Volume. XXII, No. 19
Sunday, 04 November 2007

From the Pastors Heart: The Biblical Womanhood and The Biblical Leadership (Part 4)

So far I have said lots of things about women’s ordination issue.  However, until we study 1 Timothy 2:12, our questions about the issue will not subside.  The verse says,But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”  In order to understand Paul’s instructions, we need to know the meanings of a few words in the verse.  The first word we need to study is a verb, “suffer.”  If we look at other translations, we may see the implications of the verb better.  The NAS says, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”  The NIV says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”  Grammatically speaking, this word is a present tense, active voice, indicative mood, 1st person singular verb.  It means that Paul spoke in his apostolic authority (I . . . not permit) with an intention that his words will continue to be effective (continual action implied in the present tense).  We must consider that this letter was written to Timothy.  It augments the authority of this verse and injunctions in it.  The Greek verb for “permit” means to commit, permit, turn over, transfer, or entrust (to another as trustee, guardian, or vicegerent).  When this verb comes with a dative word, it means “to rely upon,” or “to leave to.”  It also means “to give up, “to yield,” or “to command.”  All these meanings of this word only indicate Paul’s strong objections to certain things as demonstrated in 1 Timothy 2:12.  Basically, what he is saying is that he is not going to depend on or reply on women to teach men. 

The first injunction in verse 12 is that women are not permitted to teach, which is an integral part of the pastoral ministry.  If we reckon that “being apt to teach” is one of the qualifications to become a bishop/pastor according to 1 Timothy 3:2, we shall know that teaching is an important part of pastoral ministries (cf. Titus 1:9).  More specifically, we should know the exact scope of women’s teaching or not-teaching.  Are women not permitted to teach at all, or only men?  According to Douglas Moo, “The word teach and its cognate nouns teaching (didaskalia) and teacher (didaskalos) are used in the New Testament mainly to denote the careful transmission of the tradition concerning Jesus Christ and the authoritative proclamation of God’s will to believers in light of that tradition (see especially 1 Timothy 4:11: ‘these things command and teach;’ 2 Timothy 2:2; Acts 2:42; Romans 12:7). While the word can be used more broadly to describe the general ministry of edification that takes place in various ways (e.g., through teaching, singing, praying, reading Scripture [Colossians 3:16]), the activity usually designated by teach is plainly restricted to certain individuals who have the gift of teaching (see 1 Corinthians 12:28-30; Ephesians 4:11).  This makes it clear that not all Christians engaged in teaching.  In the pastoral epistles, teaching always has this restricted sense of authoritative doctrinal instruction. 

Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  He emphasizes on the importance of teaching.  The content of the teaching was what Paul had told Timothy among many witnesses.  Thus, though the apostle himself might not be in this world, the same teaching could be transmitted to next generations.  In this regard, we may safely say that the succession we must look for in church history is not of church office such as apostles or popes, but of the teachings of the church.  If we define the teachings as apostolic teachings (doctrines handed down to us from the forefathers of faith), then what Paul forbids in 1 Timothy 2:12 is basically preaching and teaching of the Bible and its doctrines, which is a pastoral duty.  Though it has caused some controversies amongst the Bible scholars, the ban in 1 Timothy 2:12 may include women’s teachings of such subjects over men in the Bible colleges and seminaries.  Kenneth S. Wuest makes an interesting observation in his book, The Pastoral Epistles in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958, 48) as following:

Dana and Mantey in their Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (p. 199) have this to say on the subject: “The aorist infinitive denotes that which is eventual or particular, while the present infinitive indicates a condition or process.  Thus pisteusai (aorist) [aorist is something like a past tense in English] is to exercise faith on a given occasion, while pisteuein (present) is to be a believer; douleusai (aorist) is to render a service, while douleuein (present) is to be a slave; hamartein (aorist) is to commit sin, while hamartanein (present) is to be a sinner.”  Thus, didaxai (aorist) is to teach, while didaskein (present, 2:12) is to be a teacher.  Paul therefore, says, I do not permit a woman to be a teacher.

