1st Timothy 2:12-14 (NIV):

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

I don't quite get Paul's logic here. Why does the fact that Eve was not created first and was the one deceived serve as the basis (= the valid reason) for women not to be allowed to teach or to assume authority?

Could it be so that Paul was simply following the lines of how it was with God-created humans before their fall? I mean, in the Old Testament Paul could see only two people that were shown in their pure God-designed pre-fall state - Adam and Eve. Paul must have thought, "So, if with the two humans that have just been created by God and who have not yet fallen things were such that the woman was somehow minor to man and was more prone to make a mistake and that was exactly how God had created them, then in the Church of God this God-preordained order of things should be restored and kept" No?

  • See also Genesis 3:16 (as a cross-reference for discussion). Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 0:25

3 Answers 3


Why is the matter of women's authority determined by Eve's acts in her life?

1 Timothy 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Paul is not describing a penalty on women in general because of something the first woman did.

Paul is using Eve as an example of one of the the differences between men and women.

Paul is saying that women are more susceptible to deception than men. This is not very acceptable in an age when so much political effort is spent declaring that there are no differences between men and women.

However, if one sees in women that which is trusting and accepting, one has to consider that such a nature can be both a valuable contribution to a marriage and a vulnerability otherwise.

The idea that it is this character of women that is being described can be further supported by;

1 Timothy 2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

Here it is not just primacy that is indicated, but that Eve was created for Adam and not the reverse. The implication here is there is that in women that make them adept in being supportive and suited to helping. This is stated as also making them susceptible to deception and thus not reliable as teachers.

  • 1
    Though this may not be politically correct, I think you're right that this is what Paul is getting at. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 0:19
  • I think you've nailed it. For some reason I've always thought that Paul implies a kind of penalty on women for what Eve has done. Now I see that I was wrong.
    – brilliant
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 7:00

Order is often important in authority. The father is never under the authority of a son for instance. This is what Jesus used to confound the pharisees in Matt 22

41Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,

44“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’?

45If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. -ESV

This was used to show that the Christ while a descendant of David would supersede David. This would only be possible if the Christ was divine.

That's just an example of primacy that may be clearer. Paul uses the same logic which was generally accepted. I'm not sure if I could explain why that's been accepted other than that's how God set it up. e.g. Gen 3:16 So stating that Adam came first gave man primacy.

The second part is that Eve was deceived. I'm not sure if telling you that because Eve was deceived the authority should fall to the man, who apparently went full well knowingly into sin, is better but that is what is implied in Gen 3. The logic being it's much less likely for someone to go about lying than someone who thought they were teaching correctly even though it was wrong. The liars of course do still happen and the church is told to look out for these wolves among the flock. Men of course can also be deceived it's just implied that it will be less likely.


Paul is giving his own reasoning for what he allows and does not allow personally. It is plain from the reading of this passage that this is the policy which he follows and instructs others, but note that he is not presenting this as settled church teaching. Please also note that while in other passages, Paul makes it clear that he is speaking on behalf of the Lord, but in this case he does not. In this case, it is entirely possible that Paul is reasoning from his own training as a Pharisee and from within his own historical and cultural context as an Israelite in the ancient Near East, as references by another answer that has been given.

Remember that in the early church, there are many matters that are not fully settled, including crucial issues such as the Trinity, the nature of Christ's humanity and divinity, the role and inclusion of Gentiles in the church, and whether Jewish sacrificial law should continue to be followed. Since we trust that the Holy Spirit leads the church "into all truth" as Jesus has told us (John 16), we can rely on the decisions reached by Apostles and the church fathers in the Ecumenical councils held first in Jerusalem and then subsequently elsewhere, and we can see that the church's understanding of these key issues is clarified and confirmed over time. Please note here that the church has always taught that while the message given to us in Scripture does not change, our understanding of it develops over time as we seek deeper understanding of what God has revealed.

Please also note that there are many instances in Scripture where people say or do things that don't necessarily reflect the fullness of truth. Sometimes, we are given examples of bad behavior, and sometimes, people are walking by the light they have at the time. Just because Scripture presents a statement or a story to us does not mean that we are being taught that we should do this as well. This is where it can become helpful to us to have a trustworthy church authority that helps us understand what Scripture teaches (as distinct from what it merely presents to us as examples), and what God is asking us to do.

As a parallel example that may be helpful, I would suggest reading the progression of Peter in the book of Acts on how God sees the Gentiles (especially Acts 10, Acts 15, Galatians 2). At first, he is in opposition to God's view of the Gentiles, and is opposed on this point by Paul. However, when he receives the vision ("call nothing unclean which God has made", a reference to the Gentiles, not only foods not allowed to Jews), and the mission to go baptize Cornelius, where he sees the Holy Spirit come upon the Gentiles, he allows God to convince him that he is wrong on the subject, and later preaches a very different message at the council of Jerusalem. Finally, with Paul, Peter, and James in agreement, the council affirms what God has revealed to them and writes a letter to the non-Jewish believers.

This understanding of how church teaching develops under the superintention of the Holy Spirit as expressed through the legitimate authority of the Apostles and their successors is a big part of the reason why a number of ancient church traditions, including mine, do have women as teachers, and yet do not violate what the Scriptures assert.

Please note that I am not saying that Paul is "wrong" here. I am simply suggesting that he, as well as the entire church, are still working out what the role of women, Gentiles, etc. looks like in Christianity, and how to approach this from a practical and pastoral perspective that also does not lead to scandal or confusion among the Jews and Gentiles in the church.

  • If you down vote my answer, please provide an explanation. This is an orthodox explanation, which answers the question. Please don't use down voting as a way to express personal dislike for an answer.
    – JAGAnalyst
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 23:31

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