John MacArthur, Beth Moore, and Jumping to Conclusions: The Assumptions Behind a Hierarchical Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12

Last week I listened to a podcast where two women explained how they “stand with the Bible” when it comes to their hierarchical interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12. As far as these Sheologians[1] are concerned, this verse proves that women should not teach the Bible to men, be in positions of authority over men, or be pastors and elders. The meaning of the verse is plain as day, they argued, so anyone who disagrees with their view is ignoring scripture.

These ladies went on to mockingly characterize women who believe God has called them to pastoral ministry as obsessed with selfish ambition. Women who “feel called” to church leadership, they laughed, go around whining about what they will do if they can’t be elders or pastors, as though there’s nothing else that needs to be done! As though men who aren’t called to be elders or pastors should go around complaining that there’s nothing for them to do, especially when there’s more than enough work to go around![2]

Then over the weekend a video of John MacArthur telling Beth Moore to “go home” hit the internet. After the laughter and applause died down Mac Arthur added, “There’s no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period, paragraph, end of discussion.” MacArthur went on to explain that “when you literally overturn the teaching of Scripture to empower people who want power, you have given up biblical authority.”[3]

Aside from the fact that the tone of both interviews was dishonoring, the idea that there is no room for differences of interpretation on this topic is presumptuous. John MacArthur and the women on the podcast are not “standing with the Bible” as they claim, but with certain interpretive assumptions they bring to Scripture, especially to 1 Timothy 2:12. This is what we need to grasp.

And this is why it is vital to take the time to identify those suppositions and determine if there are compelling reasons to accept them as a convincing argument for gender hierarchy in the church. We can do this with an attitude of respect toward those who come to different conclusions than we have. We do so by focusing on the ideas rather than attacking and mocking individuals.

So today I want to identify the main traditions that lie behind the interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 that is said to prove male authority in the church. As you read you can think through the validity of the preconceived notions you have brought to the text. I won’t accuse you of rebelling against Scripture if, after weighing the evidence, you land on a different island than I have. I only ask that you take the time to listen, think, and perhaps do a bit of research.

Let’s review the passage first. We’ll look at vv. 8-15 since there’s wide agreement that these verses go together.

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 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. (1 Tim. 2:8-15)

Okay, here we go.

Assumption #1: The setting is the church meeting.

Women can teach men or be their supervisors elsewhere, it is argued, but 1 Timothy 2 is about what happens at church, so women aren’t permitted to teach or supervise men in church. This is a widely held view on all sides, yet it seems to arise primarily from church tradition. The passage itself has no markers to indicate that it has to do with a congregational setting such as “your meetings” (1 Cor. 11:17), “when you come together” (1 Cor. 14:26), or “as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people (1 Cor. 14:33).

Also, the earlier commands about women dressing modestly and men praying without disputing point away from the church meeting, since presumably women should dress modestly everywhere and men should pray without arguing everywhere (as v. 8 states). At minimum it must be acknowledged that the congregational setting is an assumption, not something stated directly in the text.

Assumption #2: The switch from plural men and women to singular woman and man is inconsequential.

Virtually all hierarchical interpretations blow past this change that comes between v. 10 and v. 11, claiming that the singulars point to women and men in general. But in vv. 8-10 Paul was already speaking of men and women in general, so why the switch? And why the argument that the “plain sense” of the passage demands that a woman does not teach/exercise authority over men, when in fact all it states is that Paul does not want a woman to teach/exercise authority over a man?

Also, most hierarchicalists permit women to do the one thing the passage appears to prohibit, i.e. teach a man privately one-on-one. It is the public teaching of God’s word to a group of men that is forbidden, they say. Yet if we hold to a high view of the inspiration of scripture we ought to do our best to apply what is stated rather than what is not stated. We should also assume that Paul made the switch from plural to singular for a reason. Has, in fact, the setting shifted from men and women in general to the individual man and woman in relationship, perhaps in the home as husband and wife?

Assumption #3: The term translated “have/exercise/assume authority” is a general term simply meaning to be in a position or role of delegated authority over others.

The fact is that the word in the original language, authentein, is very rare and historically has proven extremely challenging to understand. Though modern studies have demonstrated that authentein is not a general term for exercising authority but rather has connotations of domination, domineering, and control, it is very difficult to turn the Titanic of hundreds of years of English Bible translation away from the iceberg of accepted interpretation. When your interpretation is unsinkable, why would you jump ship?

