Is 1 Timothy 2:12 a universal statement?
Primarily because of one Bible verse, 1 Timothy 2:12, many churches do not permit women to preach or teach when there are men present. 1 Timothy 2:12 has been interpreted and applied by these churches as effectively prohibiting all women from teaching any man for all time, especially on theological and doctrinal topics.
Many of these churches believe Paul gave the prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 because women are supposedly more susceptible to deception than men. They see in 1 Timothy 2:14, where it says “it was the woman who was deceived,” a reason for Paul’s words in verse 12. Yet, even though Eve admits in Genesis 3:13 to having been deceived, the Scriptures never state or show that women are more likely to be deceived than men.
Allowing Women to Teach Children but not Men
Churches that do not allow women to preach or teach in a church service, where many people (including supposedly non-gullible men) can hear and assess what is being taught, often allow women to teach young impressionable children in settings where, typically, very few adults can hear and assess what is being taught. These same churches also often allow women to teach other women.
If these churches truly believe women should not teach men because women are more easily deceived, logic would suggest that they should not be trusted to teach vulnerable children and other, supposedly gullible, women. Yet women are often encouraged to teach children and other women, but remain barred from teaching grown men. This simply doesn’t make sense. Surely Paul was suggesting something other than the idea of “female deception” when he brought up Adam and Eve in 1 Timothy 2:13-14.
The Problem was in Ephesus
I do not think Paul restricted a woman from teaching and from domineering a man in the Ephesian church  because the first woman Eve was deceived or because he thought women were more easily deceived than men.
As I’ve stated in my series on 1 Timothy 2:12, I propose that Paul mentioned Adam and Eve to correct false teachings that were circulating in the Ephesian church which claimed that Eve was created first and that Adam was the one deceived. There are several Gnostic texts that present this false, topsy-turvy thinking. (Early church fathers Irenaeus and Tertullian quoted from 1 Timothy and identified the heresy in Ephesus as an early or incipient form of Gnosticism.) And we know some in Ephesus were mishandling the Law which includes Genesis (1 Tim. 1:3-7).
Furthermore, if the Greek word didaskein (“to teach”) in 1 Timothy 2:12 is tied to the Greek word authentein which means “to domineer,” Paul was disallowing a certain manner of teaching. He may have been addressing the problem of faulty teaching done in an overbearing or coercive manner.
Paul’s words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:12 were written in response to a particular problem in a particular congregation, and they may have been about a particular woman and man in the Ephesian church. All of 1 Timothy 2:8-15 is Paul addressing and correcting problem behaviour of certain people in Ephesus. These verses do not represent his general teaching on ministry.
Paul Valued Women such as Priscilla who Taught Men
If Paul’s prohibition was meant to be universal and timeless then there is an implication that no woman, ever, has anything of vital spiritual or theological importance to teach any man. Paul did not think that way. He valued women, such as Priscilla, both as ministry colleagues and as trusted friends. The instruction of Priscilla with her husband Aquila was well received by Apollos, an up-and-coming apostle and teacher (Acts 18:26). They even corrected Apollos.
I do not believe Paul’s prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 was universal or timeless. I do not believe that Paul’s intent was to institute a rule that restricts capable Christian women from teaching in any setting or situation. It is disappointing that some Christians are perpetuating the dogma that women are not permitted to teach in church meetings when men are present. The church is poorer for it.
I’ve only touched on some elements in 1 Timothy 2:12 in this article. I’ve written more about this verse and surrounding verses here.
 It is unwise for churches to make strong doctrinal statements based on one or two Bible verses, especially verses that are addressing problems in specific churches.
 In the Genesis account, Eve thinks about the serpent’s advice before being ultimately deceived, whereas Adam seems to take the fruit without hesitation (Gen. 3:1-6). Surely, being impulsive and thoughtless are undesirable traits in church leaders. Yet men are not stereotyped with these qualities to the same degree that women are associated with the trait of deception. Why is that? (More on Adam’s excuse here.)
