from teaching men, must be reassessed and redressed.


[1] “Paul always refers to her as ‘Prisca’, the more respectful form of her name; Luke always adds the diminutive ending in ‘Priscilla’.” (Payne 2009:64)

[2] The Scriptures which mention Priscilla and Aquila:

There he [Paul] met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them (Acts 18:2-3, NIV).

Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila . . . They arrived at Ephesus, where he [Paul] left them [Priscilla and Aquila]. . . .  (Acts 18:18-19). Some translations such as the NIV repeat the names in Acts 18:19 for clarity, but the names are not repeated in the Greek texts.

He [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately (Acts 18:26).

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house (Romans 16:3-5).

The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house (1 Corinthians 16:19).

Greet Priscilla and Aquila . . . (2 Timothy 4:19)

Extra-biblical ideas about Priscilla and Aquila:
Eusebius mentions Paul living with Aquila and Priscilla when he was ministering to the churches in Asia Minor (Church History 2.18.9). John Chrysostom says that Paul stayed with the couple for two years. (Homily 30 on Romans; cf. Acts 19:10.)
Chrysostom emphasises Priscilla, and doesn’t mention Aquila at all, as the person who received Apollos and instructed him in the way of the Lord. And he credits Priscilla, more so than Aquila, in making their home a church through evangelism and through hospitality. Furthermore, Chrysostom waxes lyrical about Priscilla’s fame. (Homily 30 on Romans)
Adolf von Harnack and Ruth Hoppin each speculate that Priscilla may have been the author of the book of Hebrews. An interesting article about this subject is here.
I suggest Priscilla and Aquila were leaders or elders of the church in Ephesus, here.
In the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Aquila and a man named Nicetas are listed as the first bishops of Asia.
An Orthodox Church tradition states that Aquila was one of Jesus’ 70 disciples in Luke 10:1-24, though this is unlikely.
Tradition holds that Priscilla and Aquila were both martyred.

[3] Twice Paul refers to Priscilla and Aquila as his ministry colleagues (“co-workers”) (Rom 16:3-5; 2 Tim 4:19).

[4] Seutonius wrote that Emperor Claudius had expelled all the Jews (which included Priscilla and Aquila) from Rome in 49 AD (Claudius 25.4). Priscilla and Aquila later returned to Rome (probably from Ephesus) some time after the death of Claudias in 54 AD and probably before 57 AD.

[5] Aquila, Priscilla and Paul were all tentmakers by profession. During Paul’s third Missionary tour, Paul stayed with Priscilla and Aquila at Ephesus for over two years (Acts 19:10). They were all still living in Ephesus when Paul passed on Aquila and Priscilla’s greeting to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 16:19. Aquila and Priscilla returned to Rome by 57 AD where they became church leaders again. 2 Timothy 4:19 suggests that the couple returned to Ephesus at a later date, possibly around 62-64 AD. Paul had no problem with a godly, capable woman being a church leader.

[6] The verb proslambanō, which occurs in Acts 18:26, can be used in a variety of ways. It can mean: “. . . to receive kindly or hospitably, admit to one’s own society and friendship . . .” (Perschbacher 1990:354) The CEB has that Priscilla and Aquila, “received [Apollos] into their circle of friends.” More on this in my short article At Home with Priscilla and Aquila.

[7] Luke frequently refers to Christianity as “The Way” (Acts 9:2; 18:25, 26; 19:9,23; 24:14,22; etc).

[8] Exethento (from ektithēmi) 3rd person plural aorist middle indicative.

[9] The order of Priscilla’s and Aquila’s names is significant. Luke was careful in what order he listed names. For example, in his account of the joint ministry of the Paul and Barnabas, Luke switches the order of the names of Paul and Barnabas, listing first whoever was more well-known or more active in ministry at that particular time. (See Acts 13:7, 42-50; 14:1, 3, 12, 14, 23; 15:2, 12, 22, 25, 35-36.)

