What does Scripture reveal about women teaching men?
Several people have written to The Refiner's Fire to ask our opinion on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12, which supposedly show that women have subordinate roles in congregations and are not allowed to teach men. But read in context, we see that Yahweh (YHWH) views men and women as equals, yet each with their own, specific gender roles:
Ephesians 5: 21 Submit to one another in fear of the Messiah. 22 Wives should submit to their husbands as they do to the Lord; 23 because the husband is head of the wife, just as the Messiah, as head of the Messianic Community, is himself the one who keeps the body safe. 24 Just as the Messianic Community submits to the Messiah, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 As for husbands, love your wives, just as the Messiah loved the Messianic Community, indeed, gave himself up on its behalf, 26 in order to set it apart for God, making it clean through immersion in the mikveh, so to speak, 27 in order to present the Messianic Community to himself as a bride to be proud of, without a spot, wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without defect. 28 This is how husbands ought to love their wives - like their own bodies; for the man who loves his wife is loving himself.
29 Why, no one ever hated his own flesh! On the contrary, he feeds it well and takes care of it, just as the Messiah does the Messianic Community, 30 because we are parts of his Body. 31 "Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and remain with his wife, and the two will become one." 32 There is profound truth hidden here, which I say concerns the Messiah and the Messianic Community. 33 However, the text also applies to each of you individually: let each man love his wife as he does himself, and see that the wife respects her husband.
The question begs to be asked: If YHWH caused Balaam to be taught by a donkey (Numbers 22), why couldn't He use women to teach men? YHWH can and will use whomever He wishes! Check out scriptures such as 2 Kings 22:1-20, Joel 2 and all the ones mentioned below - and then ask yourself:
If a woman can be a disciple like Junia or Tabitha/Dorcas; a deacon like Phoebe; evangelists like Euodia and Syntyche; or a judge over all Israel like Deborah (Judges 4:4, 5), why can't she be a "teacher of men?"
And ask yourself whether the following women weren't being used by God: Miriam who was Prophetess and sister to Moshe (Genesis 24:15, 19), the Daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27:1-11); Ruth (Ruth 1:1-4:22); Huldah (2 Kings 22:3-20); Esther (saved the Jewish nation, Esther 4:1); Anna (Luke 2:36-38); the woman at the well; Phoebe (Romans 16:1); and Philip's daughters (Acts 21:9). YHWH uses whoever is on His path to get HIS TRUTH out to the world! He even included Moshe's and Aharon's sister, Miryam in his list of "leaders":
Micah 6: 1 So listen now to what ADONAI says: "Stand up and state your case to the mountains, let the hills hear what you have to say." 2 Listen, mountains, to ADONAI's case; also you enduring rocks that support the earth! ADONAI has a case against his people; he wants to argue it out with Isra'el: 3 "My people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Answer me! 4 I brought you up from the land of Egypt. I redeemed you from a life of slavery. I sent Moshe, Aharon and Miryam to lead you.
Who was YHWH talking to? Only men? No! He was talking to HIS people! Women are people, too!
We can see that YHWH gave blessings and commands to both "male and female" right from the beginning:
Genesis 1: 27 So God created humankind in his own image; in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them: God said to them, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air and every living creature that crawls on the earth."
We also see that YHWH said:
Genesis 2:18 ADONAI, God, said, "It isn't good that the person should be alone. I will make for him a companion suitable for helping him."
Please note He didn't say He was giving man a "slave" or some underling! Many attempt to use Genesis 3:16 to show that women were to be subservient to the man after the "fall":
Genesis 3: 16 To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pain in childbirth. You will bring forth children in pain. Your desire will be toward your husband, but he will rule over you."
Truth is, this verse only applies to Eve. There's nothing to suggest that YHWH meant ALL women, or surely He would have included this in this particular passage! How many men do you know who were led by their wives to literally eat from the physical Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Scripture says that this only happened to Adam; not ALL men. Furthermore, YHWH said we are all responsible for our OWN sins:
Ezekiel 18: 18 Yet his father, because he oppressed so cruelly, committed robbery against his brother and never did anything good among his people - he will die for his sins. 19 "You ask, 'Why doesn't the son bear his father's guilt?' When the son has done what is lawful and right, has kept all my laws and obeyed them, he will certainly live. 20 The person who sins is the one that will die - a son is not to bear his father's guilt with him, nor is the father to bear his son's guilt with him; but the righteousness of the righteous will be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked will be his own.
