Are women permitted to teach or preach in the public assembly?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Because of the feminist movement in our culture our perception of male and female roles has been altered. The Scriptures (which we are being told are archaic) establish a role which is not politically correct.

1 Corinthians 11:3 (NASB)

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

This is not a popular view of the male female role, therefore, we are told, it is to be rejected. Therefore an emotionally charged issue has been created by those who have an agenda.

When we talk about male female roles, we must first understand that no one in the church that I know of believes that males are superior to females. The two highest I.Q. scores of all time were obtained by women. We are not talking about equality, or tradition, or chauvinism. When we come to a subject like this we must concern ourselves with, what do the Scriptures say?

There are two primary passages which speak to this issue, 1 Corinthians 14:34,35 and 1 Timothy 2:8-15.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (NASB)

34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.

35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

First in this context we must notice that the word for women is the Greek word gune {goo-nay'}, which means women, and is gender specific. Men are excluded.

The word for churches is the Greek word ekklesia {ek-klay-see'-ah} meaning assembly.

Silent is the Greek word sigao {see-gah'-o} which means ‘absolute silence; not to utter a sound.’

This is the same word that is used in verse 28:

1 Corinthians 14:28 (NASB)

but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.

The tongue speaker was to hold his tongue, he was not to utter a sound if there was no interpreter present. Similarly, if a prophet suddenly received a revelation and another prophet was already speaking, verse 30 tells us:

1 Corinthians 14:30(NASB)

But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent…

The purpose for this instruction is obvious. One prophet or teacher must not interrupt another during the presentation of the Gospel. God is not the author of confusion. All things must be done decently and in order. Verse 34 tells us that women are not permitted to speak.

Permitted is from the word that means ‘to allow, to give permission (Matt. 19:8). Speak is the word that means to ‘say or speak.

Verse 35 – tells us that they are to subject themselves.

Subject is from the word that means to ‘rank under,’ it is a military term, meaning to subject oneself to , to obey, to be under obedience. It’s the same word used in Eph. 5:21,22,24; Titus 2:5,9; 1 Pet. 2:18; 3:1.

This has reference to the role aspect of the woman with regard to the man.

Verse 35 also tells us that it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

Improper is from the Greek word that means ‘ugly, shameful, base, disgraceful.’

Therefore, from these two verses we are given the clear instruction by God that Christian women are not to speak (preach or teach) in the worship assembly.

Because the Scriptures uses the plural, churches in verse 34, we know without any doubt that this is the directive God extends to all congregations. Women are not to preach in any worship assembly.

Verse 35 tells us that women are to subject themselves, which represents the characteristic role which is given to women by God. This was not a new concept developed by the Apostle Paul, for Paul appeals to the wider Biblical principal found in Genesis 3:16, and he shall rule over you.

What the Scriptures then tells us is that it would violate a Biblical principle for a woman to speak in the assembly because it violates the role given to women by God which is subjection. It is therefore, the Scriptures say, disgraceful for a woman to reject her God-given role by speaking to the assembly.

The other passage we must consider is 1 Timothy 2:8-15:

1 Timothy 2:8-15: (NASB)

8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

9 ¶ Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,

10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.

12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.

14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

Verse 8 tells us that God wants the men in ever place to pray. If God had wanted to use a word that would have included both genders, he could have used anthropos as he did in verse one. Here he uses the word aner {an'-ayr} which is gender specific, meaning males and males only.

In every place tells us the when and the where of where God wants men to pray. Whenever, and whereever men and women are gathered together to pray, men are to do the leading.

In this passage the instruction given to women is to adorn themselves with proper clothing, that is dress to please God, and to quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness, which once again speaks to the role of subjection intended by God for the woman’s role.

Next the Scriptures tell us , I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. Teach is used in the official sense. She must not teach in the assembly, as has already been seen. She is not to domineer men in the assembly, but she must remain quiet.

And then we have revealed the reason. For. The Greek word for ‘for’ is a conjunction. It is used to express cause or reason. Here is the reason that woman is prohibited by God to speak in the assembly. It was Adam who was first created, and then Eve (verse 13).

This verse argues, once again, the role of the woman as depicted by God from the beginning of creation. Women were not intended by God to have authority over man. At one point in creation it was utterly impossible, for man existed before woman.

Next, the Scriptures say, it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. All women are included here, for Eve is not named.

Here is what we then must conclude:

God desires at all places and times when men and women are gathered for the purposes of teaching and prayer for the men to do the leading. Women are to dress modestly and discreetly. Women are expressly prohibited from leading in prayer, teaching and exercising authority over men on these occasions. The reason why has to do with the characteristic role of women assigned to them by God. The Apostle Paul did not originate these distinctive roles. God established these roles from the beginning. When women remove themselves from their God given role by leading in teaching, or prayer, or in any other capacity in the presence of men when they are gathered together for the purpose of the study of God’s Word and prayer, they do so without Biblical authority. When women insist on exercising authority over men in spiritual activities they do so in violation of the Scriptures.

(notes adapted from a presentation by Guy Orbison, Jr., of Durango, Colorado)

Comments are closed.