[10] All of the following words are used in the New Testament to describe the transmission and teaching of the gospel and Christian doctrine: Parrēsiazomai means “speak openly, boldly or freely”;  peithō means “persuade”; martureō means “testify” or “bear witness”; legō or laleō simply means “speak” or “talk”; dialegomai means “discuss” or “reason”; parakaleō means “exhort” or “encourage”, keryssō means “proclaim” or “preach”; euaggelizomai means “proclaim the good news or gospel”; ektithēmi means “put forth” or “explain”; disdaskō means “teach”; etc.

[11] Strong defines ektithēmi as “declare” and “expound”. (Strong’s number 1620)

[12] As previously stated, BDAG (p.310) defines ektithēmi as “to convey information by careful elaboration”.

[13] King Lemuel’s mother is another Bible woman who taught a man. The teaching of this woman has been recorded in Scripture and thus has the authority of Scripture. [More on King Lemuel’s mother here.]


Anon (attributed to Clement of Rome), Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, James Donaldson (ed), Christian Classics Ethereal Library,  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf07.ix.viii.iv.html accessed 9/09/2010

Bauer, Walter, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition, revised and edited by F.W Danker, University of Chicago Press, 2000.  [Known as BDAG for short.]

Belleville, Linda L., “Women Leaders in the Bible” in Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Heirarchy, Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothous (ed), Leicester:InterVaristy Press, 2004.

Blue, B. B., “Apollos” in Dictionary of Paul and his Letters, Gerald F. Hawthorne (ed), Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Payne, Philip B., Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

Perschbacher, Wesley J., (Ed) The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990

Strong, James, Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, McLean, Virginia: Macdonald Publishing Company, n.d.

Wallace, Daniel B., Did Priscilla “teach” Apollos? An Examination of the Meaning of ἐκτίθημι in Acts 18:26, Bible.org. http://bible.org/article/did-priscilla-teach-apollos accessed 08/09/2010

© 11th of September, 2010; Margaret Mowczko


Related Articles

At Home with Priscilla and Aquila
New Testament Women Church Leaders
1 Timothy 2:12 in Context
Paul’s Qualifications for Church Leaders
Junia and the ESV
Euodia and Syntyche: Women Church Leaders at Philippi
Were Priscilla, Phoebe and Junia friends?

Posted September 11th, 2010 . Categories/Tags: Bible Women, Equality and Gender Issues, Equality in Ministry, Women in Ministry, , , , , , , , ,

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

57 comments on “Did Priscilla Teach Apollos?

  1. Dave says:

    Great article! I guess the only real reason why the meaning of “explain” is in question at all is because of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 which you mention in your intro. There is an interesting article you might like to look at on 1 Tim 2 if you have not done so already.

    • Joe Henry says:

      In the King James version Aquila name is used first,he in error to say Priscilla name was first mention

      • Marg says:

        Aquila’s name is first in Acts 18:26 in the Bezae Codex Cantabrigiensis and the Greek text used for the KJV, but Priscilla’s name is first in the earlier, older Greek manuscripts.

        • David welford says:

          Purported older MS are not always correct. Why would “two separate” MS groups (The Majority texts and the Minority texts be different in the Greek. How could the scribes get this wrong?. Another witness; that is, the Eastern Syrian text of the Peshitta also has Aquila first. This text is independent and “older” than that of the minority text MS; written around 150 AD.
          The argument that uses a first mention of a female in a scripture text for a reason to support a women’s leadership role in a church is therefore not valid.

          • Marg says:

            I can’t answer for the mistakes of scribes.

            Does the Pershitta have Aquila’s name first in all six instances where the couple are named?

            Also, I wouldn’t call the Pershitta “independent”. Paul’s letters, if not all the other New Testament books, were translated into Syriac from Greek manuscripts. We possess copies of copies of some of these same Greek manuscripts, and they were consulted in producing more recent critical editions of the Greek New Testament.

