1 Timothy 2:12 (NIV)

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet."

I want to know, can a woman lead to pray for a man? Thanks


If indeed, 1 Timothy 2:12 was written by Paul, it would seem to be compelling evidence that women should not teach or have authority over men. However, elsewhere in his epistles, Paul says that women did hold responsible positions in the Church, and he appears to have approved of that situation:

  • In Romans 16:1, Paul commends Phoebe as a deacon of the church at Cenchrea, near Corinth.
  • In Romans 16:3 and 1 Corinthians 16:19, Paul speaks of Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, as co-workers with Paul and equally as hosts of the church which met in their house.
  • In 1 Corinthians 11:5, Paul speaks of women prophesying in church, only requiring that they cover their heads when doing so. It is unclear why Paul so stridently insisted that women cover their heads, but in this there is no suggestion that women must remain silent.

There is a massive scholarly consensus that the Pastoral epistles, 1-2 Timothy and Titus, were written in Paul's name well over half a century after his death. Undoubtedly the author of 1 Timothy believed that women should not teach or have authority over men, but that is not what Paul taught. Nor is this to be found in the Didache, a first-century manual of instruction and guidance within the Christian community. John Dominic Crossan says in The Birth of Christianity,page 371:

The Didache's total silence about submission of wives to husbands and about their non-participation in leadership roles, with no prohibitions recorded against women as trainers, baptisers, eucharistisers, apostles, prophets or teachers, points to the conclusion that these functioning roles within the community were open to women.

By the second century, the Christian Church had developed a position that women were to be subservient to men and that they should listen to their husbands on all matters, especially in religion. However, we are not bound by anonymous or pseudepigraphical writings of the second century. There is no reason to be found in Paul's undisputed writings, or in those of his first-century contemporaries, to say that women should not lead in prayer.

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