Can a woman preach? Obviously she can for there are many who do it. To preach means to proclaim, to herald a message. Can a woman do that? Yes she can. That gets to the heart of the issue of divine authority. Is such activity on her part approved by God in his word? To that question, the scriptures answer emphatically, no.
While other writers will deal with 1 Timothy 2:11-15, I must press it into service here for it settles the question for all who respect the word of God. “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” Paul gave two reasons for that: (1) Adam was first formed, and (2) the woman was deceived in the transgression (vv. 13-14). In the wake of the transgression, God said to Eve: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). In the light of these simple statements, how say some that it is permissible for a woman to preach? The Spirit inspired apostle Paul said, “I do not permit it”.
Men and Women Have Equal Ability to Preach?
Some women are more expressive than some men. That cannot be denied. But the issue is not equal ability. It involves the roles which God assigned to men and women in the church. Can you name one woman in the church in the New Testament who preached? This boils down to an argument about the use made of talent. I have heard the same argument used to justify instrumental music in worship. “God gave me this talent and I ought to use it to glorify him.” But people are capable of doing many things which God did not authorize in his word.
Paul Was Prejudiced Against Women?
This argument has been made not only to escape the force of what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 but also to nullify what he taught in Ephesians 5:22-25 about the husband being the head of the wife and what he wrote in Titus 2:4-5 about women being “obedient” to their husbands. It is held that Paul was an old bachelor, obviously biased against women and that what he wrote was motivated by the chauvinism of the times in which he lived. Such an argument strikes at the heart of the doctrine of verbal inspiration. The Holy Spirit was to guide the apostles “into all truth” (Jn. 16:13-14). By revelation, Paul received from God the knowledge of the mystery of divine truth which he then wrote in words “whereby when you read you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:1-4). “But God revealed them unto us by his Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:10). The message was given in words “which the Holy Spirit teaches” (v. 13), so that Paul and the other apostles had “the mind of Christ” (v. 16). Then to clinch it, Paul wrote, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). Paul was either inspired by the Holy Spirit and taught the commandments of the Lord, or else he lied about it. If the latter, then there is no reason to discuss the New Testament further. Yet those who seek to justify women preaching would have us to believe the practice is taught in the New Testament. It cannot be both ways.
We Must Make Our Practice Relevant to the Times?
This strikes at the all-sufficiency of the word of God to meet every need in the church for as long as the world stands. This all springs from the notion that the word of God is out of date and out of touch with the demands of modem life. What an insult to God! The faith was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Perverting it is wrong (Gal. 1:8-9). “Going onward” is wrong (2 In. 9-11). Adding to it or subtracting from it is wrong (Rev. 22:18-19). It furnishes us to every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We are equipped with “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). The New Testament is all-sufficient to guide the church and in that delivered faith the Holy Spirit guided Paul to write, “I permit not a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be silence.”
Was Priscilla A Preacher?
Many who try to circumvent this prohibition will use Priscilla as an example of a woman preacher. However, this is pure false doctrine on several accounts. Aquila and Priscilla were both Christians, and both took Apollos aside, but that’s where the story meets the commandment (Acts 18). No reputable version of the bible I am aware of suggests that Priscilla taught anyone. Paul, a friend of Aquila and Priscilla, taught that a woman could NOT TEACH AND she could NOT USURP authority over a man, but was to be in silence. 1 Tim 2:12 If Priscilla obeyed the inspired Word of God, and she did, she would have not taught the Word of God, she wouldn’t have usurped a man’s authority (Aquila her husband), and she would have remained silent.
Does Man Mean Mankind?
In Paul’s letter to Timothy he tells him this: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2). Does the word “Men” actually mean mankind in this verse. If we look to other reputable versions of the bible, not one of them changes this from men to mankind. However, in its Greek meaning from bible lexicons, the word men is translated as mankind. This gives denominations and liberal minded brethren the idea that God allows women to preach the Word. However, this is not true. If Paul had only give permission for men to teach his doctrine, then it would have eliminated women from teaching their own children (Eph 6:1). It would have eliminated faithful aged women from teaching younger women to love and obey their husband (Tit 2:5). This verse doesn’t disavow the prohibition of women from being speakers in the assembly (1 Cor 14:33-40); Neither does it contradict the commandment for women to learn in silence, forbidding women to teach men or to usurp their authority (1 Tim 2:11-15).
What If the Men Authorize Women to Preach?
This contends that if men give their permission, then it would be all right. I doubt that argument will please those who are tainted with feminism. They would see that as too demeaning, to think that men had to grant it. But be that as it may, God does not give man the right, ever, to permit what the Holy Spirit said he did not permit. That is equal to saying 1 Timothy 2:12 forbids it but I do permit it. What group of elders, deacons, preachers or other men have grown so large that they can say they permit the very thing the Holy Spirit guided an apostle to write and say he did not permit?
Pentecostal churches have had women preachers a long time. This has gradually spread to the mainline denominations and now it is not uncommon to find women filling pulpits while others are studying in seminaries preparing for this work. The Catholic Church is faced with a possible rebellion from American Catholics over women in the priesthood. Not to be outdone, some in the more liberal Churches of Christ have begun to beat the drums for a changing role for women in the church. Church of Christ women are slowly arising to the pulpit and preaching just like men. Why not? They have been taught for years that they can preach during the week and only have to remain silent when the preacher is preaching on Sunday. Teaching or preaching God’s word has never been allowed for women in or out of the church. They are to remain silent when it comes to such matters, for by doing so they are usurping a man’s authority God gave to him to teach and to lead. Who could deny that the increasing clamor for leadership roles from women in the church parallels the agenda of the Feminist Movement?
The God-ordained roles of both men and women in the church, the home and society are in the best interest of all concerned. The upsetting of those roles has led to disaster in the home, in society and bids to do the same in the church. The whole matter must be settled by a “thus saith the Lord.” And what he said through Paul is “I do not permit” it. Yes, women can teach her own children (Eph 6:1). Yes, aged women can teach younger women to love and obey her own husband, but this is it, no more than this can she teach (Tit 2:4,5). We can quibble about it from here on out. We can rationalize it, minimize it, philosophize about it, ridicule it, or attempt to simply ignore it. When we get through with all of that, the New Testament will still say the same thing about it. It is that by which we shall all be judged in the last day.
May a woman preach God’s Word? No, she may not and still please God.