"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. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (I Tim. 2: 11-15)
These verses are very similar to I Cor. 14:33-34. That being the case, much of what was said on that passage applies here. Both passages command women to be in silence when they are in the assembly and being taught by the elders or other male teachers. Both command women to be submissive to male leadership, upholding a kind of patriarchalism, at least in the church and in the family. (Note: my spell checker says that "patriarchalism" is not a valid word!) Both passages deal with a woman's Christian education and how her education from teachers in the assembly is to be done as a quiet learner, not asking questions in such a setting. Her education at home, under the supervision of her husband, if married, and her father, if not married, allows her to ask questions and to be a more involved and vocal learner. The differences are few.
First, in this passage, there is direct mention of a woman's prohibition against teaching in the assembly, in the mixed assembly, where adult men are present. But more on that shortly. Second, while the first passage commands women to be "under obedience," this passage states the same thought in these words - "I suffer not a woman to usurp authority over the man." Third, this passage gives additional information on the reason for a woman's subordination.
Needless to say, some are lax in their interpretation of these words and others are very strict. Some approach the passage with their minds firmly decided in favor of women being equal to men in every respect, even in Christian ministry and office, and seek in every way possible to give strange and absurd ideas about the apostle's words. Others, on the other hand, approach the passage with their minds firmly decided that women cannot do any teaching or ministry at all, and cannot vote, cannot speak, cannot sing, etc. We are sure, however, that the truth, as usual, lies between extremes.
I look back over my history and thank God for my female teachers. After all, women, though forbidden to teach scripture and theology to adult men, are nevertheless allowed of God to teach in other ways. They are certainly allowed to teach men, as they do in schools and colleges, such topics as math, science, and other such subjects. Further, they are certainly not only allowed, but commanded of God to teach their children in the home, including scripture and theology, but under male leadership. Further, in private meetings, either with women or children, or with adult men, they are allowed to speak their minds on bible subjects and help others to see the way of God more clearly and accurately. This was certainly true of Priscilla, wife of Aquila, who helped to show the preacher Apollos "the way of God more perfectly." (See Acts 18: 1,2, 25,26)
The apostle Paul thought of the godly teaching influence of two women when he thought of the faith (belief) of Timothy, saying to him - "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also." (II Tim. 1:5) Solomon spoke of a mother's teaching ministry to her children in the Book of Proverbs, saying, for instance - "My son, listen to your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching." (Prov. 1:8) Thank God for such mothers! Many Christians can credit their mother's teaching with helping them to be all they can be.
When I was sixteen years old, I was brought into the fellowship of Christ and one of my first godly counselors and teachers was my High School English teacher Mrs. Shrader. She taught a "Bible Literature" class in High School (something difficult to do today with so much phobia against such a thing). In this class she did not teach doctrine. It was forbidden by law. Nevertheless, those students who were Christians sought her guidance often. I remember telling her, after I had been baptized, "I am a Primitive Baptist." She was a Baptist, a Landmark Baptist. She attended the large "Landmark Temple" in Cincinnati. She lived in Oxford, Ohio, a place with a history of "Primitive Baptists" in that area. Elder Wilson Thompson preached in the Oxford area many times. On two occasions outside of school I was helped much by her teaching. Once, before I ever thought of becoming a Hardshell Baptist, and before I was converted, I went to a vacation Bible school at a local Baptist church where some of my High School friends were active. I never will forget her teaching about what it meant to be born again. It remains in my heart to this day. I also remember how she had several of us over to her home one day and was always encouraging us in our search for the Lord and the well being of our souls.
Now, I could name other women who have been a great help to me in my religious education. I could name women who teach on the radio, like Elisabeth Elliot, who I believe God has used to help spread the good news. Her teaching is not the kind of authoritarian teaching that one would expect from pastors and elders, and from male teachers, but was more of a kind of personal testimony intermixed with citations from scriptures. I don't think this violated scripture. I have also read writings on scripture by other women that have been of great help to me on certain subjects. Sometimes these women happen to be authorities in ancient Hebrew or Greek and their comments on that, as it pertains to certain bible verses, has been a help.
