“The Passages”

I Timothy 2


Primary questions: Do these scriptures teach that female believers are not to pray publicly or teach in the ecclesia just as men do? Do these teach she must not serve in positions of  “authority“ as men do? Do they teach women are to remain silent in a different way then male believers?


Exhortation in the reasons for public prayer.

First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men,  for kings and all who are in high positions, , godly and respectful in every way.  This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  Paul’s exhortation here lacks any ambiguity and defies commentary.  This portion of the chapter is about offering prayer for those who can influence our lives. Peace is rightly to be desired and violence is hated by men and God. But it’s the peace of Christ we long for truly and not just for ourselves “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” but for all men. We pray for all people that they may know the peace of Christ as well. We pray publicly because God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” And in our public prayers it should be known and understood as a body of believers (Christ‘s body) that we desire peace for all people. Public prayer teaches that the new church is not an exclusive society with secret rituals, it appeals to all people and openly prays for the well being of itself and “all men”. This public practice of prayer is good and acceptable to God as it’s a tool for all to “be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”


Only one Name to pray to!

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.  For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. Paul is exhorting this ecclesia in the importance and reason for praying for others. Paul has been called to this very service and exhorts this for all believers as well. There is only one mediator between God and man. We as his Ambassadors are the world’s only hope to pray for, preach to, and teach those that would be saved. We must bear witness in prayer to this fact. Effectively we are saying: “here’s your hope and we are praying for you!” *


Exhortation for the demeanor of public prayer.

  I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion. As believers conduct this public prayer for the well being of others, it is imperative they do so as ambassadors of the only name that can be invoked and completely in the right spirit and demeanor.



Men and women in their public prayer !

Ÿ         When a man is offering prayers he must be sure those Godly hands are raised to God in peace (the thing we are praying for) never in quarreling which is sometimes the impulse of the natural male.

Ÿ         When a woman is offering those prayers she must be aware that these are prayers being offered for other’s. Public prayer is not an appeal to others to notice your personal appeal,  which is sometimes a tendency in the nature of a female.

Ÿ         Make sure then your prayers are conducted only in a way that “befits those who are professing Godliness.


Likewise  Greek: ho-sow'-toce.. “in the same manner”

Widely ignored by traditional explanation is the word translated “likewise” “in the same manner” that connects the two grammatically in the Greek. The two are not separate ideas men should pray and women should dress nice.. They are connected grammatically and one can not just separate the connection of the two phrases. The Complete Jewish Bible acknowledging the Greek translates the text in this way… 8 Therefore, it is my wish that when the men pray, no matter where, they should lift up hands that are holy - they should not become angry or get into arguments.  9 Likewise, the women, when they pray, should be dressed modestly and sensibly in respectable attire, not with elaborate hairstyles and gold jewelry, or pearls, or expensive clothes.


Consider the context, it is unreasonable to suggest that in the midst of a dialog about prayer that all of a sudden Paul throws in a comment  that women dress modestly. The sequence and context of the exhortation is clear. Likewise does not mean “Oh! by the way“. The simple meaning is “in the same manner” and this word is used just that way throughout out the NT. The text is quite straight forward, why should this be a problem for us? We know Paul has already acknowledged women in ecclesial prayer in Corinthians. Women prayed why do we object to this? This is consistent with other scriptures and the allegories of all being one in Christ’s body.


Section Conclusion

Male and females believers prayed in the same fashion in the ecclesial service of public prayer for others. They are exhorted to do so by Paul. This does not violate any other scripture or allegory we’ve considered so far.  As has been noted earlier, after Christ’s ascension who was praying together? (Acts 1:14) “All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer together with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Which of these groups did Jesus not appear to after his resurrection? Who of these had not spoken face to face with Jesus. And which of these now together having heard what Jesus taught, having witnessed his death and resurrection, would have suggested to any of the “women” they not participate in open verbal appeal to God and Jesus in this group of believers praying?

 The only thing female believers praying in our meetings violates is our current practice of forbidding it. In light of these examples and teachings we must soberly reassess our practice.   Beloved brothers and sisters what teaching does female believers offering prayers in meeting and in public contradict?  What allegory does it violate? Even 1 Corinthians 11 speaks of it without objection, Ephesians 5 offers no instruction against it. Let’s remember the actions and positions of the female believers already considered. In receiving the Holy Spirit, in preaching, teaching, and being deacons and fellow workers. Females had meetings in their homes and female believers lived their faith just as males did. If I suggested to you that male believers did all these things without offering prayers in the meetings or in public you would think it ridiculous. And you would most likely be correct? Judge for yourselves then, is it proper for a woman to pray in the meeting?


