The Wrongful Subjugation of Women Part 2

1 Timothy 2:12

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

The expression “a woman” is in the singular form.  The article “a” cannot be used with plural nouns and cannot be used as a blanket expression of all women.  Here it is dealing with one individual, a woman.  Most conservative teachers such as Jacob Prasch and John MacArthur consider this expression to be a generic term describing all or any women. That commentators and men of higher learning approach this text with such casual interpretation is alarming.

Grammatically Paul was referring to one individual, one specific women. Twice Paul uses the singular form for this women.  This is demonstrated by Jesus when he taught in Matthew 5:28; “but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on “a woman” to lust after “her” hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Emphasis mine).   Notice the double singular expressions used here, “a women” and “her.”  Paul in 1 Timothy 2:15 again refers to “a women” as “she” another singular form used.

It must be noted that the expression “the man” used here is also in the singular form and both terms “woman” and “man” in the Pauline epistles are most often translated “wife” and “husband.”  The text then demonstrates these singular forms then are only applicable to marriage and is unrelated to single women, widows, and such. The understanding that “a woman” and “a man” is being spoken in 1 Timothy 2:12 fits well with 1 Timothy 2:15 and the singular verb, which is correctly translated as “she will be saved,” followed by the plural verb meaning “they continue.”  “She” refers to the women; “they” refer to the couple (Husband and wife).

It is quite possible that Paul is referring to a specific married couple in the Ephesian church who are spoken of anonymously.  We see him do the same in 1 Corinthians 5:1; “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles that “a man” has his father’s wife.”  It is demonstrated in 1 Timothy 2 that Paul in verses 8-10 uses the Plural form of men and women then switches to the singular form in verses 11-15.  The switch from the plural to the singular must be taken into account when interpreting this context.

Verse 15 makes more sense when we take verses 11-12 to mean one woman and one man understanding that verse 15 contains a singular verb meaning “she will be saved” (referring to the women) and a plural verb meaning “they continue” (referring to the couple).  That is, when (the woman in verses 11-12) will be saved…provided they (the man and women in verse 12) continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.1

Oude (nor), however, often has a particular flavor as it is used by Paul. Philip Barton Payne points out that in the Pauline corpus oude is usually employed to bring together two closely related ideas. Oude is a conjunction which adds emphasis to or contrast to the subject.  Payne maintains that its use falls into three major categories:

  1. To join two expressions which are roughly equivalent in meaning. Galatians 1:1 has “Paul, an apostle, not sent from man, nor (oude) by men.”
  2. To specify with greater clarity the meaning of one word or phrase by conjoining it with another word or phrase. Romans 3:10 reads, “There is no one righteous, not even (oude) one.” Oude emphasizes the total absence of a righteous human being (other than Jesus) who can meet God’s standards.
  3. To join together a naturally paired expression, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:5, “We have nothing to do with night and (oude) darkness.”

Payne argues, then, that the two expressions didaskein (teach) and authentein (dominance), linked as they are by oude, together convey the meaning of the decree. The oude indicates that authentein explains what sort, or what manner, of teaching is prohibited to women. For instance, if we should say, “I forbid a woman to teach or to discuss differential calculus with a man,” it becomes clear that the subject in which she should not give instruction is higher mathematics.2

We must then understand what authenteō most often mis translated usurp authority means.  This word is what is known as a hapax legomenon, a term used only once of all of Scripture.  This is not an ordinary word for authority but carries a more sinister meaning.  According to a study published in 2010 by Leland Wilshire, the verb authentein had a number of meanings in Greek literature other than “to exercise or usurp authority.” Between 200 B.C and 200 A.D the word had one of the following meanings:3

  • “doer of a massacre”
  • “author of crimes”
  • “perpetrator of sacrilege”
  • “supporter of violent actions”
  • “murderer of oneself”
  • “murderer”
  • “slayer”

Authority was just one of the possible meanings but was by no means the most common meaning.  Another word used to describe this unusual Greek word is dominate.  When you understand that oude (nor) connects the two expressions teach (didaskō) and authenteō together and that authenteō explains what sort, or what manner, of teaching is prohibited to women, women are forbidden to teach dominance over the man.  There is no evidence in the context that women teaching men in a public forum is forbidden, only that women are not permitted to teach dominance over men.

One might say, that’s a strange restriction upon women teachers.  And the answer is also in the contexts.

1 Timothy 2:13

“For Adam was first formed, then Eve”

Just as Adam was the source of Eve, the husband is the source of the wife, this is known in Scripture as headship.