            Even if we allow the Codex Bezae to be correct, in that Aquila’s name was originally first in Acts 18:26, that still leaves Prisca/Priscilla’s name first in Acts 18:18, Romans 16:3, and 2 Timothy 4:19.

            I agree. The fact that Priscilla’s name is mentioned before her husband’s in four (or three) of six passages is not a reason to suggest that she was a leader in her church. The fact that she and her husband were the ones who took the initiative to correct the doctrine of the teacher Apollos, strongly suggests, however, they were acting as leaders of church at Ephesus. (Most Christians believe that “guarding” and correcting doctrine are roles of elders.) There are several other indications, also, that the couple, who were close friends and colleagues of Paul, were leaders in Ephesus, Corinth and Rome. At the very least, the couple were house church leaders.

  2. Marg says:

    Thanks Dave. 🙂

    I wonder what the church (and society) would be like if people did not use 1 Timothy 2:12 as the proof text and starting point for forming their ideas about women in ministry. There’s no other verse in the Bible that forbids a woman teaching a man.

    I read the blog entry that you linked to. I like these thoughts of Cheryl’s:

    “The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) has created a whole section of white, grey and black applications of 1 Timothy 2:12, and this is to give directions to churches who can’t figure out from 1 Timothy 2:12 whether a woman can be an usher, serve communion, teach math at a high school or at a college, or whether she can teach Hebrew in seminary even if she isn’t teaching the word of God per se. Who is authorized to make these rules? And why don’t Christians and Churches know the answers to their questions if 1 Timothy 2:12 is so clear? The fact is that it isn’t a clear cut verse that can stand on its own. It must be taken in its context.”

    Cheryl and I have exchanged a few emails about the grammar and meaning of 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

    I have also written about this enigmatic verse:

    • dave barnes says:

      Can you give the scriptural number of times, that God must repeat His will, before it becomes His will? How many times did God tell Adam and Eve to not eat of the tree of life? How many times did God tell Aaron’s sons how to make their fire? How many times did He instruct Noah the dimensions of the ark. What about Uzzah and His sin?

      Apollos was not a Christian at the time that Priscilla and Aquila were teaching him. Keep in the context of the article and the cited scripture.

      • Marg says:

        Hi Dave,

        While Apollos hadn’t received Christian baptism, he is described in Acts 18:25 as: “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately.” Christianity is frequently referred to as “the way” in Acts (Acts 9:2; 8:26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). So the idea that Apollos was not a Christian is not based on the biblical text. (I suggest you remove the log from your eye before you tell others to “keep in the context . . . and the cited scripture.”)

        God did sometimes repeat his instructions. Based on Eve’s answer to the serpent and the use of plural verbs (in the Hebrew of Genesis 3:2-3) as opposed to singular verbs (in Genesis 2:16-17), it is possible that God did repeat the warning of eating the forbidded fruit. More on this here. As for the other examples you mention, we simply have no idea how many times God repeated his instructions.

        So do you think Priscilla did something wrong in correcting the teacher Apollos by explaining the way of God more accurately to him? There is no indication in the text that she did.

        More on Priscilla and Aquila here.

        Here is a list of men in the Bible who were guided, led and taught by godly women: http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/created-order-1-timothy-212/

  3. Waneta Dawn says:

    I appreciate this study. Indeed, since Paul says nothing against Pricilla as a teacher, who corrected a man teacher, the I Tim verse does need to be reconsidered.

    The usage of words like teach and explain elsewhere in the NT also make a very good point.

  4. Marg says:

    Thanks Waneta. 🙂

    The main problem with 1 Timothy 2:12 is that many Christians use it as their starting point and proof text on the issue of women in leadership ministries. If Christians used Acts 18:26 (Priscilla), Romans 16:1-2 (Phoebe), or Colossians 4:15 (Nympha), etc, as their starting points, I believe we’d have a whole different outcome.

    Romans 16:1-2 in the Greek New Testament is the closest thing I have to a proof text.

