For centuries, women have taken the blame for the fall of man. We have heard how women need to shut up and let their husband's speak . . . but enough is enough. Let's dissect these troublesome verses in 1 Timothy 2 and get to the root of it once and for all!
Women have an incredible role in the church. The men can't take on this world without us-and they know it--well, most of them know it. God put us together because there is strength in unity and there is power in knowledge and understanding.
Ever since I started reading the Bible, I found the book of Timothy offensive because of Paul's apparent attitude towards women. I never understood why this powerful man of God would speak about women the way he did--and only in the book of Timothy, which further confused me--until I studied the culture, the time period, and the circumstances in which Paul wrote to Timothy. The Apostle Paul is choleric in his writings--direct and to the point. He is not one to waste words. If he took the time to lecture about the way women needed to behave and dress (see 1 Timothy 2:9-11), that must mean women were dressing inappropriately and misbehaving. The women needed correction.
Behind correction is protection.
The women of Ephesus were loud, disrespectful, speaking out of turn, wearing clothes that were bright and exquisite with flashy jewelry. They were diverting others' focus from worship. Finally, Paul's harsh words made some sense to me. Anyone who distracts another person from worshiping God deserves some rebuke. Let's face it, women. Man is a visual creature and we know how to get his attention. If we come into church with low cut blouses, short skirts, jingle with every step, and plaster on the make-up, what is our purpose or our intent? Is God our focus? I don't think so . . .
Therefore, I must agree with Paul when he corrects the women in telling them to dress "in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation" (see 1 Timothy 2:9, NKJV). I even agree when he says in 1 Timothy 2:11: "Let a woman learn in silence with all submission" because of the situation he is addressing in verse nine. Unfortunately, this verse is given too much credence and is used by religion as Step One in its why-women-aren't-allowed-to-preach-in-our-church-doctrine.
I do not want a woman or anyone teaching my children if he or she is not exhibiting godly behavior, nor do I want to waste my time learning from someone who is not living a godly life. We are not to judge, but we need to be fruit inspectors! Remember, Matthew 12:33 says that we will know a tree by the fruit that it produces. We need to show love and compassion--that doesn't mean we turn our brains off!
We don't want a man who is hooked on pornography and drugs to teach our youth about living a healthy lifestyle. We need healthy, mature, spirit-filled people teaching our children and us. Any person who is out of order should not teach.
God shows no partiality toward us (see Romans 2:11). Gender doesn't matter. Race doesn't matter. God makes up His own mind about us.
Why then, does Paul limit 1 Timothy 2:11 to a woman? Is it because of the culture and that period of time in which that specific correction was needed in the church of Ephesus? Is there something more here that we keep missing?
I was listening to one of my favorite evangelists (Jamie Englehart, HIM Ministries and The Connexion) in the car on my way to work one morning. As he talked about these verses in Timothy, he brought up an interesting stream of thoughts that sent me down a road of discovery.
Is it possible that Paul is talking about something else when he says, "woman"?
I thought it best to mention this possibility ladies, before we really get fired up, because the next verse that Paul says makes everything even worse. I warned you! In 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul says, "And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence."
What?!? Are you seeing red, too? Paul has some nerve, doesn't he? I can accept everything up to this point, but this is going a bit too far. This is the big Step Two for the religious finality of why-women-aren't-allowed-to-preach-in-our-church-doctrine.
What about Joyce Meyer? You can't tell me God is against her teaching when she brings the Word to life in such a fabulous way and has changed and touched so many peoples' lives. How about Taffi Dollar? Paula White? Kathryn Kuhlman? From the Bible, we have Deborah who was a prophetess and a judge. Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, was also known as a teacher--by Paul's own admission. Her husband and she travelled with Paul and helped him minister to many and had a church in their home (see Acts 18:2; 18; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19).
It does not make sense for Paul to be against women teaching. By his own words in Romans 16:1, the Greek word that he uses for Phoebe is "diakonos", which means "a Christian teacher and pastor (technically a deacon or deaconess): - deacon, minister, servant" (Strong, 1890).
At this point, many may conclude that the Bible contradicts itself--sorry, but that's a weak, ignorant, and lazy conclusion. The Bible always makes sense when you fit all the pieces together, but one must take the time to do so and study this Biblical masterpiece with patience, prayer, and precision. The Bible is layered with mystery and revelation, and what I'm about to reveal excites me because it is a powerful, mind-binding revelation that once again enforces how magnificent and incredible God is.
Often when we find situations in the Bible that bring about bigger questions, it may mean that there is a mistranslation or something deeper exists that God is trying to reveal to us. We must always be careful when studying the Bible that we do not interpret a single passage of the Bible in a way that does not correlate with the God we know based on the Bible itself. The Bible needs to make sense in its entirety, and it does if you study it properly and with prayer.
After all that, hopefully we are seeing a bigger picture here and we realize that God is not against women as teachers of His Word, so what is Paul talking about? Paul is taking us to a new level. Are you ready?
In Psalms 34:2, David calls his soul a woman. He says, "My soul shall make her boast in the Lord" (KJV), emphasis added. If we study the Greek word for soul, psuche, it is a feminine form (Smith, Greek Lexicon entry for psuche), which explains why David would reference his soul as a woman.
