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Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

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Men, Women, and Creation

I TIMOTHY 2:11-15

1. Are there any differences, other than biological ones, between men and women ?

This study looks at the way men and women are created to relate to each other. It is a crucial yet awkward subject. If men and women are completely the same, then to make any distinctions between them may amount to unjust discrimination. But if men and women are different, then not to consider these differences may also amount to unjust discrimination. Where shall we look to decide this question?

First Timothy 2 takes the ultimate long view, carrying us back to the very beginning of the world.

Perhaps the most important book in the Old Testament is Genesis. In it we discover what God is like, how He created the world, how He relates to humanity, and what happened at the beginning of history. Genesis is the foundation on which Christian doctrine is built.

This is certainly true when we come to I Timothy 2: 11-15. Here we find Paul explaining his commands concerning a woman's activity in the Christian gathering. His reason for not permitting a woman to teach or have authority over a man arises out of the account of both Creation and the Fall. Before we piece together Paul's argument, let's look at the Genesis account.

Read Genesis 1:26-28
1. "Man" is made to rule the earth and all the creatures in it.
Can you tell whether this refers to the male alone or to the male and the female together?

Read Genesis 2:15-25
2. Why was the woman created?

3. From Genesis 1-2, how would you describe the relationship between Adam, the woman (later named Eve), and the rest of creation ?

Read Genesis 3:1-19
4. We find in this passage three cases of authority being overthrown, and three sets of consequences. What are they?

Authority overthrown Consequences




Now read 1Timothy 2:11-15
5. Try to paraphrase these verses.

6. What is the basis for Paul's command?

The Argument of 1Timothy 2

Paul picked up from Genesis three "threads" to his argument in 1 Timothy 2: firstness, deception, and the difficulties of childbirth.

1. Firstness (v. 13)

Paul says women have the position they do because Adam was formed first. "Firstness" often carries connotations of authority in the Scriptures, as it does in our own use of language (e.g., the "prime minister," which simply means "first minister"). There is the idea of the firstborn being the heir and ruler (as in Col. 1:15-20).

What can be said is that there is an order to creation. God could have created Adam and Eve simultaneously, but He didn't. He created Eve for Adam. She was created to be man's "helper" (Gen. 2:18,20) and was made perfectly suitable for the task. This is the key to understanding her relationship to Adam.

2. Deception (v. 14)

Paul says that " Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived" (v. 14). Genesis 3:13 records the woman confessing that "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Genesis does not, however, describe Adam as being deceived; rather, his sin was that he "listened to [his] wife and ate from the tree" (Gen. 3:17).

Why is Eve's deception significant? Eve was deceived by one of the animals God had made, over which she was meant to have dominion (Gen. 1:26-28). This was why she "became a sinner" (1 Tim. 2: 14). Eve became a sinner, not simply because she was silly or gullible enough to be deceived by the serpent, but because she was deceived into overturning God's order of creation.

Instead of ruling the snake under God, she listened to and obeyed the snake, tried to become like God, and then led her husband to do the same. As God pronounces judgment in Genesis 3, the overturning of creation's order is emphasized in the way He deals first with the serpent, then with the woman, and then with the man (vv. 14-19). In the cursed and fallen world, the good order of chapter 2 becomes distorted and bitter - the serpent will attack the woman's seed and be crushed under His heel (v. 15); the woman will try to master the man, but will be dominated by him instead (v. 16); and the man, rather than ruling and tending a bountiful garden, will gain his food by sweat from a hostile earth (vv. 17-19).

There is an order to God's creation; there is a structure to the relationships between men and women that is built into the very fabric of things. God made Adam first and then made Eve to be his helper, and He made both Adam and Eve to rule over the rest of creation. The very essence of Adam and Eve's sin was their overturning of this order.

Before we turn to the third Genesis theme in 1 Timothy 2 (childbirth), let us think further about the first two.

When we compare Genesis 2-3 with 1Timothy 2, the relationship between the two passages is not difficult to see. Women are being warned not to upset the order of creation by usurping authority the way Eve did. What we find more difficult to understand is why Paul should consider a woman's teaching in the church to be an example of such usurping of authority. What is it about teaching that makes Paul single it out as the authority issue? Do women have to be utterly silent and not say a word in Christian gatherings?

The answer rests in our understanding of what "teaching" is. We tend to think of teaching as a merely intellectual activity - imparting knowledge or giving instruction to someone. However, in the Bible, and indeed in other fields as well, teaching involves a special relationship between the teacher and the student. Which do we remember from childhood: our teacher from third grade or what she taught us? We remember the teacher, of course.
Christian teaching involves authority. The teacher molds the life of the person being taught; the teacher is given the privilege and responsibility of guiding, informing, persuading, changing, and leading.