  5. If certain circles of men didn’t look to the bible to justify their entitled tower of power this wouldn’t even be a question. I personally will never understand how they can’t see that their definition of their position stinks to high heaven! God doesn’t wish people to use ‘head’ and ‘authority’ and all the rest to thwart others from sharing the message. Sharing the message of Christ is ‘teaching’.

    My Aunt and Uncle were missionaries for most of their lifes. They traveled all over the place, and their children were born in different parts of the world. My uncle always truly treasured her contributions, and saying she should have placed them on ‘hold’ until he was present is just legalism pure and simple.

    We are to be lead by the Holy Spirit, and keep close in our relationship with God. He is the one that will move to us ‘teach’ or not, and YES at times that includes men. At times God will tell you ‘not now’, and other times he will guide you the opposite way.

    I feel at times certain circles truly need to get out on the mission field, and experience the ‘less spoiled’ parts of the world. Places where it is clear you need all hands on deck! I mean does a missionary’s wife NOT share the gospel with someone that has traveled to them for help when he is not present? Does she ignore the leading the Holy Spirit due to certain ‘camps’ being enraged over this?

    I’m thankful that there are men that can see that common sense can be used at times. I’m thankful for men like my uncle whom truly appreciated his spouse for the gifts she had to share on their travels for the Lord.

    Its very short sighted for people to say that women should keep their gifts to themselves. Those are the men that truly need our prayers. Their blinders need to be taken off, and see that leading others to the Lord is for his Glory. It has nothing to do with stepping on their toes and ego. It has nothing to do with stepping in their headship, or over their authority.

    Seriously. lol do they not see its not about them?

  6. Alida says:

    why women forbid to teach in church 1 Tim 2:12 and the truth as well in v13,For it was Adam who was first created,and than Eve,And it was not Adam who was deceived but the woman being deceived,fell into transgression. In 1 Corinthians 11:3 we read,But I want you to under stand that Christ is the Head of every man,and the man is the head of a woman,and God is the head of Christ. There is work to do for woman,to teach the younger woman read please Titus 2:3,4. But sorry to know many woman like to do the man”s Job.But that is not from God.Ephesians 5:23 for the husband is the head of the wife,as Christ also is the head of the Church.He Himself being the Saviour of the body.But as the Church is subject to Christ,so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.If woman are preaching in Church,the church is not subject to Christ,

    • Virginia says:

      Right. Eve was deceived, and Adam rebelled with his eyes wide open…and that’s supposed to make him the better leader? But he was sleeping with her and didn’t want to lose her, so he chose her above God. Many men today are still thinking with the wrong part of their anatomy…and that makes them a good “head.”

      What I *really* believe is that the servant leadership modeled by Christ is totally upside-down from the authoritarian “headship” trumpeted by too much of Christendom today. Yes, a man is head in his own home, but Christ is the head of the Church!

      The issue of teaching is totally different. We need to let God be God, and honor the gifts He chooses to give no matter who He wants to give gifts to…or so it seems to me. Joel 2 indicates that the gifts of the Spirit, as described in 1 Corinthians and Ephesians and Romans, will be given to men and women both, young and old both, and slave and free both.

      Sounds a lot like Galatians 3:28–“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” May it be so!

  7. Marg says:

    Hi Alida,

    Thanks for commenting and sharing your concerns. I’ll just reply to your comments that relate to marriage for now. And I’ll reply about your comment about women church leaders later. I’m pressed for time at the moment.


    The Bible teaches that our relationships should be characterised by humility, love and respect. These are the hallmarks of submission.

    I do believe that I am submissive to my husband. I love my husband very much and want to do what is in my power to enable him to have a good and happy life. (My husband also does what is in his power to enable me to have a good and happy life.)

    I have written an article about Submission in Marriage here.

    The Husband is the Kephale of the Wife

    I also believe that, as Paul says, my husband is my metaphorical “head”. It is important to note, however, that “head” – kephale can mean different things. Rarely, if ever, in New Testament Greek (and Hellenistic Greek in general), is the word kephale used to mean a “leader” or an “authority”.

