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May a Woman Ever Teach a Man?

Since the beginning, when God made the first man and woman, God put gender roles in place. From a salvation point of view, both men and women are equal in God’s sight: both are one in Christ Jesus, and heirs of God’s promise! (Galatians 3:27-29). However, God has assigned different roles for the man and for the woman. For example, the man is assigned to take the leadership role in the home. Hence, wives are to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24).

In the church, God has also assigned men to take on the leadership role (1 Corinthians 11:3). Taking the lead does not make men superior to women. Jesus Himself submitted Himself to the Father’s will, but that does not make Him inferior to the Father; after all, Jesus is God, as much as the Father is. Nevertheless, for the system to work, everyone needs to submit to his/her given role. God has given men the role of taking the lead in the church, particularly in teaching and preaching.

1. Women are not to teach over the man

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:12)

God has given men the task of taking the lead in teaching in the church (1 Timothy 2:12). Hence, in the public assemblies, men are to be the ones teaching and preaching, while the women are to remain silent (1 Corinthians 14:34). If a woman were to stand up and teach the men, she would be usurping authority over the man, which is not God’s intended role for her.

Unfortunately, women pastors and preachers are becoming increasingly popular in many “churches” today. They might justify such a practice by saying that the Bible’s instructions on this issue are outdated, and hence, must be updated with the times. However, God’s word is timeless, and man does not have the right to change it! (Matthew 24:35; Revelation 22:18-19).

Furthermore, God’s design for man to take the leadership is not cultural, but rather, dates from the beginning. In teaching that women are not to teach over the man, the apostle Paul explains the rationale: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13). From the beginning, man was meant to be the head of the woman, hence he was created first. Secondly, Paul further explains: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 2:14). The first woman did not submit to the man, but took it upon herself to eat the forbidden fruit, resulting in sin. When God’s design for family is not adhered to, Satan wins.

Hence, it is God’s design that in the church, men are to take the lead in teaching and preaching. Women are not allowed to teach over the man. However, this does not mean that women can never teach in any setting. There are many ways a woman can teach without usurping authority over the man.

2a. Women can teach through singing

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16)

When the Scriptures say that women are to “keep silence in the churches,” it does not mean that women cannot open their mouths at all during the worship assemblies. After all, both men and women are commanded to sing! (Ephesians 5:19). In fact, through singing, we are “teaching and admonishing one another” (Colossians 3:16). Despite there being both men and women present in the assemblies, everyone is to sing. Therefore, through song, the women are also involved in the reciprocal teaching.

2b. Women can teach through conversation

“And a certain Jew named Apollos… And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:24-26)

Aquila and Priscilla were in Ephesus when they heard Apollos teaching an outdated form of baptism (Acts 18:24-25). When they heard it, they both took Apollos aside and “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:26). Notice that Priscilla was involved in teaching Apollos as well. Was she usurping authority over Apollos? No, because firstly, she was with her husband Aquila. Likely, Aquila was taking the lead in the discussion. Secondly, this was a private discussion outside of the assembly. In this way, Priscilla was involved in the teaching process as well.

God’s instructions are that women are not allowed to teach and usurp authority over the man. Whenever someone stands up to teach, he is commanding authority as the teacher in the room. However, outside of the assembly, whenever we make private conversation, teaching is happening too! Whenever men are women make conversation outside of the assembly, we are mutually teaching and learning from one another.

2c. Women can teach unbelievers

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear” (1 Peter 3:1-2)

The apostle Peter gives encouragement to women who have unbelieving husbands, that although they may not have obeyed God’s word yet, but perhaps, by the godly conduct of the wives, they may eventually be won over (1 Peter 3:1-2). Notice that someone had previously tried to teach these husbands the gospel. It is probably fair to infer it was the wives who had tried to share the gospel with their husbands in the first place!

Jesus gave all Christians the Great Commission, to go into the world and preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). This Great Commission applies to all Christians, both men and women! While women may not be public speakers, nor teach over the men, they can (and must) surely do their part to spread the good news to unbelievers, whether men or women.

2d. Women can teach other ladies

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness… That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5)

Although women cannot teach over the men, they can surely teach other ladies! In fact, God expects the women who are older in age and faith to prepare themselves to teach the younger women! (Titus 2:3-5). There are various issues and subjects that are pertinent to women, that may be hard for a man to present to the women. Hence, such subjects are surely best left to a woman to teach to the women.  

2e. Women can teach children

“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” (2 Timothy 1:5)

Eunice was most well known for being the faithful mother of young Timothy. She had an unfeigned faith, which her son later also possessed. Paul later commented that Timothy had learnt the Scriptures since he was a child (2 Timothy 3:15). We need look no further than Eunice to see that it was the mother who had faithfully taught her son from his childhood, and successfully prepared him to be a faithful Christian and evangelist.

Although fathers are also directed to train the children (Ephesians 6:4), it is no secret that women are particularly talented in teaching the children. No wonder God has tasked women to be the “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5). Hence, women can (and must) surely teach the children, both in their own home, and in the church.

Summary: May a Woman Ever Teach a Man?

It is God’s design, both in the home and in the church, that men take the lead in teaching. Hence, women are not allowed to usurp authority over the man by teaching over him, especially during the public assemblies, and settings involving a mixed audience. Nevertheless, women still have a great role in teaching: they can teach through singing; they can teach through conversation; they can teach unbelievers; they can teach other ladies; and they can teach children. May godly women continue to go forth and teach, so that the kingdom of God may continue to prosper!


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