1 Timothy
by Francis Foulkes ©


'Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty' (2:11-15)

Behind what the apostle says about the place of men and women in the life of the church are some foundation principles about the place of men and women in the purpose of God. Firstly, it is clear in the Bible from Genesis onwards that God intended men and women to be partners together, helping and supporting each other: men and women are 'joint heirs of the grace of life' ( 1 Peter 3:7). In many places people lost sight of God's purpose, and a woman came to be the property of her husband. In many religions men and women today do not have equal privileges. The coming of Christ brought a tremendous change in the place of women in the world. The teaching of Jesus showed that partnership and not possession is God's rule. The New Testament shows that men and women alike have all the blessings of God in Jesus Christ - in Him they are one (Galatians 3:28). The one sex is not higher than the other in God's sight. There is no reason for greater rejoicing over the birth of a male child than over the birth of a girl. Both are of equal importance to God and of equal importance in human life; but their position and duties are not the same. Men and women in their characters, abilities and gifts complement each other and they should realize this. One sex should not try to take the place or influence of the other.

a. Man's part

Men and women are equal, but in both the home and the church there must be a leader for the sake of harmony and good order. God intends man to have this place of leadership. His position is shown clearly in the order of creation: 'Adam was formed first, then Eve.' Then the apostle seems to give another reason why man should take the lead, and he is thinking especially of the life of the church: 'Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.' We can be sure this does not mean that woman is more likely than man to fall into sin. But it does illustrate that men and women each have their special weaknesses - and strengths. Man is likely to fall in one way, and woman in another way. A woman is more easily deceived in her mind, her reasoning overpowered, and so led into error, as happened in Genesis 3. Adam allowed his emotions to be captured by Eve: his will was overpowered, and so he fell and did what he knew to be wrong. A woman's strength most often lies in her feeling for the truth, her intuition. A man's strength lies in reasoning and thinking, and so his duty lies in teaching and leading others.

b. Woman's part

It is the responsibility and privilege of woman to build the home. She does not have her greatest influence when she tries to dominate, when she competes for man's place, but in the quiet, steady influence of her God-given position as wife and mother. It has been said, 'The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.' The apostle says, 'woman will be saved through bearing children', and this probably means that she fulfils her place in God's purpose as she accepts the vocation of motherhood with all that this involves. This does not mean that the single woman or the childless wife suffers great loss. The Bible nowhere teaches that. Some find God's calling for them in a single life. Some others have to accept that God does not always bless a marriage with children, But normally, it is the woman's place to marry, bear children, and bring them up to serve God - that is her greatest task. In verse 15 Paul adds four words to describe the ideal qualities in her life. First, faith - faith in God, faithfulness to her husband and reliability in all she does. Then love - love in her home, true Christian love that shows itself in unselfishness, in kindness, and in the service of others. Thirdly, holiness - in all things doing what is pure and right in the sight of God. The last word is modesty, the same word that the apostle has used in verse 9 when speaking about dress. We can take it to mean sound common sense, doing what is wise, good and sensible.


Lord God, in Thy perfect plan, Thou has made man and woman to share life in true partnership. Help us to see the wisdom and wonder of Thy purpose, and help us each to accept the part that Thou hast given us. Bless and strengthen among us true marriage and home life, that Thy name may be glorified and Thy love shown forth, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour. AMEN.

Further Study. Try to consider the marriage customs and family relationships that are traditional in your own country, and see if they are in agreement with the Bible teaching about the place of men and women in the purpose of God. (These are times of changing customs, and it is of great importance for Christians to consider not just what is African or Asian, European or American custom, but what is in agreement with God's purpose, the principles of which are shown in Scripture.)

Notes. 1. There are two other ways in which verse sg has been understood. Some people have thought that it speaks of the particular 'child-bearing', when God sent His own Son into the world for our salvation, to be born of a woman. Others have understood 'saved' not in the sense of Christian salvation, but of physical safety. Phillips translates 'women will come safely through childbirth if..... The meaning we have taken above, however, seems most likely.

a. Repentance and faith are always required for a person to 'be saved'; in a woman real faith will show itself, as she gladly accepts her position that God has given to her, and as in her home love and holiness are seen.