Even Chrysostom, who believed wholeheartedly in male authority in marriage, told men they should not authentein their wives. Clearly he did not understand the word to refer to a rightful use of authority, or he would not have forbidden it. An informed understanding of the word therefore indicates that Paul is not disallowing proper delegated authority or a position of authority, but rather inappropriate sinful dominance.[4]

Assumption #4: The prohibition on teaching combined with the one on exercising authority refers to the role of elder/pastor.

This one is a big leap. Even when I understood the passage hierarchically, it never occurred to me that it was talking about elders and pastors. In contrast to 1 Timothy 3 which explicitly deals with leadership roles in the church, chapter 2 does not mention them at all. Perhaps now that some of the foremost complementarian scholars acknowledge that neither 1 Timothy 3 nor Titus 1 prohibits women from becoming elders and pastors, it is seen as necessary to build the case from 1 Timothy 2.

So it is argued that since teaching and having authority are functions of church leaders, what Paul is actually prohibiting is the promotion of women to these specific roles. Yet a plain reading of the text would not lead one to the conclusion that it forbids women from becoming pastors and elders, but rather that an individual woman should not have an inappropriate relationship of dominance over an individual man.

Assumption #5: Verses 11-14 are perfectly clear even though v. 15 is not, since an understanding of v. 15 is not essential to Paul’s main point.

Hierarchicalists tend to throw up their hands over how in the world a woman can be saved through childbearing/childbirth, yet treat the difficulties posed by v. 15 as inconsequential or at least secondary. Read as a whole, however, it is apparent that in v. 15 Paul is responding to the issue that caused him to place restrictions on “a woman” in the first place. The passage builds to v. 15 and finds its climax there. For that reason it is essential to come up with a coherent explanation of v. 15 before we can assume we understand vv. 11-14. Without this, we do not know what problem Paul is addressing.

If v. 15 is understood in its simplest sense – that a woman will be kept safe through the ordeal of childbirth – it completely changes our conception of the situation Paul was addressing and the focus of his restriction. But my main disagreement with the traditional interpretation on this point is their claim that vv. 11-14 are plain as day while at the same time they struggle to make sense of v. 15. The two do not go together. At minimum it ought to be acknowledged that many unanswered questions remain that can and do affect the interpretation of vv. 11-14.

Assumption #6: The appeal to creation in v. 13 points to a fundamental hierarchical ordering of man and woman.

Since the man was created first, so it goes, men are created to be in authority over women. Yet Paul never says anything about men having dominion over women. His focus is that a woman (or a wife) should not teach a man (or a husband) in a domineering way or, perhaps, dominate him through her “teaching.” In other words, the appeal to creation may simply be a warrant that lends support to the idea that it is wrong for a woman to dominate or control a man, particularly her husband.

I believe we can agree that it is wrong for anyone to dominate another. Jesus called this “lording it over” others and strictly forbade it, even by those in proper leadership positions. The Bible never states that it is fine for a man to authentein a woman nor are men ever encouraged to exercise “proper” authority over women (echein exousiazo), but only to love them as Christ loved the church.

Assumption #7: The appeal to the fall in v. 14 demonstrates that women are inherently unsuited for leadership.

Paul’s point, hierarchicalists argue, is that women should not fill church leadership roles because they are more easily deceived than men. Yet Paul does not say that women in general are more easily deceived. It is a leap to assume this is what he meant and then apply it to all women everywhere, though that is precisely what was done throughout church history up to the modern age.

It is just as possible that Paul used Eve to communicate that some women in Ephesus were being deceived, just as he used Eve’s example to warn the Corinthians about the deception they had fallen prey to (2 Cor. 11:3-4). And in 1 Timothy 2:8-15 it seems that the specific deception had something to do with childbirth, explaining Paul’s focus on the women in this passage.

Assumption #8: The individuals who need to exhibit godly character in v. 15 are women.

This assumption has been reinforced by Bible translations that have changed the wording of the original language to “clarify” the meaning. Instead of what is stated in the Greek – “she will be saved/kept safe through childbirth if they continue…” – some English Bibles say “women will be saved/kept safe through childbirth if they continue…,” giving the impression that if women will continue in godliness God will reward them in some way. But the word “women” does not occur in the Greek of v. 15 and the verb “be saved/kept safe” is singular, so the subject is “she.”

If we take the original wording at face value, the “they” most likely refers to the man and woman of vv. 11-12. Except for Adam and Eve (who are past needing either salvation or protection) they are the nearest antecedent, and hence the most likely referent. If this is the case v. 15 would mean that a woman will be preserved through childbearing if she and the man she had previously been attempting to dominate (perhaps her husband) would now join forces and pursue faith, love, and holiness with propriety together.

