38 minutes | Feb 13th 2020

Can Women Teach?

In this episode, Brother Jonathan answers a question about women in ministry.


Can Women be Pastors?


Remnant Bible Fellowship


  1. Intro
  2. Experience over Word
    1. Many women who become pastors or preachers do so on the basis of their own subjective experience and not on the basis of God’s Word. Most say something along the lines of “well God lead me to this” or “I was called”. The fact of the matter, as we’ll see later, is that that’s not possible. The Word of God says the opposite.
    2. There are some people who go farther than that and they simply ignore the scriptures as being authoritative. This happens usually in one of two ways: (1) they believe the Spirit can lead contrary to the written word, or (2) they believe that this is a cultural thing that is not to be continued today.
      1. The Holy Spirit is the author of the scriptures.
        1. “ for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2Pe 1:21)
      2. The Words of God are spiritual themselves.
        1. “"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (Joh 6:63)
  • Christians are led by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:14). Jesus said that for us to remain in Him, or abide in Him, we are to keep His commandments:
    1. “"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.” (Joh 15:7-10)
  1. We are specifically told that if someone does not consent to the teachings of Jesus that they are false teachers.
    1. “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” (1Ti 6:3-5)
  2. Quite simply, if someone does not yield themselves to the words of scripture then they have exalted themselves above it. This is the mark of another spirit and a false teacher. When someone believes that the Spirit of God is going to contradict Himself by telling us to do one thing, but then telling individuals to do something completely different and ignore the first thing, that’s simply confusion and spiritual deception.
  1. The second thing brought up sometimes is that of cultural context. Some venture to say that Paul is merely going by cultural norms at the time because the average woman in the first century was uneducated and therefore shouldn’t teach.
  2. Very simply…no. Paul nowhere makes that appeal. On the contrary, he appeals to the divine order of creation—which we’ll look at later particularly. Paul in other places does quite clearly appeal to culture, such as in the case of headcoverings in 1 Corinthians 11. Several times in that passage he appeals to culture and subjective judgment instead of doctrine or divine commandment. Even in the NASB there is a serious mistranslation that makes it kind of ambiguous. In 1 Corinthians 11:16 the word translated “other” should be translated “such”. There is no reason other than the subjective judgment of the translators that it is translated that way. But several times Paul makes clear that it’s a cultural issue of appropriateness and not a divine commandment.
  3. Paul does no such thing with this issue. There is a divine order that he appeals to and that’s it.
  • Not to Teach?
    1. “A woman must 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 first created, 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 with self-restraint.” (1Ti 2:11-15)
    2. There are two things that Paul says he does not allow a woman to do in v.12: “to teach” or “exercise authority”.
      1. “didaskw” – BDAG “to tell someone what to do, instruct; to provide instruction in a formal or informal setting, teach.”
      2. “auqentew” – BDAG “to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to.”
    3. Some people try to conflate these two ideas together to say that they form a hendiadys—when two words separated by a conjunction express the same idea. This is where some think that Paul is merely saying that a woman should not authoritatively teach, that is, without being under an authority like a pastor herself but that she can do lay-teaching in Sunday school or home bible studies. This fails for one notable reason. The two words, in the original, are several words apart. If this was intended to form a hendiadys they would be side-by-side. So a woman is being told to not teach at all and not just that she can’t be a pastor/preacher/teacher in a position.
