1 Timothy 2:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Timothy 2:12, NIV: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet."

1 Timothy 2:12, ESV: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet."

1 Timothy 2:12, KJV: "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

1 Timothy 2:12, NASB: "But I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet."

1 Timothy 2:12, NLT: "I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly."

1 Timothy 2:12, CSB: "I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to remain quiet."

What does 1 Timothy 2:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Verse 11 presented what at first appears to be a controversial statement. Viewed in full context, however, Paul has simply stated that women should not be flagrant or excessively loud or frenzied during a church gathering. Just as clothing should reflect a controlled, reasonable person, so too should behavior in a church service reflect godly peace.

How, then, is this phrase regarding women and teaching to be understood? In the local church, Paul specified men as elders (1 Timothy 3:1–7) and most likely as deacons (1 Timothy 3:8–13). The point made in the New Testament is not that adult women can never teach adult men, as both Priscilla and his wife Aquila did exactly that with Apollos in Acts 18:26. Phoebe also served in some type of church leadership role, with some believing her role of "servant" was as a deacon (Romans 16:1). However, men are consistently specified as the primary local church leaders, in the role of elders.

The key is not the term didaskein, referring to teaching, but the Greek word translated as "exercise authority:" authentein. This word means "to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, or dictate to." In simple terms, women are not to serve in the role of elder, or attempt to lead in the specific ways in which elders are expected to lead. Though women were not—and are not—excluded from praying in church gatherings, men were taught to take leadership in this area.

The repeated reference to "quietness" here again has more to do with self-control than with absolute lack of sound. Women were not to overtake a worship service, by taking control of public prayers or teaching, and especially not through hysterics or commotion. Elders were expected to oversee instruction and prayer in the church. First Corinthians 14:33–35 notes that this practice was not limited to Ephesus; it was true in all early churches.