Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation - Lesson 24

Gender Roles (Part 2)

1 Timothy 2:11-15 gives some direction for gender roles in a worship service.

Craig Blomberg
Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation
Lesson 24
Watching Now
Gender Roles (Part 2)

X. Gender Roles

A. Hair

1. Greco-Roman men: long hair = homosexuality

2. Greco-Roman women: short hair = "masculine" partner in lesbian relationship

3. Jewish men: but recall Nazirites

4. Jewish women: changed penalty for convicted adulteress

B. Head Coverings

1. Greco-Roman men: Roman priest: toga pulled over head for worship

2. Greco-Roman women: "bun"/veil – sign of marriage vs. Greek priestesses in ecstatic frenzy

3. Jewish men: reverse of later use of yarmulke

4. Jewish women: "veil" – sign of marriage?

C. I Corinthians 14:26-40: General Commands Regarding Worship (esp. v. 26)

1. Tongues (27)

2. Interpretation of tongues (28)

3. Prophets and Evaluation (29-33a) [silencing the women (33b-38)]

4. Conclusion regarding prophecy and tongues (39-40)

D. 1 Timothy 2:11-15

1. Women must learn (11)

2. Paul's prohibition (12): not "a or b"

a. One, not two practices (Payne)

b. Both + or – (Kostenberger)

3. First rationale (13)

4. (Second rationale?) or setup for v.15 (14)

5. Balancing good news (15)

E. Statements of Rationale

1. Creation (I Corinthians 11:3, 7, 8-9)

2. God's sovereignty via angels? (10)

3. Redemption (11-12)

4. Propriety, nature, common practice (13, 14, 16)

5. Common practice (I Corinthians 14:33b)

6. Law (34)

7. Redemption (Ephesians 5:23, 24, 25)

8. Creation (1Timothy 2:13)

9. Fall? (1Timothy 2:14)

F. Concluding Comments

1. Need to learn to disagree in love and to make room for multiple models

2. Cf. Baptist/paedobaptist debate as an analogy

3. Gift/office distinction crucial (and controversial)

4. If prophecy includes preaching, 1 Corinthians 11:5 dare not be neglected

Class Resources
  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.

  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.

  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.


  • Correlation of the accounts in Galatians and Acts on Paul's trip to Jerusalem. 

  • Galatians as a model of apologetics supporting Christianity.

  • Comparing faith and works in Judaism and Christianity. 

  • Paul faced persecution when he preached in Thessalonica. The return of Christ is a central theme in the letters to the Thessalonians.

  • One aspect of the subject of biblical eschatology is the timing and nature of the tribulation. 

  • Paul addresses the extremes of asceticism and hedonism, as well as concerns regarding marriage, spiritiual gifts and the resurrection.

  • Divisions in the Corinthian church were caused by both theology and lifestyle.

  • Whether or not believers should eat food that had been offered to idols was an issue in the Corinthian church. The importance and role of spiritual gifts was a major topic of discussion.

  • Paul updates the people in the church in Corinth about his travels. He also follows up on relationships and defends his apostolic ministry.

  • Paul responds to specific situations in the Corinthian church including emphasizing a correct perspective on giving and encouragement to see God's redemptive purpose in our suffering.

  • Knowing the key places as backgrounds for Romans, the timeline and the outline of the book are helpful to understanding the context and message.

  • Paul wrote Romans as a systematic exposition of the gospel.


  • In Colossians, Paul emphasizes the deity of Christ. Philemon was written to a gentlema Paul knows to encourage him to welcome back Onesimus, his runaway slave, who became a disciple of Christ and was returning.

  • Paul addresses how to live in different roles: husbands and wives, masters and slaves, elders and others in the church.

  • Paul describes the blessings of salvation and encourages believers to live in unity that transcends cultural and racial barriers. 

  • Paul describes to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus, who they are in Christ, and the ethical implications for how they should live their daily lives.

  • Paul contrasts the condescention and the exaltation of Christ, and addresses specific situations in the Philippian church.

  • Paul writes to encourage and instruct Timothy and Titus, both of whom are young pastors. It is important for Titus to identify and train elders and deal effectively with factious people. 

  • Paul instructs Timothy about how to pastor a church and turn it away from heresy.

  • Both 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians contain key passages addressing the roles of men and women in the local church. Some of them address conduct when gathering for corporate worship.

  • 1 Timothy 2:11-15 gives some direction for gender roles in a worship service.

  • Key themes and catchwords in James include trials, wisdom, temptation, speech, doubt and perseverance.

  • James discusses the roles of faith and works in a believers life and the importance of prayer.

  • A prominent theme in Hebrews chapters 1-5 is the superiority of Christ to the angels and to Moses.

  • Hebrews 6:4-8 is a key warning passage. Christ's priesthood is superior to both the Levitical priesthood and also to Melchizedek. Chapter 11 remembers the heroes of the faith.

  • A major theme of 1 Peter is perseverance despite persecution.

