oa Conspectus : The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary - A proposed reading of 1 Timothy 2:11–15, and how this interpretation speaks to issues of gender relationships and female leadership - research

Volume 28 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1996-8167



This paper proposes a reading of 1 Timothy 2:11–15 which holds to traditional principles of gender distinctiveness, while suggesting nuances of insight and application relevant to issues of female leadership: Women should be free to learn about God. They should do so with a quiet and submissive spirit. Women shouldn’t teach or have authority over men where this is exercised in a manner that is contrary to God’s design for men and women’s relationships and roles, as seen in creation and the Fall. Finally, women who persevere in honouring the God-ordained feminine role of bearing and nurturing children with godliness, will be working out their salvation as they partner with God to redeem the consequences of the Fall. The place of gender in creation and the Fall reveals distinctions in the roles given to Adam and Eve. Paul exhorts women to honour these distinctions, not in terms of absolute behavioural restrictions, but rather with regard to principles of relative gender identity. The issue of how we apply Paul’s broad principles about gender to the complexities of 21st century society is addressed by Paul’s reference to the church as God’s household and his teaching in chapter five of the same letter.

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