Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

Priscilla Aquila Apollos Acts 18

Watercolour and ink portrait of Priscilla by Sarah Beth Baca.
Used with permission of the artist. All rights reserved.
Prints of this portrait and of other Bible women can be purchased here.

Introduction

There is only one verse in the entire Bible that disallows a woman from teaching—1 Timothy 2:12. Some Christians see this verse as comprehensively declaring a universal and permanent ban on every woman teaching any man. However, other verses in scripture indicate that there is nothing wrong with a godly woman teaching a man. Acts 18:26 is one such verse. Acts 18:26 tells us that Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, explained theology or, more precisely, the doctrine of Christian baptism, to a man named Apollos.

This article will briefly look at who Priscilla and Aquila were, and it will explore the meaning of the Greek word for “explain” used in the statement: they [Priscilla and Aquila] … explained to [Apollos] the Way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:24-26). This article will answer the question, Did Priscilla, a woman, teach Apollos, a man?

Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul

Priscilla, or Prisca, and Aquila are mentioned by name six times in the Greek New Testament.[1] They are always mentioned together and, significantly, in four of those occurrences, Priscilla’s name is mentioned first. This unconventional order of the wife’s name before her husband’s may indicate that Priscilla’s ministry was more prominent than Aquila’s. [I have included all verses which mention Priscilla and Aquila in endnote 2 below.]

Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, were devoted friends and ministry colleagues of Paul.[3] At some point, or perhaps several times, they had even risked their lives for Paul’s sake (Rom. 16:3-5).

Paul first met Priscilla and Aquila when he went to Corinth as part of his second missionary journey. Priscilla and Aquila had just arrived in Corinth from Rome in around 49 AD.[4] Paul then spent eighteen months living and working with them (Acts 18:1-3, 11, 18).[5] After Corinth, Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul travelled together to Ephesus (Acts 18:18). Paul had confidence in the abilities of both Priscilla and Aquila as church leaders, and he left them there to care for a church that met in their house (1 Cor. 16:19). It was while the couple were caring for a church in Ephesus that they met Apollos.

Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos

Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. Acts 18:24-26 (NASB, underline added)

In Acts 18:24-26, Luke, traditionally thought to be the author of Acts, introduces his readers to Apollos. Apollos was a Jewish Christian from Alexandria. Alexandria was a renowned centre of learning in the ancient world and famous for its impressive and extensive library.

Apollos is described literally as a “man of words.” This indicates Apollos was well-read, well-educated, and trained in rhetoric. He is portrayed as both an eloquent orator and as someone with a thorough (literally, “powerful”) understanding of the Old Testament scriptures. Apollos would go on to become an outstanding minister of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4-6, 21-22; 4:6, 9).

Despite Apollos’ notable credentials, something was lacking in his teaching. He was ignorant of Christian baptism. Priscilla and Aquila recognised this lack and, as leaders of the local church, they took Apollos aside, possibly into their home.[6] And they explained to him “the Way of God,” that is, theology, “more accurately.”[7]

The verb “explain” is plural in the Greek indicating that both Priscilla and Aquila were involved.[8] However, the fact that Priscilla’s name is listed first before her husband’s in Acts 18:26, seems to indicate that Priscilla was the more active one in giving the explanation.[9]

Didaskō (“Teach”)

Many different verbs are used in the New Testament in the context of someone communicating aspects of the gospel and the Christian faith.[10] And much of this communication would have included a degree of teaching and instruction.

Some people quibble about the meaning of the word “explain” (ektithēmi) used for Priscilla and Aquila’s explanation in Acts 18:26. They claim that it does not mean “teach.” Didaskō is the Greek word usually translated as “teach” or “instruct.” BDAG (2000: 241) define didaskō as “(1) to tell someone what to do, tell, instruct; . . . and (2) to provide instruction in a formal or informal setting, teach.” Apollos is himself described as someone who was “speaking (laleō) and teaching (didaskō)” about Jesus (Acts 18:25).

In Acts chapter 19 (the chapter immediately following the passage about Priscilla and Aquila’s “explaining”) Luke writes about Paul’s three-month speaking ministry in the synagogue at Ephesus. Luke uses three different verbs in reference to Paul’s speaking about the Kingdom of God: (1) parrēsiazomai–speak boldly or freely, (2) dialegomai–discuss or reason, and (3) peithō–persuade (Acts 19:8). He does not use the word “teach” (didaskō) here, and yet there can be no doubt that, during those three months, Paul did in fact teach. He taught boldly with reasoning and with persuasion. Dialegomai is used again in Acts 19:9-10 for Paul’s two-year ministry in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

It is unreasonable to suggest that Paul’s ministry in Acts 19:8-10 did not include teaching simply because the word didaskō is not used. It is equally unreasonable to suggest that Priscilla and Aquila’s explanation to Apollos did not include teaching just because the word didaskō does not occur in Acts 18:26. Priscilla and Aquila did, in fact, teach Apollos. This becomes clearer when we look at the meaning of “explain” (ektithēmi) and at the circumstances where the author of Acts, traditionally thought to be Luke, uses the word elsewhere.

Ektithēmi (“Explain”)

Luke is the only New Testament author to use the Greek word ektithēmi. He uses it four times, and only in the book of Acts. There are two basic meanings for the word ektithēmi. In its most literal sense, it means to “place outside” or “expose.” With this sense, BDAG (2000: 310) give the definition of ektithēmi as “withdraw support or protection from.” Luke uses the word with this sense in Acts 7:21 where he recounts Stephen speaking about the baby Moses who was “placed outside” and left “exposed” on the Nile.

Ektithēmi also has a second meaning, “to put forth, declare, explain.” (Perschbacher 1990:131) BDAG (2000: 310) give the definition of this second sense as “to convey information by careful elaboration.” This sounds a lot like teaching to me. Luke uses ektithēmi with this sense three times in Acts: in Acts 11:4 of Peter’s teaching, in Acts 18:26 of Priscilla and Aquila’s, and in Acts 28:23 of Paul’s. It is important to note that there is nothing trivial in these three instances where “explain” (ektithēmi) is used.

Peter’s Explaining in Acts 11:4

But Peter began and explained it to them point by point, saying . . . Acts 11:4 (NIV, underline added.)

In Acts chapter 10, we read that the very first Gentiles had become Christians and were baptised through Peter’s ministry. The apostles and brothers in Judea were disturbed by this turn of events and, when Peter went to Jerusalem, they “took issue with him” (Acts 11:3 NIV). Peter responds to their criticism, and in Acts 11:5-17 he explains (ektithēmi) the remarkable events “point by point” (NIV), or “in an orderly sequence” (NASB). Peter does not merely relate his recent experiences, he persuasively presents his own conclusion (Acts 11:17-18). Peter’s speech about the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plan for salvation was a turning point for the Christian church which up to that point was completely Jewish. Luke uses the word ektithēmi in this context.

Paul’s Explaining in Acts 28:23

When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. Acts 28:23-24 (NASB, underline added.)

Luke’s final use of the word ektithēmi occurs in a passage where we read that Paul was explaining, testifying, and trying to persuade many people about Jesus using Old Testament scripture. While Luke does not use the word didaskō in this passage, we can see that Paul was, in fact, teaching his visitors about Jesus.

As an accomplished and careful writer, skilled in Greek, the author of Acts has a large vocabulary. Throughout his narratives, he avoids the repetition of words and uses synonyms or words with similar meanings. Ektithēmi (“explain”) and didaskō (“teach”) have similar meanings.

