Bible Question:

In paragraph 2, part 3, page 13 of John MacArthur's “God's High Calling For Women” he says that the Greek should be translated, “I do not allow for a woman teacher in an on-going official office. ” Can you expand upon this thought?

Bible Answer:

The scripture verse you refer to is 1 Timothy 2:12.

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 Tim. 2:12 (NASB)

The key to answering your question is found in the verb tenses and the meaning of the Greek word that is translated as “to teach” in our English Bibles. John MacArthur writes about “to teach.”

The present infinitive didaskein (to teach) would best be translated “to be a teacher.” The noted Greek grammarians H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey wrote the following on the distinction between the aorist infinitive and the present infinitive.

It is well to notice particularly the difference between the aorist and present infinitive. The aorist infinitive denotes that which is eventual or particular, while the present infinitive indicates a condition or process. Thus pisteusai [aorist] is to exercise faith on a given occasion, while pisteuein [present] is to be a believer. (A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament [Tornoto: MacMillian, 1957], 199)[1]

A. T. Robertson writes this about the infinitive,

The present indicative, unlike the present subjunctive and infinitive, may be punctiliar as well as linear . . . Now in [John] 3:9 John says of the man who is begotten of God: “and he cannot go on sinning (as a habit like the devil), because he is begotten of God.” The English rendering “he cannot sin” fails to note that it is the present infinitive here and not the aorist. John does not here say that a child of God is not able to commit a single act of sin as the aorist infinitive would mean. [2]

A.T. Robertson, a highly respected Greek scholar, states that the present infinitive refers to ongoing behavior and not a single event.


Since didaskein is a present infinitive, we must understand that Paul forbids women from assuming the role of a teacher on an ongoing basis. She can regularly teach women and children but not men. A woman could teach men on a short term basis. But it must be short term such as days and not months and years.


1. John MacArthur. 1 Timothy. The MacArthur New Testament. Moody Press. 1995. P. 86.

1. A. T. Robertson. The Minister and His Greek New Testament. Solid Ground Christian Books. 2008. p. 99-100.

Reference Links:

The Role of Women In The Church
Can a woman pray in church?