1 Timothy 2:11
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.”
Explanation and Commentary of 1 Timothy 2:11
In the beginning, God created male and female in his image. His design for humanity was that he would call a man to a purpose and he would call to him a helpmeet (Gen 2:18) to journey with him and help him with that purpose. They would raise a family, and she would be the keeper of her home (Titus 2:5). In the Old Testament, this is the normal pattern for men and women to follow. The husband would be head of his wife, as Christ is the head of the Church, and the Father is the head of Christ (1 Cor 11:3).
Some people attempt to reconcile the Bible with modern feminism and teach that gender roles are a product of the fall, but this is not biblical. Paul’s basis for his teaching on godly womanhood is found in the creation order, not the curse (1 Tim 2:13). While it is true that since Christ came, the mandate to get married and raise a family is not as binding but it is still the norm. Women can pursue a calling other than being a wife and mother, but they are not permitted to hold positions of shepherding authority in the local church (1 Tim 3:4). This is perhaps because God has patterned the Church after the family structure, or even patterned the family structure after the Church. Some hold that the Bible leaves room for women to be deacons, and it is quite possible that it does (Ro 16:1).
As for this verse, first of all, everyone, men included, should learn in quietness and full submission to the Word of God. There may have been a tendency in the early Church for particular women to speak out in some disrespectful way. That Paul addresses this to women shows that he sees it as a way for a godly woman to display holiness. The New Testament compared to its day shows an extremely progressive institution in the Church. Jesus respected women and utilized their gifts more than anyone of his day. Paul often acknowledged and expressed gratitude for the faithful women in the churches who he had seen doing good work to advance the mission. These verses are hardest in light of today’s culture but must be wrestled through and not dismissed. God’s plan is perfect, and his plan for women, his female image-bearers, is perfect.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of 1 Timothy 2:11
#1 “A woman…”
Women have been lovingly designed by God for a purpose. In general, women were made to be loving and valuable helpers to a godly and productive husband. The first woman was taken out of her husband, hence the name, woman (Gen 2:23).
#2 “…should learn in quietness…”
Paul was talking about proper order in public worship. There is a spirit of humility that is called for from everyone. A man or woman who cannot help but open their mouth to give their opinion on everything do so out of some element of brokenness. It was especially easy to command this of women, because some men, called to be elders in the local church, would be required to speak up.
#3 “…and full submission.”
Where we are called to submit, it must be full submission, or it is not submission at all. We are told to submit to government authorities (Ro 13:1-7), husbands, church leadership, and ultimately to God. Only when commanded to sin should we resist. We submit to authorities as a way to concretize our submission to God. We submit because those officials have the power vested in them by God, and not for any natural or psychological power they hold over us.
Bible Study on 1 Timothy 2:11
Expert Overview of 1 Timothy
Biblical Translations of 1 Timothy 2:11
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.
Women should learn quietly and submissively.
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.