Assumption #9: Submission and quietness are timeless feminine ideals.

Hierarchicalists teach that submission in quietness is the timeless role of women. This means women are to submit to the limitations and expectations placed upon them by men in the church and in the home, and they are to do so with a joyful spirit of servanthood. Men, on the other hand, are to establish those limitations and expectations with a humble spirit of servanthood. Both are called to servanthood, the one by following expectations and the other by setting them.

What we need to recognize here is that submission and the lack of agitation and aggressiveness entailed in the Greek word “quiet” or “quietness” were considered fundamentally feminine virtues by ancient Greeks and Romans in the same way that obedience was considered a fundamental virtue of slaves. There is undoubtedly a cultural component behind the application of these specific virtues to women in this setting.

I am not saying that women need not submit to proper Christian teaching or that they may be aggressive or contentious in learning environments. My point is that to take the words Paul used here and assume they describe the foundational calling of womanhood takes the passage out of its context. The New Testament teaches that submission and quietness are fundamental Christian virtues. All believers are called to submit to church leaders and Christian instruction without becoming contentious, so it is not surprising that Paul brings this up here.

Assumption #10: The Artemis/Isis cult background of Ephesus does not influence the interpretation of the text.

A recent study has demonstrated significant links between 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and the Artemis cult so predominant in Ephesus.[5] Strong parallels exist between the behavior and attire of first-century goddess worshipers and Paul’s instructions. The immodesty, the plaiting of the hair with gold and pearls, and the domineering aggressiveness Paul prohibits were all key components of the cult. In addition, Artemis was connected with the goddess Isis in a way that indicates an ancient myth that asserted the woman was created first and the man was deceived enjoyed some acceptance in Ephesus.

In addition, we know that Artemis was worshiped as the “savior.” One of the key ways she functioned in this role was by protecting women through the ordeal of childbirth, the greatest threat to a woman’s health in the ancient world. Women were terrified of death or disability resulting from pregnancy and childbirth, and therefore were devoted to their goddesses of fertility. Walking away from paying homage to Artemis as part of their newfound Christian faith would have been terrifying, since the goddess was known to be vindictive toward those who dared to cross her.

With all of this in the background, it would not be surprising that some of these women were questioning their safety in childbearing and becoming contentious about certain Christian teachings, like the fact that they needed to turn away from idolatry. Paul wanted them to calm down, learn the truth, and be reassured that they could safely turn away from Artemis worship because Jesus would take care of them.

Whether you accept this precise reconstruction or not, it is difficult to argue that the Artemis background makes no difference to an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:8-15, as many hierarchicalists seem to assume. One way or another, it needs to be integrated into our understanding of this passage.

The Path to Hierarchy

The path to an acceptance of gender hierarchy in the church includes, of necessity, grappling with the verifiability of these ten assumptions. As in a steeplechase competition, you can’t go around a barrier or skip a water jump and claim you finished the race. You may have gotten a lot of exercise, but you didn’t do the steeplechase.

In the same way there is no honest path to a hierarchical reading of 1 Timothy 2:8-15 that goes around any of these points. You have to go through them. In the end it was this weighing of all of my preconceived ideas that changed my views on the subject, though I’ll admit it took a lot of reading, a lot of study, and a lot of time.

If you take the time to work through each assumption yet still settle in the land of hierarchy, I respect your decision.

But at least you know how you got there.

[1] Their self-designation and the name of their organization. My earlier footnote here mentioned that I was unable to ascertain the names of the two women, but thanks to a reader I have learned that they are Summer White and Joy Temby. The confusion resulted from inadvertently accessing Summer’s earlier website at The current site is Thank you, Maria!

[2] “Why We Aren’t Egalitarian” by Sheologians, on, accessed 10/15/2019.

[3] “John MacArthur Beth Moore Go Home,”, posted by, accessed 10/18/2019.

[4] On authentein see: Ben Witherington III, Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, vol. 1 (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2006), 227; Klyne Snodgrass, “A Case for the Unrestricted Ministry of Women,” The Covenant Quarterly 67/2 (2009), 38; I. Howard Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles (New York: T. & T. Clark, 1999), 457-58; Andrew Bartlett, Men and Women in Christ (London: InterVarsity, 2019), 268-70; Cynthia Long Westfall, Paul and Gender (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2016), 290-94.

