Does 1 Timothy 2:11-12 Apply To Secular Matters?

Some people have taken the doctrinal position that 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 not only relates to the spiritual realm, but also to the secular realm. This would mean that a woman could not be a boss in a business over men, a woman could not serve in a government position over men, or a woman could not teach a college class (such as mathematics or science) w ith men present.

First, it is important to understand the remote context of the first letter that was written to Timothy by the apostle Paul. Paul's purpose in writing the letter is stated in 1 Timothy 3:14, 15: "These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

The behavior of Timothy was to be outstanding in imitating his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Tim othy 4:12). Since Timothy was a Christian, he was a member of the temple (house) of God (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 2 Corinthians 6:16). The Old Testament temple was called the house of God (1 Kings 5:5; 1 Chronicles 9:13). Under the New Testament system the true temple of God is known as the church of Christ (the blood - bought redeemed people, Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18, 19 ), not the physical temple in Jerusalem (which was destroyed by God in A.D. 70, Matthew 24:1,2). Since God is holy, His people are to be a holy people (1 Peter 1:15, 16). Timothy was to live a holy life of conduct that was "worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27).

Since the church is the people, the church must assemble together for worship (1 Corinthians 14 ; Hebrews 10:24-27), which will presuppose that they were unassembled at times since they were to live out their lives for the glory of the Father on a daily basis (Matthew 5:16 ; Acts 8:3-4). Paul gives inspired instructions on the work and organization of the church (how the people of God ought to be living both in the worship assembly as well as outside the worship assembly - see 1 Timothy 2:8). He gives instructions on the role of men and women as God established from the garden of Eden (1 Timothy 2:13-15). He gives instructions to Christian men who would have the desire and the qualifications to serve as an elder in the Lord's church (1 Timothy 3:1-7). He gives instructions on Christian men who would have the qualifications to serve as deacon s in the Lord's church (1 Timothy 3:8-13).

An argument that is made by those who believe that women cannot lead over men in secular matters can be summarized as follows:

Major Premise: If a passage of Scripture does not specify that only spiritual matters are under consideration, then that passage also teaches that women are not to have authority over men in secular matters.

Minor Premise: 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 is a passage of Scripture that does not specify that only spiritual matters are under consideration.

Conclusion: Therefore, that passage (1 Timothy 2:11,12) teaches that women are not to have authority over men in secular matters.

The argument is valid in form, yet is unsound. The minor premise is not true.

In the immediate context in 1 Timothy 2:7, Paul writes: "for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle - I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying - a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." Paul is specifying what kind of teaching that is to be forbidden. It is the authoritative-type teaching in the spiritual realm. A woman is not to be a teacher over men in faith and truth. Paul is restricting her from being a teacher over men in spiritual matters, not secular matters.

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