An Objection to Priscilla “Teaching”

Daniel B. Wallace disagrees that Priscilla “taught” Apollos. In his article Did Priscilla “Teach” Apollos? An Examination of the Meaning of ἐκτίθημι in Acts 18:26, he writes:

The word [ektithēmi] is actually somewhat of a vanilla term, basically meaning “lay out,” or “expose.” It can be used in various contexts, but in collocation with information being passed on it tends to be restricted to simple explanation without concomitant urging or rhetorical persuasiveness.

It is unclear why Wallace regards ektithēmi as a “vanilla term,” especially considering how Luke uses the word in Acts. It is unlikely Peter told his audience the amazing events recounted in Acts 11:5-17 dispassionately, with no desire or intention to change the minds of those present. Moreover, in Acts 28:23 there is unmistakable evidence of rhetorical persuasion.

Wallace also states that,

From the primary data and the lexical tools that interpret [ektithēmi], there was seen to be almost no unusual meaning, virtually no sense that could be viewed as approaching didaskō and its cognates in the NT…. the force of ektithēmi never seemed to transgress into the realm of exhortation.

I agree that it is a straightforward exercise to translate ektithēmi into English as there are “almost no unusual meanings”; however, it is difficult to understand why Wallace believes its meaning cannot be viewed as approaching didaskō. “Explain” can often be practically synonymous in meaning to “teach” and “instruct,” whether in English or Greek. Furthermore, it is unclear why Wallace implies that didaskō involves exhortation and ektithēmi doesn’t. I strongly suspect that Peter’s and Paul’s explanations were not devoid of exhortations.

Conclusion

Most English dictionaries define explain as “make plain and comprehensible.” This is surely one of the major aims of teaching. I would be very happy if my teaching was described as explaining. To discount Priscilla and Aquila’s “explaining” as true teaching simply because Luke didn’t use the word didaskō is unwarranted, especially when considering the context of ektithēmi in the book of Acts.[11]

Did Priscilla, with her husband, teach Apollos the Way of God more accurately? Did a woman, Priscilla, teach and correct a man—an eloquent and educated male teacher? When we understand the word ektithēmi and read Acts 18:26 objectively, it is difficult to see otherwise.

As church leaders, there would have been many occasions for Priscilla and Aquila to teach, either informally or in slightly more formal house church meetings. Neither Luke nor Paul give any hint of censure or disapproval about Priscilla teaching Apollos, or her role as a house church leader. In light of the fact that Priscilla did explain Christian doctrine to a man, the blanket ban by some that prohibits women from teaching men must be reassessed and redressed.


Footnotes

[1] Paul always uses the name Prisca. This is a Latin word that means “venerable” or “ancient.” Luke, writing later than Paul, calls her Priscilla in Acts 18. Luke’s rendering of her name may hint at her amiable personality and of the affection people had for her.“ Aquila is a Latin word which means “eagle.”

[2] The New Testament verses that mention Priscilla and Aquila:

There he [Paul] met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them (Acts 18:2-3, NIV).

Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila . . . They arrived at Ephesus, where he [Paul] left them [Priscilla and Aquila]. . . .  (Acts 18:18-19). Some translations such as the NIV repeat the names in Acts 18:19 for clarity, but the names are not repeated in the Greek texts.

He [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately (Acts 18:26).

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house (Romans 16:3-5).

The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house (1 Corinthians 16:19).

Greet Prisca and Aquila … (2 Timothy 4:19)

[3] Twice Paul refers to Priscilla and Aquila as his ministry colleagues (“co-workers”) (Rom 16:3-5; 2 Tim 4:19).

[4] Suetonius wrote that Emperor Claudius had expelled all the Jews (which included Priscilla and Aquila) from Rome in 49 AD (Claudius 25.4). Priscilla and Aquila later returned to Rome (probably from Ephesus) some time after the death of Claudius in 54 AD and probably before 57 AD.

[5] Aquila, Priscilla and Paul were all tentmakers by profession. During Paul’s third Missionary tour, Paul stayed with Priscilla and Aquila at Ephesus for over two years (Acts 19:10). They were all still living in Ephesus when Paul passed on Aquila and Priscilla’s greeting to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 16:19. Aquila and Priscilla returned to Rome by 57 AD where they became church leaders again. 2 Timothy 4:19 suggests that the couple returned to Ephesus at a later date, possibly around 62-64 AD. Paul had no problem with a godly, capable woman being a church leader.

[6] The verb proslambanō, which occurs in Acts 18:26, can be used in a variety of ways. It can mean: “… to receive kindly or hospitably, admit to one’s own society and friendship . . .” (Perschbacher 1990:354) The CEB has that Priscilla and Aquila, “received [Apollos] into their circle of friends.” More on this in my short article At Home with Priscilla and Aquila.

[7] Luke frequently refers to Christianity as “The Way” (Acts 9:2; 18:25, 26; 19:9,23; 24:14,22; etc).

[8] The exact form of the verb in Acts 18:26 is exethento (from ektithēmi): 3rd person plural aorist middle indicative.

[9] The order of Priscilla’s and Aquila’s names is significant. Luke was careful in what order he listed names. For example, in his account of the joint ministry of the Paul and Barnabas, Luke switches the order of the names of Paul and Barnabas, listing first whoever was more well-known or more active in ministry at that particular time. (See Acts 13:7, 42-50; 14:1, 3, 12, 14, 23; 15:2, 12, 22, 25, 35-36.)

[10] The following is a sample of words used in the New Testament to describe the transmission and teaching of the gospel and Christian doctrine: parrēsiazomai means “speak openly, boldly or freely”; peithō means “persuade”; martureō means “testify” or “bear witness”; legō or laleō simply means “speak,” “talk,” or “tell”; dialegomai means “discuss,” “reason,” or “dispute”; parakaleō means “exhort” or “encourage”; kēryssō means “proclaim” or “preach”; euaggelizomai means “proclaim the good news or gospel”; nouthetō means “admonish,” “warn,” or “exhort”; ektithēmi means “put forth” or “explain”; disdaskō means “teach”; etc. There are also a verbs with an aggel– stem and with different prefixes (one occurrence in the New Testament with no prefix) that mean “report” or “announce,” etc.

[11] As previously stated, BDAG (2000: 310) defines ektithēmi as “to convey information by careful elaboration”.


Works Cited

Anonymous (attributed to Clement of Rome), Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, James Donaldson (ed), Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition, revised and edited by F.W Danker (University of Chicago Press, 2000)  [Known as BDAG for short.]

Linda L. Belleville, “Women Leaders in the Bible” in Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy, Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis (eds) (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 2004)

B.B. Blue, “Apollos” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, Gerald F. Hawthorne (ed) (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993)

Philip B. Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009)

Wesley J. Perschbacher (ed), The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990)

Daniel B. Wallace, Did Priscilla “teach” Apollos? An Examination of the Meaning of ἐκτίθημι in Acts 18:26, Bible.org

© 11th of September 2010, Margaret Mowczko

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Postscript 1

What Church Fathers have said about Priscilla and Aquila (and Apollos)

Ammonius (3rd century) stated, “It must be noted that we must believe that women passed on the faith: see how completely desirous of salvation Apollos was, for though he was an educated man and was well versed in the Scripture’s secrets, he did not consider it worthless to learn the fullness of the faith from a woman [Priscilla]. He did not become conceited as if he were receiving a rebuke from a woman that “you should learn more fully the things concerning God the word’s ordaining.” Therefore [Priscilla] explained to him in her teaching the things of faith, and Apollos listened and received them, for while he knew that Jesus was the Christ and the servant of God and concluded so from the Scriptures, his knowledge was imperfect, since he did not know what had been spoken and prophesied to the apostles through the Holy Spirit…”
Catena on the Acts of the Apostles 18.25. (CGPNT 3:311) Francis Martin and Evan Smith, eds., Acts (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 231. (Google Books)

Eusebius (d. 339/340) mentions Paul living with Aquila and Priscilla when he was ministering to the churches in Asia Minor (Church History 2.18.9).