[5] Gary G. Hoag, Wealth in Ancient Ephesus and the First Letter to Timothy: Fresh Insights from Ephesiaca by Xenophon of Ephesus, Bulletin for Biblical Research Supplements, vol. 11 (Winona Lake, Indiana; Eisenbrauns, 2015).

20 thoughts on “John MacArthur, Beth Moore, and Jumping to Conclusions: The Assumptions Behind a Hierarchical Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12

  1. Thank you for this teaching, so well said. I had not previously thought or read about the first assumption, “Assumption #1: The setting is the church meeting.” Good point.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. 1 Timothy 3:14-15 tells us the purpose of Paul’s letter “ I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God”
        What assumption?


      2. The reference to “the church of the living God” here probably refers to the universal church (see Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, 274), so it is not limited to the gathered community. “The household of God” also does not necessarily mean the gathered family (the “household”) of believers. Paul is saying that when people become Christians they join a new family with new expectations for how they ought to conduct themselves. Some things apply only when the church is gathered, but everything applies to the Christian’s general pattern of life.

        If you read the whole book you see that some of the instructions detail the general behavior and expectations for Christians, not just how they should relate when they come together.

        For example, it would seem that
        Christian women should not dress in an ostentatious way no matter where they are. And slaves should respect their masters and serve them well in their everyday lives, even though it is possible that a slave could have a leadership role in the church that would put him in authority over his master.

        I acknowledge that 2:11-15 could be talking about the church gathering. All I am saying is that it is not directly stated and is not as obvious as it has been made out to be.


  2. Have you read the new book Men and Women in Christ by Andrew Bartlett? I just reviewed on my blog. He emphasizes some of the same points – such as #1. Oh – I was just more carefully reviewing your footnotes and see his book! I answered my question. haha. But I will leave my comment anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the note, Laura. Yes, Marg Mowczko first recommended Bartlett’s book to me. As you mention in your review it is well worth reading – and a page turner too. I love your helpful assessment of his conclusion. Keep up the good work!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have struggled though the falsity that women are not to be teachers as my God given calling is to teach God’s word. My husband has supported and encouraged me all along. I expect him to help keep me sound. He found your article and we are both cemented in your correct interpretation of these scriptures. A great weight has been lifted! Well done.


    1. I’m so glad this was helpful, Heather, and I’m so glad your husband is supportive of your calling. That makes so much difference! Blessings to you both as you seek to follow God’s direction in your life.


  4. Hi, Sarah, I’m late to the party; but I agree completely. The assumptions you listed, and others, generally go unchallenged by those who assert that the Bible plainly teaches that women cannot be pastors/elders. It was challinging those assumptions that led me to reject complementarianism/patriarchalism and embrace an egalitarian/mutuality perspective.

    I’ve often told complementarians that it’s hard to take their claim that the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:12 is obvious and clear, without question, when so many folks who agree with them on that one verse have such a wide variety of opinions about others verses in the immediate context of 1 Timothy 2:8-15. One example that always amuses me is the claim that v 9 is specific to that culture and time, and should not be taken in a literal sense, but v 12 is obviously in no way connected to culture and must apply to all women in all places and all times. (But yet, only in the church, not the rest of the world, even though, as you pointed out, the passages doesn’t reference a church setting at all).

    I don’t mind that people have come to different conclusions than I have about what this passage means regarding women teaching men. Like many Bible-believing egalitarians, I was once firmly committed to the complementarian view, so I understand why folks believe it. What I have more difficulty with is the claim by so many complementarians that anyone who believes that women can be pastors/elders does so because they reject the clear and plain teaching of the Bible. They seem to have no trouble accepting that folks can be fully committed to the authority and reliability of Scripture and come to different conclusions about what it teaches regarding various other doctrines (in soteriology, eschatology, ecclesiology, etc.). But when I say I believe the Bible as much as they do, but I don’t believe it teaches what they think it teaches on the topic of male/female hierarchy in the church and in the home, they automatically say I am denying Scripture and my views are based on contemporary cultural standards. (It never seems to occur to them that perhaps their views are based on long-standing cultural standards that aren’t biblically based.)

    One question, You said, “Perhaps now that some of the foremost complementarian scholars acknowledge that neither 1 Timothy 3 nor Titus 1 prohibits women from becoming elders and pastors, it is seen as necessary to build the case from 1 Timothy 2.” Do you have some references as to which complementarians have acknowledged this, and where? I don’t think those passages can be rightly interpreted to prohibit women from performing that function, but many complementarians I encounter still seem to think those passages do prohibit that. It would be helpful to be able to point them to folks within their own camp who don’t see it that way, as they tend to dismiss arguments by egalitarians without a second thought. If you can show folks examples where folks they agree with have different interpretations, it can help get past the claim that “you’re just denying the clear teaching of the Bible.”


