I TIMOTHY 6
WOMAN’S ROLE IN THE CHURCH
Before studying the things Paul wrote to Timothy here in chapter 2, we need to understand the culture in which the early church existed. These rather restrictive orders for women’s behavior must be viewed in the light of where and when they lived. The Jewish view of a woman was not as a person but only an object. The Rabbi’s morning prayer was to thank God that he had not been created a slave, a Gentile or a woman. If he saw a woman on the street, even if she was his sister or his mother, he would not greet her in public. She was not allowed to study the Law, and was considered a non-person.
The Greek society in which the church existed was even worse. The temples of Diana in Ephesus and Aphrodite in Corinth were filled with hundreds of women, all prostitutes, who roamed the streets at night plying their trade. Respectable Greek women were never seen in public, and no one came into their home except their husband. If
women took any active part in the church, it would be known as a
place of loose women. Some of the Greek women wore elaborate
clothes bedecked with jewels and braided their hair in fantastic ways.
Understanding the culture in which the church existed, one can see why Paul placed such strict rules on the behavior of Christian women.
Had they been otherwise, the church would have been helpless to influence anyone in such a culture.
This, however, did not express Paul’s real view of women in the Kingdom, for in Galatians 3:28 he says that in Christ there is, “Neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus”.
In other places in his writings, Paul does differentiate between the roles of men and women. When he says, “I suffer not a woman to teach or usurp authority over a man”, he obviously does not mean a woman cannot teach Bible classes with men in them. He is talking only about a woman giving orders or taking authority over a man.
Pricilla, with her husband Aquilla, was a valued teacher in the early church and led Apollus to the truth.
When man is described as head of the woman, the statement is followed with the order for man to love his wife. To love someone means to place their happiness above your own. Therefore, man is not given the role of dictator in the house, but the one responsible for its happiness, safety and welfare.
In Corinth, where there was much trouble in the church, he says for women to keep silent, and if they want to know anything to ask their husband. This simply means that it is not the woman’s role to solve the problems. She is not responsible for the church, man is. He is not saying she must keep silent in the worship services, for if he meant that, she could not even sing, especially the prayer songs in which only the women sing. Paul is not talking about participation in the work of the church. He is talking about who is responsible.
From the beginning God has made man responsible. In the Garden, even though it was Eve whom the serpent tempted, it was Adam that God scolded and punished. Throughout the Bible, God
made man responsible for the Kingdom, the church and the home.
The word authority in the Bible does not mean privilege. It means responsibility. If we would define it that way in our country today, there would be far fewer problems. Also, if in the household, love was defined as wanting the other person’s happiness above your own, there would be fewer broken homes.