    In the past many people have just assumed that kephale could mean a “leader” or “chief person” in the same way that head can mean a “leader” or “chief person” in English and other languages. Yet, this is simply not true. (Our knowledge of Hellenistic Greek has improved dramatically with the discovery of truckloads of ancient papyri in the late 1800s and early 1900s.)

    If you look at Ephesians 5:21-33 Paul never hints that he is using the word “head” in the sense of leadership or authority. He never tells the husbands to lead or be in authority; rather Paul urges husbands to sacrificially love and care for their wives.

    There are plenty of Greek words used in the New Testament that mean “leader”, “ruler”, “authority”, etc, yet these words are never used for a husband in regard to his wife. Never! Furthermore, there is no command or instruction in the entire Bible that says that husbands are to lead their wives. (The idea of a husband ruling or lording over his wife came as a consequence of sin entering the world; see Genesis 3:17d. This idea is not picked up in the Bible again. Moreover, Jesus came to deal with sin and its consequences.)

    Also, the Bible never says that the husband is either the head or the leader of the home. More on the meaning of “head” here:

    Finally let me add, Jesus is my Saviour, and not my husband!

    You may want to read my article about Bible Women with Spiritual Authority here.

  8. Marg says:

    Hi Alida,

    I have included the full entry of the defintions of kephale “head” from Scott and Liddel’s Intermediate Greek lexicon. This is a highly respected lexicon of ancient Greek words from many sources, not just the New Testament. (The entry from the exhaustive Greek-English Lexicon is here.)

    As you will see “authority” or “leader” is not one of the meanings of kephale-head in the Ancient or Hellenistic Greek.

    I. the head of man or beast, Hom., etc.; κατὰ κεφαλῆς, epic κὰκ κεφαλῆς, over the head, id=Hom.; κὰκ κεφαλήν on the head, Il.:— ἐς πόδας ἐκ κεφαλῆς from head to foot, id=Il.:— ἐπὶ κεφαλήν head foremost, head downwards, headlong, Hdt., Plat., etc.
    2. the head, put for the whole person, Hom.; ἶσον ἐμῇ κεφαλῇ like myself, Il.; φίλη κ., Lat. carum caput, id=Il.: in bad sense, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί Hdt.; ὦ μιαρὰ κ. Ar.
    3. the head, i. e. the life, παρθέμενοι κεφαλάς setting their heads on the cast, Od.:—in imprecations, ἐς κεφαλὴν τρέποιτ᾽ ἐμοί on my head be it! Ar., etc.
    II. generally, κ. σκορόδου a head of garlic, id=Ar.: the top or brim of a vessel, Theocr.: the coping of a wall, Xen.:—in pl. the head or source of a river, Hdt.
    III. metaph., like κεφάλαιον, the crown, completion of a thing, Plat.

    Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889. Copied from the Perseus Project. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0058%3Aentry%3Dkefalh%2F Accessed 17th of February, 2011.

  9. Marg says:

    Hi Alida,

    The last few days I have been very busy, but I am now able to reply to your comments about women teaching (preaching) in church services.

    As you are probably aware I have written more than a few articles about New Testament women who were church leaders and I do not want to rehash what is clearly stated elsewhere on this site.

    Let me just say that I do not think that the real reason Paul disallowed a woman from teaching and domineering a man in the Ephesian church was because women are more easily deceived then men, or because of Eve’s deception in particular.

    Alida, as I was writing my reply to you I realised that it would make a good article. So my full reply to you can be found in this article here: Women, Teaching and Deception

    Lastly let me say that nowhere in the Greek New Testament, or in accurate translations, does it state that preaching in a church service is a “man’s job”.

    Thanks again for your comment. I hope I hear from you again.

