“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.” I Timothy 2:11-12
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Please read that text again. I do not believe it takes a college or seminary education to understand the import of this text. Concerning the public prayers in the church and other public places, Paul wrote, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” (I Timothy 2:8) The Greek word for men in this verse is aner (anhr), which, according to the lexicographers, denotes a male adult as opposed to women and children. Of course, my message does not have to do with the public prayers of God’s people, rather it has to do with the question, SHOULD WOMEN PREACH? However, some of the Scriptures that will be cited in this message prohibit the audible praying and speaking of women in the church assembly and should be obeyed by women professing godliness.
Please note that the question SHOULD WOMEN PREACH? has nothing to do with whether women should speak to other women about Christ. That is perfectly in order. It does not have anything to do with whether or not a woman should teach other women how they ought to conduct themselves. “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5) It is evident that this is perfectly in order.
And, the question is not, ‘Was it proper and in Scriptural order for Aquila and his wife to take Apollos home with them and expound unto him the word of God?’ “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” (Acts 18:24-26)
Our question is: SHOULD WOMEN PREACH? The word preach has the idea of publicly proclaiming the Word of God. The Greek word has that idea in it. Strong says of the word khrussw (kay-roos’-so) that it is translated in the KJV as follows: preach – 51 times, publish – 5 times, proclaim – 2 times, preached – 2, and preacher – 1 time for a total of 61 times. According to Strong, the word means “to be a herald, to officiate as a herald, to proclaim after the manner of a herald, always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed, to publish, proclaim openly: something which has been done, used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles and other Christian teachers.”
Since preaching is the public declaration of and expounding upon the Word of God, let us consider the question, SHOULD WOMEN PREACH? I make no apology for answering this question in the negative. In fact, I say unequivocally “No, Women should not preach!” Why?
THE WHOLE ANALOGY OF FAITH AND TENOR OF
SCRIPTURE IS AGAINST A WOMAN PREACHING
Among God’s people the men have always, with only rare exceptions, been in the forefront. The prophets of God were men. The leaders of Israel were men. The Apostles of Christ were men. Every example of preaching in the New Testament is that of men. The man Christ Jesus preached. “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) He sent out the twelve apostles, all men, to preach. “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” (Mark 3:14) John the Baptist, another man, preached. “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mark 1:4)
Jesus called on other men to preach. He said to one man, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-60) Barnabas and Paul were sent forth to preach. “We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God.” (Acts 14:15) Paul exhorted the young man Timothy to preach. “Preach the word.” (II Timothy 4:2)
I assure you, Dear Readers, you will not find the word preach used to describe the action of a woman in Scripture. I say again that the whole tenor of Scripture is against women being preachers and women preaching.
OUR TEXT WOULD DEFINITELY BE VIOLATED BY ANY
WOMAN WHO TOOK IT UPON HERSELF TO PREACH
Look at the text again. “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.” (I Timothy 2:11-12)
Paul commands the women to learn in silence, a word that means quietness, silence. Paul commands the women to learn in silence with all subjection, meaning in obedience and subjection. Paul would not allow a woman to publicly teach. The word teach used here is very much like the word preach in meaning. It means to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses, to be a teacher, to discharge the office of a teacher, conduct one’s self as a teacher, to impart instruction, instill doctrine into one, to explain or expound a thing.
Through Paul, the Holy Spirit forbade a woman to ever be in a position where she usurped authority over a man. Since to preach means to proclaim the Word of God in an authoritative manner, no woman could preach or teach men without violating this restriction. Since preaching has the idea of crying aloud, proclaiming with a strong voice, there is no way a godly woman could ever be a preacher. Once again Paul calls for silence on the part of women, reinforcing his command with a second statement of it.
Regardless of how it is rationalized by so many today, there is no way around the fact that a woman cannot abide by the teachings of this text, as well as others, and still be obedient to God and his Word.
