Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 7, 1963
NUMBER 43, PAGE 2,10a

A Woman's Part In Teaching

Forrest D. Moyer

That a woman is to have a part in the spread of the gospel cannot be denied. The scriptures give instruction and example of this:

(1) It was foretold that women would "prophesy." (Acts 2:15-18)

(2) We read of Philip's four daughters who "prophesied." (Acts 21:9)

(3) Instructions are given concerning women "prophesying." (1 Cor. 11:3-16)

(Note: The word prophesy is from propheteuo and is defined by Bagster's Analytical Greek Lexicon as meaning: "to set forth matter of divine teaching by special faculty." Hence, it means to teach by inspiration. Therefore, women in the New Testament church did teach.)

(4) The case of Aquilla and Priscilla indicates that a woman can have a part in teaching. (Acts 18:26)

(5) Older women are told to teach. (Tit. 2:3-5) They cannot teach the things mentioned here without teach.- ing what God says about these things in His word. Some Bible teaching is necessarily involved.

(6) Women labored in the gospel. (Phil. 4:3)

(7) Phoebe was a servant of the church In Cenchrea. (Rom. 6:1)

All of this proves conclusively that a woman is to have a part in the spread of the gospel. But is her labor unlimited? Can she do anything that a man may do? May she serve as an elder? As a preacher? These questions must be answered sensibly by looking into God's word. So far as I know, there are only two passages in the New Testament dealing with the limitations of a woman's work. These are 1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2:9-15. Therefore, let us consider these passages.

I. 1 Corinthians 14

In order to understand 1 Cor. 14 we must consider the context. It is necessary to study 1 Cor. 12, 13, and 14 together to see them in their true light. The subject is "spiritual gifts." 1 Cor. 12 names many different kinds of spiritual gifts. (See. vv. 1, 8-10, 28-29)

1 Cor. 13 discusses the usage of gifts, namely in love. The latter part of the chapter, vv. 8-12, gives the duration of spiritual gifts — how long they would last.

Chapter 14 gives the regulation of spiritual gifts while they lasted.

A. Verses 2-25 discusses the excellency of prophecy over that of speaking in tongues.

B. Verses 26-40 discusses the regulation of these gifts. (v. 26)

1. "When, ye come together" assembly where-in spiritual gifts were exercised is thus mentioned.

2. These gifts were regulated:

a. "All things be unto edifying." (v. 26)

b. "for God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." (v. 33)

c. "Let all things be done and In order." (V. 40)

3. Thus, that this might be accomplished, 1. e., the regulation of gifts, vv. 27-35 follow:

a. Tongues

(1) two or at most three.

(2) That by course (in order — one at a time).

(3) Let one interpret. It no Interpreter, then "keep silence." (v. 28)

b. Prophecy (teaching by inspiration).

(1) Two or three.

(2) If one gets a revelation, the first Is to keep silence.

(3) Your women (the context would indicate the wives of the prophets)

(a) Not speak.

(b) If learn, ask husband at home (because husband was a prophet, he could give her information there.)

(3.Of course, since we have no spiritual gifts today, we can have no assembly like that one. This chapter regulated spiritual gifts. But the question is asked, 'Would not v. 35, 'for it is a shame for women to speak in the church' still be in force today?" In principle, yes, for the expression "in the church" means `in the 'assembly" or "when the whole church is come together into one place." (v. 23, 26)

The word "speak" carries with it the thought of `addressing the assembly," it seems, from vv. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 19, 23, 27, 29, 34. This a woman cannot do!

However, a woman can sing since all Christians are commanded to sing. (Eph 5.19) She can confess Christ before men for this is commanded. (Matt. 10:32) But she cannot address a mixed assembly without violating God's law.

This passage cannot be properly used in reference to private instruction or group teaching without removing it from its context. It is dealing with an assembly where "the whole church is come together in one place."

II. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 First, it might be well to consider the question, Does this passage apply only to an assembly or does it apply everywhere? Please observe vv. 9, 10. Do "modest apparel, shamefacedness, sobriety, godliness, and good works" apply only to an assembly? What about verse 15? Can a woman usurp authority over a man outside the assembly? No. These points are applicable anywhere. What a woman can do in a home study, she could do in any group study, but no where can she teach over a man or usurp authority over a man.

This passage does govern the teaching and activity of a woman. Her place is fundamentally that of a learner — not a leader.

A. "Not to teach." That this qualified by "over a man" is clear.

1. If it is not qualified by the expression, "over a man," then a. Women could not teach anyone anywhere at any time.

b. She could not teach her children. (2 Tim. 3:15) c: She could not teach another woman (Tit. 2:3-5)

d. It would make sinners of those who did teach (Acts 18:26)

e. She could not even sing (Col. 3:16)

2. What does the word, teach, mean here? Bagster defines it: "to teach or speak in public assembly." Thayer defines it: "deliver didactic discourses." Hence, there is more involved in the word than simply imparting a bit of knowledge. Certainly, there are many circumstances where a woman may impart some knowledge to a man without teaching "over" him.

3. Of necessity, "not to teach" is qualified by the expression "over a man."

a. For this chapter is dealing with a woman's subjection to man.

b. "In quietness" does not demand without speech.

It is defined, "descriptive of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others."

B. So, two things are prohibited:

1. She cannot teach over a man.

2. She cannot usurp authority over a man. Therefore, a woman cannot preach because the preacher must speak with all authority. (Tit. 2:15) She cannot be in a governing position. Nor can she conduct a class where men are present. She would be teaching over men if she did so. But we have already learned that New Testament women did prophesy and teach. However, they did not do this over a man. Therefore, we conclude that there are places where a woman could teach without violating 1 Tim. 2:11-12.

Further, this passage does not prohibit a woman's asking a question of a man. For in 1 Cor. 14:35 women were told that they could "ask their husbands." If asking a question is "usurping authority over a man" then she could not "ask her husband" a question without usurping authority over him. (Remember, a woman cannot usurp authority over a man anywhere!) Since asking a question is not "teaching or usurping over a man" then a woman can ask a question in a group study without violating this passage. (It would not violate 1 Cor. 14:34 because a group study is not under consideration in 1 Cor. 14.)

We might add that this passage does not prohibit a woman from giving some information to a man. If so, never could a woman give any spiritual knowledge to her husband or to any man anywhere. A woman can answer a question without "teaching over a man" or "usurping authority over a man." If in a group arrangement, a question is directed to a woman and she is disposed to answer, she does not violate this scripture. She has not assumed a place over him.

Thus, we can see that a woman cannot preach or teach over a group of men. She can teach other women or children.

She can ask a question in a group study; she can answer a question in a group study without usurping authority over a man.

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