  • The outline of 1 Peter has similarities to other letters of the first century that emphasize a high view of Christology.

  • Jude and 2 Peter both emphasize refuting false teachers.

  • In his epistles, John emphasizes themes that refute gnostic doctrines. He outlines the tests of life as keeping God’s commandments, loving one another and believing in Jesus as the God-man.

  • As you study and preach from the epistles of John, note the passages that Dr. Blomberg describes as, “gems from John.”

  • Revelation was written by the apostle John in the late first century using apocalyptic, prophetic and epistolary genres. A possible structure by time line would be the past (chapter 1), the present (chapters 2-5) and the future (chapters 6-22). 

  • In addition to the framework of eschatology, Revelation chapters 1-6 develops themes of Christology including a description of Jesus as the lion who is a lamb, as well as the spiritual condition of some of the churches in the first century. 

  • In both of the possible scenarios for the tribulation, believers are exempt from God’s wrath but they are not exempt from Satan’s attacks.

  • Revelation chapters 12-22 cover themes of salvation and judgment of nations, Armageddon, the millennium and the new heavens and new earth.

Using the English New Testament, this course surveys the New Testament epistles and the apocalypse. Issues of introduction and content receive emphasis as well as a continual focus on the theology of evangelism and on the contemporary relevance of the variety of issues these documents raise for contemporary life.


Dr. Craig Blomberg
Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation
Gender Roles (Part 2)
Lesson Transcript


This is the 24th lecture in the online series of lectures on understanding the Epistles and Revelation, in complement with the textbook by Craig Blomberg’s Book, Acts through Revelation, An Introduction and Survey. 


1st Timothy 2:11-15, ‘A woman must learn quietly with all submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet. For Adam was formed first and then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression. But she will be delivered through childbearing, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with self-control.’ 


This crunch text is also one of the most difficult and controversial in Scripture. Verse 11 begins with a woman or wife with a command of ‘should learn’ which is the counter cultural one that would have jumped out at any first century reader in almost any educational context but particularly in a religious context. Of course women and one could add in another context where the need and balancing effect is quite different that men need to learn also. Not in silence, this is a different word here, a word that means decorum or respect and cooperative, deferring fashion, a virtual or submission. Men and women alike should learn in such fashion but in Ephesus in the first century, it says that a woman should learn. Hallelujah! 


In verse 12, Paul goes on in regards to women teaching over a man. We don’t know for sure what the activity in question is in this circumstance. She must be quiet. At first glance, not to do either A or B or do neither A nor B is, typical in English, a way of saying don’t do either one of two separate things but the Greek construction as a most through survey of the parallel expressions in the New Testament by Philip Pain has very equivalently demonstrated, does not function in that way but demonstrates that the two practices described by the conjoined expression with the conjunction uda for ‘or and nor’, consistently mutually defines one practice that can be looked at from two overlapping and at times almost synonymous perspectives. In which case, Paul’s prohibition in 1st Timothy 2:12 must be to women not teaching in an alfintain type of way or not alfintaining in a teaching kind of way. 


Andres Christin Burger has pointed out in such constructions, the two verbs in the infinitive either both refer to an activity in a given context is viewed positively or both to an activity that is viewed negatively. Wilshire has pointed out in an exhaustive study in all the known usages of this highly rare verb in ancient Greek manuscripts that have been preserved from any author on any topic from roughly the mid first century BC to the mid first century AD prior to the first century and particularly to the time of Paul. The expression was a largely negative one, meaning to domineer or exercise authority in a dominating fashion or even to exercise violence and in extreme cases, murder. After the first century and more particularly after the time of Paul, the word is used more in a positive way. It is found primarily among Christian authors who without exception would have known Paul and refers to the ordinary and even proper exercise of authority. What caused the change? And what did it mean after Paul’s day and did Paul use it in the way in which it was customarily meant to be used? And the most honest answer anyone can give, no matter how many people who read or hear who say something else is that we don’t have the evidence to know. It could be that Paul was the one to introduce a change in the customary meaning of the word and thus that later predominately Christian writers followed suit. In which case the options for domineering or negative use of authority are not likely to be what he meant and therefore isn’t likely the teaching in this context is negative or it is possible that Paul was still using in the negative fashion but because of Christian’s counter-cultural model of teaching, apart from domineering, based on other teachings of scripture including Jesus’ own servant ministry model, led to this term being used in later Christian circles in a more positive way. In which case, the teaching of false teaching and the authority is an inappropriate authority that Paul is ruling out due to the unique susceptibility to the possibility of women to the false teaching in Ephesus which other texts in the Pastoral Epistles explicitly suggest. We must leave the door open for both options even if we express personal preferences and even if we choose to fellowship with Christians having like-minded personal preferences. 


