The Woman Restricted For A Season

The Woman Restricted For A Season According to I Timothy 2:11-15 

Having looked at these interpretations of I Timothy 2:11-15, it becomes very clear that the people who interpreted these verses using the literal interpretation method did not think it necessary to consider the specific people about whom Paul was writing to Timothy, nor their particular problems.We will now look at I Timothy 2:11-15 taking into account those it was about and their particular issues. 

I Timothy is, above all else, a personal letter, addressed to a young minister, whom Paul lovingly called “my true child in the faith”. Not only was this letter speaking to a specific dear friend, it was also written about a specific situation within a beloved congregation. Paul was asking Timothy to remain with the Church at Ephesus. Problems with that Church worried Paul. False Doctrines were being taught.[1]

The passage begins with the words:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.

……….. She must be silent.”

Paul begins this passage by instructing Timothy that women should be taught. Therefore, they could not yet be Teachers. They had to learn the correct Doctrine first, but they had to learn in a quiet and submissive manner. We need to remember that Paul’s desire that women were taught was in fact a very radical idea, as women at that time did not generally receive any education except in the art of homemaking.[2]

Furthermore, Paul used a term which has been translated as “silent”. This is the Greek word “hesuchia”and means in fact “restful quietness” as in meditation or study. [3]

The same word 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.

It is very obvious then that Paul wanted certain women to be quiet in order to be able to listen attentively.

The next statement is:

“I do not allow a woman to teach”

The original language indicates that Paul was not allowing these women to teach at that moment. They had to learn the correct Doctrine first before being allowed to teach.[4]

Paul then wrote that “they were not to have “authority” over men.”

The usual term used for the word “authority” is the Greek word “exousia”.

Examples are:

Romans 13:1

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

I Peter 2:13

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by Him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

However, in I Timothy 2:11-15, Paul did not use the usual term “exousia” but used a different term altogether, namely “authentein”, which  is not used anywhere else in the New Testament. This means that in order for us to understand its meaning we have to go to sources outside of Scripture. Thankfully this has been done and from these studies we have learned that the word “authentein” has always had a very negative meaning including “domineering”.

Paul was, therefore, not saying here that women should never be allowed to have rightful spiritual authority over men, but that women should not behave towards men in an inappropriate manner which was contrary to his teachings.[5]

This attitude of these women may have come because of false Teachings  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 they had received would have included errors with regards to the Creation Account and the Fall. For instance, the woman supposedly 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 in this passage.[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.”

Now we know that Paul did not teach here on God’s free gift of salvation for women that no woman can enhance by her own works, including childbearing, as we can read in Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast.

But this passage is a correction of further false Teaching that marriage and childbearing were not considered to be good things.

We can read of this particular false Teaching 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.

In fact, Paul was saying that, contrary to what was being taught, marriage and having children were part of God’s plan for women and were not obstacles to a close walk with God as these false teachers claimed. [7]

Therefore, I Timothy 2:11-15 was very 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 can not just be applied to all women everywhere and at all times as it has frequently been done.

We need to remember as well 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. and 52 A.D, the First Letter to the Corinthians was written around 56 A.D., and the First Letter to Timothy was only written around 63 A.D. Therefore, it could not have been used as a general 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 fact when we read our New Testament, because we now have easy access to all of these Letters, regardless to whom they may have been written, and in whatever year they were written originally.



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.

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