Didymus the Blind (d. 398) stated, “… [Apollos] was teaching in the synagogues what he knew about Jesus. Being students of the apostle Paul, Priscilla and Aquila take him, being full of eagerness, in order to pass on to him the entire way of the gospel.”
Catena on the Acts of the Apostles 18.28. (CGPNT 3:312) Francis Martin and Evan Smith, eds., Acts (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 230-231. (Google Books)

John Chrysostom (d. 407), in his Homily 30 on Romans, says that Paul stayed with the couple for two years (cf. Acts 19:10). He highlights Priscilla as the person who received Apollos and instructed him in the way of the Lord. And he credits Priscilla, more so than Aquila, in making their home a church. Chrysostom waxes lyrical about Priscilla’s fame. He mentions the couple in at least five of his surviving sermons. More on this here.

Jerome (d. 420) mentioned the couple when he defended his own right to teach women: “Aquila and Priscilla educate Apollos, an apostolic man learned in the law, in the way of the lord. If to be taught by a woman was not shameful to an apostle, why should it be to me afterwards to teach men and women?” (Letter to Principia, 379)

John Calvin (d.1564), in his commentary on Acts 18, acknowledges that Priscilla instructed Apollos, but makes the point that she did this in her own home. What Calvin fails to realise is that Priscilla and Aquila’s house was the base for their church in Corinth. It was in their home that the church would sometime meet.

“… we see that one of the chief teachers of the Church was instructed by a woman. Notwithstanding, we must remember that Priscilla did execute this function of teaching at home in her own house, that she might not overthrow the order prescribed by God and nature.” (Source)

In his commentary on Romans 16, Calvin says this,

It is a singular honor which he ascribes here to Prisca and Aquila, especially with regard to a woman. The modesty of the holy man does on this account more clearly shine forth; for he disdained not to have a woman as his associate in the work of the Lord; nor was he ashamed to confess this. (Source)

And he adds a statement about the church that meets in their home in Rome.

What he adds respecting the Church in their house is worthy of being observed; for he could not have more splendidly adorned their household than by giving it the title of a Church. (Source)

In the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Aquila and a man named Nicetas are listed as the first bishops of Asia. This idea is not substantiated elsewhere.

An Orthodox Church tradition states that Aquila was one of Jesus’ 70 disciples (Luke 10:1-24). Another tradition holds that Priscilla and Aquila were both martyred. (There are many unsubstantiated martyrdom stories about many of the people mentioned in the New Testament.)

More recently, Adolf von Harnack and Ruth Hoppin each speculate that Priscilla may have been the author of the book of Hebrews. An interesting article about this subject is here. I suggest Priscilla and Aquila were leaders, or elders, of the church in Ephesus, here.

Postscript 2

In his 2019 book, Andrew Bartlett makes these points about Priscilla’s teaching.

With her husband, Priscilla corrected Apollos, a prominent male preacher, and taught him the way of God more accurately, as narrated by Paul’s companion Luke (Acts 18:26). Paul commends Priscilla as one of his co-workers (Romans 16:3-4). Luke considered Priscilla’s correction of Apollos sufficiently important to include it in his short history. Teaching Apollos was no minor task. He was a forceful public exponent of the gospel, with an expansive ministry (Acts 18:24-28). When he moved on to Corinth, his ministry there was more influential with some believers even than Paul’s (1 Cor. 1:12). Calvin admits: “we see that one of the chief teachers of the church was instructed by a woman.”

The example of Priscilla’s teaching of Apollos is about as authoritative as one may imagine. As we have seen, with her husband, as co-host of the local congregation in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8,19), she corrects the doctrinal understanding of one of the chief teachers of the church. If authoritative teaching is a special category, Priscilla is doing it.
Men and Women in Christ, Fresh Light From the Biblical Texts (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019), 207 & 227. (More about this book here.)


Related Articles

At Home with Priscilla and Aquila
Partnering Together: Paul’s Female Coworkers
Were there women elders in New Testament churches?
Various articles on 1 Timothy 2:12 here.
Paul’s Qualifications for Church Leaders
Junia: the Jewish woman who was imprisoned with Paul
Euodia and Syntyche: Women Church Leaders at Philippi
Were Priscilla, Phoebe and Junia friends?
A list of the 29 people in Romans 16:1-16
Chrysostom on 5 Women Church Leaders in the New Testament

artigos em portugues sobre igualdade entre homens e mulheres no lar e na igreja

48 thoughts on “Did Priscilla Teach Apollos?

  1. Great article! I guess the only real reason why the meaning of “explain” is in question at all is because of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 which you mention in your intro.
    Dave

    1. In the King James version Aquila name is used first,he in error to say Priscilla name was first mention

      1. Aquila’s name is first in Acts 18:26 in the Bezae Codex Cantabrigiensis and the Greek text used for the KJV, but Priscilla’s name is first in the earlier, older Greek manuscripts.

        1. Purported older MS are not always correct. Why would “two separate” MS groups (The Majority texts and the Minority texts be different in the Greek. How could the scribes get this wrong?. Another witness; that is, the Eastern Syrian text of the Peshitta also has Aquila first. This text is independent and “older” than that of the minority text MS; written around 150 AD.
          The argument that uses a first mention of a female in a scripture text for a reason to support a women’s leadership role in a church is therefore not valid.

          1. I can’t answer for the mistakes of scribes.

            Does the Pershitta have Aquila’s name first in all six instances where the couple are named?

            Also, I wouldn’t call the Pershitta “independent”. Paul’s letters, if not all the other New Testament books, were translated into Syriac from Greek manuscripts. We possess copies of copies of some of these same Greek manuscripts, and they were consulted in producing more recent critical editions of the Greek New Testament.

            Even if we allow the Codex Bezae to be correct, in that Aquila’s name was originally first in Acts 18:26, that still leaves Prisca/Priscilla’s name first in Acts 18:18, Romans 16:3, and 2 Timothy 4:19.

            I agree. The fact that Priscilla’s name is mentioned before her husband’s in four (or three) of six passages is not a reason to suggest that she was a leader in her church. The fact that she and her husband were the ones who took the initiative to correct the doctrine of the teacher Apollos, strongly suggests, however, they were acting as leaders of church at Ephesus. (Most Christians believe that “guarding” and correcting doctrine are roles of elders.) There are several other indications, also, that the couple, who were close friends and colleagues of Paul, were leaders in Ephesus, Corinth and Rome. At the very least, the couple were house church leaders.

          2. Perhaps the fact that some of the old, trusted, manuscripts show Aquila’s name first and some show Priscilla’s name first would indicate that it really doesn’t matter whose name comes first. Perhaps the husband fulfilled the role of a husband, as the leader of the husband/wife unit, and the wife fulfilled her role in the husband/wife unit, as the “help meet.” They were “one flesh,” and so were the compliments of each other, helping each other in what they were doing for God. I have no doubt that she taught, since it says, even in the KJV, “they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” They taught him together, as a team, which is the absolute BEST way for a husband and wife team to teach. It’s quite effective. My wife and I do it all the time. 🙂

  2. Thanks Dave. 🙂

    I wonder what the church (and society) would be like if people did not use 1 Timothy 2:12 as the proof text and starting point for forming their ideas about women in ministry. There’s no other verse in the Bible that forbids a woman teaching a man.