    Your sister

  10. In 1 Cor 4:6, 9-13 Paul describes Apollos as an apostle who had shared the privations of the traveling apostolic life. Apollos must have been active in Corinth prior to 55 CE when Paul wrote his letter, as by the time of writing he is back in Ephesus with Paul (1 Cor 16:12). Apollos is also mentioned by Luke in a retrospective account of his time in Ephesus in 52 CE recorded in Acts 18:24-28. He speaks highly of Apollos as an ‘eloquent man’ who had a ‘thorough knowledge of the Scriptures’ and ‘taught about Jesus accurately’ from them (thus using the earliest Christian exegetical method taught by Christ to the apostles post resurrection; Lk 24:27, 32, 44; Acts 1:3; 1 Cor 15:3-8). Luke also says that Apollos wished to go to Achaia and was sent with letters of recommendation from the elders (Acts 18:27) where he is called an apostle by Paul, and is on a par with other apostles, Peter and Paul. All this evidence suggests that Apollos was a well known and respected leader of the nascent church, who was also an apostle.

    As an apostle Apollos certainly appears to be driven by a commission to preach the Gospel which would accord with him being amongst the disciples from the time of the baptism of John (Acts 1:22). As an apostle he was witness to everything that had occurred (Lk 1:1-2; 24:33, 48). Paul, who calls Apollos an apostle, thinks of himself alone as an apostle who was ‘untimely born’ which suggests that he thought Apollos became an apostle in the regular way. Apollos also seemed to be preaching throughout the world, appearing in Ephesus again later (1 Cor 16:12), and even later in Crete with Zenas, the lawyer (Tit 3:13).

    Luke says that Priscilla and Aquila heard something in Apollos’ preaching at the synagogue in Ephesus that they wished to clarify (Acts 18:26), so they took him aside and enhanced his already ‘accurate’ understanding of Jesus with a ‘more accurate’ understanding. The comparative, as an elative ἀκριβέστερον is used adverbially here, as it is in Acts 26:5 to describe ‘the straightest sect’ or most precise and rigorous faction in interpreting Mosaic law cf. Acts 23:15, 20; 24:22)and the same idea of minute attention to detail is conveyed by other derivates of ἀκριβής as noun in Acts 22:3, as superlative adjective in Acts 26:5, and as verb in Matthew 2:7, 16).

    Their exposition (Gk. ἐκτιθημι) probably had something to do with the baptism of John and the need for Apollos to more powerfully refute from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah, for that is the difference in Apollos’ teaching post their instruction (Lk 24:27, 32, 44; Acts 1:3; 18:25, 28). Priscilla and Aquila also expounded to him from ‘the way of God’ (Acts 18:26) which I argue is a variant oral/textual tradition to that held by Apollos called ‘The way of the Lord,’ (Acts 18:25) which only knew of the baptism of John. Derivatives of ἐκτιθημι give the sense of this word when it is used in relation to Peter’s and Paul’s teaching in Acts 11:4 and 28:23. In the case of Paul, ‘he witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining (ἐκτιθημι) about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus.’

    In sum, Priscilla and Aquila expound (ἐκτιθημι) to an apostle named Apollos (these 3 are also synergos with Paul) a very accurate Christian understanding which Apollos then used in Corinth to powerfully refute from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. This must be weighed against Paul’s once only prohibition of ‘a (singular) woman’ teaching ‘a (singular) man’ in 1 Tim 2:12. Certainly ἐκτιθημι and other words that describe persuasion, refuting, proving, etc are more powerful than didasko in the contexts where they appear together (Acts 18:25-28; Acts 28:23-31). Also when ἐκτιθημι is used of Paul it is an expounding that runs from morning till night where some are persuaded and others are not.

    Priscilla therefore taught an apostle.