    4. Regarding that, the first thing to ask is “what should they not teach?” Is this regarding any subject at all, or just teaching biblical content? Bill Mounce in his commentary on the Pastoral Epistles had this to say:
      1. “Paul does not identify what it is that women may not teach… [didaskein] in the PE [Pastoral Epistles] is used in a positive sense of teaching the truth of the gospel (1 Tim. 4:11; 6:2; 2 Tim 2:2)… the cognate noun [didachē], “teaching,” occurs twice in the PE, both times describing the gospel message. The cognate [didaskalia], “teaching,” occurs fifteen times in the PE, and every time except one (1 Tim 4:1, referring to doctrine of demons) it refers to the gospel (1 Tim 1:10; 4:6, 13, 16; 5:17; 6:1, 3; 2 Tim 3:10, 16, 4:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1, 7, 10)… the overwhelming use of the word group in the PE is to describe the positive teaching of the gospel, often (as the context shows) by a person in authority (especially 2 Tim 2:2; 1 Tim 5:17; Titus 1:9; c.f. 1 Tim 3:2).” - (William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 46, ed. by Bruce Metzger, Ralph P. Martin, and Lynn Allan Losie (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2000), 124-125.) [Brackets mine]
    5. So the context for the use of the Greek word in the Pastoral Epistles indicates that what is being spoken of is biblical content. That means that a woman is not being banned from speaking about a particular skill or profession that they know. (e.g. accounting, literature, science, etc.) A woman is particularly banned from teaching biblical content to men. This should seem like common sense. Since a woman is not inferior in essence or worth, they are co-heirs with us male believers in the exact same salvation, then it makes sense that it is not just some arbitrary command for a woman to “sit down and shut up”. That idea is absent from the scriptures.
    6. On the contrary, Paul acknowledges that women should indeed teach at certain times in particular ways:
      1. “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Pro 22:6)
        1. Women are obviously included in general commandments about raising children. I don’t know of anyone that would disagree.
      2. “She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Pro 31:26)
  • “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage [or ‘train’] the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Tit 2:3-5)
  1. It’s clear then that women are free to teach things other than biblical content, and they are also free to teach other women.
  2. What should be their demeanor then? Paul tells us in the context and gives us a reason why.
    1. “A woman must 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 first created, 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 with self-restraint. [soundness of mind; self-control]” (1Ti 2:11-15)
  3. There are a couple of words to emphasize here. In v.11 Paul says that a woman must “quietly” receive instruction. He then mentions it again in v.12 saying “but to remain quiet”. He sets this in contrast to her teaching and exercising authority over men. The Greek word used for quietness is “hJsuciva” meaning “state of quietness without disturbance, quietness, rest; state of saying nothing or very little, silence” (BDAG). It is the same word used in 2 Thessalonians 3:12:
    1. “Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.” (2Th 3:12)
  4. The second word to look at is where Paul says that they are to be quiet with entire “submissiveness”. The Greek word here is “uJpotaghv” and it has the sense of “the state of submissiveness, subjection, subordination, as opposed to setting oneself up as controller” (BDAG). It’s translated in the NASB as “obedience” in 2 Corinthians 9:13, and as “subjection” in Galatians 2:5. It is also used again in 1 Timothy 3:4 when describing the qualifications for a bishop/pastor/elder (synonyms) when Paul says that they ought to have their children under “control”. The word underlying “control” here is the same Greek word.
  5. So let’s put these couple of things together when we consider the passage.
    1. “A woman must 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 first created, 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 with self-restraint.” (1Ti 2:11-15)
  6. Paul says that a woman is not allowed to teach biblical content nor to exercise authority over a man. He contrasts this by emphasizing that they ought to receive instruction with quietness and submissiveness. Then he says FOR Adam was first created. He refers to the Biblical order of creation. I truly believe that is what is at the heart of this issue. Contrary to what some liberal theologians/scholars say, Christianity is not sexist. Consider the following passages:
    1. “Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Php 4:3)
    2. “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” (1Pe 3:7)
  • In addition to these two places, Paul gives the wife the right over her husband’s body in 1 Corinthians 7, and in fact she’s given the same rights as the husband. Men are given commandments to make sure that they treat women well. They are commanded to treat all older women like their mother and the younger women as their sisters. They’re commanded to love their wives like their own bodies and like Christ loves the Church.
  1. There is a very high standard, especially when taking it in the context of the first century, of how women are to be regarded and treated. Even in Christ’s earthly ministry it was women who are mentioned several times as faithfully following and ministering to his temporal needs like food and stuff.
