The Christian Woman’s Legitimate Sphere of Action and Influence – The Home

The Christian Woman’s Legitimate Sphere of Action and Influence – The Home

Studying the Word of God is something I love to do. Each time I read it, even with those passages that I have read many times, I learn something new. God’s Word is definitely a twoedged sword!

The KJV uses the word “suffer” in this verse which means to allow or permit: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, not to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:12). Once in a while, I enjoy looking at the commentaries of old to see what they have to say about a verse so I did it with this one. Do they think this verse was only relevant to the time it was written as many believe? Were the women back then loud and obnoxious in the churches so this verse is not relevant for today?

Here is what I found:

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.—The whole purpose of these weighty admonitions of the great founder of the Gentile Churches relegates Christian women to their own legitimate sphere of action and influence—the quiet of their own homes. St. Paul caught well the spirit of his Master here. He raised once and for ever the women of Christ out of the position of degradation and intellectual inferiority they had occupied in the various pagan systems of the East and West, and taught with all the weight of an Apostle—of an accredited teacher of divine wisdom—that woman was a fellow-heir with man of the glories of the kingdom,—where sex would exist no longer; but while teaching this great and elevating truth, St. Paul shows what is the only proper sphere in which woman should work, and in which she should exercise her influence and power; while man’s work and duties lay in the busy world without, woman’s work was exclusively confined to the quiet stillness of home.” (Ellicott’s Commentary)

We have a great ministry, women! We have the privilege of working and ministering to our families while keeping our homes a place of refuge for them. Never allow anyone to discount your priceless work at home.

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, They may teach in private, in their own houses and families; they are to be teachers of good things, Titus 2:3. They are to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; nor is the law or doctrine of a mother to be forsaken, any more than the instruction of a father; see Proverbs 1:8. Timothy, no doubt, received much advantage, from the private teachings and instructions of his mother Eunice, and grandmother Lois; but then women are not to teach in the church; for that is an act of power and authority, and supposes the persons that teach to be of a superior degree, and in a superior office, and to have superior abilities to those who are taught by them.” (Gill’s Exposition)

God ordained men to be the teachers of the Word in the churches. We have the privilege of teaching the Word to our children and to young women (specifically Titus 2:3-5), then living it out in front of them. Yes, we can share the Gospel with those in our sphere of influence, but the preaching/teaching of the Word has been given to men since this is God’s authority structure from the beginning. God made Adam first. He could have easily made Adam and Eve at the same time but He didn’t. He put Adam in the position of authority, Eve was created to be his help meet, but then Eve was deceived. This is another reason women are not to teach nor have authority over men. It goes all the way back to creation, not the time in which this verse was written as many suggest.

“The first argument, why it is not lawful for women to teach in the congregation, because by this means they would be placed above men, for they would be their masters: and this is against God’s ordinance.” (Geneva Study Bible)

If wives are to be submissive to their husbands, how can they be in authority over them in church as a preacher of the Gospel? They can’t. God’s order is right and good.

“According to St. Paul, women are not allowed to be public teachers in the church; for teaching is an office of authority. But good women may and ought to teach their children at home the principles of true religion. Also, women must not think themselves excused from learning what is necessary to salvation, though they must not usurp authority. As woman was last in the creation, which is one reason for her subjection, so she was first in the transgression.’ (Matthew Henry)

This doesn’t mean we are of any lesser value than men, women. It’s simply God’s ordained order and we must trust that what He ordains is for our best. It seems the men who wrote the commentaries of old all clearly understood God’s will for women unlike many today.

“Let the woman learn in silence,…. The apostle goes on to give some other instructions to women, how they should behave themselves in public worship, in the church of God; he would have them be learners and not teachers, sit and hear, and learn more of Christ, and of the truth of the Gospel, and to maintain good works; and he would have them learn in silence, and not offer to rise and speak, under a pretense of having a word from the Lord, or of being under an impulse of the Spirit of the Lord, as some frantic women have done; and if they should meet with anything, under the ministry of the word, they did not understand, or they had an objection to, they were not to speak in public, but ask their own husbands at home.” (Gill’s Exposition)

Let us be women who obey all of the God’s Word without trying to twist what it says to mean something that it does not. The role the Lord has given to us is good and we must learn to be content in it: silent in the churches and workers at home. After all, there’s NO place like home!

