Sermons

Teaching and Authority In the Church

July 25, 2021 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: First Timothy - Guard the Deposit

Topic: The Church Passage: 1 Timothy 2:11–2:15

It might be good to start this morning with how Paul introduces himself at the beginning of this letter. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by (the) command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.”  God commanded Paul’s apostleship.  So we are coming up against authority, in what Paul has written. 

The essence of our passage is that teaching or leading with authority, in the church, is not the role of women but of men.  Paul said he did not allow women to teach or exercise authority over the men.  But instead called women to learn in a quiet and submissive way in the church meeting. What exactly does this mean? Why does Paul say this? And how do we obey this?  That’s what we will look at that this morning.

This is NOT a popular teaching today, and sadly, one reason for this, is that some men have used this teaching, AND Paul’s teaching on husbands and wives, to justify an ungodly male pride, a domineering spirit, and even abuse of women. But while we condemn this distortion of scripture we cannot cancel the very thing that Paul clearly does teach.   

We must approach this knowing that...There is nothing God has commanded, that is not good and right.  God’s commands makes for a blessed and happy life.  Psalm 128:1 “How blessed, (or how happy) are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you will be blessed, and it will be well with you”  We gladly love and accept whatever God commands us. 

It is a thing of beauty to watch a husband and wife walk together, the husband showing love and honor to his wife and humbly sacrificing for her.  And the wife respecting her husband and submitting to him as head of the home, as is fitting in the Lord.

And..it is a thing of beauty to watch men and women in the church,  praying together, loving and honoring each other, being built up by each others spiritual gifts, YET accepting God’s plan that men be the ones who teach the scriptures and exercise authority in the church.

Of course, women are not inferior to men, they are not less intelligent or less capable, or of less value to God!   Jesus cared for women, talked with them, befriended women, healed women, and he died for women! It was a woman who showed such love for Jesus that he said, “wherever the gospel is preached in the entire world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.”  Women were the first witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus. 

Women were active in the NT church.  Priscilla along with her husband Aquila explained the way of God more fully to Apollos.  Paul said two women, Euodia and Syntyche, “contented at my side in the cause of the gospel”.  Women prayed with the 12 apostles and the other disciples, in the upper room.  Women died as martyrs, in the Roman arenas, with indescribable courage, boldly witnessing to their faith in Christ. Women have done much to bring the gospel to the nations, Elizabeth Elliott, Amy Carmichal, Mary Slessor, Gladys Aylward, Catherine Booth.

Women are vital to the church!  They have been given spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ. So it is a great distortion of the scripture, to ONLY emphasize the limitation here for women.  But nevertheless there IS a limitation taught by Paul.  

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For almost 2000 years this passage would have been taught in most churches without any thought that it was inflammatory or controversial.  I am not saying it was always taught with proper balance or spirit.  I am not saying women have always been treated well in the church or in the home. Or that there has been no resistance.  What I am saying is that from the early church until about 50 years ago no pastor would have felt much fear about teaching 1 Timothy 2. 

The Episcopal church could justifiably be considered the most liberal denomination in the world, yet the ordination of women, first took place in that church in 1976. That is just 45 years ago.  Today they proudly proclaim that, “In the Episcopal Church, people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, are ordained as deacons, priests and bishops.” 

Alright, let’s get more deeply into this...

*Paul’s instruction for women, has to do with the church, or when the church is gathered for worship. Paul said he wrote to Timothy “so if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God”  IE This does not apply to every conversation between every man and woman, in every setting, but when the church comes together. 

*In the church, Paul said, women are “to learn…”  Let’s just stop there.  Women are to learn God’s truth.  They are to be as knowledgeable, and equipped and trained in truth as any man.  It is not feminine to NOT know the Bible, or understand the gospel.  Women are to become teachers of younger women. 

*This passage has to do with the attitude and manner in which women are to learn. Verse 11 “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.”  Learn in quietness.  This is the same word Paul used earlier in the chapter when he said to lead peaceful and quiet lives. It’s the same word he used when exhorting the Thessalonians to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.  David Guzik said “learning in quietness has the idea of women receiving the teaching of the men God has chosen to lead in the church, with submission instead of contention.”  

Some misunderstanding has come from the KJV which uses the word silence rather than quietness.  But living quietly is not the same as living in complete silence.  Paul does not mean women are never to utter a word when we gather for worship. Women sing and worship. In 1 Cor. 11 Paul told women how to pray and prophecy in church.  He means for them to have a quiet manner or spirit.   

He said, women are to learn “with submissiveness”.  Submission means to respect those God has put in authority. In general submission is a godly quality for all believers!  Ephesians 5:23 says, “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”  Peter said, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors...”  Wives are directly instructed to be submissive toward their husbands. AND women in the church are instructed to be submissive as they are taught in the church.  It doesn’t mean women are to have no opinion, or discernment, or nothing to contribute. It DOES mean to show a humble and teachable spirit while learning.

*I do not permit them to “teach or exercise authority”.  Since teaching and exercising authority in the church are things church elders ARE to do, at least part of what Paul is saying is that women are not to teach and assume authority over the church as in the role of an elder.  This would prohibit women from being elders of the church, or to get up and teach in an authoritative way AS an elder would do. David Guzik said,  “Whatever speaking or teaching is done by a woman must be done in submission to the men God has appointed to lead the church.” 

*This doesn’t mean women can’t teach at all. Paul instructs women to teach the younger women.  Some women are tremendously gifted teachers. 