THERE ARE OTHER SCRIPTURES WHICH SPEAK IN THE SAME
VEIN AS OUR TEXT AND WE WILL BRIEFLY LOOK AT THEM
Some claim that the problem at Corinth was an isolated situation. One such person wrote, “In an isolated incident some of the Corinthian women started asking questions and disrupting services and Paul instructed those women to be silent and to ask their husbands at home if they wanted to know answers.” The study of the passage he had in mind shows otherwise. “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. (I Corinthians 14:34-35)
Consider the following things taught in these two verses that affect our subject, SHOULD WOMEN PREACH? This was not an isolated incident at Corinth that was under consideration for Paul required silence of the women in the churches (plural), not just the church at Corinth. “Let your women keep silence in the churches.” According to this inspired, Divine order delivered by Paul, the women were not to be permitted to speak in the churches. “For it is not permitted unto them to speak.” I said this was a Divine order delivered by the Apostle Paul and that is substantiated by Scripture. “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” (I Corinthians 14:37) The same rule that prevailed under the law on this matter is valid in the churches today. “But they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” If the women have questions they are to ask their husbands at home. “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home.”
It is a shame for a woman to speak in the church assembly. “For it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” The word translated shame here means base and dishonorable. It is base and dishonorable for a woman to speak in the church so it would be base and dishonorable for her to preach. To get more perspective on the meaning of this word, consider its use in another place. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” (Ephesians 5:11-12) In the light of these verses, it is hard to comprehend why any professing Christian would support the idea of women preaching. There is certainly no way a woman can be obedient to God, Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures and preach. There is no way a church can be obedient to the Trinity and the Word and still support women preachers.
These are the commandments of the Lord and those who are spiritual will acknowledge that. “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” (I Corinthians 14:37) Paul also explains why some will insist otherwise, in spite of what God says in His Word. “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (I Corinthians 14:38) Those who don’t violate these Scriptural mandates out of ignorance do it out of plain rebellion against the Word of God.
THE HEADSHIP OF MEN IS ANOTHER
REASON WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE PREACHERS
A woman who is in subjection to her husband cannot be his preacher and pastor. “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” (I Peter 3:1) A preacher is to preach with authority and no woman can do that and be the quiet, obedient wife she is to be if she is to please the Lord. “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” (Titus 2:15)
Most preachers that I have known in my lifetime, both men and women, have desired to be pastors, but no woman can be a scriptural pastor. Only a man can fill the office of a bishop, an overseer. “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” (I Timothy 3:1) There is not one single case in the New Testament of a woman being made the overseer of a church. The bishop must be the husband of one wife and no woman can scripturally meet that qualification. “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.” (I Timothy 3:2)
SOME OBJECTIONS AND
Deborah was a prophetess and judge in Israel. (Judges 4 and 5) First, this happened in Israel, not in a New Testament Church and does not in any way change the clear-cut prohibition against women speaking in the assembly of the church. “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (I Corinthians 14:34-35) “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.” (I Timothy 2:11-12) Nothing that is said of Deborah’s actions and words can change the order for the New Testament church. Nothing that is said in Judges concerning Deborah can change God’s declared qualifications for a pastor of one of his churches. The Bible is clear and it is right when it demands that pastors be men. “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. (I Timothy 3:1-6)
Now note the following facts set forth in these verses. The expression if a man requires a male adult. The word bishop is masculine and therefore requires a male adult. The husband of one wife requires a male adult as opposed to women and children. Even the word brawler in the expression not a brawler in the Greek is masculine and further affirms that the pastor must be of the masculine gender. The fact that the pastor must rule well his own house certainly would forbid a married woman being a pastor. Even the word novice is in the masculine further showing that the one who fills the office of pastor must not be a male neophyte.
Those who array Scripture against Scripture in an effort to justify their violating such teachings as these, do so to their own destruction. They are guilty of wresting Scripture. “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (II Peter 3:16) Those who twist the Word of God to suit their own thinking give evidence of their real attitude toward God and His inspired Word. “Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.” (Psalms 56:5) They, like some in the days of Jeremiah, “have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.” (Jeremiah 23:36)
It would be well to note also that it was a time of terrible sinfulness in Israel and God raised up a woman as a means of shaming the men for their sinfulness and hesitance to face their enemies. “And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.” (Judges 4:1) Even Barak refused to face the enemy unless Deborah accompanied him. “And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.” (Judges 4:8-9)
Miriam was a prophetess and a leader in Israel during the journey to the Promised Land. What has been said about Deborah should be applied here also. Also, it should be remembered that when Miriam and Aaron rebuked Moses because of his wife, God reminded them that he had one prophet in Israel and that was Moses. “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.” (Numbers 12:1-9)
It is true that God sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam before Israel and that Miriam is called a prophetess, but this does not change nor minimize the New Testament declarations concerning women in the church. They are to maintain silence and quietness. Those who try to use Miriam as an excuse, justification and license for violating New Testament instructions do so at their own risk.