  1. Equal but Different
    1. The only aspect of Christianity that sets forth a significant difference in women and men is the fact that they are created differently. The world and the flesh despise this. Paul appeals to the fact that men were created first, then woman was created as a “helper suitable” for him. Woman was designed and made by God to be the perfect counterpart to man. They are complementary intellectually, socially, physically, and spiritually, in every respect. Anyone who has a good marriage understands and knows this.
    2. I believe that this is at the heart of what Paul is rebuking. Things being out of the order in which God designed men and women to operate in. I don’t need to go very far into this for you to get the point. When women begin taking the role of men in the home, church, etc., does it result in increased godliness? This cuts both ways. When men try to play the role of women does it result in increased godliness? No. Our society right now is running rampant of every kind of perversion imaginable of people rebelling against how God designed things to be. Women wanting to be men, while saying that men are pigs. Men wanting to be women, because they think that God made a mistake or something. Men not wanting to work and be responsible for providing and protecting their families. Women who have become loud and contentious as a result of wanting to usurp the male role in their lives. All that is at the heart of these things is rebellion against God’s order.
    3. Now, am I saying that as it pertains to the issue of women pastors that that is what is at women’s hearts? Not necessarily. A lot of women who have taken it upon themselves to make themselves pastors/preachers/teachers because they have simply rejected God’s word on the matter. They have exalted experience, that I shouldn’t say delusion, over what God simply said. They say things like “God lead me to this”…no He didn’t, because His word disagrees with you.
    4. Some people are very sincere and they are simply ignorant of the scriptures. Others simply don’t regard the scriptures as authoritative. That means they’re a false teacher and you know exactly what spirit led them there in the first place. The fact of the matter is that God has designed men and women to be in different roles. To say anything else is a denial of His right over His creation.
    5. Another contribution to this issue, and I believe a major one, is that Biblical manhood has fallen by the wayside. Try to get men to be godly and responsible men anymore and you’ll find yourself banging your head against a wall. A godly man, that is one who has the Spirit of God leading him, doesn’t want to sit at home while his wife works. He doesn’t want to outsource his decision making. He understands that he is responsible for his home and what goes on there. He doesn’t sit around playing video games when he should be studying God’s word. He puts his family’s needs before his own. He helps to raise and teach his children. He makes sure his wife doesn’t get burnout. He always treats his wife respectfully. That is biblical headship. It’s not simply a thing where you tell your wife “I’m the head of this house so do what I say!” A godly woman doesn’t have to be beaten over the head about the headship of her husband because he’s earned her respect and she has it written on her heart by the spirit of God to be a helper suitable for him.
    6. And all these things transfer to the church house from the home life. No men have backbones anymore in the church. So many churches are run by the women because there’s no men that are willing or even able to stand up.
    7. A friend of mine, who has since died, was once visiting a mid-size Baptist church. They were considering him as their pastor. He was preaching in the evening service and he felt that the Lord wanted him to preach on this subject so he set aside his notes and preached on the biblical roles of men and women. Afterwards, a group of the elders and deacons came up to him together with their heads hanging low (you know like dogs when they know they’re in trouble). They said, I kid you not, “Our wives told us to give this to you…” And they handed him a note. He was rejected from being pastor. He was fine with it because that’s not the kind of church you want to pastor.
    8. So it’s not just women who are making this problem. There is a vacuum of godliness in the professing church and it has resulted in these things. Women absolutely can serve the Lord—even in evangelism. They can witness. They can discuss theological issues. They offer their insights in bible studies and Sunday school classes. They’re not stupid or inferior. I believe I could lock my wife in a room with three average pastors and she could probably school them on what it means to walk with God. The only difference is the roles that God has assigned to us, and the Maker knows what He has made. He knows where we will thrive, where we will be effective, and where we will be happy.