    I read the blog entry that you linked to. I like these thoughts of Cheryl’s:

    “The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) has created a whole section of white, grey and black applications of 1 Timothy 2:12, and this is to give directions to churches who can’t figure out from 1 Timothy 2:12 whether a woman can be an usher, serve communion, teach math at a high school or at a college, or whether she can teach Hebrew in seminary even if she isn’t teaching the word of God per se. Who is authorized to make these rules? And why don’t Christians and Churches know the answers to their questions if 1 Timothy 2:12 is so clear? The fact is that it isn’t a clear cut verse that can stand on its own. It must be taken in its context.”

    Cheryl and I have exchanged a few emails about the grammar and meaning of 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

    I have also written about this enigmatic verse:
    https://margmowczko.com/1-timothy-212-in-context-1/

    1. Can you give the scriptural number of times, that God must repeat His will, before it becomes His will? How many times did God tell Adam and Eve to not eat of the tree of life? How many times did God tell Aaron’s sons how to make their fire? How many times did He instruct Noah the dimensions of the ark. What about Uzzah and His sin?

      Apollos was not a Christian at the time that Priscilla and Aquila were teaching him. Keep in the context of the article and the cited scripture.

      1. Hi Dave,

        While Apollos hadn’t received Christian baptism, it says in Acts 18:25 as: “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately.” Christianity is frequently referred to as “the way” in Acts (Acts 9:2; 8:26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). Also, Priscilla and Aquila didn’t try to convert him, they corrected him. So the idea that Apollos was not a Christian is not based on the biblical text. (I suggest you remove the log from your eye before you tell others to “keep in the context . . . and the cited scripture.”)

        God did sometimes repeat his instructions. Based on Eve’s answer to the serpent and the use of plural verbs (in the Hebrew of Genesis 3:2-3) as opposed to singular verbs (in Genesis 2:16-17), it is possible that God did repeat the warning of eating the forbidden fruit. More on this here. As for the other examples you mention, we simply have no idea how many times God repeated his instructions.

        So do you think Priscilla did something wrong in correcting the teacher Apollos by explaining the way of God more accurately to him? There is no indication in the text that she did.

        More on Priscilla and Aquila here.

        Here is a list of men in the Bible who were guided, led and taught by godly women: https://margmowczko.com/equality-and-gender-issues/created-order-1-timothy-212/

        1. No one is a Christian until they are baptized for the “remission” (forgiveness) of sins.
          On Pentecost when Peter and the others “opened the gates to the kingdom of God,” immersion in water for remission of sins was enjoined. With baptism God joined men (humans) to the church.
          The passages misused to supposedly cancel the way people became Christians the first day of the church were not written for many years following.
          It was Martin Luther, rebellious Roman Catholic cleric, who added “alone” or “only” to the text. This addition has been popularized since then. There was little objection to baptism as part of being saved/becoming a Christian/being added to the church before 1517.

          1. Whether saved or not, Apollos was teaching the way of God accurately. But Priscilla and Aquila corrected him and explained the way of God more accurately. Since correcting a visiting teacher is the role of a leader. The couple were, most likely, leaders of the church in Ephesus. (No one else is mentioned as being leaders.) So the couple may have baptized Apollos after explaining the doctrine of Christian baptism.

            “Popularized” is an exaggeration, at least among English-speakers. None of the major English translations include the word “alone” in Romans 3:28 (see http://biblehub.com/romans/3-28.htm).

  3. Marg,
    I appreciate this study. Indeed, since Paul says nothing against Pricilla as a teacher, who corrected a man teacher, the I Tim verse does need to be reconsidered.

    The usage of words like teach and explain elsewhere in the NT also make a very good point.

  4. Thanks Waneta. 🙂

    The main problem with 1 Timothy 2:12 is that many Christians use it as their starting point and proof text on the issue of women in leadership ministries. If Christians used Acts 18:26 (Priscilla), Romans 16:1-2 (Phoebe), or Colossians 4:15 (Nympha), etc, as their starting points, I believe we’d have a whole different outcome.

    Romans 16:1-2 in the Greek New Testament is the closest thing I have to a proof text.

  5. If certain circles of men didn’t look to the bible to justify their entitled tower of power this wouldn’t even be a question. I personally will never understand how they can’t see that their definition of their position stinks to high heaven! God doesn’t wish people to use ‘head’ and ‘authority’ and all the rest to thwart others from sharing the message. Sharing the message of Christ is ‘teaching’.

    My Aunt and Uncle were missionaries for most of their lifes. They traveled all over the place, and their children were born in different parts of the world. My uncle always truly treasured her contributions, and saying she should have placed them on ‘hold’ until he was present is just legalism pure and simple.

    We are to be lead by the Holy Spirit, and keep close in our relationship with God. He is the one that will move to us ‘teach’ or not, and YES at times that includes men. At times God will tell you ‘not now’, and other times he will guide you the opposite way.

    I feel at times certain circles truly need to get out on the mission field, and experience the ‘less spoiled’ parts of the world. Places where it is clear you need all hands on deck! I mean does a missionary’s wife NOT share the gospel with someone that has traveled to them for help when he is not present? Does she ignore the leading the Holy Spirit due to certain ‘camps’ being enraged over this?

    I’m thankful that there are men that can see that common sense can be used at times. I’m thankful for men like my uncle whom truly appreciated his spouse for the gifts she had to share on their travels for the Lord.

    Its very short sighted for people to say that women should keep their gifts to themselves. Those are the men that truly need our prayers. Their blinders need to be taken off, and see that leading others to the Lord is for his Glory. It has nothing to do with stepping on their toes and ego. It has nothing to do with stepping in their headship, or over their authority.

    Seriously. lol do they not see its not about them?

  6. In 1 Cor 4:6, 9-13 Paul describes Apollos as an apostle who had shared the privations of the traveling apostolic life. Apollos must have been active in Corinth prior to 55 CE when Paul wrote his letter, as by the time of writing he is back in Ephesus with Paul (1 Cor 16:12). Apollos is also mentioned by Luke in a retrospective account of his time in Ephesus in 52 CE recorded in Acts 18:24-28. He speaks highly of Apollos as an ‘eloquent man’ who had a ‘thorough knowledge of the Scriptures’ and ‘taught about Jesus accurately’ from them (thus using the earliest Christian exegetical method taught by Christ to the apostles post resurrection; Lk 24:27, 32, 44; Acts 1:3; 1 Cor 15:3-8). Luke also says that Apollos wished to go to Achaia and was sent with letters of recommendation from the elders (Acts 18:27) where he is called an apostle by Paul, and is on a par with other apostles, Peter and Paul. All this evidence suggests that Apollos was a well known and respected leader of the nascent church, who was also an apostle.

    As an apostle Apollos certainly appears to be driven by a commission to preach the Gospel which would accord with him being amongst the disciples from the time of the baptism of John (Acts 1:22). As an apostle he was witness to everything that had occurred (Lk 1:1-2; 24:33, 48). Paul, who calls Apollos an apostle, thinks of himself alone as an apostle who was ‘untimely born’ which suggests that he thought Apollos became an apostle in the regular way. Apollos also seemed to be preaching throughout the world, appearing in Ephesus again later (1 Cor 16:12), and even later in Crete with Zenas, the lawyer (Tit 3:13).

