This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Misuse of Bible verses

When reading superficially & not deeply studying the Scriptures it’s easy to take them out of context. For this reason it’s necessary to better refrain from teaching the Word of God to  a group of people (this isn’t witnessing) or become Bible teachers without understanding the whole counsel of God first.

One of the main responsibility of Bible teachers, church leaders & any mature Christian is to protect the truth of the Gospel from false teachings. This includes the misuse of many bible verses by some denominations, but the abuse of misquoted Scriptures still continues until these days.

Another bible verse that have been misused by many church leaders, is 1 Timothy 2:12, this verse is used in order to prohibit women to teach in the church and to exclude them from many kind of ministries inside the church. I myself for a long time didn’t agree with women teaching in a church setting to both men & women, even I had found some contradictions in the bible about that, but I couldn’t explain them. Please let us check the context of the next bible verse to see what is the real meaning.

.Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer (G1020) not a woman to teach, nor ‘to usurp authority over(G831 = dominate, absolute master, kills ) the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 1 Tim. 2:11-14

When we study the passage in context we find out this letter is written by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was sent by Paul to the church in Ephesus. As you may remember Ephesus was a wealthy city & leading seaport at the time, were the Roman goddess Diana (Artemis for the Greeks) was worshiped (pls. see Acts 19:34), & her cult consisted of women priestesses, it was led & dominated by women. Paul was giving Timothy advise regarding the problems in this particular church were many of their converts came out of that feminist cult of Diana or were influenced by it.

1/ The word for authority used through out the New Testament more than a hundred times, is the Greek word G1849 ‘exousia‘= authority. But the word Paul used in 1 Timothy 2:12 is the Greek word G831=authenteō, to dominate, which is used only once in the entire New Testament. This single word ‘authenteō’ has been translated as “to usurp authority over“.

2/ The Greek word oude is translated as ‘nor’ and it appears as there are 2 prohibitions to women, 1/ not to teach & 2/ not to usurp authority over man.

Bible Scholar Philip B. Payne wrote a book, ‘Man and Woman, One in Christ‘, where he explains that his assumptions about the male authority over women were deeply challenged when he heard a scholar said that “no passage of Scripture properly understood and in its context excludes women from any form of Christian ministry.” For this reason he decided to study the book of 1 Timothy for several months and his study led him to some shocking discoveries, such as how the English translations adds masculine pronouns into the list of qualifications for overseers and deacons that don’t exist in the original. After that he continued for several years the study of both books of 1 & 2 Timothy until he wrote that book.

Philip Payne explains in regards the word ‘oude’, that every time it is used (31 times) in the letters or epistles which with out a doubt were written by Paul, ‘oude (nor)’ is always used to combine two ideas into one single idea, & not two separate ideas. Examples: ‘Paul, an apostle, not from men nor through men‘ (Gal. 1:1); ‘There is no one righteous, not (oude) even one‘ (Rom. 3:10); ‘Whom no man has seen and no (oude) man is able to see‘ (1 Tim. 6:16), etc. Payne’s conclusion is that’ there is only one prohibition for women in 1 Tim. 2:12, the combination of teaching with usurping or assuming authority over a man’. This was exactly what women in the cult of Diana were used to do.

3/ Also the construction of the text in the Greek for verse 12, suggests a temporary and contextual ban, not a permanent and universal one. Bible Scholar Ben Witherington explains the following, based on the tense and force of the Greek verb (G1020) translated ‘permit/suffer: “As Philip Payne has shown, there is not a single instance of the use of this verb in Greek literature where this form means “I am permanently banning…This is a verb which implies a ban for a specific period of time until the problem is remedied or the proper conditions are met for women having learned enough to be able to teach. Paul could have said “I will never permit women to teach…” but he did not, and for a good reason.”

A single verse cannot be used as proof to establish a doctrine, there is a danger of ignoring other Bible verses which may seem to say something different or even contradict that specific verse, like occurs in this case.

