Verse of the Day: Acts 18:24-26 WHAT ABOUT PRISCILLA?

It has become an almost exasperating question when someone wants to argue in favor of women preaching:

What about Priscilla?

It is a sad fact that so many refuse to submit their hearts to Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:12:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

There are some who do every sort of hermeneutical gymnastics to try to find a loophole in this passage. Their argument ALWAYS makes its way to Acts 18: Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos. There is a list of reasons why Priscilla’s teaching Apollos doesn’t fall categorically under Paul’s instructions that women aren’t to teach or have authority over men.

*Paul’s instructions to Timothy are in a NEW TESTAMENT PASTORAL epistle. Meaning, his directive is for the context of the Church, specifically, the gathered body of believers for worship. Women are not to preach or teach in the gathered church setting. ( This also rules out any Old Testament examples of women in authority like Deborah. It also rules out the women at the tomb- another favorite argument- because the Church hadn’t even been established yet, AND they were just delivering a message, not preaching or teaching. )

*Priscilla wasn’t acting in authority by teaching in the organized church setting. She was with Aquila in the privacy of their home, or another place where they could speak to Apollos alone.

*There is no mandate against a woman giving one on one correction or instruction to a man who needs an explanation of scripture.

*Priscilla was with her husband Aquila when she was instructing Apollos. This couple was highly regarded by Paul. If Priscilla were acting in any way out of line with Paul’s instructions, Aquila would have stopped her.

Some people are so incensed that a woman wouldn’t be allowed to preach to men, they refuse to read what is plainly stated in scripture. They dance around it. They argue against it. They complain that it isn’t fair. But they don’t just study the text in it’s proper context. They won’t do it because they are stubborn and they already have their minds made up.

Jeff Durbin says, ( paraphrasing ) “Don’t just trust your traditions, or what you’ve always believed. Read the bible with an open mind and LET THE TEXT SPEAK.”

Chris Rosebrough says, “Let the places where the text is clear explain the places where the text is vague.”( again, paraphrasing )

Scripture interprets scripture. In its entirety, the scripture’s context is clear concerning women teaching men in the church setting. God says: DON’T DO IT.

9 thoughts on “Verse of the Day: Acts 18:24-26 WHAT ABOUT PRISCILLA?

    • I’m honored Elizabeth!! Thank you!! Your interview with Andrew has inspired me to try to write something every day! So I’m integrating my Verse of the Day into short blog pieces. Not sure I’ll always get it done, but I’m going to work on it!

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  1. “There is no mandate against a woman giving one on one correction or instruction to a man who needs an explanation of scripture.”

    “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man…”

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    • This instruction is in the gathered CHURCH context. It doesn’t apply to one on one correction or explanation. If we have a friend in our church who is a man and he teaches something wrong in a class, it wouldn’t be wrong for me to go to him and clarify it. Especially if he were to ask me directly about it. Now I would like go get my husband and we could talk with him together, but if he wasn’t around it is definitely ok to explain something he is misunderstanding.

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      • Not intending to engage in a dispute, but the words are singular, not plural. A woman, a man. The context does not say anything about the “gathered CHURCH context.” Plainly, you are not excused from the clear and unambiguous command Paul gives. If a man teaches something wrong in a class, you may not correct him, because “a woman” cannot teach “a man.”

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      • Then how do you explain Priscilla and Aquila instructing Apollos by taking him aside? Giving someone some clarity or answering a question isn’t acting an authority position of teacher. To do so publicly, yes, you are correct. But privately isn’t in the church. The instructions Paul gives to Timothy are instructions for the church setting and nowhere else.

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      • Priscilla and Aquila were not in a church gathering, which you yourself wrote in your article. They both were probably present, which you also wrote. So “a woman” (Priscilla) was not teaching “a man” (Apollos), by your own criteria.

        A one-one-one teaching arrangement, where a woman teaches a man with no others present, is not only unbiblical, but problematic. We should not have two people of the opposite sex alone together and then think nothing will happen.

        Also, there is nothing in Scripture that tells us that teaching is exercising authority. Simply because we have CEO pastors who do most, if not all, of the teaching and leading does not mean a teacher exercises authority by teaching.

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      • When they took him ASIDE they weren’t in the church gathering. When he was preaching, of course it was the gathered body. But they took him aside privately afterward.
        It may not have even been the same day.
        I would never suggest a woman be in a one on one teaching session alone with a man. If it seemed so it wasn’t my intention. Maybe just chatting in the hallway or fellowship hall during church with other people around. (Or of course a husband and wife taking a teacher aside as Priscilla and Aquila did.) Certainly never alone together.
        Since it is told in scripture that both Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside privately and instructed/corrected him where he was mistaken, it can be assumed that this kind of “explaining” is acceptable for a woman to do. If you disagree with this, then you are saying what Priscilla did was wrong, which Luke certainly never alluded to when he was writing what happened.

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      • The fact that Priscilla was not alone with Apollos, they were not in a church gathering, it wasn’t a lone women teaching a lone man, and it was in private, means it isn’t relevant by your criteria.

        The issue is Paul’s command to Timothy, and how it applies. Paul wrote that a woman must not teach a man. What was Paul commanding? I think it’s simple. A woman must not teach a man. And a woman must not domineer (authenteó) over a man. Because of Adam and Eve.

        Adam and Eve. So let’s just throw this idea on the table. “A woman” is frequently translated “a wife,” and “a man” is often ” a husband.” The words are sometimes used interchangeably, like Mark 10:2 for example. So, Paul could very well be talking about married couples. