Correct Understanding of 1 Timothy Chapter 2: A Woman Must Be Silent

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Paul Sungro Lee

Evangelical Alliance for Preacher Training/Commission

This discussion is to tackle the issue of why the Evangelical Alliance for Preacher Training/Commission (EAPTC) at large upholds a view that a woman minister IS allowed in its ministry of every aspects. I believe it is biblical to have women as ministers in our churches and educational institutions because of the following reasons. Indeed, it is, and should be, God’s Word that provides our directions and way-forwards now and ever as the body of Christ.

To begin this discussion, I suggest that we read the controversial second chapter of First Timothy in different English Bible translations. Please read and compare the below translations of four common English Bibles of our time, namely: King James Version, New Living Translation, Contemporary English Version, and Good News Translation. Verse 1





King James Version I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

New Living Translation I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

This is good and pleases God our Savior,

Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.

Contemporary English Version First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God.

Good News Translation First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, requests, and thanksgivings be offered to God for all people; for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceful life with all reverence toward God and with proper conduct.

This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Savior. God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is, There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us.

This is good and it pleases God our Savior,


who wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth. For there is one God, and there is one who brings God and human beings together, the man Christ Jesus,


Although all are related, “honesty” (KJV) is a different term from “dignity” (NLT), “honoring God” (CEV) and “proper conduct” (GNT).


Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

God showed us this at the right time.


Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.


I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating— just telling the truth. In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.

This is why God chose me to be a preacher and an apostle of the good news. I am telling the truth. I am not lying. God sent me to teach the Gentiles about faith and truth. I want everyone everywhere to lift innocent hands toward heaven and pray, without being angry or arguing with each other.


In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

I would like for women to wear modest and sensible clothes. They should not have fancy hairdos, or wear expensive clothes, or put on jewelry made of gold or pearls.

I also want the women to be modest and sensible about their clothes and to dress properly; not with fancy hair styles or with gold ornaments or pearls or expensive dresses,


But (which becometh women professing godliness) with

And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make

Women who claim to love God should do helpful things for others,

but with good deeds, as is proper for women who


who gave himself to redeem the whole human race. That was the proof at the right time that God wants everyone to be saved, and that is why I was sent as an apostle and teacher of the Gentiles, to proclaim the message of faith and truth. I am not lying; I am telling the truth! In every church service I want the men to pray, men who are dedicated to God and can lift up their hands in prayer without anger or argument.

“Everywhere” (KJV) doesn’t necessarily mean “every place of worship” (NLT) or “every church service” (GNT). Also, “doubting” (KJV) has changed to “controversy” or “argument” in other translations.

good works.


Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.


But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.



And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.


Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

themselves attractive by the good things they do. Women should learn quietly and submissively.

claim to be religious.

and they should learn by being quiet and paying attention.

Women should learn in silence and all humility.

I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly.

They should be silent and not be allowed to teach or to tell men what to do.

I do not allow them to teach or to have authority over men; they must keep quiet.

For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result.

After all, Adam was created before Eve,

For Adam was created first, and then Eve.

and the man Adam wasn't the one who was fooled. It was the woman Eve who was completely fooled and sinned. But women will be saved by having children, if they stay faithful, loving, holy, and modest.

And it was not Adam who was deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and broke God's law.

Where does the word “completely” in CEV come from?

But a woman will be saved through having children, if she perseveres in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

“By having children” in CEV and “through having children” in GNT seriously obscure the meaning of the original, which implies all mankind getting saved through Christ’s incarnation. These translations can even mislead to a thought that barren women cannot be saved.

But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.


Although all are related, “subjection” (KJV) is a different term from “paying attention” (CEV) and “humility” (GNT). Where does the word “listen” in NLT come from?

Figure 1. 1 Timothy Chapter 2 in Four Common English Translations

I’m sure you have clearly seen some interesting differences and notable biases among the above English Bible translations. However, out of 1 Timothy chapter 2, verse 12 is probably the most contentious text in regard to the ministry of women ministers. At this point, I invite you to consider what the original text of Greek New Testament writes for the said verse. 1 Timothy 2:12: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (New International Version) * Permit (epitrepo): to turn over (transfer), i.e. allow -- give leave (liberty, license), let, permit, suffer. * Woman (gune): a woman; specially, a wife -- wife, woman. * Teach (didasko): to teach (in the same broad application) -- teach. * Have authority over (authenteo): to act of oneself, i.e. (figuratively) dominate -- usurp authority over. * Man (aner): a man (properly as an individual male) -- fellow, husband, man, sir. * Silent (hesuchia): (as noun) stillness, i.e. desistance from bustle or language -quietness, silence, tranquillity arising from within, causing no disturbance to others. As you can see from the observation of above analysis and also from the undeniable moves of the Spirit of God upon certain female ministers of our time, I deem it rather proper to translate 1 Timothy 2:12 as follows: “I do not allow a wife to teach or to usurp authority over a husband; she must be still.” Translation New International Version Essential, comprehensive translation from the original Greek text

Difference #1 a woman

Difference #2 a man

Difference #3 silent

a wife

a husband


Figure 2. New International Version vs. Greek Text

To this end, here is my reasonable commentary for 1 Timothy 2:12. The English vocabulary which was translated as “a woman” in this text is “gune” in Greek, while “a man” is “aner.” “Gune” means a woman, married or unmarried. It is used for any adult female, wife or bride. There are two words for the English word “the man” in Greek: (1) anthropos and (2) aner. “Anthropos” is generally used of human beings, male or female, while “aner” is never used of the female sex. “Aner” stands in distinction from a woman. It denotes a man as a husband, in contrast to his wife. Even the contextual flow of 1 Timothy chapter 2 deems it appropriate for “gune” in this text to be translated as a wife rather than woman in general.


Also, there are two words translated as “silence” in the New Testament: (1) hesuchia and (2) sige. “Hesuchia” in this verse does not mean absolute silence but rather still, tranquillity or no disturbance. It doesn’t necessarily mean that women cannot minister in the church. “Sige” means silence or no noise, and it is not used in this verse. A deeper study of these words and their meanings makes it evident that Paul was simply saying that wives should not have dominion over their husbands and submissive to them so that they may not be a disturbance to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Even today, this same biblical principle applies in the family life of every women whether or not they are called to minister in the church. After all, women in ministry who abide in this godly counsel may be honored and used more by God! It is my sincere hope and prayer that this discussion helps resolve once and for all any unnecessary argument concerning women ministers of our ministry of EAPTC. They are as precious and anointed servants of God in their own rights as any other male minsters of gospel of our days. This study is primarily meant to provide a guideline for churches in EAPTC. We do NOT attempt to raise an argument nor challenge doctrinal holdings of other denominations who may believe differently on this issue. However, other churches that find this teaching suitable are welcome to use it.

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