1. Study 1 Timothy 2: 11-15. One area of great
controversy is what 1 Timothy 2:12 really means and the role of women in ministry. What does Paul mean
"exercise authority?" In the original translations, this concept has a positive or neutral sense; only in
English is the suggestion of "dominion" or "to rule" carried with a negative connotation
(1). Some would argue that this biblical usage was not accurate and that
the original Greek does not mean "exercise authority." Some have argued that Paul was stating a personal
opinion. Many have disregarded this passage as irrelevant to today’s cultural norm. What was God, through Paul,
telling us here?
In answering this question, you will get a sense of what translators must do before arriving
at the translation you read in the Bible. The Koine Greek verb authentein has traditionally meant
"exercise authority." The early manuscripts all translated what the Apostle Paul meant with regard to a woman,
authority, man, and the church: namely, a woman should not usurp or exercise authority over a man.
But authentein is a New Testament hapax legomena which is a word found only
once in the Scriptures, here in the New Testament. This means the interpreter must research outside of the Bible
to truly understand its meaning as it was used during that time. Of late, recent interpreters have advanced some
of the following views: a) a woman should not get involved with teaching controversies and "violently self-assert
herself" against a man (2), b) a woman should not engage in "fertility
practices with" or "sexually dominate" a man, or c) woman should not teach or "represent herself as originator"
of man (3).
One of the best determinants for the translation of a word is its etymology. Etymology
is the study of the origin and historical development of a word by determining its basic elements, earliest
known use, and changes in form and meaning. In studying etymology, it is crucial to remember that context is
what governs the actual meaning and usage of the word.
The etymology of authentein is uncertain. During this time, the Greek language was
going through a transition. Because of the political supremacy of Athens during and after the 5th century BC,
Attic, the language of Athens and the surrounding district of Attica, became the standard form of classical
Greek. However, with the conquests of Alexander the Great and the extension of Macedonian rule in the 4th century
BC, a shift of population from Greece proper to the Greek settlements in the Middle East occurred. In this period
known as the Hellenistic, linguistic changes took place, and Koine Greek became the vernacular of the period.
In Greek classical literature (prior to 322 BC), there hasn’t been any root words found for
the verb authentein as used by Paul in 1 Tim 2:12. The nearest related root words to authentein, such as
auqentein, were nouns meaning "to kill by one’s own hand / murder / suicide." The literary use of these
root words has exclusively been as nouns not as a verb. The following are some of the evidence:
1. Early grammarians (word scholars) saw auqentein formed from
|auto + entoj
||to thrust himself forward (Phrynicus 100-200 AD)
|auto + fonew
||to murder, kill (early scholars)
|autoj + enthj and auto+ qeinw
||to strike Kretschmer 1900)
||responsible agent (Pierre Chantraine)
2. Classical Greek writers used the nearest form of authentein as a noun not a verb
||murderer, suicide (19 citations)
Authentein was always considered in Koine Greek as a word commonly used for speech
rather than literary purposes. During the period, 322 BC - 600 AD, Koine Greek was the common language throughout
the conquered Greek empire and adopted subsequently by the Roman empire. During the period, approximately 322 BC
- 300 AD, authentein was used in reference to authority. Adjective, adverb, and noun forms developed to
include the sense of "have power," "to be in authority," "despot," and "ruler."
During the 1st and 2nd centuries AD a group of Greek scholars advocated a return to the pure
Attic dialect of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The so-called Atticist movement was not wholly successful; however,
because authentein was a word in Koine Greek and from the Hellenistic period, Atticists sought to establish its
classical rendering and purge its Koine Greek influences. As a result, they sought the noun form as "one who acts
by his own hand, murderer."
3. Patristic writers (fathers of the early church) used the auquent word group, the
nearest root word group to authentein, in the following manner (5):
|murder / suicide
||Clement of Alexandra (9 citations): He was classically trained before becoming
a Christian; thus, it is likely that he had Atticist influences.
||Eusebius (27 citations), Chrysostom (166 citations), Amphilochus (7 citations),
Apostolic Constitutions (3 citations), Asterius (7 citations), Athanasius (14 citations), Basil
(19 citations), Cyril of Alexandria (5 citations), Didyus the Blind (30 citations), Epiphanius
(17 citations), Evagrius Scholasticus (8 citations), Gregory Nazianzus (2 citations), Gregory
of Nyssa (13 citations), Palladus (3 citations), Sozomen (2 citations), Severianus (17 citations),
Theodoret (12 citations)
Paul’s use of authentein was indeed in reference to authority. It was certainly not in
reference to "murder" or "suicide," because it would result in an improper sentence structure (ie. But I do not
allow a woman to teach or suicide a man..). Authentein, as a Koine Greek word, was always understood in
an "authority" sense and Atticists, in their attempt to purify the Greek language, recognized the Koine meaning
as vulgar and improper. Early interpreters of 1 Tim 2:12, during the Koine Greek period, always understood
authentein as "exercise of authority."
