Interesting topic here that I have studied a few times since my daughter did a report on Women in the Church for a college paper.
To he honest I don't have a firm position, but (to steal a phrase from Heiser)I am dating one.
A key verse to this discussion is clearly 1 Timothy 2:12
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man
Paul's statement in 1 Timothy 2:12 appears to be pretty straightforward and unambiguous... not much flexibility for interpretation there.
But if that is the case then Paul's statement in 1 Timothy 2:12 appears to come into conflict with other Scriptures, including some of Paul's writings.
First and foremost is Paul's guiding principle in Galatians 3:26-29
26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Ok, I acknowledge that there are ways to reason around that passage, but how about multiple examples in Scripture where women are specifically placed in positions of Spiritual authority?
- Deborah held the spiritual office of Prophetess and was the political leader of Israel. (Judges 4:4-6)
- Huldah held the spiritual office of Prophetess and as a prophet of God she exercised spiritual authority over both the King Josiah and the High Priest Hilkiah. (2 Kings 22:11-20)
- Phoebe held the spiritual office of Deaconess at the Church in Cenchrea (Romans 16:1)
- Junia held the spiritual office of Apostle (Romans 16:7)
- The four daughters of Phillip held the spiritual office of Prophetess (Acts 21:8-9)
So we have multiple examples in the Old and New Testaments of women who were placed in positions of Spiritual authority and in some cases explicitly exercise that Spiritual authority over men.
So in 1 Timothy 2:12, is Paul contradicting himself and other Scriptures?
Obviously I don't think that is an option.
I think its worth taking another look at what Paul is getting at in 1 Timothy 2.
Here is the context of 1 Timothy 2:12
1 Timothy 2:11-14
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
I think verse 11 provides some valuable context.
The women is question are women who are currently learning.
One thing that Paul is explicitly saying is that women should learn, which was not a common cultural practice at that time.
The phrase "I do not permit a woman to teach" is also interesting when you deep dive the grammar.
Paul statement can be accurately translated "I am not now at this time allowing"
The tense of Paul's statement is the present tense dealing with the present situation, not a general command for all time.
And what is the present situation?
Verse 11 tells us the context... while a woman is learning.
Ok so what is Paul getting at in verse 14?
Why did Eve sin?
Because of her gender?
No... Paul specifically points that Eve sinned because she was deceived.
Which brings us back to verse 11 again.
How do you help prevent women from being deceived like Eve was?
You teach them... You encourage them to learn.
So I believe a Scriptural argument could be made that in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 Paul is telling Timothy.
1. In order to prevent women from being deceived (like Eve was), they should be given the opportunity to learn.
2. And while women are learning they should not be placed in positions of Spiritual authority, but they should learn in quietness and submission.
Again... I am not trying to be dogmatic on this... but I think this could possibly be a more internally consistent understanding of what Paul is saying in 1 Timothy 2, especially given other Scriptures and statements by Paul himself that indicate that women were given positions of spiritual authority in both the OT and NT.
That's where I currently am on this topic...
But I am open to other positions... as long as they do not involve Scripture contradicting Scripture... or Paul contradicting Paul.