Posted in theology

Breaking down the truth that women may not preach in church or teach men

By Elizabeth Prata

The Bible is clear that there is an order to the church. Certain things are to be done a certain way. No New Testament believer can be so unobservant of the Old Testament that they fail to see the specificity with which God expects worship. Though New Testament believers are not beholden to the OT ceremonial laws and bloody sacrifices (because Christ has come!) we are still cognizant of the fact that God is still God. He does not accept any old worship. Just ask Ananias and Sapphira.

One way that Jesus has ordered His church is that He is its head. (Ephesians 5:23). Then, under their submission to Jesus, some men are called to lead. (1 Timothy 3:2-7; 1 Timothy 5:17). Then, the rest of the men, women and children submit to their leaders. (Hebrews 13:17).

Women are not to be in authority over men in the church. 1 Timothy 2:12 says, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

I’m usually amazed at the genius of how some people can expertly twist plain verses into meaning something they do not mean. The depraved mind is cunning. After all, their father the devil is the most crafty creature of all. (Genesis 3:1). The verse also uses the word subtle. This is how satan deceives, makes the lie sound almost like the truth, subtly.

I came across this Twitter exposition of the issue of women teaching men, 1 Timothy 2:12 as I posted above. Stephen Michael Feinstein (@Ptr_StephenFein) wrote a thread a few years ago that has been unearthed and retweeted. It’s good. He goes through how people with an unholy agenda can exposit the plain meaning into a different meaning, subtly. Here is his exposition:

1/ A plain reading of 1 Timothy 2:12 seems to clearly favor the complementarian position. “I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority.” In this thread, I will quickly break this down so that anyone can see the “exegesis” of both positions.

2/ Kostenberger demonstrates its grammatic structure as follows:

a negated finite verb (I do not permit)

governing an infinitive (to teach)

connected by the coordinating conjunction (or)

with a second infinitive (to exercise authority).

Pretty straightforward and simple.

3/Paul doesn’t permit women to do the infinitives, which are connected by the conjunction “or” οὐδὲ. Paul’s word choice for teach (διδάσκειν) is his normal word for good or faithful teaching. So one can’t say he is merely forbidding a type of false teaching (ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν)

4/ So a plain reading has women in the church being restricted from teaching or exercising authority. So how do egalitarians “exegete” the passage to show it to mean something different? Well, first, they insist on a definition for the word “exercise authority” (αὐθεντέω),

5/ thus claiming it can only mean to “wrongly domineer or usurp.” If they are right, the text would still at this point forbid women from teaching. So what they do is they remove the coordinating conjunction (οὐδὲ) and read it as an adverbial clause. This now makes it modify

6/ the infinitive “to teach.” See below:

a negated finite verb (I do not permit)

governing an infinitive (to teach)

remove the coordinating conjunction (or)

change the second infinitive into an adverbial clause (in a domineering way).

7/ So they would translate the verse as, “I do not permit a woman to teach a man in a domineering way.” But think about it. In order to get this rendering, they had to remove a Greek word (οὐδὲ/or), and they had to change the second infinitive into an adverbial clause.

8/ Exegetically, this is unjustified. If Paul meant it to be adverbial, he would use a preposition rather than a conjunction. The fact is the text as it stands has a conjunction that connects two infinitives. So it means what the complementarians say it means. Also, the narrow

9/ egalitarian definition of “exercise authority” is hardly proven. So again, the grammar makes it clear Paul forbids two things, not one, and those two thing are women teaching and having authority over men in the church. Our culture may shriek, but that’s irrelevant.

10/ Egalitarians then appeal to an invented historical background dealing with church women smuggling in the pagan theology of the cult of Artemis, and this is all Paul is forbidding. Yet, there is not a single clue anywhere in 1 Timothy that this was an issue in the church. If

11/ anything, he dealt with Jewish myths, not pagan ones. So let me summarize. The egalitarian position requires the exegetical butchering of the words that are actually in the text, and then it requires an invented occasion of crisis that just happens to not even be hinted in

12/ the text, and on this basis they radically reinterpret the verse in a narrow sense to render it inapplicable in the 21st century. Let me just state plainly, it is obvious that no one would arrive at this position by an unbiased translation and study of the text. They instead

13/ must already possess an ideological bend that forces them to reject the clear complementarian nature of the text. Therefore, they change the text and the historical context to fit their a priori ideological bend. My friends, that is not exegesis. That is not even Christian.

–end Pastor Feinstein–

It’s clear that women usurping and failing to remain silent in the churches (not on blogs, radio, podcasts, or real life!) is a huge issue these days in Christian life. Women teaching men and preaching in church is not a secondary or tertiary issue, because it deals with creation order, the orderliness of the church, and the sin of disobedience. The persistence and strength with which satan disrupts this Godly template in marriage and in church (two of the three spheres God has ordained for restraining sin) is proof that it’s something satan fervently doesn’t want.

If you, ladies, have an urge to teach, this is admirable. There are many wonderful women teachers out there edifying us and ministering in Godly (and appropriate) ways. These Godly female teachers submit to God’s word and do not have a craving to usurp. They do not teach men in church or preach. Godly female teachers possess an understanding that worshiping God means adhering to His orderliness in all spheres of life.

If you have an urge to teach men or to preach in church, then check yourself, please. There is a vast difference between standing at a pulpit on a Saturday afternoon and teaching a Ladies Conference, than there is standing at the pulpit on a Sunday morning and preaching to the congregation, explaining and exegeting God’s word. That difference is the gulf between obedience and sin.

Don’t be fooled by the subtle word tricks of satan, and don’t convince yourself on the back of word play that it is OK to preach. It is not.


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

3 thoughts on “Breaking down the truth that women may not preach in church or teach men

  1. Thank you Elizabeth. Each time I read commentaries warning us about the defiance of women who are allowed to exercise authority over men as “pastrixes,” I question if any of them actually comprehend the gravity of their idolatry (“I will”) or the admonition against them and the congregants who sit under their usurpation. 2 John 9-11: “Anyone who goes too far and does not remain in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who remains in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

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