What I am trying to say is this: these verses do not condemn any and all teaching for women. What it does do is to put restrictions on women in teaching the bible. But, more on this point shortly. First, I want to look at some of the leading commentaries on this passage.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
"But I suffer not a woman to teach, They may teach in private, in their own houses and families; they are to be teachers of good things, Titus 2:3. They are to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; nor is the law or doctrine of a mother to be forsaken, any more than the instruction of a father; see Proverbs 1:8. Timothy, no doubt, received much advantage, from the private teachings and instructions of his mother Eunice, and grandmother Lois; but then women are not to teach in the church; for that is an act of power and authority, and supposes the persons that teach to be of a superior degree, and in a superior office, and to have superior abilities to those who are taught by them:
nor to usurp authority over the man; as not in civil and political things, or in things relating to civil government; and in things domestic, or the affairs of the family; so not in things ecclesiastical, or what relate to the church and government of it; for one part of rule is to feed the church with knowledge and understanding; and for a woman to take upon her to do this, is to usurp an authority over the man: this therefore she ought not to do..."
Though Gill was often very strict when it comes to a woman's place in the church, he nevertheless at least sees how Paul's prohibition against women teaching is not universal. The prohibition, according to Gill, consists in women not to "teach in the church."
There is good commentary on this passage of scripture in an essay titled "What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men (1 Timothy 2:11-15)" (see here at bible.org). I want to quote from this essay and give my amen to it (emphasis mine).
"1 Timothy 2:8-15 imposes two restrictions on the ministry of women: they are not to teach Christian doctrine to men and they are not to exercise authority directly over men in the church. These restrictions are permanent, authoritative for the church in all times and places and circumstances as long as men and women are descended from Adam and Eve."
I am sure that this is correct. The passage should not be looked at as if there was a period after the word teach, so that Paul says "I suffer not a women to teach." This would seem to make any and all teaching by women to be forbidden. What kind of teaching is forbidden is women teaching in the general congregation and over adult men. They certainly may teach children and other women. Notice what Paul wrote to Titus on this point.
"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 kjv)
When I was with the Hardshells, they went overboard in their opposition to bible classes and Sunday schools. One of their most common objections was that such classes, with other churches, are often conducted by women and this, say they, is condemned by the apostle. But, I do not think so. We have already seen that women may teach children and may teach privately. Here we see how Paul encourages experienced women to teach other women. So, what is wrong with allowing the sisters in the church to have weekly classes where an aged and learned sister teaches them? Now, I realize that most Hardshell churches are so small in number, that such classes would not be feasible. But, in larger churches they would be beneficial. Talented and gifted women simply ought to be given opportunities to teach as long as it is not in the general assembly and not over adult men.
Again, the writer says:
"For women to be prepared to teach other women (see Titus 2:3-4), they would naturally need to learn and learn well."
This is certainly true. The manner in which she is to learn is different from that of men, as we have observed. But, having been taught, is there no occasion for her to teach others? Do the scriptures not say that women should teach others? Was the commission not given to all disciples, including women? Did Paul not tell Timothy "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others." (II Tim. 2:2 NIV) Did he not say in the Hebrew epistle - "you (plural - you all) ought to be teachers"? (5: 12) Does he not say that all who are taught the word ought at some point to be able to teach it to others?
Again, the writer says:
"Similarly, all Christians are encouraged to study the Scriptures; but Paul expressly limits “teaching” to a restricted number who have the gift of teaching (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28-30). Of course, if we define teach in a broader sense—the communication of Christian truth through private conversation, family devotions, etc.—we may conclude that all Christians do indeed “teach.”"
This is the very thing I have been affirming and demonstrating from the above cited scriptures.
Next, the writer deals with whether the verb "teach" is to be connected with "over the man" or whether only "usurp" is to be connected with "over the man." I firmly believe, as our writer will state, that both verbs, teach and usurp, are to be joined with the words "over the man." He asks "whether the word man (andros) is the object of the verb teach." In answer he says:
"In prohibiting women from teaching, what exactly is Paul prohibiting? And is he restricting them from all teaching or only from teaching men?"
Exactly! Clearly Paul is not forbidding all teaching by our beloved sisters! God forbid that we would teach such a thing!
Again, the writer says:
"In light of these considerations, we argue that the teaching prohibited to women here includes what we would call preaching (note 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word … with careful instruction” [teaching, didache]), and the teaching of Bible and doctrine in the church, in colleges, and in seminaries. Other activities—leading Bible studies, for instance—may be included, depending on how they are done. Still others—evangelistic witnessing, counseling, teaching subjects other than Bible or doctrine—are not, in our opinion, teaching in the sense Paul intends here."