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
1 Timothy 2:11, 12

*Picture source

31 thoughts on “The Christian Woman’s Legitimate Sphere of Action and Influence – The Home

  1. A woman’s highest calling is in the home: To care for her family and raise the next generation of righteous people. The most sexist and degrading thing a woman can be told in this country is that it’s not…

    1. I know you are referring to secular feminists who despise the idea of marriage and family, and I know you are not a Christian, but not everyone woman is called by God to marry and have a family.

      Are you saying that their calling is somewhat inferior then?

      1. The President of the United States has an important job, one that is the highest calling in this country. And then we have teachers, considering the President the have the inferior job, but there job is still highly important. The job of a burger-flipper is of much less importance than the job of a neurosurgeon, and yet burger-flipping dude’s job is still very beneficial to society. Inferior does not necessarily mean of less importance.

        1. Or better yet, (because I see where I repeated and contradicted myself), any job is important to some degree: but there are others with a higher calling. A Marine has a higher calling in his job than an Uber driver, but both jobs help shape society. If that makes better sense! 😉

  2. Lori,

    What do you suggest for women married to men who are not good readers, who have not comprehensively studied the Bible and Bible history, and/or did not have parents who taught them? (In this case, the women have had all those things through their parents, attending church and Bible study, reading expositions, etc.) I have spoken with friends who try not be upset about it, but they do get worried their husband is not teaching their children the Bible correctly due to misunderstandings when reading aloud, not consulting wise theologian’s/pastor’s works, etc. Is there a polite way to ask your husband to read with you, or read an exposition with you? What would you recommend? Mostly they just seem to be asking clarifying questions often, but that usually confuses the husbands and gets them flustered that they don’t know what to say. How do you explain to your children that daddy didn’t quite get it right during homeschool lessons? I know it seems like a silly question, but it really is important to make sure your husband does not feel stupid or silly for his efforts and that your children are taught correctly in the end.

    This question is of course for women/couples who have been saved later in life or are just getting started on their journey with Jesus.

    1. “How do you explain to your children that daddy didn’t quite get it right during homeschool lessons?”

      Quite simply, you don’t. It takes a great amount of faith to trust your children to God. But, He knew before the words came out of the that husband’s mouth — what He was going to do in the future.

      To a child it’s black or white, their world is very elemental still. Any attempt to ‘correct’ will turn the child’s heart away from their father.

      1. Absolutely Robin. I read that comment and i thought it was very condescending. I realise the authors intent and i feel the frustration but that is a bad way of dealing with it. The best way to deal with it is to pray about her husband, pray for her children, the get behind her husband and encourage him. That is more likely to spur him on to do better, than any condescending remarks.

        1. If Dad’s not getting it right, give him another chance! You’ll be talking about spiritual matters with your kids regularly for years. He will grow, and so will the quality of his teaching. It will all work out!

  3. There’s no place I’d rather be than at home. It is definitely my happy place.

    My best friend is a dedicated career woman. She always tells me she’d be a miserable housewife, but she has never tried. I wonder how many women think the same. They watched their mothers work (her mom had a demanding career) and copied them without ever knowing any different. I hated working, the commute, the stress, my boss drove me crazy, etc. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….. Life improved dramatically when I stayed home and financially, it wasn’t nearly the loss we expected. I wish I’d had the faith to leave sooner. It might’ve been the difference in my now childless life.

    1. I had a similar experience—had to work a couple of years but was really happy to stay home! Been at it going on five years now! We decided after seeing how much less stressful it is not to bring anything into our lives that would be too distracting from our main task of child rearing. Had to learn the hard way that this includes excessive volunteering!

  4. Yes, so true! Just because we have different roles doesn’t mean one is less or more important than the other! St Paul was actually very countercultural, because the pagan culture really did not value women at all, and Paul taught that women are just as important to God as a man. We learned at my church that part of the reason the church grew so quickly back then was because Christians valued life, and they rescued babies that were abandoned—many of those babies were female (because boy children were preferable, many ancient pagans abandoned the girls). So, having a different role doesn’t make me less important as a woman. My influence on my children and family is so crucial, and I want to be there for them! If that doesn’t take a “strong woman”, I don’t know what else does!

    1. Fighting, insisting and reminding everyone that one is valued as a woman is itself feminism. It is worldly. A Christian woman should not be “fighting”, “insisting” or “asserting” one’s “right” to be “valued”. That is exactly what is wrong with the modern western woman today, fighting and clamouring for her “rights”. It goes against the meekness and quietness that a woman is called to have (1 Peter 3:4).

      It is the fight for one’s “rights” in modern western society that is the cause of all problems.