Anna was a prophetess. That is very true. Luke calls her a prophetess. “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38) But Anna was not a preacher in a New Testament Church. Anna served the Lord by fasting and praying, not preaching and pastoring. She spoke to others who, as she, were looking for the coming of Christ for redemption in Israel. There is no record of her doing anything that any Godly woman cannot do.
Any godly woman can fast and pray. Any godly woman can tell another individual about Jesus Christ. Anna never preached in an assembly of a New Testament Church. Anna never sought to pastor a New Testament Church. As far as the biblical record goes, Anna never spoke or prayed publicly before an assembly of a New Testament church. Those who use her as an excuse for seeking to pastor and preach in violation of the New Testament prohibitions of this are truly wresting the Word of God to suit their own sinful ambitions. Those who try to use this godly woman as a license to violate clear-cut, unequivocal teachings of the Word of God have no business in any pulpit or other position that causes them to speak before a church body.
What if God has called you to preach and pastor? Some women boldly claim that God has called them to preach. Martha Phillips, a Southern Baptist “clergywoman” who serves as interim pastor of the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia, where VP Al Gore is a member, demonstrated her open disobedience to the Scriptures when she commented to the press as follows: “I don’t want to be a youth minister or a music minister. I want to lead a congregation. I think I’ve been called to do it. And if you’re called by God, you’re called by God. I don’t see how they can say because you’re a woman, you can’t be” (“Southern Baptists Vote to Ban Female Pastors,” Washington Post, June 15, 2000). Please note that this haughty woman defies God’s Word and lets what she thinks and feels be her guide. It matters not to her that she is in direct defiance of God’s inspired Word.
Julie Pennington-Russell, the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, TX, is a woman. Commenting on the SBC’s change in its Faith and Message statement, she said, “If you are a Baptist, as long as there are congregations who have the courage to follow the will of God, there will be a place for woman pastors” (“Baptist Group Rules Out Women Pastors,” Associated Press, June 15, 2000).
Note that this woman did not cite Scripture that reveals God’s will for her to be a pastor. She is deceived if she believes God would have her pastor a church and has confused Satan’s and her will with God’s will. God’s will is that the women be silent. “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.” (I Timothy 2:11-12) “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” (I Corinthians 14:34) This is God’s will for women in the church assembly. Phillips and Pennington-Russell, along with about 100 other Southern Baptist Convention “clergywomen” dare to defy the Word of God. They undermine what their convention believes, and go about doing what they want to do regardless of their convention or the Scriptures.
This impudence, insolence, and insubordination to the authority of God’s Word is reflected in other women also. For instance, Margaret Davis, a pastor’s wife from Newport News, VA, was a rare voice of dissent among those attending a meeting of pastor’s wives at the recent meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. She said, “I believe if God calls you to pastor, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman. My husband disagrees.” (From and article in an Associated Press story dated June 14, 2000).
This woman arrogantly and impudently defies the Word of God and her husband’s headship. The truth is, she may even disqualify him to serve as a pastor since the pastor must be the head of his wife and she under subjection to him.
God prohibits women from doing anything that will cause them to usurp authority over men. No woman can preach or pastor and obey the Word of God. How can a woman be silent and pastor or preach? How can a woman pastor without usurping authority over a man?
I have not exhausted this subject. Much more could have been written. Some may not like what they have read, but I ask only one thing, “Have I supported what I have written with the Word of God?”
We face challenging days ahead in this matter. The encroachments of feminism are very real and threatening. It is not politically correct to take this biblical stand. Let us faithfully stand by the clear teachings of the Word of God and maintain the Bible standard of men, not women, as preachers of the Word and pastors of His churches.