    9. Paul touches on the same point as he does here in 1 Timothy in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35:
      1. “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” (1Co 14:34-35)
    10. Contrary to what Cessationists, rather stupidly, try to assert sometimes, God does allow women to speak in a church fellowship. The context here is things being done in an unorderly manner (v.33). Paul has just explained that God is not the author of confusion. He proceeds to tell women to not be out of order either. Not that they cannot open their mouths in the fellowship, because Paul has already stated that they were allowed to pray in the fellowship and exercise spiritual gifts in the fellowship. Those gifts of utterance are specifically said to be given for the benefit of the body. I’ve heard Cessationists do hermeneutical backflips trying to explain some of these passages away or reinterpret them. But even scholars admit that what Paul is emphasizing for women is they should not speak out of turn like asking question when they don’t understand something. This makes sense when you consider that the average woman in the first century was uneducated. Alford says:
      1. “This prohibits another kindred irregularity—their asking questions publicly. They might say in answer to the former σιγάτωσαν, ‘But if we do not understand anything, are we not to ask?’ The stress is on μαθεῖν…--ἰδίους, confining them to their own husbands, to the exclusion of other men.”
      2. Adam Clarke says the same thing: “The Jews would not suffer a woman to read in the synagogue; though a servant or even a child, had this permission; but the apostle refers to irregular conduct, such conduct as proved that they were not under obedience, 1Co_14:34.”
    11. I find that the only people who interpret this differently are usually Cessationists, especially Baptists.
  2. What about Deborah?
    1. There is one person in the Old Testament who is consistently brought up during a conversation about this issue. There was a judge during the time of the judges that was a woman. It specifically says in the book of Judges that Deborah, a prophetess, was judging Israel at that time in Judges 4:4. Sometimes people will point to her and somehow draw an idea that women can be pastors. There is one or two problems with that.
      1. The context of the book of Judges is that Israel was pretty much doing their own things without following God. The constant cycle throughout the book is that Israel would turn away from following God, God would chastise them and give them over into the hands of their enemies, the children of Israel would cry out to God and humble themselves, God would have mercy and raise up a judge to deliver them, and then after some time they would turn away from God again. That is the context of this book.
      2. Notably, Deborah is not told by God to go and deliver Israel from their enemies. God tells her to send for Barak the son of Abinoam. She merely relays the message from God to him telling him what to do.
  • Next, when Barak is hesitant to obey God, possibly because he was afraid, he asks her to go with him. Her reply is not “that’s my job” or “let me show you how its done”. She responds by telling him that she will go with him but God is not going to give him the honor for killing Sisera anymore. God had just told Barak, through the prophetess, that He would deliver Sisera into his hands. When Barak was afraid and would not go alone God responded by taking the honor of the victory away from Him.
  1. This is not in any way a picture, or support, for a woman to be a pastor. If anything, it is support for the reason that I said earlier. Usually these things happen when men don’t fulfill their roles properly.
  1. Closing
    1. To summarize: a woman can teach other women, she can even teach children, but she cannot operate in a position of teaching biblical content in church life over men. I would include any kind of title of “pastor”, “elder”, “bishop”, or “deacon”.
    2. God is not leading women to disobey His Word. Any spirit that is leading someone against what is written in the scriptures is not the Holy Spirit. Your experience is not authoritative. God’s Word is authoritative.
    3. A woman is allowed to pray in the congregation or to operate in a spiritual gift like tongues, prophecy, or interpretation. It should be according to Paul’s commands in 1 Corinthians 14 though. She should not speak out of turn in the congregation though like arguing or constantly asking questions. I would honestly apply that to the men as well. That’s not order in the fellowship.
    4. A woman can engage in evangelism, and she can give advice to other Christians in her daily life just like a man. This is pretty much what Priscilla did with her husband Aquilla when they helped Apollos to better understand the scriptures. She can help a minister like how there were women who helped Paul in his ministering.
    5. A woman, if she knows a particular skill or science, is allowed to teach that to others. There is no prohibition against that in the scriptures. Actually, women are specifically encouraged in certain ways to teach others.
    6. I will end by emphasizing one thing: women are free to disobey their husbands if their husbands are contradicting God. You are still an individual who is accountable to God. Don’t allow a man, whether father, husband, or preacher, to lead you into error or sin.