Paul to the Corinthians said; “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.”  Headship has little to do with authority and is primary speaking of source.  Eve was formed from Adam’s rib and in the creation account we see both had equality.

Genesis 1:26-28

Then God said, “Let Us make man (mandkind) in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man (mankind) in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Emphasis Mine)

From the beginning equality between husband and wife was determined but God.  We see this also in 1 Corinthians 11:11-12; “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.  For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman, but all things of God.”  Equality was something God instituted in the marriage from creation and was restored in Christ by the death of Himself on the cross in our behalf.

Some might argue here that verse 9 says; “Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man.”  But Grammar is of the upmost importance.  The Greek word dee-ah’ translated twice in this text means “through,” denoting the cannel of an act.  Again, Adam was the source of Eve as God took his rib and out of it formed the women. Through Adam came Eve, this defines the term headship, Adam was Eve’s head in that he was her source. Together they had equality and dominion over all living creatures on the earth.



  2. Kroeger, Richard Clark. I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking I Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence (Kindle Locations 1088-1099). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  3. Edwards, Bob. A God I’d Like to Meet: Separating the Love of God from Harmful Traditional Beliefs . Unknown. Kindle Edition.

4 thoughts on “The Wrongful Subjugation of Women Part 2

  1. Coming out of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist and then going full tilt into Charismania and then being snatched out of that pool of deception by God’s grace, we have survived, recovered/healed and are still unlearning false teaching. One thing that has sounded the alarm bells more than anything else is the “authority” we give to those in leadership positions that are over us. Our view of authority is very skewed to say the least. IFB are militant in demanding obedience to the Pastor and Charismania is not better…..actually maybe better at twisting scripture instilling fear to “touch not God’s anointed” and we won’t be blessed if we don’t etc..
    We are programmed to hand over our power and to exalt those behind the pulpit. It’s bad doctrine, it’s false teaching. So it is reasonable to say that we don’t have a correct view of “authority” in the church? I say yes, I’ve been taught it for decades and we need to come to an understanding that we are looking at authority through the clouded lens of bad doctrine that only benefits those in “leadership” positions and it has hindered the body of Christ. I pray that we all continue to look with fresh eyes at the scriptures. I know it’s difficult at times and maddening at other times but when all the junk that we’ve been lead to believe starts to fall away and the truth shines through, it’s more precious than gold.

  2. Reading the women articles again, I think you make some good points that a typical fundamental Baptist type church might get some enlightening from. I have to somewhat disagree with this, you wrote, ” Equality was something God instituted in the marriage from creation and was restored in Christ by the death of Himself on the cross in our behalf.” Because we are still in our unchanged bodies and still battle with sin, the redemptive process in us is not yet complete and will not be complete until the return of Yeshua. I do believe though as we see in the NT that God did and still does use women in teaching positions, maybe on a smaller scale than someone like Charles Spurgeon. If a woman is the leader in a church, the people are naturally look at her as an authority figure, it can’t be helped, humans are just like that. Otherwise really good post. Hope some fundamentalist see it.

  3. I use the Textus receptus manuscript and have come to the same conclusion as Payne. I will have to respectfully disagree. And the meaning of the Greek word translated “usurp authority” has little to do with authority in its historical setting.

  4. Philip Barton Payne is a Textual Critic like Westcott & Hort who use the approved Vatican text. I believe scripture says what it means about 1 Timothy 2:12. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. KJV. “but to teach a woman I do not permit, nor to exercise authority of (over) a man, but to be in silence.” The Interlinear Greek-English N.T. the Nestle Greek text, Zondrevan.. Women should not be ‘teachers’ in the church who have authority over men teaching doctrine. Woman can teach other women, and children. They are not to be treated with disrespect by men or treated as unequal or called ‘Jezebel’. I was called a Pharisee when I called out a pastor for plagiarism. It has to do with authority in the local church. Obedience by men and women in the local assembly is pleasing to God. A women who is disobedient to God is not a Jezebel she is sinning, period, just like a man who is treating his wife badly by bossing her around, beating her, talking to her disrespectfully is sinning. 1 Peter chapter 3 should be checked out as well. There are NO examples of women Apostles, if God wanted women to be ‘head’ over the church he would have had a women Apostle, a woman as author of a book of the bible. I am a women, I preach the gospel to men an women. I lead a Bible study with a women in discipleship and have for over 9 years. I do not use a women to teach doctrine, I use trusted men and most of all Scripture in discipleship. Women can disciple others, and help to teach discernment who they have led to Christ. If I have led a man to Christ I lead him to male teachers. There are far too many false ‘woman’ teachers of doctrine in the body of Christ and they need to be called out!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.