4. From the original Greek version of the New Testament, 3 direct translations were made from
which many other translations were based: Old Latin, Old Syriac, and Coptic (Egyptian). Examination of Old Latin
and Old Syriac reveal that the Greek authentein was translated as "rule," "have dominion over," "to have
primacy, authority, power." The Coptic did not have a translation (6).
In Paul’s admonition, "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man,"
"teach" is in reference to the church assembly / congregation. Women can teach, but ongoing teaching about
doctrine to the congregation is the responsibility of the elders. There is nothing wrong with a woman teaching
or leading a small group, Bible study, Sunday school class, etc. Spiritual gifts are given to both men and women.
There are women who have the gift of preaching and / or teaching.
1 Tim 3:1-7 and
Titus 1:4-9 tells us that the office of elder is not open to
a woman; therefore, God desires the woman to serve him in another capacity, outside of an elder. It is important
that all who teach the assembly / congregation are in submission to the church leadership; a woman can teach
periodically to the assembly / congregation if the elders agree to permit it.
Charles Swindoll pens a good summary: "She can engage in ministry and reap the benefits of
the ministries of others as long as she does not try to place herself over or supplant the male leadership of
"A Christian woman can minister with and to men, but she must do it under the permission
and authority of the male church leadership. This instruction does not mean that women are second-class citizens
or are in some way inferior to men. Both men and women are God’s image
(Gen 1:26-27), and both are equal in the dignity in Christ
(Gal 3:28). But this teaching does mean that God has ordained
that in the local church there will be a functional difference between men and women-namely, the role of
authority in the local church will rest with men, not women." (7)
Paul's use of the word "quietly" (1 Tim 2:11)
does not mean complete silence. The Greek word for "quietly" means to be "settled down or not unruly." Paul was
addressing a unique problem in Ephesus: unruly women getting out of order in the assembly / congregation. The
city of Ephesus was renown for the Temple of Diana. The regional culture and religion revolved around pagan
worship and sexual influences. The temple had priests who were eunuchs, many virgin priestesses (at this time,
virgin meant unmarried not sexually pure), and a large number of slaves. The culture worshipped a female god and
females played a significant role in the religious ceremonies, dances, and celebrations. This false religion
taught that fornication was the means to commune with the deity. Given the role of women in pagan worship, Paul
wanted to reinforce the idea of the woman being peaceful in the assembly.
Paul gives two reasons for the prior commands. The first reason is God chose to create man
first then woman. Adam was fashioned first from the earth, and Eve was fashioned from Adam-his rib. The woman
is to be a helper, a complement to, not in competition with man. Leadership as seen in the relationship between
Adam and Eve, and with all couples, should begin with the man.
The second reason is that Satan deceived Eve, and while Eve is the one who was initially
deceived and fell, Adam is the one who was held accountable
(Rom 5:12-21) and is recognized as the one who brought sin
into this world. Authority rests on those whom God deems accountable. Adam was accountable to God to protect
his wife. He failed miserably…and we still do today.
2 Corinthians 11:1-4 reminds us that each of us (both male
and female) can be deceived by the Enemy of our souls, the serpent-Satan.
The Apostle Paul's statements about women were never chauvinistic, discriminatory, denigrating,
or stifling. To truly understand the context of Paul's statements, one must understand the culture of Ephesus.
According to legend, the Asiatic goddess Artemis was founded by Amazons (female warriors) and was worshipped as
the mother of all goddesses. Over time she was confused with the more masculine looking Greek goddess Artemis
(which Romans adopted later and renamed Diana) the virgin goddess of the hunt and childbirth protector of young
animals and humans. This pagan worship was inexistence for some 800 years by the time Paul arrived, and
accordingly, women played a significant role in Ephesian society and religious matters. And in time, the
veneration of Mary replaced the pagan goddess as a focus of religion.
Paul concludes his statements by telling women, in contrast to pagan culture, Christianity
has a different role for them. Even though they are to avoid ongoing teaching in an authoritative manner in the
assembly / congregation (i.e. they are not given a ministry that is continually centered around doctrine as an
elder), they do have a place of great fulfillment in God’s plan. A woman's dignity and ultimate fulfillment is
preserved in her devotion to her husband and children (see verse 15).
