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In 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” (NIV2011)
What’s up with that? Is Paul really issuing a definitive command regarding women’s roles that’s binding upon all Christians today? Is this a clear directive that severely limits women’s ministry in the Church? That’s certainly how most complementarians understand this verse. But is that where the discussion ends? Paul said it, I believe it, that settles it?
But wait a second. Do all Christian women avoid gold and pearls? (1 Tim. 2:9) Do they cover their heads when praying? (1 Cor. 11) Should we always greet each other with a holy kiss? (Rom. 16:16) If we’re visiting the island of Crete should we assume that the people we encounter are all “liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons”? (Tit. 1:12) Should we always carry a cloak, scrolls and parchments with us on our journeys? (2 Tim. 4:13)
In short, how do we understand the words of Paul? What ones do we choose to apply to our modern Christian practice and what ones do we disregard — and more importantly, why?
1 Timothy 2:8-15 is a notoriously difficult passage. Part of the problem is that we’re only hearing one side of the conversation — we’re listening in on one end of a two thousand year old discussion that wasn’t directly intended for us. We aren’t familiar with the culture and context, we don’t truly know what it was like to be a Christian in first century Ephesus and… [Read more…] about I Do Not Permit A Woman