  5. Thank you for your faithfulness in teaching women, Lori. I know I have expressed my thanks many times to you, but not nearly enough!! I certainly do appreciate you and Ken and the testimony of your lives. I also want to thank those individuals that comment on your blog… many of them really enrich your posts as well. Thank you everyone!!🙂

    1. I am not a fan, Mary, since few, if any, woman’s Bible study teaches biblical womanhood: what God specifically commands older women to teach young women. I believe that God has ordained men to teach the word of God since all of the Priests, Apostles, Disciples, writers of the Bible, Elders, and Deacons – all men.

      1. Most ‘Bible studies’today, led by either man or woman, are actually book studies. The times we have tried to join a ‘bible study’ and we found out they used a book as theirr primary source of study we would ask if we could have the bible as the main source of study and they looked at us like we had two heads! Id stay away from them.

  6. I consider myself a good , strong Christian mom. Our family go to church, and have strong ethics and morals. I homeschooled my children. Yet, sadly my daughter has turned her back on our faith. She decided to attend college, and supports groups I find distasteful. My husband and I have shed ms ny tears, and pray constantly. We don’t wish to turn our backs on her- she is our child and we love her dearly. But her choices are very hard to handle.

    1. Unfortunately, Chris, many of the young people today are turning their backs on their faith once they go to college. Most colleges teach nothing about the Lord nor His ways. They are taught lies and believe the lies; for bad company corrupts good morals. However, I am sure you planted seeds in your daughter so keep praying that the Holy Spirit will convict her and she will turn to the Lord. Never give up hope! A praying mother is a powerful tool that the Lord uses for good.

  7. What a beautiful post!

    Just attended a meeting for a school group in my city on Thursday, and the men who attended were few, and timid and reluctant to speak. The women were bold, outgoing, assertive, and controlled the meeting. This same group has the children in the district who have the most behavioral issues, and are performing the worst, academically. When the woman leaves the home, the home, children, and city crumble.

  8. Lori,
    Please excuse my ignorance, but have you possibly written a bible study that would be appropriate to be shared among women?

    1. A book that I have recently written is in the process of being put together on a study of biblical womanhood. My desire would be that older women in the churches would teach this to the younger women in the churches. Thank you for asking, Beth!

  9. Hello! I recently discovered your blog and am really enjoying learning more!

    I have a question. I’m about 30-35 pounds overweight. I’d like to look and feel better, but I’m having trouble sticking to a plan. My downfall is sweets and sugar. I can never just take one bite of something. I just signed up for weight watchers yesterday, but I’m scared I’ll just fail again. You’ve mentioned healthy eating and lifestyle. Do you have any advice for me?

    Thanks much!
    Trina

    1. My best friend struggled with her weight for many, many years until she joined weight watchers about ten years ago. The accountability did it for her and she’s kept her weight off ever since! Every time you want to take that second bite of something, ask yourself if that second bite is more important than looking good and feeling better. You can discipline yourself to eat in moderation because we are told that we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us. Memorize Philippians 4, stick with Weight Watchers, and remind yourself that you can do it!

      1. I also heard that increasing your healthy fats can help reduce the craving for sugar laden foods. Might be worth looking into. I would also like to add ive literally had a sweet tooth all my life. And ive noticed a rapid decline in my overall health, not to mention the agonizing pain i have felt due to tooth decay. I will now loose all of my top set of teeth and im in danger of loosing my bottom set as well. In the long run, sugar isnt worth it. I have to discipline myself to stay away from sweets and have something healthy instead. Another tip is every time you feel tempted to eat sweets, drink some water. For a sweet hit, add some lemons or berries to the water for a sweet treat. I also found having a bowl full of blue berries, strawberries,raspberries, blackberries with some cream, hits the sweet tooth and has healthy antioxidants and good fats. I hope this helps. You CAN do this!

        1. Dear sweets lover—I found freedom when I learned that there are two types of people when it comes to them—abstainers and moderators. I, like you, can’t just have one. The craving gets worse, not better. Try totally abstaining from sweets! Then you don’t get started on that familiar binge cycle of “must have more!” You may find it is easier to just never start down the path than to take a little and then become obsessed. Sounds crazy, but it is easier!

  10. Lori, can you write something up about excessive volunteering and it’s impact on motherhood/marriage? Not sure if that’s been done or if you have already looked into it. I found myself burnt to a crisp with that last fall and will (hopefully) never get that bogged down again. I really meet God in service, I just need to be wiser about choosing best over good. I’m thankful to be the sort of woman that never really desired to teach on spiritual matters. I feel for women that do—it seems to be a real struggle.

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