Are there any interpretive issues regarding word order [emphasis in bold added] in 1 Timothy 2:12?


διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ᾿ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ, didaskein de gynaiki ouk epitrepō oude authentein andros, all’ einai en hēsychia̧.

RP 2005:

γυναικὶ δὲ διδάσκειν οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ᾿ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ, gynaiki de didaskein ouk epitrepō oude authentein andros, all’ einai en hēsychia̧.


I do not permit a woman [γυναικὶ, gynaiki] to teach [διδάσκειν, didaskein] or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.


4 Answers 4


In my opinion no. The sentence remains the same in translation to the English. In regards to reading Koine Greek generally some folk might say that a certain word order departs from the standard and is therefore "emphatic", but in my opinion this can be very subjective and runs the danger of reading things into the text never meant by the author and I don't think that is the case is here. Greek word order is often based on euphony and variety unlike English where we tend to follow certain rules like putting the subject before the verb.

Consider that the KJV is based upon the the following text:

γυναικὶ δὲ διδάσκειν οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ᾽ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ (1Ti 2:12 SCR) and reads But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. (1Ti 2:12 KJV)

Whereas the NASB which is based on the Nestle-Aland text (NA27)

διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ᾽ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ. (1Ti 2:12 BNT) and reads

But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (1Ti 2:12 NAS)

Both are saying the same thing.

  • Are there no additional interpretive issues specifically concerning the order of the Greek words aside from the emphasis you have mentioned?
    – E. Cardona
    Jul 10, 2015 at 16:25
  • @EmanuelCardona what sort of thing are you thinking of? Jul 10, 2015 at 16:50
  • I wanted to make sure that I do not miss anything else that I may not be aware of. I knew about the emphasis, but I was not sure if maybe there was something more. I had nothing specific in mind. Thank you so much for your help!
    – E. Cardona
    Jul 10, 2015 at 20:23

Here's the question that I think is often missed. Many will say that the word order is not significant, but somewhere along the line, someone changed it. If it makes no difference, why make a change? I contend that the earlier reading (didaskein de gunaiki) could be interpreted "but to teach a woman . . ." I recognize that the accusative usually follows such a verb as didaskein, that does not rule out the use of the dative. Besides, some who would reject this reading because of the case of gunaiki miss the fact that andros is not in the accusative case either. Perhaps Paul is suggesting that a man (notice not "men and women" here) should not be teaching a woman, but that she should be left in peace.

  • 1
    ἐπιτρέπω commonly takes a dative "personal" object + infinitive. All three pieces of that construction are here (διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω) regardless of the word order, so I find it hard to believe that it means anything else. Do you know of any commentators who take that position? (ἀνδρός is genitive because αὐθεντέω takes a genitive object. I don't see any room for that to become the subject.)
    – Susan
    Jun 2, 2016 at 18:57
  • as per Susan's comment, it would be good to see your argument fleshed out a little more fully. You say "could be interpreted..." and "perhaps Paul is suggesting...", but don't really show how this works out in the passage as a whole. Even if the διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ could mean something else, it would then still have οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός following it. How does an alternative construction hold up in the context of the passage?
    – Steve can help
    Jun 3, 2016 at 7:34

I think question of order becomes an issue of the insertion of verses. 1Tim 2:11-12 “γυνὴ ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ μανθανέτω ἐν πάσῃ ὑποταγῇ γυναικὶ δὲ διδάσκειν οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός ἀλλ' εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ” μανθανέτω-manthanetō is present imperative active 3rd singular is it not? Without the idea of verses do we not read γυναικὶ-gynaiki as a part of the first thought? ‘Submissive’ is from ὑποταγῇ-hypotagē denotes coming under the order of the order; God’s order; His plan; from hypo + tássō. So submission here is submission to God’s plan. Also, the word αὐθεντεῖν-authentein denote taking control without submission like a dictator, to control like an autocrat. “Let a woman learn in tranquility in all submissiveness to a woman, but I do not permit a man to domineer, rather to exist in tranquility”? Perhaps not. Perhaps this has nothing to submissiveness to the order of God.

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    – sara
    Aug 23, 2019 at 6:01

In almost every other use of this verb “I do not permit” the dative comes after the verb. Paul intended a different meaning so he used a different word order. Consider this statement with understood accusatives and datives in [ ]:

  • I do not permit [anyone -dative] to teach [anything -accusative] to a man’s (genitive) wife.
  • [I do not permit [anyone -dative] to usurp a man’s authority (to teach) his own wife.

Why not? There is an ordering of teaching authority. It is God — husband — wife — children. Any doctrine that a woman learns must come from God — in silence. Or it must come from the husband. The household doctrine must be approved by the husband as head of the house. False doctrine destroys homes and churches.

Consider Eve. Eve did not do one iota of teaching in the garden. Adam allowed Satan to usurp his authority and teach Eve lies. This usurpation of Adam's teaching authority destroyed the Adam family.

Women can teach anybody. But all teaching, whether by a man or woman should be sifted through the authority of the husband over his household.

Bottom line: women can teach anybody, but they cannot be taught by anyone but the Lord or their husbands in “the ordering.”

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    Jul 22, 2021 at 3:08

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