I certainly do agree on this and believe that it represents the teaching of the apostle.
Again, the writer says:
"Is Paul prohibiting women from all teaching? We do not think so. The word man (andros), which is plainly the object of the verb have authority (authentein), should be construed as the object of the verb teach also. This construction is grammatically unobjectionable, and it alone suits the context, in which Paul bases the prohibitions of verse 12 on the created differences between men and women (verse 13). Indeed, as we have argued, this male/female differentiation pervades this passage and comes to direct expression in the word that immediately precedes verse 12, submission. Paul’s position in the pastoral epistles is, then, consistent: he allows women to teach other women (Titus 2:3-4), but prohibits them to teach men."
Again, he is "spot on." Those who think that Paul condemns women teaching children and other women, in Sunday schools or bible classes, have carried Paul's prohibition way too far and done much to hinder godly women exercising their gifts and helping to evangelize the unconverted.
Again, the writer says:
"Again, we must ask the question of application. What kind of modern church practice would Paul be prohibiting to women in saying they are not to have authority over a man? First, we must, of course, recognize that it is not a question of a woman (in the New Testament or in our day) exercising ultimate authority over a man; God and the Scriptures stand over any Christian in a way no minister or human authority ever could. But, within these spheres of authority, we may nevertheless speak legitimately of a governing or ruling function exercised under God by some Christians over others (see 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Hebrews 13:17). In the pastoral epistles, this governing activity is ascribed to the elders (see 1 Timothy 3:5; 5:17). Clearly, then, Paul’s prohibition of women’s having authority over a man would exclude a woman from becoming an elder in the way this office is described in the pastoral epistles. By extension, then, women would be debarred from occupying whatever position in a given local church would be equivalent to the pastoral epistles’ governing elder (many churches, for instance, call these people deacons). This would be the case even if a woman’s husband were to give her permission to occupy such a position, for Paul’s concern is not with a woman’s acting independently of her husband or usurping his authority but with the woman’s exercising authority in the church over any man."
I cite such words as these because I could not express my own views any better.
Again, the writer says:
"On the other hand, we do not think Paul’s prohibition should restrict women from voting, with other men and women, in a congregational meeting, for, while the congregation as a whole can be said to be the final authority, this is not the same thing as the exercise of authority ascribed, e.g., to the elders. Nor do we think Paul would intend to prohibit women from most church administrative activities. But what about women teaching or having authority over men in other activities in society generally (for example, in government, business, or education)? While this broader issue is addressed in another essay in this volume (see pages 50-52, 88-89, and 388-393), it is appropriate to note here that Paul’s concern in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is specifically the role of men and women in activities within the Christian community, and we question whether the prohibitions in this text can rightly be applied outside that framework."
Again, I give a hearty amen to such commentary.
Now, in closing, as a side point on our passage, I want to remark on what is meant by women being "saved" in child bearing, etc. Many of my Hardshell brethren will use this verse to try to prove their "time salvation" doctrine. What they try to do is to use this verse in order to uphold this proposition (supposition):
"the word saved, salvation, etc., is oftentimes used in the NT where it clearly does not have reference to eternal salvation, and thus, it is justifiable for us to see those words as often talking about a time salvation, and not an eternal salvation."
The error in this presupposition is in failing to give to the word "saved" (or one of its forms) its normal meaning. No one denies that words have a primary and a secondary meaning, and sometimes even several meanings. But, when we take the secondary meaning of a word and give it the primary position, we err. Many examples of this can be given where the Hardshells have done this, besides on the word "saved." No one denies that the word "saved" sometimes denotes a temporal or time salvation that is totally unconnected with eternal salvation. But, the question is - what is the common primary meaning of the term in the NT? Is it not eternal salvation? In fact, this being so, one should always think of some aspect of eternal salvation when he sees the word, unless the context or common sense dictates otherwise. But, the Hardshells have turned this simple hermeneutic rule upside down. They have made the secondary use of the word "saved" the primary use. But, before I discuss this verse, about women being "saved" in child bearing, I want to give a another example where Hardshells have taken the secondary meaning of a word and made it primary.
