What means ”the woman must quietly receive instruction”? (1 Timothy 2:11-12)


Please, give light on the following Bible verses: “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (1 Timothy 2:11-12) I require a biblical response and not opinions, because they are divided.

The aim which I have proposed when creating this web site was and is to respond to any questions according to what is written in the Bible, not human opinions and not to exceed what is written in God’s Word.

Immediate context

To better understand these two verses, it is important to look at their immediate context. The Apostle Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy this epistle full of instructions that he might know how to teach people of all categories in the Church. Regarding this women he wrote this:

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1 Timothy 2:9-15)(NASB)

If we disconsider the entire context of Paul’s first Epistle to Timothy and the whole Bible, only from this passage two wrong and dangerous conclusions can be drawn:

  1. Women are categorically not allowed to speak in the Church
  2. Women are definitely not allowed to teach in the Church
  3. Women can be saved only if they give birth to children. So, under this interpretation torn from context, women who have not born children and girls can not be saved.

We definitely can not accept such an interpretation, therefore, we are going to look at the whole passage in the context of the book, but until then, let us emphasize some things that become absolutely clear in the biblical paragraph containing the verses that have provoked the question, namely:

  • The focus is on decent behavior of women
  • This decent behavior must be manifested in clothing and how they relate to other people. Moreover, the way we dress is also related to how we report to other people.
  • Decent behavior will be shown in the relationship with the husband and that means in an attitude of submissiveness.
  • The example of Adam and Eve shows that it talks about submissiveness to the husband.

What means “quietly”?

The word translated “quietly” is the Greek word hesuhia and it means peaceful silence, or rest, but it is mainly used as the opposite of disorder and chaos. When he teaches Christians in Thessalonica on the right attitude towards work and towards those who live an undisciplined life, that are doing no work at all and are acting like busybodies, the Apostle Paul uses the word hesuhia and says:

Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. (2 Thessalonians 3:12)(NASB)

Obviously he does not tell them to work in a total silence, without opening the mouth, rather he tells them not to create indiscipline and clutter.

Another example is in the Book of Acts, when the Roman captain managed to take the Apostle Paul out of the hands of the Jews who wanted to kill him. The verse says:

When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect. (Acts 21:40)

Here the word “hush” is used in respect to the end of the mess and disorder so that they may listen. The same meaning it has in the following verse where the word hesuhia is translated “quiet”:

And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet; and he said, (Acts 22:2)(NASB)

Given everything that is written above and how the word hesuhia was used, when the Apostle Paul says: “The woman must quietly receive instructions” refers to an attitude of moderation, obedience, without creating confusion and disorder and it no way refers to total silence which some have tried to impose women in the Church.

“I do not allow a woman to teach” finds its meaning in this context as well. One can not teach others if s/he does not know how to behave properly, to quietly listen to those who speak and to submit to the authority that God said. This truth applies equally to women and men.

He who does not qualify can not teach others

Another problem that existed in Ephesus, where Timothy was when Paul wrote him the first Epistle, was the attitude of young widows, who also belonged to the Church and which the Apostle writes thus:

At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. (1 Timothy 5:13)(NASB)

What could these widows teach others, if they were behaving indecently and talking about things not proper to mention? The same things applies to men too, if they talk what should not be talked about. One can not teach others if s/he is not behaving according to sound doctrine of the Holy Scriptures and speaks what should not be spoken. Moreover, in the same first epistle to Timothy, Apostle Paul says right from the beginning:


As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. (1 Timothy 1:3-4)(NASB)

This time, as we see, the commandment to not teach others is applied to everyone (and men) who do not qualify for it.

Spiritual women should teach others

If we understand the context of the Church in Ephesus and the problems they had when the apostle Paul said that women should not teach, we will understand that he was not against women serving as teachers in the Body of Christ. He wrote this in the Epistle to Titus:


Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:3-5)(NASB)

Thus, spiritual women are equally with men urged to teach God’s Word to His people.

I thank God for how He used two godly women to teach me His Word. Kay Arthur is the author of exceptional Bible study textbooks according to the inductive method, and Mia Oglice, besides that she and her husband, Costel Oglice, translated these books into Rumanian, she has taught me the sound doctrine of God’s Word since the summer of 1992. Accompanying Oglice couple in missionary trips, I had the privilege to follow closer the courage and dedication of the sister Mia Oglice, that I have read only on the pages of the New Testament. I am very grateful for the grace that God gave me to learn from these holy women.

Translated by Felicia Rotaru