2 Kings 14: 5 As soon as he had the kingdom firmly under his control, he put to death the servants of his who had murdered the king his father. 6 But he did not put the children of the murderers to death, because of what is written in the scroll of the Torah of Moshe, as ADONAI ordered when he said, "Fathers are not to be executed for the children, nor are children to be executed for the fathers; every person will be executed for his own sin."
Scripture teaches that both Adam and Eve were co-participants in the Fall: (Genesis 3:6; Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
Genesis 3: 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it had a pleasing appearance and that the tree was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her; and he ate.
Romans 5: 14. Your death reigned from Adam until Moshe, even over those who had not sinned after the likeness of the transgression of the command by Adam who was the type of him that was to come.
As we move from the Tanach to the Brit Chadashah, we see that the resurrected Yeshua first revealed Himself to women: Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" - a phenomenon which, in ancient times was unheard of as women were basically pushed into the background in a very patriarchal society:
Matthew 28: 1. Now in the closing (evening) of the Sabbath, as the first of the week was dawning, came Maryam of Magdala and the other Maryam that they might see the grave. 2. And behold a great earthquake occurred for a Messenger of Master YHWH descended from heaven and came and rolled away the boulder from the entrance, and he was sitting upon it. 3. And his appearance was like lightning and his clothes were white like snow. 4. And from the fear of him, those who were watching trembled and they became like the dead. 5. But the Messenger answered and said to the women, "Do not fear, for I know that Y'shua who was executed on the stake, you seek.
6. He is not here. For he has risen as he said. Come see the place in which he was laid. 7. Now go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead. And behold he goes before you to Galeela. There you will see him. Behold, I have told you. 8. And they departed quickly from the grave with fear and with great joy and were running that they might tell his disciples. 9. And behold, Y'shua met up with them and said to them, Peace to you. And they drew near and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. 10. Then Y'shua said to them, Do not fear. Rather, go and tell my brothers to go to Galeela, and there they will see me.
Ultimately, this can be viewed as "women teaching men" because they had knowledge that the men did not. (See also Mark 16 and Luke 24.) Here are some other women that YHWH chose to use for His glory:
Judges 4: 4 Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading [a] Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.
Philippians 4: 2. I plead with Euodias and Syntyche that they be of one mind in our Master (Y'shua). 3. I also plead with you, my true burden bearers, that you assist those women who worked hard with me in the Good News; together with Clement and with the rest of my helpers whose names are written in the book of life.
Luke 2: Then there was Kanna the prophetess a daughter of Peniel from the tribe of Ashir; she was also advanced in her days . And she was seven years with her husband whom she had lived with since her virginity. 37. And she was a widow for about eighty-four years. And she would not go out from (the Temple). (But would) with fasting and with prayer serve by day and by night. 38. And she also stood up in that hour and gave thanks to Master YHWH and was speaking concerning him to everyone who was waiting for the salvation of Urishlim (Jerusalem).
Luke 10: 41 But Y'shua answered and said to her, Martha! Martha! You are anxious and troubled by many things! 42. But there is one thing that is important, and Maryam has chosen the good part for herself. That will not be taken from her.
Scripture teaches that Torah was given to both women and men:
Deuteronomy 31: 11 when all Isra'el have come to appear in the presence of ADONAI at the place he will choose, you are to read this Torah before all Isra'el, so that they can hear it. 12 Assemble the people-the men, the women, the little ones and the foreigners you have in your towns -so that they can hear, learn, fear ADONAI your God and take care to obey all the words of this Torah;
Joshua 8: 35 There was not a word of everything Moshe had ordered that Y'hoshua did not read before all Isra'el assembled, including the women, the little ones and the foreigners living with them.
Nehemiah 8: 1 When the seventh month arrived, after the people of Isra'el had resettled in their towns, all the people gathered with one accord in the open space in front of the Water Gate and asked 'Ezra the Torah-teacher to bring the scroll of the Torah of Moshe, which ADONAI had commanded Isra'el. 2 'Ezra the cohen brought the Torah before the assembly, which consisted of men, women and all children old enough to understand. It was the first day of the seventh month. 3 Facing the open space in front of the Water Gate, he read from it to the men, the women and the children who could understand from early morning until noon; and all the people listened attentively to the scroll of the Torah.
