Does 1 Timothy 2 Prohibit Women From Teaching, Leading, And Speaking In The Church? -- By: Heather Celoria

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 27:3 (Summer 2013)
Article: Does 1 Timothy 2 Prohibit Women From Teaching, Leading, And Speaking In The Church?
Author: Heather Celoria

Does 1 Timothy 2 Prohibit Women From Teaching, Leading, And Speaking In The Church?

Heather Celoria

Heather Celoria spent several years pursuing a deeper understanding of women’s issues and gender relations, which freed her to journey with Jesus with a whole heart. She is a Master of Divinity student at Asbury Theological Seminary and a licensed and ordained minister of The Covenant Center in Lakeland, Florida. She blogs at

The woman taught once, and ruined all. – John Chrysostom1

First Timothy 2:9-15 is a difficult passage to interpret, and there are many opinions about appropriate meanings and applications. In the middle of the passage, however, is one verse that has been referenced throughout the history of the church as a clear mandate to restrict women from teaching, leading, or even speaking during worship gatherings:

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.2

To interpret Paul’s meaning correctly, one must examine this command in light of the culture and situation of the believing community that this epistle was addressing. One must also look to surrounding context in 1 Timothy as well as other New Testament writings to see if Paul does, indeed, restrict women from teaching, leading, and speaking in the church. In this article, I propose that a correct interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 within the context of the epistle as well as the historic and cultural situation does not support a restriction of women. Additionally, the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament, do not restrict women from teaching, leading, or speaking in the church community and its worship.

The Problem Of Disorder In Worship

I perceive the main problem that Paul is addressing in this passage to be women causing disruption of the community’s worship through their behavior, which includes their appearance and communication. The first aspect of this disruption is inappropriate dress. Some of the women were dress...

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