    N.B. Commentators that think Apollos is an apostle are: E. Earle Ellis, ‘Paul and His Co-Workers,’ New Testament Studies 17 (October–July 1970–71), pp. 437-452 (439); F. W. Grosheide, Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), pp. 103 and 106 refers to Paul and Apollos as apostles and states this is the general use of the word; Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), p. 174 states that Paul definitely includes Apollos and Peter in the apostles mentioned in 4:9; William F. Orr and James Arthur Walther, 1 Corinthians, AB 32 (New York: Doubleday, 1976), p. 178 say that Paul includes Apollos in the description of apostles; and David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), p. 132 comments that the problem in Corinth was competing loyalties towards the apostolic leaders Paul, Apollos, and Peter. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, pp. 140, 296, and 306 does not directly address the issue of whether Apollos was an apostle, but he does not hesitate to quote other authors who call him one.

  11. Marg says:

    Hi Merrilyn,

    It certainly seems that Apollos was an apostle. So, as you say, Priscilla taught an apostle, and, with her husband, provided a more accurate explanantion of baptism.

    PS. I see that you studied history at Macquarie. I’ve applied to do a MA at Macquarie in 2012 specialising in Early Christian and Jewish Studies. How was Oxford? Wow!

  12. Merrilyn Mansfield says:

    Oxford was about the most awesome experience I have ever had. A dream come true. Your MA in Christian and Jewish studies will be fantastic. All the best with it.

  13. Marg says:

    Thanks Merri. Just in case you’re interested: Please check my News page for info about a CBE chapter in Sydney.

  14. Merrilyn Mansfield says:

    Wow I’d love to come … How cool!

  15. Marg says:

    RSVP through the CBE-Sydney website or through our facebook page.

    Or better still, email us: info@cbesydney.org.au

  16. Cynthia Meg says:

    Very well written!
    Sadly, people (ahem complementarians) would read a public vs private/formal vs informal interpretation into 1 Timothy 2:12. They would argue that since Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside to teach him, then it’s okay for women to teach in private, informal settings. They’d argue that 1 Timothy 2:12 prohibits women from teaching in public, official settings. Of course, we know how legalistic such an interpretation would be. The issues of public vs private and formal vs informal aren’t even hinted at in 1 Timothy 2:12.
    Wasn’t the early church a little informal and private in many aspects? I mean people held church in their own homes.
    Also, as a side thought here, could Priscilla’s name have been listed first before Aquila’s because such a name order sounded better in Greek? You know how you say names in a certain order just because it flows better that way? Nevertheless, listing the wife’s name first does stand out.

  17. Cynthia Meg says:

    Oh yeah, a few more comments:
    Jesus promised that where two or more gather “there am I among them.” It’s important to make a connection between this verse and all of the verses about the church being the body of Christ (take 1 Corinthians 12 for example). Each person is a member of Christ’s body (as were Priscilla, Aquila, and Appollos). It would be hard to doubt that the Holy Spirit was among the three during their little teaching session. Where many people miss the mark is defining church in terms of large groups, a church building, stage vs audience, etc. It is the people who are the church, whether that be one or two or three or a thousand. How could anyone argue that Priscilla, Aquila, and Appollos were not being the church when Priscilla and Aquila taught Appollos? They may not have been in a church building, or maybe they were, but that’s not the point. The definition of church is not location, group size, or setting. The definition of church is the body of Christ in action!

    And I have a question. Do people try to discount Priscilla and Aquila as church leaders? If so, on what scriptural basis? What in scripture supports that they were church leaders? Or is it implied?

  18. Marg says:

    Yes, Some people make a point of saying that Priscilla’s teaching was informal and private; however, as you say, Paul does not specify that 1 Tim 2:12 only refers to “formal” or public teaching. And, importantly, “to teach” is tied to “authentein” in 1 Tim 2:12. Paul was not prohibiting sound teaching from well-behaved godly women.

    And some (many?) early church meetings seem to have been relaxed and informal with spontaneous offerings of ministry from both men and women. Also, I agree with you: The idea that a regular planned Sunday morning meeting is more “church-like” than smaller unplanned gatherings simply isn’t biblical.

    I can’t think of particular examples of people who deny that both Priscilla and Aquila were the leaders of the house that met in their home; but I imagine there are many people who do not think that Priscilla was a leader simply because of her sex.

