In my last article, I raised the question as to whether women should preach. Now, I did write that I am looking at this question in a very narrow sense. I will not be raising the egalitarian arguments nor address them here. If you would like more information regarding this movement and the damage they are causing, feel free to go here. My intention is to raise a concern that seems to be more popular amongst complimentarians.
Today, there are many complimentarians who acknowledge that Scriptures limited the leadership, the elders, to men. Yet, they want their cake and eat it too in this sense: they argue since the elders are in the position of authority, the elders have the right in exercising their authority to invite any person to preach for the primary service of worship for their church. Raising the question, “Is it Biblical for the elders of a church to permit a woman to preach during the gathering of the saints in their public worship?” In other words, is it legitimate for elders, today, to permit something that Paul seems to clearly state that he does not allow?
Here is what Paul states, 1 Timothy 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV) All modern English translations read the same in regard to this verse. Within chapter two, to young Timothy, Paul is outlining how the church is to conduct itself in corporate worship. Prior to this chapter, Paul shares with Timothy why he has placed him there in Ephesus to maintain sound doctrine in the face of many who are false teachers even naming two who are blasphemers of the Lord. As he finishes these instructions in chapter 2, he moves to the qualifications for overseers/elders and deacons in chapter 3.
Within this context of corporate worship, Paul outlines this instruction regarding women. The first concern for us is epitrepw, (epitrepo) which is argued a temporal limitation and limits the prohibition to just Ephesus. As Knight points out, “An examination of other occurrences of Paul’s use of first person singular present indicative demonstrates that he uses it to give universal and authoritative instruction or exhortation.”[i] Dr. William Mounce concurs with this assessment in his own commentary on this epistle through Word Bible Commentary Series, stating,
While at times it does refer to a specific situation, it is the context that limits its scope and not the intrinsic meaning of the word. The point is that if the semantic force of the word is authoritative, the use of the indicative does not lessen its force. The imperative in v 11 has already established the tone of the passage. It can also be argued that the shift from “I desire” (v 8; itself a strong term), to the stronger “I permit,” signals an increasing sense of authority.[ii]
Paul is not making a temporal statement but one that is to be binding on the church. If church leadership, the elders, are not allowed to exempt the church from Jesus’ command to love one another, why should they have the authority to ignore this one in 1 Timothy 2:12? Where does Scripture inform us that it is okay to pick and choose what to obey as long as the elders say so?
Though I had promised to get at the heart of “to teach” and “authority,” this post is already at a great length. Sadly, this part of the discussion will have to wait for part 3 of “Should Women Preach.”