Ezra 10: 1 While 'Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrated before the house of God, a huge crowd of Isra'el's men, women and children gathered around him; and the people were weeping bitterly.
Jeremiah 44: 24 In addition, Yirmeyahu said to all the people, but especially the women: "Hear the word of ADONAI, all Y'hudah who are in the land of Egypt;
Luke 8: 1. And it happened after these things that Y'shua was going around in the cities and in the villages and was preaching and declaring the Kingdom of Elohim. And his twelve were with him, 2. and those women who were healed of sicknesses and of evil spirits. Maryam who is called Magdalitha from whom seven demons had gone out, 3. And Yokan the wife of Kuza the steward of Herodus and Shusban and many others, these were ministering to them from their wealth. 4. A large crowd was gathering from all the cities. While they were coming to him, he said in a parable,
Acts 8: 12. But when they believed Pileepos who had preached the Kingdom of Elohim in the name of our Master Y'shua haMashiyach, they immersed, men and women.
Acts 16: 13. And on the Shabbat day, we went without the gate of the city to the side of a river, because a house of prayer was seen there. And when we were seated, we conversed with the women who there assembled. 14. And a certain woman who feared Elohim, a seller of purple, whose name was Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, (was there). Her heart our Master opened, and she listened to what Paul spoke. 15. Then she was immersed, and her household. And she begged us, saying: If you are really persuaded that I have believed in our Master (Y'shua), come and take lodging in my house. And she urged us greatly.
Acts 17: 10. And the Brothers immediately, on the same night, sent away Paul and Silas to the city of Berea. And when they came there, they entered into the synagogue of the Jews. 11. For the Jews there were nobler than the Jews of Thessalonica; and they gladly heard the word from them daily, and searched from the Scriptures whether these things were so. 12. And many of them believed; and so likewise of the Greeks, many men, and women of note.
There have been many debates about what the Bible says about women teaching men, and many try to use the following Scriptures as proof that women should remain in subordinate roles:
1 Corinthians 14: 34. Let your women be silent in the assembly: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be in subjection, as also Torah says. 35. And if they wish to be informed on any subject, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is unbecoming for women to speak in the assembly.
1 Timothy 2: 11. Let a woman learn in silence, with all submission: 12. for I do not allow a woman to teach or to be assuming over the man; but let her remain in stillness.
NOTE: The above refers back to Genesis 3 which shows that men will rule over women because the woman listened to the serpent (not because she wasn't "equal" to her husband)...But read also what YHWH then said to Adam!
Genesis 3: 14 ADONAI, God, said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all livestock and wild animals. You will crawl on your belly and eat dust as long as you live. 15 I will put animosity between you and the woman, and between your descendant and her descendant; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel." 16 To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pain in childbirth. You will bring forth children in pain. Your desire will be toward your husband, but he will rule over you."
17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to what your wife said and ate from the tree about which I gave you the order, 'You are not to eat from it,' the ground is cursed on your account; you will work hard to eat from it as long as you live. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat field plants. 19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your forehead till you return to the ground - for you were taken out of it: you are dust, and you will return to dust."
Titus 2: 1. But as for you, the things that belong to wholesome doctrine. 2. And teach the older men to be watchful in their minds and to be sober, and to be pure, and to be sound in the faith, and in love and in patience. 3. And so also the elder women that they be in behavior as is becoming to the Fear of Elohim; and not to be slanderers; and not to be addicted to much wine; and to be teachers of beautiful things, 4. making the younger women to be modest, to love their husbands and their children, 5. to be chaste and Set Apart and to take good care of their households and to be obedient to their husbands, so that no one may reproach the Word of Elohim.
