Thursday, February 10, 2011


I am blessed with owning every Greek lexicon one can have, and also, every major Greek commentary that is worth owning. I put these great works "to work" in dealing with 1 Timothy 2:12, the passage that reads: "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet." Paul argues from the perspective of doctrine not from the direction of culture, as the modern feminists would try to claim.

So here is a thorough study on the passage, and especially the expression "to exercise authority." This is a Present Infinitive from "authenteo." "To authenticate, to have absolute sway, authority over." The clause then reads: the woman is not to be continually having authority over a man. The context has to do with pastoral leadership. She is not to be a pastor! She is also not "to teach" (Present Infinitive) of "didasko," or "didactic." She is not to be teaching with pastoral authority over men!

The "why" is an issue we won't go into here, though Paul gives his reasons.

The key lexicons show that the word "authenteo" is used only once in the NT and that is here. Balz & Schneider translate the word "to rule over." The Classical Greek Lexicon translates the word "to take in hand," with the idea that the woman reaches for a role that she should not have. She bullies her way into this place of authority. Nicoll translates the word here as "to have dominion" over the men with her grabbing misplaced teaching authority. She is acting on her own authority, he adds, or she is autocratic!

The feminist movement was to a degree alive and well in NT days. Thayer indicates that the woman wanted to be absolute master over men in the church.

The great Greek scholar A. T. Robertson puts it this way: The woman is not permitted to have this authority in the church. He points out that in the 1920s and 1930s many churches were allowing women to teach mixed groups in the Sunday school which was wrong, he further noted.

Women can teach a woman's class and especially a class for younger women as to how they can love their husbands and their children biblically (Titus 2). But they are forbidden to teach a mixed study. Feminine Christian women today ignore the 1 Timothy passage. They claim it was a cultural mandate by Paul that is out of vogue today, but this is not so. This rule still stands.

Elicott writes: "The whole purpose of these weighty admonitions of the great founder of the Gentile churches relegates Christian women to their own legitimate sphere of action and influence—the quiet of their own homes. Paul shows what is the only proper sphere in which women should work, and to which she should exercise her influence and power; while man's work and duties lay in the busy world without, woman's work was exclusively confined to the quiet stillness of home." The BKC adds: "The females of the congregation should receive instruction from the male leadership with quietness and full submission. They should not attempt to turn the tables by clamoring for the office of congregational teacher or by grasping for authority over men."

While this is not popular today, it stands as what is right from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit upon the Word of God. The Lord has His purposes from these directives. --Dr. Mal Couch