The First Baptist Church of Watertown NY has created a controversy in the media with its firing of a long time Sunday school teacher on the grounds that she is a women. The mainstream media is of course all over the gender rights aspect of this story.
My question is, does First Baptist Church have it right? Does the Bible teach that women are not to teach men as a guide line to be followed by all churches or was this teaching meant only for the church at Ephesus?
The Ephesian Church at the time of Paul's instructions to Timothy was ripe with false teachers and heresies. Timothy was to restrain (1 Tim 1:3) these false teachers on the grounds that they taught out of vain self interests (1 Tim 6:3-4)
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 1 Tim 1:3 (NIV)
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 1 Tim 6:3-4 (NIV)
Paul in his second letter to Timothy makes a point of saying some of the women of the church were being swayed by these false teachers. (2 Tim 3:6-9)
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. 2 Tim 3:6-9 (NIV)
He includes a sanction against younger women of the church who had corrupted their witness for the sake of earthly things. (1 Tim 5:11-15)
As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.
1 Tim 5:11-15 (NIV)
Understanding both of these facts also explains Paul's call for women of the Ephesian church to silence. (1 Tim 2:11)
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 1 Tim 2:11 (NIV)
Comparing the typical first century woman with the women of today from an educational background, we can easily see a cultural trend. The women of today are far better educated, thus better equipped to teach. . Allowing the Bible to interrupt itself we see instances of women teaching men (Acts 18:26) and even prophesying. (1 Cor 11:5) and (Acts 21:8-9)
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. Acts 18:26 (NIV)
And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. 1 Cor 11:5 (NIV)
Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. Acts 21:8-9 (NIV)
The Bible is clear on the issue of women teaching, even teaching men. They are allowed to teach, no required if thus gifted to teach, even men.
1 Timothy 2:12 then would be for the Ephesian Church at that time and not a precedence for time immemorial.
Clyde Annach is the operator of the Web Log Aha! Clyde's been thinking again!