Learning and teaching in the Ecclesia.

11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. Allow me to inject the Greek words and their definitions: Let a woman manqano in hsucia with all upotage. By the word’s definitions: Let a woman increase her knowledge in a quite and peaceful manner without any meddling and with whole willing subjection.

This is the way any student must learn. Remember during this era females being instructed in religion was a new concept. How this must be done was being taught by Paul certainly very frequently.

 12 I permit no woman to teach or have authority over (aqunteo) men; she is to keep quiet for Adam was formed first, then Eve.  This Greek word is used only this once in the NT, it is a word that conveys an action  “claim authority over”. Like a military victor claims authority over the spoils, it is a dominate assertion. The “claim authority” usage of this word must be confirmed in Greek literature, as it can not be confirmed elsewhere in NT as this is an isolated use. Saying someone is not permitted to teach this or make this claim is what is being said here.. “What claim?” you might well ask. An understanding of a Gnostic belief common in this area is helpful in putting this verse into a clearer light.  

The verse, “I suffer not a woman to teach or claim authority over man” is likely a reference to a local false doctrine. Gnostic doctrine was finding its way into the minds of some Ephesians in the Ecclesia. The core of that teaching was that Eve was formed before Adam, and some versions of the teaching was that Eve formed Adam. Eve was the font of all wisdom.  The more accurate translation of that section of scripture is as follows: “Do not allow the women to teach or claim authorship of man for Adam was first formed then Eve.”   Paul was telling Timothy not to allow this false teaching. He does not say women should not teach or  be in positions of authority or he would be contradicting practices he has already praised.


The flow of thought continues…

Women were to pray to learn and to teach, but not false doctrines! So what do those verses 13-14 mean referring to who sinned and why?  Please consider that Paul has just referenced a false teaching about the creation and these further references cite Genesis as well.  14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. This phrase in 14 has often been seen as the reason women cannot teach or have authority over men. Why would choosing to sin deliberately qualify you over some one who was ‘fooled” by wrong thinking?  Neither partner in this picture offers an appealing resume’ for leadership. 


 However I don’t think that is Paul’s point when referring to Genesis.  Some female believers were being deceived by this Gnostic belief…And now women (taking their lesson from Eve) should not be deceived (as Eve was then and accepted false teaching) and men should not be any means deliberately allow this teaching as he once deliberately accepted false teaching in the beginning.  15 Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. There is no question that belief in Christ and acceptance of the Gospel is the only thing that can give you eternal salvation. However Paul is drawing lessons from Genesis and perhaps speaking to a more immediate sense of “being saved“.  In his admonition against falling into false belief or tolerating false teachings, he acknowledges both males and females sinned. Perhaps Paul is saying the way to “be saved” from falling prey to false teachings or choosing to sin willfully, is by being dedicated to the life God set before them in Genesis. Remember their original purpose in the creation. Her the bearing of children and They (as “one flesh” a cooperating unit) the raising of families under the principles of faith love and modesty (moderation).


Section conclusions

Remember the reason for searching deeper into this passage is that it seems to conflict with the activities of female believers in the NT. The traditional way of translating these verses seems quite possibly incorrect. Singling out a ‘type’ of believer conflicts with Paul’s allegories of the One Body with parts that function solely based on ’their measure of faith” So we are searching to seek an understanding that does not conflict. We seek an understanding that confirms the unity and peace that the Gospel brings to all mankind.


So, I have brought forward the case that female believers prayed publicly along side males. I have suggested Timothy by no means instructs that women should not teach in general just as male believers do. Clearly they should not teach false doctrines.  So it is clear, Timothy states plainly females prayed publicly in the ecclesia.  The text also asserts there should be no tolerance of any woman teaching false doctrine regarding the claim of “authorship”  of man.  But this does not say she should not teach in general or be in positions of authority. As we have already seen examples of female believes doing just those two things. Now we must reconsider the interpretation of these verses to make sure they consistent with those behaviors Paul praised.


But doesn’t 1 Corinthians 14. Say women must not speak at all. How can a woman pray and teach in meeting if she is clearly forbidden to speak?

Well that is the next Consideration in 1 Corinthians 14.



*(Just an aside) We should consider the merits of following this concept. We should include in any public preaching effort an extended prayer for the Grace of God to come to all those present, for all those that govern us, and ask for our audience’s needs to offer prayer for them as well.