Vol. 1 - No. 3 

March, 1982

Woman ‑And the Usurping of Authority

by John W. Wilson

 “But 1 suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:12‑14)

      I understand from a study of both the Old and New Testaments that there have been specific roles given to men and to women from the very dawn of creation. However., I do not understand that the role of teaching was given to either man or woman because of special capabilities of the sex to which they belonged. The fact that woman is commanded to obey  the same commands to become a child of God as is man is an indication to me that her ability to understand God's will is the same as is man's. Woman is not only responsible for obedience,  but it also places upon her the responsibility of teaching others to obey. The command given to mankind in general is to bear after his own kind in the spiritual realm. The fact that woman is commanded not to usurp authority which God has given unto the man in teaching has nothing to do with her teaching ability, her right; nor even her duty to teach others. It has nothing to do with her responsibility to teach a man the truth if opportunity presents itself.

Seems that many brethren have come to think of a woman every time the word “usurp” is mentioned. To usurp authority means nothing more than to take over or try to take over some role of authority which has been given to another.

God decreed that men would be apostles, public evangelists, elders, and deacons. These authorized positions belong to the male exclusively. Surely not because a woman is mentally incapable of teaching as an apostle or an evangelist, nor because she is unable to convince the gainsayer as an elder, but for other reasons, obvious to me, God did not choose women to fill these roles. That authority was given to man, and woman cannot usurp that authority and be pleasing to God.

The above authorized positions which belong exclusively to men are those positions which have and do play a part in the New Testament church. However, if I understand the teaching of 1 Timothy 1:12 in the light of other commands and examples, a woman cannot usurp authority over a man anywhere upon the face of this earth. The command is not limited to positions of authority in the church. Why? Because “For Adam was first formed; then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:13‑14)

What does Adam having been formed first, and Eve having been deceived have to do with the necessity for God to tell the woman not to usurp authority over man? Remember that in the beginning God had formed Adam and placed him over everything. Later Eve was taken from his side as a help‑mate, dependent upon Adam; even to tell her what God had commanded them to do and not to do. She usurped the authority which had been given unto Adam, and allowed herself to be deceived. (Genesis 1 and 3)

Of all the specific roles of authority which God has given unto the woman, why is it that God never saw fit to tell man not to usurp the woman's role of authority? Could a man usurp authority over a woman or take over the role which had been given to her, and does he ever do so? He can, and he often does. But he isn't deceived into so doing. Adam was not deceived in the beginning. Not by the serpent, and not by Eve. He knew that he was disobeying God and though Eve was a part of the transgression and was punished even in her punishment God had mercy and gave unto her salvation through childbearing. (2 Timothy 2:15) Through her seed and hers alone would come the salvation of the world. God never did tell a man not to usurp authority. He, man, knows better. He was never deceived and he is rarely deceived today. God has always seen fit to warn his people against deception but the man or woman who is not deceived, yet deliberately disobeys the plain commands of God, does not deserve to be singled out and admonished or warned.

I believe that God placed within that first woman a submissive nature. She is deceived by sweet and flattering words, especially when they come from man and when it concerns something she desires. My wife and I tried to teach our boys this lesson to never take advantage of this trait in women.

We must forever keep in mind that all authority belongs to divinity and none of it has been given away. It has merely been lent to specific individuals to use to the glory of God; therefore no man or woman can boast of the authority which has been delegated. No man has a right to assume authority over a woman which has not been delegated to him and no woman has a right to assume authority which has not been delegated to her. A woman is under no obligation to submit to each and every idea or rule of conduct which a husband wishes carried out, but only must she be careful not to usurp the authority which has been delegated to him. She must be careful to be in subjection to her husband wherein he has delegated authority.

The woman is told to guide the house. (1 Timothy 5:14) There must be authority behind any kind of guidance. Let not the woman who is a Christian be deceived into shirking this God‑given responsibility. A good husband will help her to remember this; he will praise and encourage her. Her children will grow up to call her blessed. (Proverbs 31:28)

A woman cannot guide the home without teaching. This teaching is done to the glory of God. God never authorized that glory be given him in the home or in the church by men only. He only has forbidden women to usurp the authority given unto men. God never made one sex inferior to the other.