A footnote to the above in the Aramaic English New Testament states: In 1 Timothy, Rav Shaul (Paul) commands that women keep silent in the assembly and not assume authority over a man. However, in Titus 2:2, the older women are instructed to lead by examples of their own piety and to teach the younger women in the Fear of Elohim. (The word malpan most certainly means to teach.) Y'shua is frequently called a Malpana almost as often as he is called a "Rabbi." The concern in 1 Timothy seems not so much about women speaking, but to not speak out of turn while the official leader is teaching. Surely, such action is disrespectful universally; neither is it normal for men to be given such liberty. Rav Shaul encourages the older and spiritually mature women to both teach and be examples for the younger women, as they are able to help safeguard young men and women from "worldly lusts." We don't see endorsement of women congregational leaders in Paul's writings, but we certainly do see encouragement for women to exercise leadership in modesty and be Set Apart unto YHWH.
First Timothy 2:11–15 does not teach that women cannot exercise their spiritual gifts when the body meets. We know that women can, and are to do so (Acts 2:17; 1 Cor. 12:7; 14:26). Instead, the passage has a more narrow focus on the role of a ruling elder. To "teach" (1 Tim. 2:12), as defined "with authority" is an elder's function. This particular function in the body of Messiah and only this function! is reserved for men.
More significant was the local situation in the Messianic assembly. False teachers had apparently found support in homes headed by widows (1 Tim. 1:6, 7; 5:13–15). False teaching was apparently still a problem for "gullible women" when the letter of 2 Timothy was written (2 Tim. 3:6-7). So the instructions for a woman to "learn" but not to "teach" was aimed at keeping the women, who in this congregation had proved particularly susceptible to false teaching, from spreading it.
Paul, therefore, says, "I do not permit a woman to be a teacher." The context here has to do with assembly order, and the position of the man and woman in the assembly worship and work. The kind of teacher Paul has in mind is spoken of in Acts 13:1, I Corinthians 12:28, 29, and Ephesians 4:11 - YAHWEH-called, and YAHWEH-equipped teachers recognized by the Assembly as those having authority in the Assembly in matters of doctrine and interpretation. This prohibition of a woman to be a teacher, does not include the teaching of classes at the pastor's request, or children in a Sunday School, for instance, but does prohibit the woman from being an elder.
Put another way:
1 Tim. 2: 11. Let a woman learn in silence, with all submission: 12. for I do not allow a woman to teach or to be assuming over the man; but let her remain in stillness.
When we look at the grammatical notation for "to teach" we find that it's a present infinitive which means that it speaks of a continuous or repeated action. So what Paul said to Timothy was that a woman was not to continuously teach a man, which would be seen as not being submissive (when looking at this verse in context), because if she was always teaching the man, he would never have time to teach her.
At the same time, because the grammatical notation is a present infinitive, it would show that Paul did not say that a woman could not teach a man at all. So from a Scriptural standpoint women are allowed to teach men, just not continuously. Priscilla is seen in Scripture helping her husband teach Apollos the way of God more perfectly (Acts 18:24-26) and yes, even as we see in Scripture, there sometimes are exceptions to this as seen in Deborah (Judges 4 and 5), when there were no men spiritual enough to do the job - but not very often.
In conclusion, we know that women are allowed to teach other women and children (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15; Titus 2:3-5) and that it is permissible for women to teach men, though it is not to be a continuous ministry. Sometimes YAHWEH does raise up a woman to fill in a gap where men weren't standing to fulfill His good purpose.
Consider also the following:
- In Paul's letter to the Galatians, Paul had said that in Messiah, 28. For there is neither Jew nor Aramean, nor slave nor free, nor male nor female, but you are all one in Y'shua the Mashiyach (Galatians 3:28)
- In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he refers to women praying and proclaiming YAHWEH's message in public worship. (1 Corinthians 11:5)
- In Paul's letter to the assembly in Ephesus (Romans, chapter 16), he recognized and introduced the woman Phoebe as not only a "deacon" (not a deaconess) but also the president of the assembly in Cenchreae. (Romans 16:1,2)
- In the same letter to the assemly in Ephesus, Paul refers to the woman Priscilla and her husband Aquila as his coworkers, who also host the assembly at their house. (Romans 16:3-5) Earlier when he was in Ephesus writing his letters to the assembly in Corinth, he also had referred to the assembly in Ephesus as being in the home of Priscilla and Aquila. (1 Corinthians 16:19)
- In the same letter to the assembly in Ephesus, Paul also addressed the woman Junia and her husband Andronicus as apostles - even as "prominent among the apostles." (Romans 16:7)
We could go on, but you get the drift....