The Role of Women in the Church
Sermon shared by Steve Hereford
Summary: What does the Bible say about a woman’s role? Is she to be a pastor or what? In this message, Pastor Steve examines a woman’s role in light of 1 Timothy 2:11-12
Audience: Believer adults
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1 Timothy 2:11-12 says, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”
When Paul gave these instructions to Timothy, he gave three principles regarding women’s ministry in the church. First he says, they are learn in submission (v.11b; 1 Cor.11:3). He says, “Let a woman learn...with all submission.” In 1 Corinthians 11:3 Paul says, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” That verse teaches that women are to be in submission to men in the sense that they are not to usurp the role of leadership in the church, which belongs to qualified men. The word “submission” (hupotage) means, “the act of submission or obedience” (Friberg). D. Edmond Hiebert, says, “As a learner she is to be ‘in quietness,’ not talking or seeking to instruct others. She is to be in ‘complete subjection’ by voluntarily ranging herself under the divinely instituted headship of the man” (1 Timothy, p.60).
Second, he says they are not to teach men (v.12a). He says, “And I do not permit a woman to teach.” The word “Permit” (epitrepo) means to “let, allow” (UBS), “let someone do something” (Friberg). It means to “allow someone to do what he wants” (MacArthur). Paul is implying that some women at Ephesus had the desire to lead the church. There have always been women who seek leadership roles. God said the woman as a result of her sin in Genesis 3:16 says, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” The Hebrew word translated “desire” in this verse is used only one other time in the Pentateuch, where it speaks of the desire of sin to control Cain (Gen.4:7). We can conclude from that usage that Genesis 3:16 is saying women desire to take the control from men. The word “teach” is διδασκειν, with the use of the infinitive means, “to be a teacher.” Kenneth Wuest, says, “The kind of teacher Paul has in mind is spoken of in Acts 13:1, I Corinthians 12:28, 29, and Ephesians 4:11, God-called, and God-equipped teachers, recognized by the Church as those having authority in the Church in matters of doctrine and interpretation. This prohibition of a woman to be a teacher, does not include the teaching of classes of women, girls, or children in a Sunday School, for instance, but does prohibit the woman from being a pastor, or a doctrine teacher in a school. It would not be seemly, either, for a woman to teach a mixed class of adults” (Word Studies in the Greek NT).
The third and final principle that Paul gives regarding women in the church is pertaining to authority; They are not to usurp authority over men (v.12b). The words “Have authority” or “usurp authority” (authentein) occurs only here in the NT. Vincent says this is not a correct translation of the Greek word. It is rather, “to exercise dominion over.” George Knight in his book “New Testament Studies” concluded that the common meaning of authentein in extrabiblical literature is “to have authority over.” He discovered no negative connotation such as “abusing authority.” Some people have reinterpreted authentein in 1 Timothy 2:12 to mean “abusive authority.” They believe
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