This is why "teaching" and "authority" are so closely tied together in 1 Timothy 2:12. To be in a teaching relationship with someone is to be exercising some sort of authority over that person.

(See 1 Cor. 16:15-18, where Paul instructs his readers to submit to certain of his fellow workers, not just to their ministries.) Under Christ's authority, and through His word to us in 1 Timothy 2:11-12, we are told that women ought not to teach or have this sort of authority over a man. Teaching a man is wrong, because by teaching him, the woman enters into a relationship of authority over him. By teaching the man, the woman is falling into Eve's error, turning the order of creation upside down. Such teaching is the flip side of learning in "quietness and full submission" (v. 11). Eve's sin involved overturning the order of creation and teaching her husband.

Similarly, Adam's sin came from "listening" to his wife, in the sense of heeding and following her instruction. He was taught by her, thereby putting himself under her authority and reversing God's order of creation.
This biblical teaching may seem hard, especially for a society where women aim for, and often achieve, authority over men. Paul's instruction on this matter seems far less terrible if:

1. We believe in God's goodness - that He wants what is best for us.

2. We don't see "quietness and full submission" as weakness, but as meekness - not as a demeaning and pathetic thing, but rather as a holy and life - affirming response to how God has created the world.

3. We - both men and women - recognize that Christ is our ultimate teacher and that He has ordained through His Word that men and women relate in this way.


1. What implications does Paul's use of Genesis have for the following claims:

"First Timothy 2 is only dealing with a specific problem in Ephesus at the time Paul was writing."

"Women should never teach anyone, because they are easily deceived."

"Paul didn't like women, so he wouldn't give them responsibilities or power."

"Things are different now because, in society's eyes, women are better educated and have equal standing with men."
2. How does this teaching make you feel? Why?

3. How are you tempted to fall into Adam and Eve's trap of overturning the authority of God's created order?

4. How can you avoid this temptation? How can you help others in this area?

5. What might obeying this command cost you?

6. How can a woman's teaching gift be used in the congregation?
(See Titus 2:3-4.)

7. Discuss this scenario; what should be done? In Robert's church, there are a number of very educated and eloquent women who wish to preach on Sunday mornings. Robert's wife, Jane, is among them. She feels that she ought to be allowed to preach, since she leads the devotional times at home, and church is just like a bigger home devotion. The issue has become a hot potato at church, with a number of men and women voicing their discontent during their meetings. The pastor, an elderly man, has quoted 1Timothy 2 in replying to these complaints, saying that women were not created to teach and that only men should teach. In fact, he has decided that he must lead the women's Bible study from now on. The church has suffered great disruption, and everyone wants to resolve the issues.

The New Testament gives example after example of women who held a phenomenal position and ministry in the early days of Christianity.

Mary of Nazareth was chosen by God to bear and rear and teach God’s very own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, while He was a child. (Luke 1:26-38).
Anna, a prophetess, was chosen by God to predict the future of the baby Jesus (Luke 2:36-38).
It was four women who demonstrated raw courage by standing at the foot of Jesus’ cross when all the disciples had fled for their lives (Mark 15:40).
Joanna and Susanna supported the work of Christ (Luke 8:3).
Martha and Mary opened their home to Jesus time and again (Luke 10:38-39; John 11:5).
Mary Magdalene, because of her great love and devotion for Christ, was chosen by God to be the first to witness the Lord’s resurrection (Matthew 16:9; John 20:11-18).
Tabitha or Dorcas helped the poor of her city by clothing them (Acts 9:36-43).
Mary, the mother of John Mark, allowed the early believers to meet in her home (Acts 12:12).
Lydia courageously stepped forth and became the very first convert to Christ in Europe (Acts 16:13).
Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, taught the truth of Christ to the young preacher, Apollos (Acts 18:26).
Philip the evangelist had four daughters who were prophetesses (Acts 21:9).
Phebe served the church at Cenchrea. (Romans 16:1-2). Phebe had been a “succourer” of many, including Paul himself. The word succourer means that she protected, helped, looked after, and provided for people. Phebe was a woman who ministered to the needs of many. Apparently she helped and looked after the welfare of any who had need.
Mary of Rome ministered to Paul and his companions (Romans 16:6).
Tryphena and Tryphosa were two ladies who labored in the Lord (Romans 16:12).
The mother of Rufus became a mother to Paul (Romans 16:13).
Euodia and Syntyche were two women who labored in the gospel (Phil. 4:2-3).
The mother and grandmother of Timothy, Lois and Eunice, taught the Scriptures to Timothy from his earliest childhood (2 Tim. 1:5).
 The aged women were to teach the young women (Titus 2:3).

These Scriptures clearly show that women were chosen and gifted by God to hold a significant position and ministry in the early days of Christianity. But it also has to be noted that there is no clear record of a woman serving in the capacity of the head teacher or head authority in the New Testament church (pastor, bishop, or elder).

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