 Titus 2:3-6 is used by some Christians to affirm that women can teach other women. However, this verse is not about doctrinal or theological teaching, and it doesn’t contain the usual Greek word for “teach.” [More on Titus 2:3-5 here.]
The Greek verb in Titus 2:4, sōphronízō, does not typically mean “teach.” In texts outside of the New Testament, the verb can mean “to bring to one’s senses.” In Titus 2:4, and in other literature, it has the sense of training or instruction in “prudence or behaviour that is becoming and shows good judgement” and can be translated as “encourage,” “advise” or “urge.”
Walter Bauer, “σωφρονίζω,” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition, by Walter Bauer, revised and edited by F.W Danker (University of Chicago Press, 2000), 986.
 Paul wrote 1 Timothy when Timothy was working as Paul’s envoy in Ephesus. One of the main reasons Paul wrote this letter was to give Timothy advice about how to deal with the problem of “other” teaching that was causing problems in the church. This “other” teaching involved mishandling the Law which includes the book of Genesis (cf. 1 Tim 1:3-4, 6:20-21).
 If didaskein (“to teach”) and authentein (“to domineer”) are not tied together to form one idea (a hendiadys), then “to teach” is also not tied to the word “man,” only authentein is qualified by “man.”
Didaskō (“teach”) verbs take a subject in the accusative case; authenteō verbs usually take a subject in the genitive case, and the word “man” in 1 Timothy 2:12 is given in the genitive case.
Furthermore, the words didaskein (“to teach”) and authentein are not positioned together in the Greek of 1 Timothy 2:12 as they are in English translations. In the Greek didaskein is at the beginning of the sentence, and authentein andros is towards the end: διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ’ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ. So “to teach” and “to dominate a man” may be two separate prohibitions. This is how I understand the verse.
If two ideas are being given in 1 Timothy 2:12, and “to teach” and authentein are not combined, I suggest Paul is effectively saying that 1. he is not allowing a woman to teach faulty ideas to anyone (this false teaching is then corrected in 1 Timothy 2:13-14), and 2. he is not allowing a woman to domineer a man who is probably her husband (this is then addressed in 1 Timothy 2:15). I give background information about 1 Timothy 2:15 here.
 A further implication of this faulty dogma is that the most ill-informed spiritually immature man has a greater right to teach in church services than the most well-informed godly woman.
 Some suggest that because Priscilla didn’t teach in a church meeting in Acts 18, her correction of Apollos’s teaching doesn’t serve as a precedent for women teaching in church services today. And they usually connect this idea with “teaching authority” and Sunday morning sermons. But what does it matter where or when Priscilla, with Aquila, corrected Apollos who was himself a teacher and an up-an-coming apostle?By way of example, the authority of Paul’s teaching didn’t change if he was in a synagogue, or a public square, or a prison cell, or a lecture hall, or in a house church.
It didn’t change if he was preaching to women in Philippi, to a Roman jailor, or standing before the Jerusalem Council or Roman governors.
It didn’t change if he taught on the Sabbath, on the first day of the week (Sunday), or in the middle of the week.
Paul was still the same person, delivering essentially the same message, guided by the same Holy Spirit, called and authorized by God.
Some of Paul’s letters from prison, which were written over several days and weeks, have had the most lasting influence and authority of all his words: his written words have more influence and authority than his spoken words.
I have no doubt that Priscilla often taught in the house church that she and Aquila hosted and cared for in Ephesus and in Rome. 1 Timothy 2:12 taken out of context does not invalidate her teaching ministry and it should not restrict the teaching ministry of women today. (More on Priscilla’s role in Ephesus and Rome here.)
You can support my work for as little as $3 USD a month at Patreon.
Become a Patron!
Women, Eve, and Deception
The Portrayal of Women in the Bible
1 Timothy 2:12, in a Nutshell
1 Timothy 2:12 in Context
Questions about how to implement 1 Timothy 2:12
Why 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34 are not timeless regulations
Did Priscilla Teach Apollos?
At Home with Priscilla and Aquila
All my articles on 1 Timothy 2:12 are here.