  5. Well said, Tom. You are so right about the core issue being the charge that egalitarians reject the authority of the Bible – and how strange that is in light of the many other things we respectfully disagree upon. It is also extremely hurtful and damaging to the body of Christ.

    As far as your question, it’s been awhile since I wrote this and I don’t recall off the top of my head who those scholars are. I have an idea but will need to look things up to verify. If you can give me a little time, I will get back to you here with that information.

    Thanks for reading.


      1. Hi Tom. Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I have a couple of quotes for you. The issue hinges on the only phrase in 1 Tim. 3 and Tit. 1 that might disqualify women as elders or overseers, literally “man of one woman.” There are no masculine pronouns in these passages in Greek as we find in English, so the case cannot be formed from that.

        On this phrase Douglas J. Moo (“The Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15: A Rejoinder, Trinity Journal 2 Fall 1981, 211) writes, “The phrase is a difficult one and may mean, as Payne proposes, that the male elder/overseer must be faithful to his wife, without excluding unmarried men or females from the office. But while it would be going too far to argue that the phrase clearly excludes women, it does suggest that Paul had men in mind as he wrote.” In other words, Moo thinks Paul was thinking of male elders but acknowledges that the wording does not, in fact, exclude women.

        Thomas R. Schreiner (“Philip Payne on Familiar Ground: A Review of Philip Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ,” Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 15, no. 1, 35) states, “The requirements for elders in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9, including the statement that they are to be one-women men, does not in and of itself preclude women from serving as elders.”

        This is why Schreiner builds his argument elsewhere, such as in the book Two Views on Women in Ministry, 283, but connecting 1 Tim 2:12 with eldership: “Notice that women are prohibited from doing the two activities that distinguish elders from deacons (teaching and exercising authority).”

        This is also why books like Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood do not have a chapter on 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1. If these passages clearly showed that women are excluded from being pastors and elders, they would surely be in those books. So, for example, Piper and Grudem do not list 1 Tim. 3 or Titus 1 among the passages they believe exclude women from pastoring and eldership (RBMW, 1991/2206, 61).


  6. Thanks for your reply. Based on your explanation, Paul writes this letter to Timothy with instructions for conduct that includes the universal church gathering. Where does Paul exclude the church gathering for his instruction in 1 Timothy 2:11-15?

    Could it be that Paul transitions from women to woman in verse 12 because there is only one woman who transgressed, resulting in the Fall and thus humanity inheriting sin from Eve and Adam.

    As you state, if the myth (in Ephesus) that the woman was created before man has been debunked by Paul with the Genesis account, is a Biblical loving male headship and leadership a problem for you?

    Not an authoritarian or domineering role but a protective, nurturing, sacrificial and a loving leadership as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5, Colossians 3 and Peter in 1 Peter 3.
    As someone said, as the family goes, so goes the church.


    1. I have no problem at all with a protective, nurturing, sacrificial male headship. I think this is what the Bible teaches. What I no longer see is the leadership part. I do not think a metaphorical use of kephale refers to leadership, but instead to self-sacrificial love, as explained in Ephesians 5.

      Maybe where my view differs from yours is that I am not convinced that just because first-century marriage was structured along a hierarchy that the Bible requires that. When it comes to employment, the commands to slaves do not require that our employment system is based on enslavement; the commands to citizens to obey the emperor do not demand that our system of government is an autocracy.

      In the same way, the instructions to women to submit to their husbands do not demand that our marriages be structured as a hierarchy. I do believe in Christian submission, but I don’t think the overall direction of the New Testament presents submission as unilateral.


  7. Really appreciate your quick replies. I would love to see what you mean by “the instructions to women to submit to their husbands do not demand that marriages be structured as a hierarchy”.
    Who is demanding such a thing?

    I hold a complementation view. Here is a somewhat of an un-comprehensive definition of my view of complementarianism Biblically – “men and women are equal in dignity, value, worth, joint heirs with Christ, one flesh in a Christ centered marriage and yet distinctively different in biology, roles at home and church”. Mark 10-6-8, Romans 8:17, Galatians 3:28-29, 1 Peter 3:7 (Would like to see your interpretation of this particular text).