Authentein, being a hapex legomena, is difficult to understand and is governed
by the hermeneutical principle to never build a doctrine upon a hapex legomena. Based off of current and
past study, it appears that the Lord was saying through Paul that He does not allow a woman to teach or exercise
authority in an ongoing manner (note present tense) over a man in the assembly / congregation. This was the
responsibility of elders, and it is no mistake that just a few words away from verse 12, we see statements about
the office of elder (1 Tim 3:1-7). Once again context
introduces its clues to us.
Many men have used this passage to establish the role of males and females within the church.
Men would do well to study its implications. It seems apparent that men find volunteering for a construction
service project much easier than for the prayer meeting. God has made everyone accountable for their walk with
God; but, too many men have mistakenly used physical leadership in lieu of spiritual leadership or abdicated
their responsibilities of spiritual leadership on the misguided notion that they will not be held accountable.
Adam attempted that and failed (Gen 3:12). Should a spiritual
woman follow poor male leadership today? May women be allowed to learn (verse 11)? May we as male elders, lead
and lead well.
Pastor Greg Kappas has known the Lord since 1975. He is married
to his awesome bride, Debbie (1982).
They have two beautiful girls, Michele and Tiffany. Dr. Kappas has a specific focus in leadership,
with an emphasis on the role of character and integrity in Biblical leadership. He has a passion for
the integration of Scriptural truth and relationships, with a Life Mission that Nurtures and
Empowers Worldwide Leaders for Jesus Christ in Truth and Relationships through: Integrity, Authenticity,
Vision, Passion, Prayer, Outreach and Loving His Family.
Pastor Greg has been involved with church planting since 1980 and has personally launched four
churches of various health (largest is now approximately two thousand people). He has coached/mentored
leaders from around the globe and has impacted the planting of over one hundred and fifty new
churches. Greg is the founder of the International Church Planters Summit (2001) and co-founder of
the Northwest Church Planters Fellowship (1992).
He has a B.A. in Speech and two masters (M.Div. and Th.M.) in Biblical Exposition and Literature.
Greg has a doctorate in Biblical Leadership (D.Min.). Dr. Kappas has served as an assistant for two
seminary presidents and has taught in theological education since 1982 (Western Seminary, Multnomah
School of the Bible, International School of Theology and Imago Dei Institute/Cascade).
Greg and Debbie have lived in Israel (summer of 1984) and traveled studying leadership and church
health around the U.S./Israel since 1982.
Pastor Greg started the church planting ministry at Antioch Bible Church in 1991 (Seattle, WA) as
the Lead Pastor of the first new work and now is the Pastor of the Church Planting Ministry for Antioch
(eight daughter churches, fourteen granddaughters) where God is developing a multiplying church planting
movement with an intentional multi-ethnic, cross-cultural and multi-generational philosophy of ministry.
He is a co-founder of the Antioch Global Network (AGN - 2000) and Director of Church Planting and
Revitalization for the AGN where Greg trains leaders in the intentional ministry noted above. Dr. Kappas
speaks for Leadership Network, Dynamic Church Planting International and he serves existing churches
through Church Dynamics International in revitalization and establishing a process/flow of ministry
with a strategy for implementation.
Greg loves sports. He starred for a national championship baseball team as a teenager, went to
college on a baseball scholarship (Marshall University) and turned down a free-agent contract with
the Boston Red Sox. Currently, he enjoys playing racquetball.
He loves to read, listen to music, go to the beach and relax with his family. Leading, preaching,
teaching, writing, encouraging and training leaders energizes Greg. Pastor Greg has a tender spot in
his heart for developing young, emerging leaders.
Dr. Kappas has been selected as one of the nation's top 100 evangelical influencers in leadership
development (1999). He is the author or co-author of several works, including Somewhere Inside the
Rainbow, Elder or Congregational Rule?, Recapturing the Art of Shepherding, Crucial
Questions on Discipleship and Twenty-Five Questions for Planting a Healthy Church.
Greg deeply loves the Lord! His favorite Biblical characters next to Jesus are Daniel, Joseph and
Paul. His life verse is John 15:16. Everything that he has is a gift from God and a reflection of
1. George Knight, "AUTHENTEIN in Reference to Women in 1 Timothy 2:12," New Testament Studies,
30:2 (April 1984), 143-157.
2. Leland E. Wilshire, "1 Timothy 2:12 Revisited: A Reply to Paul W. Barnet and Timothy J. Harris,"
Evangelical Quarterly, 65:1 (1993), 45.
3. Richard Clark and Catherine Clark Kroeger, I Suffer not a Woman, Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15
in Light of Ancient Evidence, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House (1992), 103.
4. Stephan Valleskey, "The Study of the Word Aquentew". Essays On-Line, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary
7. Charles R. Swindoll, Excellence in Ministry, Swindoll Bible Study Guides (1996), p.34