They have done this with the word "angel" (Greek ἄγγελος - ang'-el-os), meaning "messenger." The primary or most common use of this word in the NT is a designation for those spiritual non corporeal beings we commonly call "angels." Yet, as all bible scholars and commentators acknowledge, the word sometimes denotes a human messenger, sometimes the pastor of a church or an evangelist. But, this usage is not the prominent or common meaning, but is the exceptional use, or the secondary. But, due to the influence of "Two Seedism" in the history of the Hardshells, they have often taken passages where angels are spoken of, and rather giving them their normal primary meaning, have given them the secondary. Thus the fall of the angels becomes not the fall of heavenly beings, but the fall of preachers!
Saved In Child Bearing
Here is what Dr. Gill wrote on this passage.
Notwithstanding she shall be saved
Not Eve, though no doubt she is saved; since she had a sense of her sin, and shame for it, a revelation of the Messiah to her, and faith in him; see ( Genesis 3:7 Genesis 3:8 Genesis 3:15 ) ( 4:2 ). But rather any woman, particularly such as profess godliness, who shall be saved
Notice first that Gill sees no problem believing that eternal salvation is under consideration. Also, notice how he believes that Eve had faith in the Messiah! This is denied by our Hardshell brethren who tell us that people did not believe the gospel in the OT! That they had no revelation to believe! That they were "unbelievers" since they did not have NT revelation!
which is to be understood not of a temporal salvation, or being saved through childbearing, through the perilous time, and be delivered out of it; for though this is generally the case, yet not always, nor always the case of good women.
Clearly Gill was no Hardshell! Notice he says "which is...not of a temporal salvation"!
Rachel died in childbed: the Jews say F20, for three transgressions women die in childbearing; because they do not take care of their menstrues, and of the cake of the firstfruits, and of lighting the lamp (when the sabbath approaches). But spiritual and eternal salvation is here meant; not that bearing children is the cause, condition, or means of salvation; for as this is not God's way of salvation, so it confines the salvation of women to childbearing ones; and which must give an uneasy reflection to maidens, and women that never bore any; but rather the meaning is, that good women shall be saved, notwithstanding their bearing and bringing forth children in pain and sorrow, according to the original curse, in ( Genesis 3:16 ). And so the words administer some comfort to women, in their present situation of subjection and sorrow; though they may be rendered impersonally thus, "notwithstanding there is salvation through the birth of a son": and the sense is, that notwithstanding the fall of man by the means of the woman, yet there is salvation for both men and women, through the birth of Immanuel, the child born, and Son given; at whose birth, the angels sung peace on earth, good will to men; through the true Messiah, the seed of the woman, through the incarnate Saviour, who was made of a woman, there is salvation for lost sinners: he was born of a woman, and came into the world in order to obtain salvation for them; and he has effected it, and it is in him, for all such who apply to him for it; and with it all true believers, men and women, shall be saved through him,
Notice how he is firm in saying "But spiritual and eternal salvation is here meant"! Women are saved by being the means of Christ coming into the world! So, this being the right interpretation, why insist that the verse cannot be talking about eternal salvation?
if they continue in faith and charity, and holiness, with sobriety.
The Vulgate Latin version reads in the singular, "if she continues", &c. but the sense is the same; for the "she", or woman, is to be taken in a collective sense, as it is in the context, for many women; even for such as profess faith and godliness. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions render the words, "she shall be saved by her children", if they continue i.e. she shall be saved by bearing of children, and bringing of them up in a religious way; if they, the children, continue as they were brought up (this was the view of Elder Sonny Pyles!); which is a very strange rendering of the words, and is as strange an interpretation of them (amen to that!); and yet is what many have given into, but needs no confutation. The meaning of the words is, that there is salvation through the incarnate Messiah, for all sorts of persons; for all men and women who believe in him, with that faith which works by love, and shows itself in holiness and sobriety; provided that they continue herein. For there are some that profess these things, that have only a temporary faith, and feigned love, and not true holiness; and these fall away, and are not saved; but such who have these graces in truth, as they do, and shall continue in them, so they shall certainly be saved.
Why would Elder Pyles and other Hardshells want to make "if they continue" to refer to the children of female Christians? Is it not because they deny perseverance and profess only preservation? But, not only is eternal salvation under consideration, but perseverance is put as what is required for it. Further, Gill's view is the real "Old Baptist" teaching.