    I see God bestowing a unique honor to women in the begetting and rearing of children. Such honor men don’t have. In addition, Paul does prescribe older women to teach and train younger women to love their husbands and children so that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:5).

    According to Gordon Fee, in “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” he says “A text cannot mean what it could never have meant for its original readers/hearers.”. I understand some texts are difficult to understand than others but not 1 Timothy 2:11-14 compared to verse 15.

    Again, thank you for engaging in this conversation.


    1. The complementation view of marriage is that it is a hierarchy with the husband having authority over the wife. A woman’s role, in essence, is to submit, follow, and be taught. This is the essential difference between the complementation view and the egalitarian one. I didn’t come up with this; it is the fundamental teaching of complementarianism.

      However, most “complementation” marriages don’t really conform to the hierarchy inherent in the position. Russell Moore bemoaned that fact in a 2006 article where he noted that most officially “complementation” marriages are functionally egalitarian – that is, the couple works together in a true partnership where, when they disagree, they pray and dialogue until they come to an agreement, rather than simply defaulting to the husband’s perspective. They also influence each other and both take initiative in the marriage and in the home. At the time Moore thought this was a bad thing. I’m not sure what he thinks now. This may describe your marriage.

      Saying 1 Tim 2:11-4 is easy to understand but v. 15 is difficult is like saying a movie was easy to follow but the ending made no sense. I would suggest that if you can’t fit in the ending with the rest of the story, you probably have not understood the story. The same is true of 1 Tim 2. If one doesn’t understand how the conclusion sums up the passage, one probably has not understood the passage. I would not stay that a passage where translators have knowingly changed the wording in order to get it to make sense of it is one that is easy to understand (“she” to “they” or “women” in v. 15) or where they insist on using a very ordinary word (exercise authority” to translate a word that carries a very different meaning (dominate, domineer) to give the impression that it’s the same term as everywhere else the NT talks about authority.

      In repsonse to an earlier question, Paul does not exclude a gathered church setting in 1 Tim. 2. But the whole complementarian that these verses exclude women from being pastors and elders or teaching doctrine in an authoritative role completely depends on this being the worship service. If it is not, then the argument that this is about leadership roles in the church falls apart.


      1. In response to your last paragraph, that is my conviction: that 1 Timothy 2:12 prohibits women from being pastors, elders or teach in an authoritative role.

        Additionally, I don’t see a single imperative in the entire NT for women to aspire to the pastoral office or an authoritative preaching role .

        Tom Schreiner has a couple of articles on this subject. He advocates a prohibition on office and function and offers some wisdom.

        In Christ.


      2. Well, Francis, many evangelicals – perhaps half – hold the same conviction as you do. It is a well-respected position even though many disagree with it. So maybe we should leave our differences at that. I see my writing as giving food for thought, not as an attempt to twist anyone’s arm.

        I am very familiar with Schreiner’s work. He is a top-notch evangelical scholar who is highly respected on all sides. I have always appreciated his desire to respect those with differing views.

        All the best to you as you continue to follow Christ.


    2. I agree that the differences between men and women are beautiful and significant. While both equally reflect God in his eternal essence (i.e. ruling authority), when it comes to God’s pursuit of humanity as his beloved the human male reflects God as Lover and Pursuer while the human female reflects humanity as God’s beloved. The difference between my view and a complementarian one is that they (subconsciously, mostly) conflate God as Lover with God as King, Lord, Good Shepherd, etc. and assert that a man/husband reflects all of these in his relationship with women. The man leads (like the Good Shepherd with the sheep), exercises authority (like a king over his realm), and directs (like a lord with his slave/servant).

      This is where I differ from their views. I love and celebrate the differences between men and women; I just am no longer convinced that complementarians have defined those differences accurately. You should know that I was a committed complementarian from 1973 until 2007, then from 2007-2016 my views took a gradual turn until I arrived where I am now. You should also know that my utter commitment to complementarianism almost destroyed my marriage, but fortunately we adjusted our views to one of mutual respect and full partnership. We have now been married 42 years and are happier than ever.

      I also value motherhood and nurturing children to a very high degree. I have four living children (I had one miscarriage) and devoted 28 years of my life to rearing the, 16 of which were spent homeschooling. I didn’t do this because I don’t value motherhood and sacrifice! I do. I made many sacrifices in the hope that my children would grow up emotionally and physically healthy, knowing and following the Lord. On the other hand, my husband is a naturally very nurturing father who was highly engaged with our children.


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