1 Timothy 2:11-15

11. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

11. Mulier in quiete discat, cum omni subjectione.

12. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

12. Docere autem muliere non permitto, neque auctoritatem sibi sumere in virum, sed quietam esse.

13. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

13. Adam enim creatus fuit prior, deinde Eva.

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

14. Et Adam no fuit deceptus; sed mulier decepta transgressionis rea fuit.

15. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in child -- bearing, if they continue in the faith, and charity, and holiness, with sobriety.

15. Servabitur autem per generationem, si manserit in fide, et caritate, et sanctificatione, cum temperantia.


11. Let a woman learn in quietness. After having spoken of dress, he now adds with what modesty women ought to conduct themselves in the holy assembly. And first he bids them learn quietly; for quietness means silence, that they may not talk upon them to speak in public. This he immediately explains more clearly, by forbidding them to teach.

12. But I suffer not a woman to teach. Not that he takes from them the charge of instructing their family, but only excludes them from the office of teaching, which God has committed to men only. On this subject we have explained our views in the exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. 1 If any one bring forward, by way of objection, Deborah (Judges 4:4) and others of the same class, of whom we read that they were at one time appointed by the commend of God to govern the people, the answer is easy. Extraordinary acts done by God do not overturn the ordinary rules of government, by which he intended that we should be bound. Accordingly, if women at one time held the office of prophets and teachers, and that too when they were supernaturally called to it by the Spirit of God, He who is above all law might do this; but, being a peculiar case, 2 this is not opposed to the constant and ordinary system of government.

He adds -- what is closely allied to the office of teaching -- and not to assume authority over the man; for the very reason, why they are forbidden to teach, is, that it is not permitted by their condition. They are subject, and to teach implies the rank of power or authority. Yet it may be thought that there is no great force in this argument; because even prophets and teachers are subject to kings and to other magistrates. I reply, there is no absurdity in the same person commanding and likewise obeying, when viewed in different relations. But this does not apply to the case of woman, who by nature (that is, by the ordinary law of God) is formed to obey; for gunaikokrati>a (the government of women) has always been regarded by all wise persons as a monstrous thing; and, therefore, so to speak, it will be a mingling of heaven and earth, if women usurp the right to teach. Accordingly, he bids them be "quiet," that is, keep within their own rank. 3

13. For Adam was first created. He assigns two reasons why women ought to be subject to men; because not only did God enact this law at the beginning, but he also inflicted it as a punishment on the woman. (Genesis 3:16.) He accordingly shews that, although mankind had stood in their first and original uprightness, the true order of nature, which proceeded from the command of God, bears that women shall be subject. Nor is this inconsistent with the fact, that Adam, by falling from his first dignity, deprived himself of his authority; for in the ruins, which followed sin, there still linger some remains of the divine blessing, and it was not proper that woman, by her own fault, should make her condition better than before. 4

Yet the reason that Paul Assigns, that woman was second in the order of creation, appears not to be a very strong argument in favor of her subjection; for John the Baptist was before Christ in the order of time, and yet was greatly inferior in rank. But although Paul does not state all the circumstances which are related by Moses, yet he intended that his readers should take them into consideration. Now Moses shews that the woman was created afterwards, in order that she might be a kind of appendage to the man; and that she was joined to the man on the express condition, that she should be at hand to render obedience to him. (Genesis 2:21.) Since, therefore, God did not create two chiefs of equal power, but added to the man an inferior aid, the Apostle justly reminds us of that order of creation in which the eternal and inviolable appointment of God is strikingly displayed.

14. And Adam was not deceived. He alludes to the punishment inflicted on the woman:

"Because thou hast obeyed the voice of the serpent, thou shalt be subject to the authority of thy husband, and thy desire shall be to him." 5 (Genesis 3:16.)

Because she had given fatal advice, it was right that she should learn that she was under the power and will of another; and because she had drawn her husband aside from the command of God, it was right that she should be deprived of all liberty and placed under the yoke. Besides, the Apostle does not rest his argument entirely or absolutely on the cause of the transgression, but founds it on the sentence which was pronounced by God.

Yet it may be thought that these two statements are somewhat contradictory that the subjection of the woman is the punishment of her transgression, and yet that it was imposed on her from the creation; for thence it will follow, that she was doomed to servitude before she sinned. I reply, there is nothing to hinder that the condition of obeying should be natural from the beginning, and that afterwards the accidental condition of serving should come into existence; so that the subjection was now less voluntary and agreeable than it had formerly been.

