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Monday, December 2, 2019

Can Women Teach Men?

The question of whether women can teach men in the context of Christianity is an interesting one. Generally speaking, the more liberal to apostate churches allow women to teach while the more evangelical to fundamental do not.

I have written critically on the "clergy system" previously and I do not recognize titles. So, the question of "women pastors" is a non-starter. I don't believe in men being "Pastors" (capital P). I am willing to allow for "pastors/shepherds" to arise to protect the flock and, if there are enough believers in an area, I believe it is reasonable to appoint elders. However, the limitations of those roles has been so decimated by Christendom, I doubt there are many (if any) who can function correctly in this hour.

The danger of having women pastors is the same as having men pastors. But even within that system, while I do not believe women cannot teach men, they are more prone to deception.

Here is our passage in 1 Timothy 2 from the KJV:

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

The first thing we must do is admit this is in scripture and scripture given post-Acts. So, we cannot dismiss it (as some have) as a relic of an old culture or merely part of Paul's supposed misogyny. But we must also not allow ourselves to be subjected to the interpretation of the translators of the KJV. Here is 1 Tim 2:12 in the Wycliffe version:

But I suffer not a woman to teach, neither to have lordship on the husband [neither for to have lordship on the man], but to be in silence.

The word translated "man" in the KJV is the Greek word "ἀνήρ" (anḗr). Depending on its context, it can be translated as "man" or "husband." I believe the context here lends itself to "husband" being more accurate. The word is used five times in 1 Timothy and I think it is clearly "husband" four of the five occurrences and the fifth (2:8) is so closely related to 1 Tim 2:12 as to make me lean towards "husband" there as well.

As the home is constructed by God, the wife does not and should not "lord" over her husband. I think we need  to remove the comma in Wycliffe's translation so we can see the singular thought. A wife is not to be an instructor or an authority over her husband. As with Adam and Eve, the husband subjecting his role as leader in the home to his wife dulls his awareness of error. 

When we look to the previous, Acts, dispensation we see something similar in 1 Cor 14.

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. [NIV]

Two things jump out at us. The women are instructed here to "ask their own husbands." Obviously, "women" refers to wives.  The context is, again, order. The context is also the Acts Age and the presence of the Law for Jewish believers.

Wives should not cause chaos in the assembly of believers by questioning the leadership openly. The leadership in a Jewish context would officially be men (although women, such as Deborah, have been unofficial leaders, not covered by the Law).

But that has nothing to do with women teaching. Clearly, Priscilla was used to teach Apollos.

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 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. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and [his wife] Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Timothy was taught by both his mother and grandmother (Lois and Eunice, 2 Tim 1). Yes, he was a child, but they were still allowed to teach. And while we allow for Priscilla here, she is teaching along side her husband.

Also in the Acts Age, we see Philip, one of the seven appointed deacons (Acts 6:5), with his four daughters. These daughters were proclaimers of truths inspired by God (prophetesses).

And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. 
-Acts 21

I believe we see a pattern in God's calling of women. As with Rahab, Deborah and Esther, God will call women into leadership roles, but not in the context of the assembly. To ward off confusion and chaos, God has created an order. There were specifics under the Law. There were specifics in the Acts Age which reflected the Law. And there are specifics for this post-Acts Age.

And since we don't really have a hierarchy any longer (1 Timothy and Titus being epistles from Paul the free man*), women can teach men, but they must still be in subjection to their husbands. And if we accept the offices laid out in 1 Timothy and Titus as still active, we still see men in these roles.

Of course, this is not a hill I would die on, but I think the distinction between "all men" and :"all women" against "husbands" and "wives" is vitally important to our understanding of the passages in question.

Conclusion: everybody is wrong! LOL! What I mean is that the liberal churches have placed women in roles that shouldn't even exist (and even if active, meant only for men) and some evangelical gatherings have not allowed women to teach any man at any time. Both of these policies, I believe, are in error.

*We will cover Paul's post-Acts epistles and the place of 1 Tim and Titus in a future study.