It is this lecture’s personal conviction that the confluence of teaching and authority, be they positive or negative in verse 12, so strikingly corresponds to the distinctive teaching role in chapter three, verse 2 of the elder or overseer and of the unique final authority that the elder exercises in 5:17. That verse 12 is expressing in language which is clear to Timothy in the first century Ephesians that Paul is not permitted women to be elders. In which case, both terms are being used positively, teaching exercising authority. That still leaves open the question of what an elder is, in the contemporary church, given all of our changed terminologies and new terminologies for church leaders over the centuries. Many people who are called elders in Christian churches today do not simultaneously and consistently exercise both the public teaching ministry in the worship service which is the only context that existed in Paul’s world. Note that in the end of chapter 3; particularly verse 15, Sunday school would not be invented until the 17 hundreds, etc. And the exercise of the final authority, some elders in some churches teach without exercising authority, more often than not they exercise authority without being one of the primary teachers in the public worship service. Still other churches have people who function as elders with both roles without using the title. 


But we also have to address the question, is this meant to be a timeless principle whoever is the elder? And for this lecturer, verse 13 suggests that the answer is yes, grounded in the way God created Adam and Eve; in this case in terms of their chronology. There are all kinds of problems with this approach; I address a few of them in the book and as many as I know of in my article and I could be wrong. But the reference back to creation is what we find elsewhere in Paul, not least to marriage which also involves both genders as a way of saying that this is a timeless way God has created people. But verse 14 appeals to something that happened in the fall which though I take an even more minority perspective here, this time disagreeing with my complementarian colleagues rather than my egalitarian colleagues, cannot as it seems to me to be a normative reason for prohibition. Those have to go back to creation and therefore, since we are talking about something the previous verse declares to normative must be a second rational at all for Paul’s commands but merely a reminder as he has just thought of the creation story, of what happened so quickly after the creation account in Genesis 1 – 2, the fall described in Genesis 3 as the setup for verse 15 in 1st Timothy 2, a reference to salvation, to redemption, particularly for the woman, for her unique role as a child bearer, as a gender, and then a requirement for individual women that they have and continue in faith and holiness with propriety from the time of the Gospel onwards, being explicitly in Christ. I leave the listener to search the Scripture to see if these things are true. 


It does, however, raise the question which for the sake of time, I must largely leave the reader to investigate as to the use of rational, statements throughout the various epistles surveyed. In 1st Corinthians 11, there are explicit appeals back to creation when statements about the headship, glory or honor of man and woman, husband of wife are involved. There is a very difficult verse in verse 10, but probably to be interpreted along the lines of the Jewish conviction that angels watched over and were even invisibly involved in God’s people gathering for worship and therefore a timeless principle as well for verses 8 – 9. But a mitigating of the headship though not a doing away with it altogether, based on the nature of redemption in verses 11-12. If it did away with it altogether then what would be the point of even having those opening verses? But if it didn’t at least mitigate it, then what would be the point of saying that salvation had already begun to restore God’s original intention for humanity and indeed in some cases going beyond the original finite boundaries of humanity to be experienced fully only in the life to come. And then in the closing verses where it is very clear, Paul is speaking only of hair, a series of terms which are more widespread than the Corinthian congregation but less widespread for all people everywhere. The law in 1st Corinthians 14 for submission, not a specific law but the timeless principle for the entire Hebrew Scriptures, but a common practice for the specific restraints of speaking in whatever context we ultimately determine this command for silence was given. 


Redemption for the commands in Ephesians 5 is already noted, creation, 1st Timothy 2:13 and apparently the fall and thus perhaps disqualifying 1st Timothy 2:14 from being a rational statement at all. But again I admit that is the most tentative because it is held by a few numbers of people. 


In conclusion, we need to learn to disagree in love and make room for multiple models. It seems to me that the disagreement, once enough to lead to persecution between Baptist and enfant Baptist views, enough to still create strong convictions and churches organized along the lines of those who believe in one model rather than the other. But mercifully in many contexts though not yet in all. This is helped by the growing understanding of the ability of evangelicals to cooperate for the sake of the Kingdom across denominational and theological lines when salvation is not at stake. These Issues should not keep us from fully supporting friends and leaders, men and women alike who have chosen a different model when it comes to gender roles in home and church. And always remembering that 1st Corinthians 12 is utterly clear building on Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2, the quotation of Joel chapter 2 that the gifts of the Spirit which include the proclamation of God’s Word to prophesy which includes the missionary role of the apostle and teaching with no limits as to who can be taught or should be taught in the exercise of that gift even if Paul may later preclude certain offices and an office. Those spiritual gifts are given indiscriminately of gender and we must cultivate them and encourage our congregations to cultivate them to the fullest. The prophecy, as I am convinced from the research of people like David Hill and Anthony Pisalton and others does include the more carefully thought out preaching of what one believes is a message from God a particular audience as well more spontaneously given uteruses in the same category then permission, the assumption of taking for granite that women will so speak in 1st Corinthians 11 dare not be neglected. We do so to our own spiritual impoverishment and diminution of God’s work in the world but I could be wrong. And if you disagree with the approaches I’ve suggested here, you could be wrong and we each need to keep saying that and keep searching the Scriptures and keep loving one another as we continue to do God’s work in a disparate hurting world.