    Luke says that Priscilla and Aquila heard something in Apollos’ preaching at the synagogue in Ephesus that they wished to clarify (Acts 18:26), so they took him aside and enhanced his already ‘accurate’ understanding of Jesus with a ‘more accurate’ understanding. The comparative, as an elative ἀκριβέστερον is used adverbially here, as it is in Acts 26:5 to describe ‘the straightest sect’ or most precise and rigorous faction in interpreting Mosaic law cf. Acts 23:15, 20; 24:22)and the same idea of minute attention to detail is conveyed by other derivates of ἀκριβής as noun in Acts 22:3, as superlative adjective in Acts 26:5, and as verb in Matthew 2:7, 16).

    Their exposition (Gk. ἐκτιθημι) probably had something to do with the baptism of John and the need for Apollos to more powerfully refute from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah, for that is the difference in Apollos’ teaching post their instruction (Lk 24:27, 32, 44; Acts 1:3; 18:25, 28). Priscilla and Aquila also expounded to him from ‘the way of God’ (Acts 18:26) which I argue is a variant oral/textual tradition to that held by Apollos called ‘The way of the Lord,’ (Acts 18:25) which only knew of the baptism of John. Derivatives of ἐκτιθημι give the sense of this word when it is used in relation to Peter’s and Paul’s teaching in Acts 11:4 and 28:23. In the case of Paul, ‘he witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining (ἐκτιθημι) about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus.’

    In sum, Priscilla and Aquila expound (ἐκτιθημι) to an apostle named Apollos (these 3 are also synergos with Paul) a very accurate Christian understanding which Apollos then used in Corinth to powerfully refute from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. This must be weighed against Paul’s once only prohibition of ‘a (singular) woman’ teaching ‘a (singular) man’ in 1 Tim 2:12. Certainly ἐκτιθημι and other words that describe persuasion, refuting, proving, etc are more powerful than didasko in the contexts where they appear together (Acts 18:25-28; Acts 28:23-31). Also when ἐκτιθημι is used of Paul it is an expounding that runs from morning till night where some are persuaded and others are not.

    Priscilla therefore taught an apostle.

    N.B. Commentators that think Apollos is an apostle are: E. Earle Ellis, ‘Paul and His Co-Workers,’ New Testament Studies 17 (October–July 1970–71), pp. 437-452 (439); F. W. Grosheide, Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), pp. 103 and 106 refers to Paul and Apollos as apostles and states this is the general use of the word; Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), p. 174 states that Paul definitely includes Apollos and Peter in the apostles mentioned in 4:9; William F. Orr and James Arthur Walther, 1 Corinthians, AB 32 (New York: Doubleday, 1976), p. 178 say that Paul includes Apollos in the description of apostles; and David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), p. 132 comments that the problem in Corinth was competing loyalties towards the apostolic leaders Paul, Apollos, and Peter. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, pp. 140, 296, and 306 does not directly address the issue of whether Apollos was an apostle, but he does not hesitate to quote other authors who call him one.

  7. Hi Merrilyn,

    It certainly seems that Apollos was an apostle. So, as you say, Priscilla taught an apostle, and, with her husband, provided a more accurate explanantion of baptism.

    PS. I see that you studied history at Macquarie. I’ve applied to do a MA at Macquarie in 2012 specialising in Early Christian and Jewish Studies. How was Oxford? Wow!

  8. Oxford was about the most awesome experience I have ever had. A dream come true. Your MA in Christian and Jewish studies will be fantastic. All the best with it.
    Merri

  9. Very well written!
    Sadly, people (ahem complementarians) would read a public vs private/formal vs informal interpretation into 1 Timothy 2:12. They would argue that since Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside to teach him, then it’s okay for women to teach in private, informal settings. They’d argue that 1 Timothy 2:12 prohibits women from teaching in public, official settings. Of course, we know how legalistic such an interpretation would be. The issues of public vs private and formal vs informal aren’t even hinted at in 1 Timothy 2:12.
    Wasn’t the early church a little informal and private in many aspects? I mean people held church in their own homes.
    Also, as a side thought here, could Priscilla’s name have been listed first before Aquila’s because such a name order sounded better in Greek? You know how you say names in a certain order just because it flows better that way? Nevertheless, listing the wife’s name first does stand out.

  10. Oh yeah, a few more comments:
    Jesus promised that where two or more gather “there am I among them.” It’s important to make a connection between this verse and all of the verses about the church being the body of Christ (take 1 Corinthians 12 for example). Each person is a member of Christ’s body (as were Priscilla, Aquila, and Appollos). It would be hard to doubt that the Holy Spirit was among the three during their little teaching session. Where many people miss the mark is defining church in terms of large groups, a church building, stage vs audience, etc. It is the people who are the church, whether that be one or two or three or a thousand. How could anyone argue that Priscilla, Aquila, and Appollos were not being the church when Priscilla and Aquila taught Appollos? They may not have been in a church building, or maybe they were, but that’s not the point. The definition of church is not location, group size, or setting. The definition of church is the body of Christ in action!

    And I have a question. Do people try to discount Priscilla and Aquila as church leaders? If so, on what scriptural basis? What in scripture supports that they were church leaders? Or is it implied?

  11. Yes, Some people make a point of saying that Priscilla’s teaching was informal and private; however, as you say, Paul does not specify that 1 Tim 2:12 only refers to formal or public teaching. Importantly, however, “to teach” is tied to “authentein” in 1 Tim 2:12. So Paul was not prohibiting sound teaching from well-behaved godly women.

    And some (many?) early church meetings seem to have been more informal than what we may be used to today. Some church meetings allowed for spontaneous offerings of ministry from both men and women. Also, I agree with you: The idea that a regular planned Sunday morning meeting is more “church-like” than smaller unplanned gatherings simply isn’t biblical.

    I can’t think of particular examples of people who deny that both Priscilla and Aquila were the leaders of the house church that met in their home; but I imagine there are many people who do not think that Priscilla was a leader simply because of her sex.

    I am sure that there is significance in Priscilla’s name being first. It wasn’t done just because of the way it sounded. Luke was careful in how he ordered names.

    “In his account of the joint ministry of the Paul and Barnabas, Luke switches the order of the names of Paul and Barnabas, listing first whoever was more well-known or more active in ministry at that particular time. (See Acts 13:7, 42-50; 14:1, 3, 12, 14, 23; 15:2, 12, 22, 25, 35-36.)” [From a footnote above.]

  12. Hi Marg!
    I finally gave a paper on the topic ‘Priscilla and Aquila Teach an Apostle’
    See here: http://www.academia.edu/4072844/Priscilla_and_Aquila_Teach_an_Apostle

  13. I’m coming into the discussion a little late, but just want to add one comment. Priscilla was explaining “The Way,” which is, as has already been stated, the Christian faith in its entirety. Priscilla was not explaining the latest quilting pattern, or the latest home decor ideas, she was explaining theology and doctrine, two things that cannot be separated from The Way.

    When male leaders in the church relegate women to the simple things like quilting and/or cooking and home keeping, they neglect their souls and hinder their Christian growth. The result is what we commonly see in most Women’s Ministries….shallow teaching based on feelings, gossip replacing deep fellowship and resentment in the end. When our women are grounded in sound doctrine and theology, like Priscilla was, it produces a stronger church with much more potential for all types of growth.

