Women Teachers

Jimmy Tuten
Indianapolis, IN

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that women can teach, but not over the man, nor in the public assembly. It is the belief of this writer that there are places where women can teach without violating I Timothy 2:11-12. Even though some would like to bring in I Corinthians 14, this passage has no bearing on the discussion. It does not apply to group or private teaching without removing it from its context. I Corinthians 12-14 is dealing with spiritual gifts in the whole assembly.

The restrictions of the Corinthian passage apply to the assembly which cannot be used in the sense of group or private teaching. It refers to the "whole church" coming together in "one place." This cannot be said of I Timothy 2:11-12.

2 Timothy 2:2

"And the thing that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." The term "men" is translated from the Greek word, "anthropos," which is defined as "a human being, whether male - or female" (Thayer, p. 46). He further says, "with reference to the genus or nature, without the distinction of sex. Another definition reads as follows: "generally, of a human being, male or female, without reference to sex or nationality" (Vine, Vol. III, P. 33).

This demonstrates that men (male or female) are required to teach. In the case of John 7:22, the context identifies the sex as male. In this passage "anthropos" may be used to refer to man, excluding women (Thayer, p. 45). The context of 2 Timothy 2:2 does not contextually identify sex as male. Therefore "anthropos" is used without distinction of sex, male or female.

Those who argue that women cannot teach Bible Classes in the church building cannot find room or sphere in which a woman can obey 2 Timothy 2: 2, as it pertains to the work of a local church.

I Timothy 2:11-12

"Let the women 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." Basically there are two things of significance in this passage-: (1) Silence, and (2) teaching over the man.

Women may teach (Acts 2.18; 18:26; 21:9; Tit. 2:34). "Silence" must therefore be qualified. She certainly is not to remain silent in the assembly in the sense of being forbidden to utter a sound. She is commanded to sing, and singing involves teaching and admonishing (Col. 3:16).

On the word silence, Thayer , says, "quietness," (Gr. heschia), "descriptive of the life of one who stays home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others" (p. 281).

Vine says (Vol. III, p. 242), "tranquility arising from within, causing no disturbance to others."

The context therefore does not mean absolute silence, but rather a tranquil, quiet life. This is not restricted to the assembly and therefore one cannot possibly throw in I Corinthians 14, for the silence here would not apply. Furthermore, the women of the context of I Corinthians apply to the wives of the prophets (the context demands this conclusion. Observe also that Weymouth's The New Testament In Modern Speech, 3rd. edition, 1909, renders it "married women"). The fact that husbands are referred to in verse 35 shows that wives of prophets (i.e., married women) are under consideration (the writer has the scholarly statements of Alen Wikgrin, Professor of Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago; Bruce N. Metzger, professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary; and Kendrick Grobel, Professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt University, all of whom substantiate this conclusion).

With reference to "teaching over the man" it should be observed that: (1) "Teach" means "to teach or speak in public assembly" (Bagster). To "deliver didactic discourses" (Thayer). There is more involved than simply to impart knowledge. (2) "Over the man" is a prepositional phrase modifying "to teach" and "to usurp". The two latter expressions qualify "over the man". Women can teach and have authority over some people (Tit. 2:3-5, 2 Tim. 1:5). But she cannot have authority over the man. (3) Titus 2:15 says: "these things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority" (italics mine, JT.). With "all authority" is from epitage, meaning, "with every possible form of authority" (Thayer, p. 244). Women are in subjection to man (I Tim. 2: 11). She is under authority to man and therefore cannot teach with every possible form of authority. She can teach, therefore, but not over the man. Her position is fundamentally that of a learner as far as men are concerned. (4) This is not limited to, the assembly as in the case with I Cor. 14. The fact that the context refers to "modest apparel" (v. 9), "faith, charity" and "holiness" (v. 15) shows that is of more general application.

If, as non-Bible class brethren contend, the restrictions refer to "assembly" only, then there is no possible way to forbid a woman preaching as long as she does not do it in an assembly of the church. According to this position, she can usurp authority elsewhere. She could stand anywhere apart from the assembly and preach. If not, why not?

Women cannot preach, lead in prayer, etc. anywhere where men are present because of the restrictions of I Tim. 2:11-12. These restrictions apply generally: In the assembly, and out of the assembly, i.e., anywhere!


The following syllogism will be used in summation:

(A) The woman is a servant of God (Rom. 6:22). But a servant of God must be apt to teach (2 Tim. 2:24). Therefore the woman must be apt to teach, provided her teaching is subject to scriptural limitations.

(B) A servant must be apt to teach (2 Tim. 2:24. Phebe was a servant of the church (Rom. 16:11). Therefore Phebe was a teacher in the church.

We have demonstrated that women can teach in group teaching whether it be in the church building or elsewhere. Other installments will deal with the mechanics of teaching.

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 11, pp. 12-13
January 21, 1971