Splitting 1 Timothy 2:12 In Half: Women Teaching and Leading In The Church

[This is a part of an email response I sent to a young lady who was asking about the Complementarian position and women teaching mixed audiences in the church. It does not delve deeply into an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, but it does give a basic lay of the land.] Hi,

Thanks for contacting You are asking an excellent question that is currently debated in Calvary Chapels. Since it is an ongoing debate I don’t feel comfortable speaking on behalf of anyone other then myself.

As you have discovered in your research, there are some Complementarians that distinguish between the teaching and exercising authority spoken of in 1 Tim. 2:12. I would be in that camp.

In support of women teaching mixed audiences I would point to the follow biblical examples:

  • Women wrote doctrinal worship songs and they are now scripture (Hannah, Miriam, Elizabeth, Marry)
  • A women birthed the Messiah (and every male leader that God called in OT and NT)
  • Women were the first to see the resurrected Christ and report their findings back to the apostles
  • Women were welcomed as students and learners of Jesus in Luke 10:38-42
  • Women were filled with the Holy Spirit in the same way that men were
  • Women were gifted to prophesy
  • Women were permitted to pray in the church

When it comes to women not exercising authority I would point to the following biblical examples:

  • 1 Timothy 2 appears to teach that women should not take an authoritative role in the church
  • I look at the garden and who God made responsible for sin and how that theology is developed through the NT.
  • I look at the fact that 99% of the time God raised up men to be leaders in the OT. Additionally the priesthood was a male only role.
  • I look at the fact that Jesus chose 12 men to be disciples.
  • I look at the absence of female presbyters (elders) in the NT.
  • I look at the male leadership of the husband in marriage established in Ephesians 5.
  • The qualifications for an elder in Titus 1 are written for men and hinge on leadership in the home.

As is always the case, we want to let scripture interpret scripture. In my opinion it is difficult to look at all of scripture and say women cannot teach a mixed audience. At the same time, when I read through all of scripture I don’t see a strong case for women being the head leadership of the church.

Other then that short answer, I’ll try to point you toward some resources that might help you answer this question.

Here is an article that Pastor Kellen wrote on the subject:

I also really enjoyed Kathy Keller’s book: Jesus, Justice and Gender Roles.

Hope that helps!

God bless,

Josh Turansky