Bible Question:

Did Jesus use women to teach men, women, and children?

Bible Answer:

Did Jesus use women to teach men, women, and children? The answer to the question is, “No!” An objective search of the New Testament reveals that Jesus never asked a woman to teach men, women or children. Further there are no examples of women teaching children or men in the gospels. No examples exist of Jesus making any such request anywhere. There is one command in Titus 2 calling women to teach children and one hint of that occurring in 2 Timothy.

Did Priscilla Teach Men?

There are no examples of Jesus or the apostles asking or commanding a woman to teach men in or outside the gospels in the New Testament. But there is an example of a woman teaching a man. Her name was Priscilla (Acts 18:2, 18, 26; or Prisca (Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19). In Acts 18:26 we are told that she and her husband taught a man called Apollos the way of the Lord more accurately.

But when  Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. Acts 18:26 (NASB)

But notice that neither Jesus or an apostle asked them to teach Apollos. Also, we are not told how involved she was in the teaching. Did her husband do most of the teaching and she contributed a few comments?  If she did most of the teaching of Apollos, it is important to recognize that she did it together with her husband. She did not do solo teaching. Further, the Greek word that is translated as “explained” is in the aorist tense implying this was a one time event.

Romans 16:3 and 1 Corinthians 16:19 tells us that this couple had a church in their home. But we are never told who did the teaching. It is error to conclude that she must have taught or did teach the church since we are not given that information. To claim that she had a significant teaching role cannot be supported by scripture.

Did Four Prophetesses Teach Men?

Acts 21:9 reports that a man had four daughters who were prophetesses.

Now this man had four virgin daughters who were  prophetesses. Acts 21:9 (NASB)

But notice that we are not told what these women did. We know nothing about their ministry. Therefore, we can be teaching error if we claim that they taught men. They may have only spoken to women and their speaking may not have been in the corporate church services. James 3:1 is an important warning,

Let not many of you become teachers,  my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a  stricter judgment. James 3:1 (NASB)

Therefore, we should say that we do not know what these four women did.

Did Phoebe Teach or Oversee Men?

In Romans 16:1-3 we are introduced to a woman called Phoebe.

I  commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at  Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. Romans 16:1-3 (NASB)

The Greek word for “servant” is diakonos which is the word used in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 for an official position in the church called deacons. Also, the Greek words for “help” and helper” have the sense of assisting another person. These words are important since they reveal her function in the church. She was a helper and not a teacher or an elder. That is, she did not teach or oversee men. There is no record of either Jesus or the apostles asking Phoebe to be a servant to the church or teach.

Was Junias An Apostle?

Some Bible translations of Romans 16:7 leave the impression that Junias was an apostle.

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Romans 16:7 (NASB)

The Greek word that is used for “apostles” is apostolos. The literal meaning of the word is “sent one.” In John 13:16 the word is correctly translated as “sent.” However, it is also used of the thirteen apostles in a technical sense as a title. Therefore, we must ask how is the word used in Romans 16:7? Is it used in a technical sense or should it be translated as “sent”? The answer is unknown and the role of Junias is also unknown. What is clear is that there is no record of either Jesus or the apostles asking Junias to do anything nor is she ever included in a list of apostles in the scriptures.

Were Eudioa and Syntyche Leaders In the Church?

In Philippians 4:2-3 we are introduced to two women who are quarreling with each other and creating disunity in the church.

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind  in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.  Philippians 4:2-3 (NASB)

It is speculation to claim that they were deaconesses in the church or that they were teachers. The only thing that we know about them is that they were not living in harmony.

Did Lois and Eunice Teach Timothy?

In 1 Timothy 1:5 we are introduced to two women. Lois is the grandmother of Timothy, to whom the book of 1 Timothy is written. Eunice is Timothy’s mother.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice  and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 1 Timothy 1:5  (NASB)

Then in 1 Timothy 3:15 we discover that someone taught him when he was a child about Jesus Christ.

. . . and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 3:15 (NASB)

Now the passage does not tell us who taught him, but most likely his mother and grandmother did the teaching.  This is a great example of women teaching their children. It has the blessing of the apostle Paul.

Examples of Women Caring For and Teaching Women

Now what we do find in the New Testament is that women cared for other women. 1 Timothy 5:13-16 is an example of women caring for women. The apostle Paul tells women to not be idle, busybodies and gossips but to get married, have children and keep house. Today, many women are not obedient to this command of the apostle. As a result, Paul says they give Satan an opportunity to create trouble.

The clearest instruction of women teaching is found in Titus 2:3-5. Notice that verse 3 instructs women to teach women. Women are never commanded anywhere in scripture to teach men.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 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 2:1-5 (NASB)

 

Conclusion:

There are no examples of  Jesus or the apostles commanding, asking or encouraging a woman to teach men or children. There are no verses or examples. Therefore, we cannot state or teach that Jesus used women to teach men, women, or children. But it is clear that God wants women to do what He asked them to do. 1 Timothy 6:13-16 and Titus 2:3-5 gives us clear statements about what God wants women to do. Every woman should take joy in pleasing the Lord. Then they should look to the Lord to expand their opportunities to minister for Him. But is that ministry fulfilled when they can teach men?

A book titled, “Why Not Women?” teaches that women can be pastors and can teach adult males. It is a product of our culture. It is not biblical, despite the claims of the title. It is strongly suggested that the book “Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15,” by Andreas J. Kostenberger, Thomas R. Schreiner, H. Scott Baldwin be read. It is published by Baker Books, ISBN: 0801020204. It is a definitive, scholarly critique of the viewpoint presented in “Why Not Women?”

It is important to note that culture is a major problem hindering our interpretation of the Bible. Our interpretation can be influenced by our culture and our own preferences. Cultural bias exerts a tremendous influence our perception of the meaning of biblical passages. We often see things in the pages of scripture with culturally tinted glasses. Our culture can influence the viewpoints of everyone, including our teachers, elders and pastors. Because of the influence of our culture, we often unintentionally understand scripture according to modern views and trends.

Other people deliberately twist the Bible in a way that makes it conform to their philosophy or wishes. These individuals are not interested in truth. They may search the Bible to find verses that seem to support their bias and then they twist it some more to make it appear to agree with their perspective. They are not interested in submitting to the teaching of scripture but in making scripture appear to agree with them.

Those who are interested in discovering the meaning of scripture are helped if they compare their understanding of scripture to the views of those who have lived in another period of time – in another culture and place. This helps us escape the influence of our culture. We should look at the views of men such as John Chrysostom (A.D. 300s), Martin Luther (A.D. 1500s), Matthew Poole (A.D. 1600s), Matthew Henry (A.D. 1700s), Albert Barnes (A.D. 1800s), John Calvin (A.D. 1800s), and Charles Spurgeon (A.D. 1800s) and look for a common interpretation of scripture. The goal is to hopefully avoid the influence of culture. If we are honest, our cultural biases are exposed when we compare our views to the views of men such as these ancient fathers of the faith.

The historic position of the church regarding the role of women in the church from the time of the apostles to the present has not changed until more recent times. Almost everyone knows that the role of women has been a major issue in the United States and in other countries during this period. This should give us caution about asking . The great saints of the reformation period such as Calvin and Luther do not agree with the modern teaching that says women can be elders and can teach adult men. These men were committed to the teaching of scripture too! It should not be a surprise that some are finding this “new found truth” in the scriptures. This is not unusual. Even in the times of the apostles, false teaching was occurring. It is not unusual for people to not like the teaching of scripture when it conflicts with their culture.

Reference Links:

Role of Women In The Church
Rise of Women Pastors
What does the Bible teach about women pastors?
Leadership Studies