Bible scholars such as Ben Witherington III (Literal Renderings of Texts of Contention – 1 Tim. 2.8-15), Cynthia Long Westfall (The Meaning of αὐθεντέω in 1 Timothy 2.12),  Craig S. Keener ( Was Paul For or Against Women in Ministry?), & others, all agree that Paul isn’t writing a  universal treatise on women in the church. But that instead, he is giving particular instructions to the women in Ephesus in order to address some issues there.

4/ Some other examples about the translations:

In the Greek New Testament, Paul refers to himself as a “diakonos (Colossians 1:23 & 25). In the New King James Version of the Bible (NKJV) this word is translated “minister”. Paul explains that his duties, as a minister, include “teaching” and “preaching” (Col. 1:28). He also refers to Timothy as a “diakonos, translated “minister”, and associated with teaching or instruction. In Romans 16:1 the word “diakonos” is used again, this time in reference to a woman, Phoebe. But in this instance the NKJV does not translate the word as “minister”. Instead it refers to Phoebe as a “servant”.

In Romans 16:2, another Greek word is used to describe Phoebe’s role in the church. She is referred to as a “prostatis.” NKJV translates this word regarding Phoebe as “helper”. When similar Greek words are used of men, however, they are translated as “ruling” (1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Timothy 3:4, NKJV). In Romans 12:8, the word is translated as “leading” (NKJV). Lost in Translation, Phoebe: Servant or Minister?

We need to be careful not to take things to any of the two extremes. We understand that leadership in the house (Eph.5:23) & in the church should come mainly from men, it has to do with order & responsibilities, but this should not exclude women to help, pray, teach or have ministries  in the church. I think the most important thing we all (men & women) should always remember, are these words of our Lord Jesus, so we can better understand that leadership in the church is not like leadership in the world:

But having called them, Jesus said, You know that the rulers (G758=leader, prince) of the nations exercise lordship over them, and the great ones exercise authority over them.  But it will not be so among you. But whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant (G1249=diakonos=minister, attendat).  And whoever desires to be first (G4413=chief) among you, let him be your slave (G1401=servant, sense of subjection or subserviency).; Even as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28, see also Mark 10:35-44 & Luke 22:24-30.

If Christians could only understand these words from Jesus, they wouldn’t be competing for leadership, on the contrary they will be competing to serve others better. Leadership in the church or in Christian households is only to protect, be better organized, it carries more responsibilities & more sacrifices, but let us never forget the most important part of a Christian life is to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Greek word ‘diakonos” G1249 translated as minister really means SERVANT. The Greek word (G4291) ‘proistēmi’ translated as ruler, also means superintend, preside over, protector or guardian, & ‘prostatis’ G4368, referred to Phoebe in Rom.16:2 is a derivative of same word G4291.

-Some contradictions we could find regarding women not teaching/ prophesying,  speaking publicly or ministering in the church:

In the O.T. we find Deborah a wise and courageous judge in Israel who also was a prophetess, & men came to her for advise.

The Lord gave the word; great was the company of women who proclaimed it:Psalm 68:11 -Many good bible translations omit the word female or women.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men (under forty) shall see visions, Your [old] men shall dream dreams.’ Acts 2:17

The Apostle Paul taught, “there are no male or female, no slave nor free, no Jew or Greek, but we are all one in Christ.

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and alms-giving.’ Acts 9:36

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.Acts 18:24-26  -In the original Greek text, the name Priscilla comes before the name Aquila (her husband), indicating she was mainly the teacher, but this was change in many translations and Aquila appears first.

Men or woman serving in the church, still need to meet the requirements for ministry or leadership, they have to be ordained by a mature & well established church. We have today too many pastors & leaders that don’t meet the bible requirements, some are looking for an easy income/business using the gospel for profit. These days is easy to buy a pastor’s credential in the internet for around $100 usd & anybody can pretend to be a pastor, so please remember, ‘by their fruits you will know them‘ are they serving or looking to be served? A minister is not to be controlling, dominant, manipulative, exercising lordship, etc. but we all should be servants, especially those on leadership, being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:3, submitting to one another in the fear of God. Eph.5:21.


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