    I am sure that there is significance in Priscilla’s name being first. It wasn’t done just because of the way it sounded.

    “In his account of the joint ministry of the Paul and Barnabas, Luke switches the order of the names of Paul and Barnabas, listing first whoever was more well-known or more active in ministry at that particular time. (See Acts 13:7, 42-50; 14:1, 3, 12, 14, 23; 15:2, 12, 22, 25, 35-36.)” [From footnote 9.]

  19. Merrilyn Mansfield says:

    Hi Marg!
    I finally gave a paper on the topic ‘Priscilla and Aquila Teach an Apostle’
    See here: http://www.academia.edu/4072844/Priscilla_and_Aquila_Teach_an_Apostle

  20. I’m coming into the discussion a little late, but just want to add one comment. Priscilla was explaining “The Way,” which is, as has already been stated, the Christian faith in its entirety. Priscilla was not explaining the latest quilting pattern, or the latest home decor ideas, she was explaining theology and doctrine, two things that cannot be separated from The Way.

    When male leaders in the church relegate women to the simple things like quilting and/or cooking and home keeping, they neglect their souls and hinder their Christian growth. The result is what we commonly see in most Women’s Ministries….shallow teaching based on feelings, gossip replacing deep fellowship and resentment in the end. When our women are grounded in sound doctrine and theology, like Priscilla was, it produces a stronger church with much more potential for all types of growth.


  21. Marg says:

    Hi Tricia, it’s never too late to leave comments. Especially great ones like yours.

  22. Adrienne Watt says:

    Can you help me with this one?
    1 corinthians 4:17 says timothy is going to teach the ways of Paul as it is in ALL churches… Is this also referring to Timothys letter?
    Because if so… then it looks like women being band from teaching was in all churches.
    I don’t see a direct connection because Paul is talking about Timothy going to talk to the corinthians not the ephesians.
    What do you think?

    • Marg says:

      Hi Adrienne, Thanks for the question. Some of your question is a little ambiguous to me. So, for the sake of clarity, my response may seem a bit long winded. I hope you’ll bear with me.

      Just to be clear, let me state that Timothy didn’t write 1 and 2 Timothy. They were letters sent to him when he was in Ephesus.

      Timothy travelled quite a bit. Sometimes he travelled and worked alongside Paul as his co-worker; at other times he was sent to a church (that Paul had previously founded) as Paul’s envoy.

      When Paul was writing 1 Corinthians, Timothy was on his way, or had just arrived, at Corinth as Paul’s envoy. Timothy’s mission was to remind the Corinthians of Paul’s “way of life in Christ Jesus”. There is no reason to think that this included reminders, or instructions, that are specific to 1 and 2 Timothy. There is also no reason to think that it included a ban on the behaviour mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:12.

      Many of the instructions in the letters to Timothy are not part of the usual, or general, teaching and instructions about his “way of life in Christ Jesus” that Paul taught and demonstrated in all the churches he founded or ministered in. Many of the instructions in 1 and 2 Timothy are specific to the situation in the church at Ephesus.

      By the time Timothy was ministering in Ephesus as Paul’s envoy, he would have been well-versed in Paul’s “way of life in Christ Jesus”. So there was no reason for Paul to write about it. In 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul writes to encourage Timothy and give him specific advice concerning the heresy in Ephesus.

      Furthermore, judging from the letters to the Corinthians, some of the Corinthians were a bit arrogant and Paul takes some care not to shame them (1 Cor. 4:14). This may be one reason he implies, “I am not picking on you; this is what I teach everywhere in all the churches.”

      Anyway, I can’t see that 1 Corinthians 4:17 has anything to do with the situation in the Ephesian church, or Paul’s and Timothy’s ministries there, except that the Ephesians, like the Corinthians, would have also seen and heard about Paul’s “way of life in Christ Jesus”.

      1 Corinthians 4:17 NIV: “For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”

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