Is there a law that forbids women from teaching men?

Is there a law that forbids women from teaching men?

Q: Isn’t there a law in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 that forbids women from teaching the Bible to men? Why are you disregarding this law?

A: There are many who take 1 Timothy 2:11-15 as a law that forbids women from teaching the bible to men and therefore forbids them from ministering in the church using their God-given gifts. However we need to test this “prohibition” to see if it is a situation in the Ephesian church (a local situation) that Paul is stopping or if it is a law that Paul is establishing for the body of Christ. Up until 1 Timothy 2 was written, there was not even one scripture that says that women are not allowed to teach the Bible to men. Is Paul constructing a new law for the church? Well, let’s test that.

The Bible tells us that for a matter to be established or when a person is charged with sin, there must be two or three witnesses. Duet. 17:6 and Deut 19:15 establish the law that a charge of sin must be accompanied by two or three witnesses. Jesus confirmed this rule in Matthew 18:16 by expanding its use to the need to have two or three witnesses when one is establishing a fact that would bring a charge against a person. Later Jesus is accused by the Jews of not having a valid testimony because he is testifying about himself and that would make only one witness. One witness alone is invalid according to the OT law. In John 8:16-18 Jesus himself says that he has the required two or three witnesses to establish the validity of his testimony and so Jesus himself even submits to the law of two or three witnesses.

Paul also places himself under this requirement as he establishes in 2 Cor. 13:1 that his third visit to the Corinthians meets the requirement of the two or three witnesses in order to establish a fact. Then in Philippians 3:1 Paul tells us why it is so important to have the second or third witness. He says that it is a safeguard for the church.

I have noticed that this is indeed a safeguard for the church when the cults come at us with one scripture to try prove their point. Where is the second witness to establish a doctrine? I also have noted that no charge of sin and no law is ever established without at least the second witness. Whatever God has told us something that we are forbidden to do, you will never find it in scripture without the second witness. Why? Because there is safety in having the prohibition given with a second witness so that scripture is not taken out of context and without another support to establish the fact. That is God’s established way and a second witness is always there in scripture when God has established a law for us to follow.

So here we are at 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Those who say that this prohibits women from teaching the bible to men are left without a second witness. Which second scripture gives a second witness and says that women cannot teach men? Why is there no second witness? Every law that God established has a second witness and if 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is a law then this is the only law that does not have the second witness and that is out of God’s order and therefore invalid. This doesn’t of course mean that the passage has no meaning – it just means that it does not have a universal meaning of a law that forbids women from teaching the bible to men. No second witness = no law. We cannot get around this because it is God’s law to have a second witness and this is for our safety.

12 thoughts on “Is there a law that forbids women from teaching men?

  1. Paul also places himself under this requirement as he establishes in 2 Cor. 13:1 that his third visit to the Corinthians meets the requirement of the two or three witnesses in order to establish a fact.

    Cheryl, what fact was Paul establishing by using the two or three witness requirement? I’m interested in the idea that a FACT must be established by two or three witness. I understand that the testimony of two or three witnesses makes a testimony valid, but now I’m thinking on the idea of a fact being established by the same requirement.

  2. Cheryl, am I understanding correctly that any fact, as in a sin (fact) or something that is of God and good (fact) must be established by two or three witnesses, not just sin when it comes to the subject of testimony.

  3. pinklight,
    I believe that Paul was especially talking about the issue of sin since he said in 2 Cor 13:2

    2 Corinthians 13:2 (NASB95)
    2I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone,

    However the term “fact” that Paul used goes even beyond discipline or a legal matter. The Greek word he used is “rhema” which has two basic meanings:

    ? that which is said, word, saying, expression, or statement of any kind
    ? after the Hebrew an event that can be spoken about, thing, object, matter, event

    Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (905). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Under the first point they include prophesy, prediction, speech, sermon, proclamation, teaching and divine understanding.

    I would take this to include any statement that is to be believed as a fact. For example if you tell me that the moon is made of blue cheese, I would need to have a verification of that “fact” to put my belief in what you have said. A sworn statement by one of the astronauts, etc could be a second witness.

    I have received emails from people giving me outrageous statements that could be very slanderous to individuals and I ask them to confirm their sources, with documents that I can verify for myself. When I ask for the second witness, usually I never hear from them again. I think the second witness is a good, and biblical safeguard.

  4. pinklight,
    I hope that my answer, answers both of your questions. If not, please feel free to probe for further clarification. I think that a second witness would be a good thing to ask for, if anyone is claiming to speak the truth about a “fact”. Those who are honest should not have a problem providing another witness. Those who are deceptive would not appreciate anyone questioning their assertions. I think that the more witnesses we have (biblical test only requires 2 or 3), the more confidence we can have that we have sufficient evidence to test the validity of any claim.

  5. Thank you Cheryl. I’ve no response yet cause need to digest, process and meditate.., but I do have a response to this: “When I ask for the second witness, usually I never hear from them again.”
    rotflol! That has got to be the funniest thing! lol!

  6. Hi Cheryl,
    I’ve a question 🙂 on the story of Solomon and the two woman in 1 Kings 3:16-28, who both claimed that a baby was theirs. My question is would you agree that the first witness was the mother’s testimony that the baby belonged to her and the second witness was her telling the King to not cut the baby in two (her love for her baby) and rather have the baby be given to the other woman in order to save it’s life?

  7. pinklight,
    I think your question is a very interesting one. I guess you could say that Solomon squeezed out a second testimony from the ladies and only the true mother would have confirmed her true first testimony with a response that gave first priority to the welfare of the child. Good observation!

  8. Yes, Cheryl what you’ve said is along the lines of what I was thinking also.
    I had to ask to see if I’m understanding correctly the second witness ‘rule’. In this case ‘the second witness’ is what assured Solomon of who the real mother was, which is what he was seeking to determine. I feel more confident that I’m understanding the ‘rule’ knowing that you agree. I’m still studying the matter..may have more questions to come shortly! And thanks!

  9. Oh, what makes things feel foggy sometimes is that a second witness which determines a fact can be given by the same person (like Paul in 2 Co 13:1) rather than a second person, hence my question on the Solomonn case. The same person giving a second testimony and acting as the second witness is the part that makes it harder for me to process, so I’m studying..

  10. Omg! Cheryl, I knew that Jesus submitted to the law of a second witness through your teachings.., but I didn’t know he taught it himself!! (If you pointed this fact out in the past through your teachings, I was just too busy to recognize it..)

    Jesus on the law of a second witness:

    15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
    18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.
    19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (NIV)

    How exciting!!

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