One of God's Unpopular Prohibitions
God has told us not to do certain things. Our response to His
prohibitions is part of the total demonstration of our attitude toward Him and
our faith in Him.
God has said, "DO NOT LIE!" There may be circumstances where I may be convinced (based on my evaluation of things) that the only thing to do is lie. Everybody around me may see nothing wrong with an occasional lie. Some today have said it is all right to lie about certain things, like sex. From a carnal standpoint, I may be able to give reasons that sound good; why it would be fine to go ahead and lie. But I ultimately and personally deal with God, and He has said not to lie. Faith restrains my behavior through His prohibitions, regardless of my evaluation of circumstances.
God's Word is filled with prohibitions; things we are forbidden to do. These prohibitions may be moral in nature; they may have to do with attitude or relationships; some have to do with the local church or the assembly. Whatever the context; whatever behavior is forbidden - divine prohibitions test our faith. And it should be obvious to every fair-minded person, when God says not to do something, my duty is to refrain from anything He has prohibited. I know it is in my best spiritual and practical interests to respect God's prohibitions.
In the instructions Paul gave when he wrote to Timothy, there are prohibitions; things we are told NOT TO DO. There are some things we must not allow, because God's Word says "NO ... don't do this; don't let this happen!" These pro-hibitions were not given to punish us, but to help us and better us. And even when we may not understand the purpose behind some of God's prohibitions, faith demands our restraint because He said not to do it. As we respect these prohibitions - we please the God who gave them, and we put ourselves in the best position to carry out His holy will.
Here is one of God's prohibitions: Here is 1 Tim. 2:11,12 (KJV): "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." In the NAS: "Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet." In the NIV: "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." In one of the latest modern versions, it remains substantially the same.] NRSV: "Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent."
I suppose it occurs to you that there are a number of people in our society who do not care for what this passage teaches. And there are many who acknowledge the value of respecting God's prohibitions generally, but not this one!
In reaction to this passage you will hear folks suggests that Paul was really a victim of male prejudice; he was a partisan who entertained an subordinate opinion of women and this statement only reflects the distorted view of one narrow-minded man. Christians cannot jump onto that bandwagon, because before we come to this text, we've already decided something: We have decided to follow God's commandments, including the prohibitions given through those men who were apostles according to His will.
Look back at the first verse of First Timothy where it says that Paul was "an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the commandment of God..." We believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures. Our conviction is, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and he wrote this not from his own distorted values, BUT BY INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. He wrote, he gave instructions and revealed prohibitions as an apostle of Jesus Christ. And so the typical worldly reaction to this teaching has no influence with God's people, because we regard Paul as an certified apostle of Christ, writing by inspiration. Isn't this right?
So here it is; we have to face God, right here in His Word and deal with this prohibition: "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."
What Does This Mean?
IT DOES NOT MEAN that women are not as good as men; that they are insignificant.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN that women cannot learn, or cannot teach -- it says they must learn in quietness, with full submission; and, they are not to teach with authority over a man.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN women cannot ask a question...
THIS DOES NOT MEAN women cannot correct a man in error, if she does it in a proper manner...
THIS DOES NOT MEAN a woman cannot participate in a class discussion led by a man.
This is about the role of women in subjection to men and this statement prohibits her from teaching with authority over man. This is a prohibition, with as much validity and force now as when it was first written. In the King James, in the NAS, the NIV or in any English translation - - the prohibitive nature of the statement cannot be avoided: "I suffer not..." "I do not allow ... a woman to teach over a man..." "I do not permit... ."
And the religious feminists expected the NRSV to accomodate their view, but guess what it says: "Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent."
In view of this, what do you think Timothy's reaction would have been?
Knowing what you do of this young evangelist; aware of his unfeigned faith... What do you think Timothy's reaction would have been -- if one day, a sister came to him and said: "Bro. Timothy, you are not the only one around here who knows the Scriptures; I'M GOING TO PREACH TODAY! It is time for the women to assert their rights -- in fact, it is past time... so I will address the assembly today"? What do you suppose Timothy would have said? "Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man..."
Anytime there is controversy or questions or intruding trouble regarding gender issues, the first thing we have to do is to deal with this text seriously! We cannot be tossed to and fro by the fads and opinions of society or the popular movements promoted by the media. We cannot take a reactionary stance, imitating the Pharisees. We cannot pervert Scripture to degrade women. None of this is proper. Our obligation is to deal seriously and objectively with the text -- remembering that GOD HAS PROHIBITED SOMETHING.
"I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man..." Women are not to teach with authority over a man. The text is prohibitive! Either we will follow this prohibition, or ignore it.
By Warren E. Berkley
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From Expository Files 6.5; May 1999