I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11–15 in Light of Ancient Evidence

Baker, 1992
ISBN: 9781441249241


“I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

—1 Timothy 2:12 KJV

This passage troubles those who desire greater leadership roles for women in ministry but who also want to remain loyal to Scripture. Did Paul forbid a woman to exercise her leadership and teaching gifts, or was he dealing with a particular error in the church? According to I Suffer Not a Woman, Paul was reacting to a specific problem that was sweeping churches: a myth, taught mostly by women, which later became a foundation for Gnosticism. This book offers an in-depth look at the Greek text of 1 Timothy 2:11–15 in the context of the Pastoral Epistles and in its historical context. By illuminating the first-century culture of Ephesus, the authors shed light on the ancient-world thought patterns Paul faced and offer a responsible alternative understanding of this much debated passage.

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Key Features

  • Offers an in-depth look at the Greek text of 1 Timothy 2:11
  • Sheds light on the ancient-world thought process patterns that Paul faced
  • Details a responsible alternative understanding of this passage


  • Approaching the Text in Its Context
    • Approaching the Bible with Faith
    • The Pastoral Epistles: Who Wrote Them and Why
    • Destination: Ephesus
    • Identifying the Problem: Evidence from the Pastorals
    • An Examination of 1 Timothy 1:3–2:11
  • The Prohibition (1 Tim. 2:12)
    • A Closer Look at Our Target Verse
    • That Strange Greek Verb Authentein
    • Is Another Translation Possible?
    • The Feminine as Primal Source
  • The Prohibition’s Rationale (1 Tim. 2:13–15)
    • Condemnation or Refutation? (2:13–14)
    • How an Important Bible Story Was Turned Upside Down
    • New Stories for Old
    • Of Jewish and Gnostic Heroines
    • The Great Goddesses and Eve
    • The Veneration of the Serpent and Eve
    • Considerations of Childbearing (2:15)

Praise for the Print Edition

A fascinating study on the backgrounds of ancient Ephesus and of the church to which Paul wrote the one biblical statement that is invoked the most frequently to deny Christian women the use of their spiritual gifts. It will now become impossible to interpret legitimately the Pauline prohibition without recourse to this valuable resource.

Gilbert Bilezikian, professor emeritus of biblical studies, Wheaton College

Working from a wide range of primary sources, I Suffer Not a Woman draws the reader into ancient-world thought patterns. The authors provide a compelling case for interpreting the text in 1 Timothy as a refutation of false teaching, rather than as a narrow restriction on women’s role. . . . This book must be taken seriously and deserves a wide audience.

—Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, author, Equal to Serve

Product Details

About the Authors

Richard Clark Kroeger is a retired pastor and college professor.

Catherine Clark Kroeger is founder and president emerita of Christians for Biblical Equality and is an adjunct professor of classical and ministry studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.


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