The Woman Restricted For A Season


We will now look at I Timothy 2:11-15, taking into account those it was about and their particular issues. This passage begins with the words:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.

…………………………….She must be silent.”

Paul began this passage by instructing that certain women should be taught right doctrine.[1] We need to remember that Paul’s desire for women to be taught was in fact a very radical idea, for women were generally not taught, apart from the art of homemaking.[2]

Furthermore, Paul wrote that these women were to learn in a quiet and submissive manner, as the term “silent” indicates. The Greek word for “silent” is “hesuchia” and means “restful quietness”.[3] The same term is used in I Timothy 2:1-2

“I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

The next statement is :

“I do not allow a woman to teach”

The grammar indicates here that Paul, at that particular moment in time, did not allow these women to teach because they had to learn the right doctrine first.[4]

He then wrote:

They were not to have authority over men”

Paul used here the Greek word “authentein” which has been translated as “authority”. This word “authentein” appears only once in Scripture and has always had a very negative meaning, including domineering.

Therefore, Paul did not say here that women were not allowed to have authority over men. He simply stated that they were not to behave towards men in an inappropriate manner, in a manner which was contrary to his teachings.[5]

The attitude of these women may have come because of false teaching these women had received which Paul addressed in the following section:

“For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”

The false teachings these women had received would have included errors regarding the Creation Account and the Fall. For instance that the woman was created before the man and the eating of the fruit had been a good thing for through it they had supposedly received special knowledge. Paul was correcting these errors.[6]

The final verse in this passage is:

“But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

In this verse Paul corrected the false teaching as spelled out in I Timothy 4:1-3 

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.”

Paul explained that marriage and childbearing were blessed by God and were not obstacles to a close and intimate walk with God as these false teachers claimed.[7]

I Timothy 2:11-15 was clearly written with the Church at Ephesus in mind and does not deal with the role of women in general. Though we can learn from it, we must realise that this passage cannot be applied to all women everywhere and at all times as has frequently been done.

Furthermore, we need to remember that Paul’s Letters were not only written to different churches, they were written at different times. For instance the Letter to the Galatians was written between 48 A.D. - 52 A.D., the First Letter to the Corinthians was written around 56 A.D., and the First Letter to Timothy was written around 63 A.D. Therefore, this Letter could not have been used as a teaching tool for the larger Body of Christ for a number of years since it was not yet in existence. We tend to forget that when we read our New Testament because we have easy access to any one of these Letters regardless to whom they were written and in what year they were written originally.


The Woman not among the Twelve

It is true that Jesus did not include women in His Team of the Twelve. This is most likely because Jesus knew that, though He had come as the Saviour of the world, His teaching and preaching ministry was mainly limited to the Jewish nation, a nation steeped in Traditions beyond the Scriptures, which had severely limited the role of women.

His choice of twelve men was very much with this nation in mind. I would like to add that they were twelve Jewish men because neither men of Gentile descent nor women would have been accepted while the number twelve reflects the number of tribes of Israel.[1]

However, we see that Jesus had been teaching women, healing women, allowing women to be His disciples and sending them on preaching missions, thereby preparing the way for women to be fully engaged in the work of God’s Kingdom expecting this to be continued and expanded beyond what He Himself had already established.


We have in fact a number of places in Scripture where God’s Word comes to us through a woman. These words will have been read by and ministered to men and women throughout the centuries, just as they still minister to us today.

Examples are:

Miriam’s Song in Exodus 15:20-21

“Then Miriam the Prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand and all the women followed her with the tambourines and dancing.

Miriam sang to them; “Sing to the Lord for He is highly exalted. The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.”

Deborah’s Song in Judges 5 (1-9)

“On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

“When the princes in Israel take the land, when the people willingly offer themselves - praise the Lord. Hear this you kings! Listen you rulers”

I will sing to the Lord, I will sing: I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel.

O, Lord when you went out from Sei, when you marched from the land of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water.

The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai, before the Lord, the God of Israel.

In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael the roads were abandoned; travellers took to winding paths. Village life ceased until I, Deborah, arose, a mother in Israel. When they chose new gods, war came to the city gates and not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.

My heart is with Israel’s princes, with the willing volunteers among the people.

Praise the Lord…..” 

Hannah’s Prayer in I Samuel 2:1-10

“Then Hannah prayed and said:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord is my horn lifted high.

My mouth boasts over my enemies for I delight in Your deliverance.

There is no one holy like the Lord, there is no one besides You:

there is no Rock like our God.

Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak arrogance

for the Lord is a God who knows and by Him deeds are weighed.

The bows of the warriors are broken but those who stumbled are armed with strength.

Those who were full hire themselves out for good but those who were hungry, hunger no more.

She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away.

The Lord brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up.

The Lord send poverty and wealth;

He humbles and He exalts.

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap;

He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honour.

For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s; upon them He has set the world.

He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.

It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be shattered.

He will thunder against them from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.”  

Mary’s Song in Luke 1:46-55

“And Mary said: My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His Name.

His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with His arm;

He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants for ever, even as He said to our fathers.” 

The Holy Spirit inspired these women to write down these words which were included in the infallible and authoritative Word of God and contain great insights into the character of God. That perhaps more than anything else speaks of God’s approval of women in whatever function He may have chosen for them.



1. John Temple Bristow. What Paul really said about women in the Church. An Apostle’s liberating views on

    equality in marriage, leadership and love (New York, NJ 10022: Harper Collins Publishers, 1988), p. 69.

2. ibid., p. 70.

3. ibid., p. 71.

4. Charles Trombley. Who said woman can’t teach? (South Plainfield, NJ 07080: Bridge Publishing, Inc., 1985),

    pp. 172-173.

5. Richard Clark Kroeger and Catherine Clark Kroeger. I suffer not a woman. Rethinking 1Timothy 2:11-15 in light

    of ancient evidence. (Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516: Baker Books, 2001), pp. 84-104.

6. ibid. pp. 117 – 125.

7. ibid. pp 172 – 177     


1. J. Lee Grady. 10 Lies the Church tells women. (Lake Mary, Florida 32746:Charisma House, 2000), pp. 41-43.

The Old Testament Woman