The Greek word for spirit is pneuma, which is a neuter form (Smith, Greek Lexicon entry for Pneuma), meaning not female, therefore male, since we know that through the spirit, Mary conceived.
Let's jump back to the first book of Timothy. After his bold statement, about not permitting a "woman to teach", in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, Paul takes us to Genesis when Adam was formed first and then Eve. He reminds us that the woman was deceived--not Adam.
Okay, ladies, is this another slap in the face or what? I don't think so. Remember--Paul doesn't say or do anything for fun or to confuse us. He has a reason for his words. If he took us back to Genesis, there is a reason.
When we were created in Genesis 1:26, we were made in God's (Elohim's) image. Adam was the first of us to be formed into flesh and was given a soul and carried a spirit (my future article "Old as Dirt" is coming soon).
Of course, we know that before man, there was God and God is a spirit. God came first, therefore, the Spirit came first. Nothing before God contained a soul until He formed man out of the dust on the ground. After Adam, he formed Eve.
Spirit first, then soul . . .
Man first, then woman . . .
Adam first, then Eve . . .
When we become born again, the spirit inside us comes alive and is sealed safely inside us (see Ephesians 1:13). The enemy cannot touch our spirit. Our spirit is perfect and is in the image of God as He created it to be in Genesis 1:26.
However, our soul is another story. Our soul is a work in progress from the moment we are born out of our mother's womb until the day we die. Our spirit is a finished work, but our mind, otherwise known as our soul, is not. 1 Peter 1:9 tells us that only when we receive the end of our faith, will our souls be saved. This is why we must consistently renew our minds (see Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:23). Our soul will not be a finished work until the end of our days on earth.
In Genesis, when the enemy decided to come against man, he came through woman, the weaker vessel (sorry, ladies--this is not a cut-down, this is how God made us--it doesn't mean we don't have our own strengths! Read 1 Peter 3:7).
Man has an instinctive nature to protect his woman, as the weaker vessel. When you tell a man that his enemy is going to attack him by hurting his woman, watch his nostrils flair and his muscles tense up. This will make a man angry.
For a woman, it's a little different. We aren't protective in the same way toward our man--even though we love him--perhaps because he is bigger and stronger than us. We expect him to take care of himself. Now tell us that our enemy wants to hurt our children and the "mother bear" equivalent will rise up and fly into action! Our nostrils will flair, our finger nails will extend, our teeth will bare--it's not a pretty picture, but I think you get the point!
Human beings are protective of the weaker species. The woman tends to be the weaker species and the serpent, the devil, was counting on that when he tricked her into eating of the tree that the Lord forbid Adam and Eve from eating.
When she ate, she handed the apple to her man, and he ate also.
The soul will follow whichever is stronger, be it the flesh or the spirit. Instead of rebuking the devil and tossing the fruit from Eve's hand, Adam allowed the fear of losing his woman to come upon him and joined her instead of standing with her against the enemy. This is where his protective nature failed. Instead of providing her the ultimate protection she needed--from the wiles of the devil, he let fear take over.
In this moment, the soul stopped following the spirit. The enemy won.
Whenever the enemy wants to attack us today, he still comes after our woman--our soul.
Our soul is weaker than our spirit because our spirit is perfect and is in the image of God. Our soul is not. Our soul will follow the flesh or the spirit--whichever is stronger at any given time. This is why we must feed our spirits with the Word of God! It's the only way our spirit gains the strength it needs to lead our soul!
Taking this revelation knowledge, let's see what Paul is saying in Timothy. Let's replace all forms of "woman" with "soul" and all forms of "man" with "spirit".
"Let a soul learn in silence with all submission" (1 Timothy 2:11, woman = soul).
"And I do not permit a soul to teach or to have authority over a spirit, but to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:12, woman = soul, man = spirit).
"For spirit was formed first, then soul" (1 Timothy 2:13, man = spirit, woman = soul).
"And [the] spirit was not deceived, but the soul being deceived, fell into transgression" (1 Timothy 2:14, man = spirit, woman = soul).
And here's a bonus one: "Souls, submit to your own spirits, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22, wives = souls, husbands = spirits).
Are you excited? I am! When I plugged all this in, I was overwhelmed and thrilled. I could hardly sit still. Even though I never fully believed that Paul was putting women in bondage, there was still that part of me that cringed at these verses, but no more! I am set free!
And it gets better. If you are not fully convinced or as excited as me, you soon will be, for there is one more verse that I want to cover.
As I was preparing this teaching for Mother's Day, I had everything figured out that I've shared with you up to this point. However, this last verse still had me stumped, "Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control" (1 Timothy 2:15).
What in the world is Paul talking about now? For three days, I pondered and prayed over this scripture. These were my arguments:
Ah-ha! Did you get it?
If we do some more plugging, we get, "Nevertheless the soul will be saved in being born again if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control" (1 Timothy 2:15, woman = soul, childbearing = born again). Remember, our soul has been purchased, but it won't be a finished work through the continuous renewal of our minds until the end of our faith--the end of our days on this earth.
God, You are fabulous!
by Co-Pastor Dawn Garcia, M.S., True Life Church
Readings: 1 Timothy 2:9-15; Matthew 12:33; Romans 2:11; Acts 18:2; 18; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Romans 16:1; Psalms 34:2; Genesis 1:26; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Peter 1:9; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; 1 Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:22.