    ~Tricia

  14. Hi Tricia, it’s never too late to leave comments. Especially great ones like yours.

  15. Hi Marg, I was asking to myself this question when I read for my first time 1 Timothy 2:12, at least you gave your point of view, but still not convince. And you did not mention what the Apostle Paul wrote again in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, the Women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husband at home. For it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

    1. Hi Popaul,

      I’m not 100% clear on the question you were asking yourself. Was your question, “Did Priscilla teach Apollos?”

      If you are not convinced that she “taught,” at the very least Priscilla, along with her husband, explained or expounded the doctrine of water baptism to Apollos (Acts 18:26).

      1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is not about women teaching; it is about silencing the uneducated women in Corinth who were asking too many nuisance questions during church meetings. Paul advises these women to ask their questions to their more-educated husbands at home.

      1 Corinthians chapter 14 is about having orderly church gatherings and silencing disorderly talk from tongues-speakers, prophets, and women: the same Greek verb for “silent” is used for each of these three groups of people.

      A tongues-speaker is to be silent (sigaō) if there is no one to interpret. A prophesier is to be silent (sigaō) if someone else receives a revelation. Women are to be silent (sigaō) if there is anything they want to learn.

      1 Corinthians 14 is not about silencing tongues-speakers, prophets and women altogether (1 Cor. 14:39-40). In 1 Corinthians chapter 11, Paul acknowledges that women prayed and prophesied aloud in church gatherings in Corinth, and he doesn’t silence them (1 Cor. 11:5).

      I have written about 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 here: https://margmowczko.com/equality-and-gender-issues/interpretations-applications-1-cor-14_34-35/

      1. Just thought I’d throw in my view as someone emailed me recently about what I thought of 1 Tim 2. After all my study and pondering this was my response …

        I think 1 Tim is a 2nd C text (therefore not Pauline) and reflects some tension in a community of that period. The chapter starts by indicating there might be tension around some behaviours in the Christian community and the recommendation is to be peaceable amongst the wider community.

        This may have involved a sanction on one or more women who were prominent and teachers in that church. But there must be more than just outsider pressure to change the way the community is running.

        The writer has an interesting interpretation of Gen 3 which even Gen 3 does not seem to endorse as the man is punished (more?) strongly in that creation account for his part in eating the fruit, than the serpent or the woman. There is a clear sanction on the man in Gen 3 that is not evident in 1 Tim 2 for his part in the transgression. I think the author of 1 Tim 2 has created or is using a interpretation of Gen 3 that the woman was deceived in the garden (and the man was not?) when this is not evident from Gen 3. The author is using this interpretation to encourage people not to trust what women say, to silence them, and to reduce their influence.

        I think the Hebrew Scriptures were reinterpreted in different eras and contexts to reflect current events and this is probably one such example. In an attempt to quieten the women down (because of wider community pressure?) or silence them (because they are perceived as an internal threat?) this interpretation of Scripture is appealed to. It is common practice in Judaism and early Christianity to use the Hebrew Scriptures in this way.

        If the canon is held as inspired (by inspired I mean that God actually wrote the words of the text, rather than the writers were inspired to write their thoughts) this adds extra tension to any exegesis because people have to find one right way of reading the texts. Therefore passages like 1 Tim 2 are put on a pedestal (for political reasons really) and the rest of the NT is pressed to agree with this position on women.

        This has led to a skewed view of what women did or did not do in the early church because putting any text above another will flavour every other piece of available evidence.

        I think there is a mixed view presented in the NT of what women did and we should take all the evidence into account. It’s impossible in my view to be dogmatic or find one right way of reading the evidence, and applying it to the 21st C.

        The other thing that is interesting to me is that, let’s take 1 Tim 2 – some people apply some verses that subjugate women to the 21st C but do not match the contexts. So 1 Tim 2 reveals some tension with the outside community about what is going on in the Christian community, perhaps in relation to women leaders. But in the 21st C we don’t have that pressure from the outside community on our church communities but we still apply 1 Tim 2 to subjugate women!

        The reading of these texts has been quite often amateurish in my view, one verse plucked from there, and compared to another verse from a different author and time and community and circumstance from there and all mashed together to create doctrine, that sometimes subjugates people!

  16. Can you help me with this one?
    1 corinthians 4:17 says timothy is going to teach the ways of Paul as it is in ALL churches… Is this also referring to Timothys letter?
    Because if so… then it looks like women being band from teaching was in all churches.
    I don’t see a direct connection because Paul is talking about Timothy going to talk to the corinthians not the ephesians.
    What do you think?

    1. Hi Adrienne, Thanks for the question. Some of your question is a little ambiguous to me. So, for the sake of clarity, my response may seem a bit long winded. I hope you’ll bear with me.

      Just to be clear, let me state that Timothy didn’t write 1 and 2 Timothy. They were letters sent to him when he was in Ephesus.

      Timothy travelled quite a bit. Sometimes he travelled and worked alongside Paul as his co-worker; at other times he was sent to a church (that Paul had previously founded) as Paul’s envoy.

      When Paul was writing 1 Corinthians, Timothy was on his way, or had just arrived, at Corinth as Paul’s envoy. Timothy’s mission was to remind the Corinthians of Paul’s “way of life in Christ Jesus”. There is no reason to think that this included reminders, or instructions, that are specific to 1 and 2 Timothy. There is also no reason to think that it included a ban on the behaviour mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:12.

      Many of the instructions in the letters to Timothy are not part of the usual, or general, teaching and instructions about his “way of life in Christ Jesus” that Paul taught and demonstrated in all the churches he founded or ministered in. Many of the instructions in 1 and 2 Timothy are specific to the situation in the church at Ephesus.

      By the time Timothy was ministering in Ephesus as Paul’s envoy, he would have been well-versed in Paul’s “way of life in Christ Jesus”. So there was no reason for Paul to write about it. (More on this here.) In 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul writes to encourage Timothy and give him specific advice concerning the heresy in Ephesus.

      Furthermore, judging from the letters to the Corinthians, some of the Corinthians were a bit arrogant and Paul takes some care not to shame them (1 Cor. 4:14). This may be one reason he implies, “I am not picking on you; this is what I teach everywhere in all the churches.”

      Anyway, I can’t see that 1 Corinthians 4:17 has anything to do with the situation in the Ephesian church, or Paul’s and Timothy’s ministries there, except that the Ephesians, like the Corinthians, would have also seen and heard about Paul’s “way of life in Christ Jesus”.

      1 Corinthians 4:17 NIV: “For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”

  17. The scripture has it that Adam did not “sleep” with Eve until they were evicted. After leaving the walled garden (“paradeisos” from Farsi) Adam had sexual intercourse with Eve from which she became pregnant with Cain.

    1. Genesis 4:1 is the first mention in the biblical record of Adam and Eve having sex, so this may have been their first time. Yet, the text doesn’t explicitly state it was their first time.

  18. The argument that Priscilla didn’t actually “teach” Apollos because the word used is “explained” seems pretty ridiculous to me. Many words are essentially interchangeable in many contexts, and this context makes it pretty clear what was happening. If said someone “picked her way across the meadow on foot” it would be pretty stupid to say “she didn’t walk across the meadow; see, the word ‘walk’ wasn’t even used.”

    1. It is ridiculous. It becomes even more ridiculous when we see how Luke used the word ektithēmi elsewhere in Acts.

  19. I stumbled across this by accident. After reading this my conclusion partly relates to your words Marg: “In light of the fact that Priscilla did explain Christian doctrine to a man” – I completely agree. Scripture doesn’t tell us that Priscilla/Aquila taught in their home church to groups, but it does tell us they did explain/teach/instruct Apollos (Acts 18:26). Because Gods Word DOES tell us what DID happen w/Apollos, I find it more likely that when they taught a man, it was in a “one on one setting,” and the “Lords Day” preaching, or anything resembling that (or any other day), was done by men. I say this due to Paul’s instruction in 1 Tim 2:12 – 1 Cor 14:34.