*This doesn’t mean men can’t learn from women.  My wife shares verses or quotes that I learn from all the time.  I am built up by truths and insights shared by women in our life group or in our prayer times, or just in conversation. 

*This doesn’t say women cannot preach or share the gospel.  Women CAN do that, with virtually everyone they meet.  Spurgeon once gave a sermon titled “All At It” on Acts 8:4–5.  He said, “having been scattered, Christian men and women went everywhere preaching the word”. 

*Women prayed and prophesied in the NT church.  And women can share a testimony, sing, or encourage the saints through a spoken word. 

...But God has given the responsibility of governing the church and teaching scripture in the church to men, specifically to the elders.  1 Tim. 5:17 says,  “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”  Authority in the church is not a harsh authority or domineering authority, BUT IT IS AUTHORITY.  And Paul said that place is to be filled by men. 

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*What is the reason for this instruction for women?  Verse 13 “For (or because) Adam was formed first, then Eve.”  

It goes all the way back to the beginning, before sin, before the fall, before sin warped all of us, before sin bent the relationship between men women; it goes all the way back to when marriage was perfect and relationship between men and women were perfect.  God created Adam first, and Eve was created for him, and that had meaning then, and it has meaning for us now.  

Genesis 2:18 says, After God formed Adam...  “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. (suitable, or just right for him, a perfect companion, or helper)   Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib and brought her to the man.  Adam saw this wonderful gift, and said, “This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man”.  

Sin did not make us male and female!  God did!  The role of perfect companion and suitable helper was not given women because of the fall, but because God created woman for that beautiful purpose.   Yes, sin has perverted that role at times into virtual slavery, and abuse! BUT wherever men and women are born of the Spirit, and lead by the Spirit, the beauty of this God created relationship is restored! 

Paul said the reality that God created woman after man, and for the man, shows a submission that God intended from the beginning. He used this same reasoning in 1 Corinthians 11. “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband and the head of Christ is God.”…  “He is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”...  “For man was not made from the woman but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”  (vs 3, 7-9)

Yet Paul added “Nevertheless, in the Lord, woman is not independent of man, nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is not born of woman.  And all things are from God.” (11,12)  Men and women need each other.  We are in this together, we are dependent on each other.  Men and women are both from God. The unique contribution they bring is from God.  Everything is from God!

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The second part of Paul’s argument has to do with HOW the first sin happened. Vs 14  “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became the transgressor.” Adam DID sin! And his sin brought sin and death to all people.  But here in our chapter, the point is that Eve was deceived into sinning against God, first and by herself, apart from Adam and without Adam being deceived. 

Paul emphasized that Adam was NOT deceived, or had not sinned against God at this point. Eve went out and was deceived on her own.  EVE went out from her place of being Adam’s helper/companion.  She was created for Adam, not to go out at make a unilateral decision about the things God had spoken. 

Paul, used this as an explanation for why a woman was not to teach with authority over men in the church meeting. NOT because all women are more easily deceived than men, not even as a perpetual punishment for women because Eve was deceived.  But because God created the male and female relationship to work a certain way from the beginning. And it didn’t work well when Eve stepped out of God’s plan for her.  Adam was to be head and EVE was to be his suitable helper.  And he wants that to be reflected especially in Christian marriage and in the church. 

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Some say this instruction for women was only temporary and all differences in roles in home and in the church were to fazed out by the teaching that male and female are all one in Christ in Galatians 3:28.  But nothing in the Bible tells us that. And the unique roles for men and women are taught throughout the NT by both Paul and Peter.  Also we can be one in Christ and still be called to different things.

Some say Paul was referring to women who were false teachers at Ephesus.  And therefore this has no application to the church today.  But Paul could easily have said he meant this only for women who are false teachers.  And if his concern WAS false teaching, why would he want only the women who were false teachers to not teach or exercise authority in the church?  I’m pretty sure there were more men who were false teachers, than women.  And finally, the reason he gives for his instruction to women, is NOT because they are teaching something false, but rather because of how God made man and woman in the beginning. 

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Then Paul goes on to say, “Yet she (women) will be saved though childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” NLT note says, “or will be saved by accepting their role as mothers”.

Paul is not saying women become Christians by having children.  But women will experience safety and well-being, especially deliverance from the snares of Satan, as you bear and raise children, AND continue on in faith, love and holiness. Remember JI Packers definition: “salvation means to be delivered from jeopardy so that you are now safe”.  You will be kept safe spiritually by focusing on your high calling as mothers, and walking in the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Paul is speaking generally here.  Not all have children.  And some women are called by God to be single.  BUT in general, women will find safety and well-being and wholeness and protection from the devil in this kind of life!  Paul is exalting motherhood, setting this before women as a good thing.

Being a mother in this fallen world is about the most amazing, most awesome, most glorious thing there is.  And that privilege belongs to women!  Megan McCain said, “Motherhood is euphoria. All of the cliches have come true and exceeded well beyond my wildest expectations ~ it is hands down the best thing I have ever done in my entire life and I am completely in awe of our daughter”.

Paul is also exalting godly character for women.  All men AND women can pursue faith, love and holiness.  A woman does not have to have children to walk in these things.

Some closing comments: I love seeing those women without children, being mothers to other peoples children in the church! This pleases God!  And exalting motherhood is NOT to say that women can only raise children.  (In proverbs 31 she buys and sells, she does business and capable in every way.)  But generally God has ordained the role of bearing and raising children for women, and it is a part of their salvation and spiritual safety.  And in the Lord, that is what we set before women, along with godly character.  Those are the things we elevate for women as the most honorable and praiseworthy things women can do. 

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