1 Tim. 2:9-15 "a woman" is referring to wives just as "a man" refers to husbands

by Matt Slick

"Likewise, I want women [gune] to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; 10 but rather by means of good works, as befits women [gune] making a claim to godliness. 11 Let a woman [gune] quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman [gune] to teach or exercise authority over a man, [andros] but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman [gune] being quite deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But she will be saved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint," (1 Tim. 2:9-15).

We have already looked at this text in-depth in this article:  In 1 Tim. 2:9-15, is "a woman" is a specific individual Paul had in mind? Here we look briefly at the idea that "a woman" refers only to wives (not women in general), and "a man" refers only to husbands (not men in general).

Though there is nothing in the text prior to these verses to suggest that Paul was specifically addressing wives, the reference in verse 13 to Adam and Eve has been claimed by some to refer to the marriage relationship. If we look at it this way, Adam would represent husbands; and she would represent wives.  If this were the case, then the wives are not to teach or exercise authority over their husbands.  Some would then say that this would allow a woman to be a pastor or an elder.  But a problem would arise when we consider the option that a woman who was preaching God's word in the pulpit, which is an authoritative act by definition, would then be teaching her husband and exercising authority over him if he were to be sitting in the congregation listening to the message.  So, in order to maintain biblical fidelity in this position either she could not preach while he was sitting there (lest she teach and exercise authority over him), or he would have to leave when she preached.  Would anyone seriously consider this option?  Would a husband have to say, "Sorry, my wife is preaching so I can't be in the church."  This option is ridiculous, and it demonstrates that the egalitarian position would not work given this interpretaton.

The reference to Adam and Eve cannot be considered without noting that Adam was created first.  This may very well be a reference to primogeniture, the biblical teaching that the firstborn has preeminence and authority over those that follow in the family.  A lot of egalitarians ignore the fact that Paul says Adam was created first.  Therefore, the emphasis does not seem to be on a husband and wife relationship but the relationship designated by the created order in light of primogeniture.  Therefore, the text does not require that it refer to wives in general and husbands in general.  Instead, it seems best to say that Paul is teaching about men and women in general.





About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.