    As the “world” watch’s “the church,” quibble about: “explain – teach – instruct” (regarding Apollos)…its embarrassing, and its exactly what our enemy wants us to do, which is to waste time while we DON’T act on what scripture DOES clearly say, that we CAN be sure of which is: Acts 18:26 – 1 Tim 2:12 – 1 Cor 14:34. NO where does scripture say that Priscilla/Aquila preached in a pastoral role…it just isn’t there, but they were EXTREMELY useful in teaching those who were going to be AND supposed to be in the pastoral/teacher/Lord Day position. To truly LOVE Christ is to Love what He cares and died for, and thats the church body of which each one has a role to play, w/o pride hindering their effort. I’m a male but NOT a pastor/teacher. I’m just thrilled to be in the body and serving.

    1. Hi Dan,

      You say it’s embarrassing to quibble, but isn’t this what you are doing in your comment here?

      Correcting doctrine is a pastoral role. And correcting the doctrine of a visiting teaching is surely one role of elders.

      1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are not as clear you seem to indicate. And these verses are interpreted and applied in a broad variety of ways even within denominations.

      I have an article about 1 Timothy 2:12 here: https://margmowczko.com/1-timothy-212-not-as-clear/

      And a short article about 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 here: https://margmowczko.com/1-corinthians-1434-35-in-a-nutshell/

      God doesn’t care in the slightest if the person teaching Christian doctrine, in whatever setting, is male or female. What matters is their gifting, their grace and ability, their faith, their character, and their morality. These are the requirements for ministry, not their gender.

      I am also thrilled to be in the body and serving, which I do according to my gifts and abilities.

      P.S. A “Lord’s Day position”? We clearly have a different understanding of how the church functioned in the mid-first century, and about ministry in general.

      1. Hello Marg,
        You stated “God doesn’t care in the slightest if the person teaching Christian doctrine, in whatever setting, is male or female.” Really? It seems He does, and told you so in His Word…twice, but that doesn’t apply to us b/c of setting/culture/time? Each “group” that desires to do what Gods Word clearly says “Thou Shalt Not”…always has “new theology” as to why it doesn’t apply anymore to this day/age. The LGBT community tells us “God doesn’t care in the slightest” if the person is male/female as long as you “love” each other b/c God is “Love” and the same w/those wanting to justify divorce…they truly “love” the “new” person.

        Now the “standard” Gods Word held in the mind of mankind regarding what it has ALWAYS said/not said, is up for debate – and now, there are churches all across the world, preaching something that Gods Word has NEVER said/meant before. Sound familiar, like your claim Marg? Women pastors have never been the norm. To say that God does not have an opinion b/c it was a different setting/culture/time is calling God a liar. Gods Word applies to all era’s/epochs since it has no choice b/c it will ALWAYS have been from a past setting/time/culture, compared to a future setting/time/culture.

        “For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires” – 2 Tim 4:3

        Marg, when people hold fast to scripture as Gods truth, it prevails over settings/times/cultures, and especially over their your own desires. The verses (below), tells us both that Gods Word applies in “all times”…to “all people”…of “all ages” b/c against “IT” we will be judged: 2 Tim 3:16-17 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

        P.S. You quoted me saying: A “Lord’s Day position”? You informed me that…”We clearly have a different understanding… and about ministry in general. I agree Marg. I accept scripture at face value, w/childlike faith. I hold to what has been established as “Gods truth” by Biblical scholars for centuries b/c I do not desire: populus vult decipi, et decipiatur – “the people wish to be deceived, so let them be deceived.” – “Like priest, like people” (1Ki 12:31-Ho 4:9). Our culture is riddled with it, and its been intensifying since the 60’s as we slowly implode for turning our backs, as a nation, on a Holy and Righteous God.

        1. Hi Dan,

          I accept scripture at face value too. And that includes 1 Timothy 2:12 where the Greek (and English) words for “woman” and “man” are singular not plural. Paul is prohibiting a woman, not women. I most definitely do not go against Paul’s prohibitions in either 1 Tim. 2:12 or 1 Cor. 14:34-35, or elsewhere.

          Apart from your mistaken way of applying 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, it seems we have a similar approach to scripture, a similar love of it, and a similar reverence for it. It is indeed timeless.

          If you wish to critique me, I suggest that you read more of my articles so that you find out what I actually believe.

          But I will reiterate, in the vast majority of cases, gender has no relevance in ministry. And neither has the day of the week. We are God’s servants every day. Ministries that happen on the Lord’s Day are no more or less important than ministries that happen on other days of the week.

          There is no “Thou shalt not” in the Bible when it comes to godly women preaching the gospel or speaking the Word the God.

          People are coming to saving faith in Jesus every day. People are being set free from sin and death every day. People are becoming citizens of the kingdom of God every day. People are learning and growing as disciples every day. People are becoming more and more like Jesus every day. And God uses men and women every day, empowered by the Holy Spirit and equipped with the Word of God, to facilitate these things.

          God empowers, equips and employs his daughters, just as he empowers, equips and employs his sons, to further the work of the kingdom (e.g. Acts 2:18). I caution you not to interfere with, or discourage, who God has chosen as his servant, for whatever task, whether male or female.

          Let’s get on with telling people about the love and redemption that is ours through Jesus.

  20. Amen Sister! If my wife can not teach unbelievers and minister to her side of the flock we shepherd I would be lost as Jean is my Priscilla in all things these past 47 yrs of service to the Kingdom. The first ekklesia gatherings were not the social-political corporate assemblies that are a cross between a coronation and rock concert. The public speaking by women would not be as effective in Paul’s time I assume. Jesus used the women at the well to teach a village. Does not make sense that my partner can not teach as she is a gifted teacher. We followers of Jesus have always held that our congregation is under the authority of the Elders of our community group. 2-3 house churches. Being under the authority of the elders of the Church requires everyone to say the same thing in essentials and teach love/peace in all non-essentials. Male and female is not considered. The Holy Spirit guides our teaching with the word. We all teach the commands of Jesus. We see Timothy and Corinthians as letters to and about things Tim and Paul knew about clearly. We don’t see clearly into these minute details. In the first book of Opinions written in the margin is “Jesus said to keep the Gospel simple! If we love our neighbors, forgive our enemies and follow Jesus, What else do we need? Money, power, control? Titles, reverends, rules, and rituals of tradition? Mixed up covenants and doctrine of men? We do not like the aggressive power struggles we see in denominational groups over issues that are sin and sin caused. We beg the true followers of Jesus to come out of the darkness of Babylon and her wayward daughters.

    1. “The first ekklesia gatherings were not the social-political corporate assemblies that are a cross between a coronation and rock concert.”

      Indeed!

