Women’s Prohibition To Teach Men: An Investigation Into Its Meaning And Contemporary Application -- By: Robert L. Saucy

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 37:1 (Mar 1994)
Article: Women’s Prohibition To Teach Men: An Investigation Into Its Meaning And Contemporary Application
Author: Robert L. Saucy


Women’s Prohibition To Teach Men:
An Investigation Into Its Meaning
And Contemporary Application

Robert L. Saucy*

*Robert Saucy is professor of systematic theology at Talbot School of Theology, 13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA 90639.

The impetus of this investigation into the meaning and application of Paul’s prohibition for women to teach or exercise authority over men comes from the tension that seems to exist between this command as it has often been interpreted and the actual ministry of women in the NT Church. It is not my purpose in the present study to debate the basic meaning or the permanence of the apostle’s words in 1 Tim 2:12. In my opinion this passage, along with a number of similar teachings concerning the relationship of man and woman in the church and in the home, is most naturally interpreted as prescribing an order between man and woman.1 I concur with Clark Pinnock’s assessment that the plainest and simplest and therefore the best interpretation of these texts leads to some form of what has been popularly known as hierarchicalism.2 To this I might add the testimony of human history, which consistently reveals the reality of patriarchy—a reality that, despite its sinful conditioning, is still most easily explained as having its basis in nature.3

On the other hand, Scripture reveals a significant ministry of women among God’s people, especially in the NT Church. This Biblical picture of the activity of women seems often incompatible with the actual practice of the contemporary conservative church under the observance of the Pauline prohibition. It is especially evident in speaking ministries related to the

Word. For example, how often does one hear a woman speak in what might be termed the primary gathering of the church, except perhaps to make announcements for women’s activities? How does one square the present limited activity in the church with the Biblical picture of women praying and prophesying? Since prophecy was an important activity in the Church of the apostle’s time, does the women’s part in this significant ministry have any corresponding activity in those churches that no longer have the same place for prophecy as did the Church in the apostolic era? What about the apostle’s listing of women as his “co-workers” in the spread of the gospel, which no doubt involved considerable speaking of the Word (Rom 16:2; Phil 4:2–3)?You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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