It appears that we can safely establish a case against a woman being a Bible teacher over man, which implies that she is not allowed to be a pastor.  Our next question is whether women are forbidden from teaching those subjects such as Bible and doctrines to all people?  We read the verse again: But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”  There are two infinitives, “to teach” and “to usurp authority” (though the second infinitive looks long, but from one Greek infinitive word) with one object.  It looks something like this: to teach (infinitive) + to usurp (infinitive) + man (masculine, genitive, singular noun).  There is a seeming grammatical problem.  Usually, objects of verbs have accusative forms.  It is like ‘whom’ for ‘who’ and ‘me’ for ‘I’ in English grammar.  A problem is that “man” in the verse is genitive, not accusative.  However, it seems that the Greek verb for “to usurp authority” takes genitives objects, not accusative, which is one of those few exceptional cases.  Therefore, there is no grammatical problem in “to usurp authority over the man.”  But, a potential problem is that there is no direct object for “to teach”: teach not whom?  Is it possible that “the man” can be the proper object for the infinitive “to teach?”  Is there any grammatical problem to use one object for two infinitives, especially when the seeming object is a genitive noun?  Well, there is no fundamental problem with this structure.  Quite often two verbs (or infinitives) share common objects.  Rather the problem lies in that “to teach” takes accusative case objects, while “to usurp authority” takes genitive case.  Is it possible that “to teach” may have a genitive case object?  Herbert Weir Smyth in Greek Grammar notes that such cases (two verbs with one object) the object will take the case demanded by the nearer verb (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1920, p. 1634).  Therefore, there is no problem to understand Paul’s teaching in 1 Timothy 2:12 as an inhibition of women’s teaching over men.  It keeps women from being pastors.  However, it does not mean that women cannot teach whatsoever.  Women teach women (Titus 2:3), and women teach children as implied in 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14.  Therefore, teaching in Sunday school classes and leading women’s Bible classes will be good ministries for ladies.

Paul in 1 Timothy 2:13-14 talks about differences between men and women.  Again it is not a matter of equality between sexes, but of different roles.  The second injunction in verse 12 is that women are not to usurp authority over men.  Some people may say that no one should rule over anybody in Christ because everybody is equal in Him.  It is true to day that no one is superior to others, but there are different roles for different members in one Body.  We must recognize that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write the pastoral epistles, in which he spoke about bishops or ruling elders.  1 Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.  Without making any damage to equality, we are able to talk about different roles as we can see from the verse.  It is God’s design to have elders and deacons in His church.  When Paul lists qualifications of bishops (elders or pastors), he clearly mentions that he must be a husband of one wife, which excludes women from being pastors.  Such practice has been in the church of God.

Lovingly, Your Pastor 

More Lively Hope




Baptism, Reaffirmation & Transfer of membership on The Lord’s Day, 18 Nov.

Next week’s Fellowship Lunch is communal. If able to do so, please bring a dish or two for sharing.


Looking Ahead

Christmas Concert on Sat, 8 Dec.

National B-P Youth Camp, 11-15 Dec. Speaker: Bro Peter Blake. Theme: B.O.O.T. Camp.

Family Bible Camp at Victor Harbor, 24-26 April 2008. Please arrange your day off work on Thurs, 24 April, now.


Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies Dn Edwin D’Mello, Bro Elton & Sis Michiko Law & Jasper, Sis Jasmin Chua (Adl); Bros Makoto Kobayashi (Jpn) & Joseph Selvanayagam (UK); & all who arrived safely.

Church activities: Christmas Concert practices , Joy, Ladies’, Marantha, Senior Citizens, Sparks4Christ & YAF.

Fellowship & Valuable Contribution of music by Bro Makoto Koyabashi

Answered prayers: Rain and showers in the past week.


Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Edward Paauwe, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, & Hans Ziegelman; Grandpa Ki; Sisters Joyce Chen, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson, Aranka Rejtoe, Juanita Tong, Susan Veradi, Sylvia White & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei & others in affliction.

Cambodia Missions - Rev Luke Kim & Ministry. Ebenezer & Hope teams going to Cambodia in Jan 2008

Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam.

India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

Kuching Missions - Teo family.

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim.

Journey Mercies - Sisters Jasmin Chua (UK) & Vanessa Tan (Melb): & all those travelling this week.

Full-time jobs - Bro Daniel Volvricht, Sisters Min Yen Chia, Rachel Scott-Pearson (UK) & Juanita Tong.

Year 12 students - Bro Samuel Ki & Sis Amelia Tan.

University students – preparation for exams.

Christmas Concert rehearsals - Sis Sally Teng and participants.



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