  21. “Way of God more accurately”

    I am shocked at Wallace! How can Wallace say such a thing, how can he say that to explain is not the same as teaching? The Ways of God are precepts and doctrine itself.
    “More accurately” is corrective, it means something was not as precise and correct as it should have been. A woman corrected a man’s doctrine by explaining things to him more accurately. If that is not teaching, then what is it? Comps say not to blame men for restricting our roles as women but to blame God Himself who wrote it. How can we not blame men when they try to find every loophole possible to twist context and words when a woman does something they do not want her to do. Their bias is clearly visible. This is the same with Junia in Romans 16:7 where they do everything possible to say she was only known to the Apostles not one herself. Ephesians 5:21 where they say only some are to submit to others and not one another in the reciprocal in order to get men and husbands out of also having to submit to wives. Changing Phoebe role as a diakonon/decon on a technicality to a servant to conceal that it was a Chruch office despite it being used of male Deacons in the Pastorals. Changing the order of 1 Cor 11:11 that puts the woman before the man in order to give the text a different meaning, and for the longest time adding the words “symbol of authority” to conceal that it was the woman’s own authority over her own head, not a man’s authority over her. Watering down the word oikodespotein in most translations to “keep house” in 1 Tim 5:14 when the etymology of this word means to be master of a household.
    Now they have messed with Gen 3:16 to make it seem like male headship was ordained in the creation account. There is so much male bias, they indeed have blame for it.

    1. I don’t know the 1 Corinthians 11:11 thing. What’s that about?

      1. Hi Marg,
        Most translations used to switch the order around in 1Cor 11:11 to put the man before the woman so that it gives a completely different sense and reading. Verse 11 & 12 is a direct response to verses 8 & 9. Philip Payne discusses how the word chōris means
        “to cast aside” not just simply “independent of.” Since it was the woman who is disadvantaged in verse 8 and 9, it is the woman who is mentioned first as not being cast aside from the man in vs 11 and 12.

        1 Cor 11:8-9, 11-12.
        8 Not for is man of woman, but woman of man. 9 Truly for not was created man on account of the woman, but woman on account of the man. 11 However, neither is woman separate from man, nor man seperate from woman, in the Lord. 12 For just as the woman of the man is, so also the man by the woman is; all things, however, are of God.

        8 Not for is man of woman, but woman of man.
        12 For just as the woman of the man is, so also the man by the woman is; all things, however, are of God.

        9 Truly for not was created man on account of (by the instrumentality of) the woman, but woman on account of (by the instrumentality of) the man.
        11 However, neither is woman separate (caste aside) from man, nor man seperate (caste aside) from woman, in the Lord.

        When the order of gender is switched around in verse 11, it gives off the impression that it is saying there is a hierarchy in place with the man being superior, but that we are still equal in a way because man still needs women to be born. I’ve seen comp commentaries say just that.

        1. I’m not entirely following the argument. And I’m not convinced that chōris means “cast aside” in verse 11. Its most basic meaning is “separate” or “apart” or “without.” “Independent” also works.

          “Cast aside” involves an action and adds a nuance that is not ordinarily in the word, though context may supply it,

          Which English translations have woman and man in the wrong order in 1 Corinthians 11:11?

  22. 1 Corinthians 11:11 King James Version (KJV)
    11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

    Up until a few years ago many translations also had a symbol of authority in verse 10. If you look at biblehub.com there are still a few versions that put men before women, the KJV included.

    I have read comp commentaries where they argue that there is a hierarchy or caste system in place based on the order of creation, but that verse 11 means that men still need women to be born and that is why man is mentioned first as not being independent of woman. There is a reason the woman is mentioned first in verse 11 and 12. Why would KJV turn it around if something about the sequence did not alarm them as being female positive in some way? KJV is extremely male-biased. Bushnell and Payne mention the importance of the gender sequence in vs 11 in their books and explain it in a better way than I can.

    I wonder what the logic is of saying that woman is not “separate” or “apart” or “without” the man on account of being created from him? I would get it if it only said the man was not those things, but not the woman since being formed from someone does not make me think they are independent.

    Do you know what the word “dia” means in verse 11:9? Is it referring to “by the instrumentality of” or “for the sake of”? I ask because I have also heard comp men argue that women were made to meet men’s needs not the other way around and the word “dia” in 11:9 was the proof text they use. Being created through the instrumentality of a thing or person is not quite the same as being created for the sake or need of a person.

    1. Okay, gotcha. The Textus Receptus is to blame. All the translations that rely on the Textus Receptus have “man” first in 1 Corinthians 11:11. See here.

      I think interdependence is what Paul is getting at. Men and women are mutually dependent on each other, and not independent or separate, because we have a common source, God. Paul is saying that [the first] woman coming from [the first] man is nothing special, because every other man has come “through” (dia) a woman.

      See endnote 10 here for a discussion on dia in 1 Corinthians 11:8-12 here: https://margmowczko.com/the-chiasm-in-1-corinthians-11_2-16/

      1. Thank you Marg! I especially appreciate the link for the word “dia.”

        “I think interdependence is what Paul is getting at. Men and women are mutually dependent on each other, and not independent or separate, because we have a common source, God. Paul is saying that [the first] woman coming from [the first] man is nothing special, because every other man has come “through” (dia) a woman.”

        This is even more proof that Paul did not think Adam being formed first disqualified a woman from the full participation of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and any leadership position. If one thinks that a woman is not to speak, teach, or exercise authority over a man, then every gift of the Holy Spirit is denied to her for they are all leadership and authority based. What is the point of even having the gift of a word of knowledge or wisdom, or prophesy if a woman cannot speak them or teach them? Does not wisdom, knowledge, and prophesy teach and instruct? John Piper said a woman may prophesy but she may not judge prophesy! So a woman may be a Prophet but may not judge a prophecy? How ridiculous! The same epistle even says we are to judge matters among ourselves because one day we will judge the angels, women included. If Paul did not think that the woman being formed second from the man was something special in the Lord, then 1 Timothy 2:12-13 must mean something else otherwise it is a contradiction of 1 Cor 11:11-12.

        1. Yes, 1 Cor. 11:11-12 nullifies any significance in the created order.

          And yes, the whole women judging prophecy thing, which I believe originated with Grudem, is so strained and silly. The judging the angels’ verse is a great catch, Anca! 🙂

  23. As always, great insight and research.

    For me, the whole “word study” thing seems to be over-inflated (not on your part–I see your discussion as a needful response to those who wish to make a point by unnecessary quibbling about a word). The fact is, whether the word “teach”, “explain”, “dialogue/discuss”, “proclaim”, “prophesy” or “goodnews-ing” is used–these are similar activities. I doubt seriously Paul, Luke, Peter, James or any other NT writer made such a fine point about it.

    This isn’t the same sort of thing as the difference between “head/source” and “authority”. These word groups are still describing verbal communication–and frankly what happens in the lecture halls we call “church buildings” vary widely and could be described as conversation, oratory, teaching, and storytelling. Creating some neat division between “teaching” and “explaining” is merely creating a false dichotomy that may have never really existed in the first century.

    I’ve heard some people say it’s OK for a woman to teach, but she can’t preach. But what are the examples do we have of preaching in the NT? Well, it would be kerusso (proclamation)–which happens in the synagogues and market-places in the gospels and Acts–more like “goodnews-ing” (euaggelizo).

    Do we really believe the NT writers made such fine distinctions? I don’t think so much so. When I talk of preaching I could be referring to teaching, explaining, oration, storytelling or any number of oral presentations!

    1. Thanks, Darryl.

      Yes, the preach-teach amalgum is unhelpful and it doesn’t fit with what the NT says.

      As you say, “preach” (kērug) words are used in the NT with the sense of public proclamation of the gospel, primarily to those who have not heard it before. And what happens during Sunday morning services is rarely “preaching” as we have it in the NT. “Preach” words based on the Greek kērug– stem are used in much the same way as euaggelizomai (“tell/preach the gospel/good news”) and kataggellō (“announce/preach a message”).

      I decided to write a blog post about it: “Preaching” words in the NT and women who preached.

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