Again, this passage has given to some people an occasion for affirming that Adam did not fall by means of error, but that he was only overcome by the allurements of his wife. Accordingly, they think that the woman only was deceived by the wiles of the devil, to believe that she and her husband would be like the gods; But that Adam was not at all persuaded of this, but tasted the fruit in order to please his wife. But it is easy to refute this opinion; for, if Adam had not given credit to the falsehood of Satan, God would not have reproached him:

"Behold, Adam is become like one of us." (Genesis 3:22.)

There are other reasons of which I say nothing; for there needs not a long refutation of an error which does not rest on any probable conjecture. By these words Paul does not mean that Adam was not entangled by the same deceitfulness of the devil, 6 but that the cause or source of the transgression proceeded from Eve.

15. But she shall be saved. The weakness of the sex renders women more suspicious and timid, and the preceding statement might greatly terrify and alarm the strongest minds. For these reasons he modifies what he had said by adding a consolation; for the Spirit of God does not accuse or reproach us, in order to triumph over us, When we are covered with shame, but, when we have been cast down, immediately raises us up. It might have the effect (as I have already said) of striking terror into the minds of women, 7 when they were informed that the destruction of the whole human race was attributed to them; for what will be this condemnation? especially when their subjection, as a testimony of the wrath of God, is constantly placed before their eyes. Accordingly, Paul, in order to comfort them and render their condition tolerable, informs them that they continue to enjoy the hope of salvation, though they suffer a temporal punishment. It is proper to observe that the good effect of this consolation is twofold. First, by the hope of salvation held out to them, they are prevented from falling into despair through alarm at the mention of their guilt. Secondly, they become accustomed to endure calmly and patiently the necessity of servitude, so as to submit willingly to their husbands, when they are informed that this kind of obedience is both profitable to themselves and acceptable to God. If this passage be tortured, as Papists are wont to do, to support the righteousness of works, the answer is easy. The Apostle does not argue here about the cause of salvation, and therefore we cannot and must not infer from these words what works deserve; but they only shew in what way God conducts us to salvation, to which he has appointed us through his grace.

Through child-bearing. To censorious men it might appear absurd, for an Apostle of Christ not only to exhort women to give attention to the birth of offspring, but to press this work as religious and holy to such an extent as to represent it in the light of the means of procuring salvation. Nay, we even see with what reproaches the conjugal bed has been slandered by hypocrites, who wished to be thought more holy than all other men. But there is no difficulty in replying to these sneers of the ungodly. First, here the Apostle does not speak merely about having children, but about enduring all the distresses, which are manifold and severe, both in the birth and in the rearing of children. Secondly, whatever hypocrites or wise men of the world may think of it, when a woman, considering to what she has been called, submits to the condition which God has assigned to her, and does not refuse to endure the pains, or rather the fearful anguish, of parturition, or anxiety about her offspring, or anything else that belongs to her duty, God values this obedience more highly than if, in some other manner, she made a great display of heroic virtues, while she refused to obey the calling of God. To this must be added, that no consolation could be more appropriate or more efficacious then to shew that the very means (so to speak) of procuring salvation are found in the punishment itself.

If they continue in faith. In consequence of the old translation having used the expression, "the birth of children," it has been commonly thought that this clause refers to the children. But the term used by Paul to denote "child-bearing" is a single word, teknogoni>a, and therefore it must refer to the women. As to the verb being plural, and the noun singular, this involves no difficulty; for an indefinite noun, at least when it denotes a multitude, has the force of a collective noun, and therefore easily admits a change from the singular to the plural number.

Besides, that he might not represent all the virtue of women as included in the duties of marriage, immediately afterwards he adds greater virtues, in which it is proper that godly women should excel, that they may differ from irreligious women. Even: "child -- bearing" is obedience acceptable to God, only so far as it proceeds from faith and love. To these two he adds sanctification, which includes all the purity of life which becomes Christian women. Lastly follows sobriety, which he formerly mentioned, while he was speaking about dress; but now he extends it more widely to the other parts of life.

1 See Commentary on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, vol. 1. p. 467.

2 "Pource que e'est un cas particulier et extraordinaire. "Because it is a peculiar and extraordinary case."

3 "Il commande done qu'elles demeurent en silence; c'est a dire, qu'elles se contiennent dedans leurs limites, et la condition de leur sexe." "He therefore commands them to remain in silence; that is, to keep within their limits and the condition of their sex."

4 "Que la femme par son peche amendast son condition."

5 "Et ta volonte sera sujete a la sienne." "And thy will shall be subject to his will."

6 "Qu'il ne donna lien a aucune persuasion du diable." "That he did not yiel to any persuasion of the devil.":

7 "C'estoit une chose pour descourager les femmes, et les mettre en desespoir." it was fitted to discourage women, and to reduce them to despair."


Back to

These files are public domain. This electronic edition was downloaded from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.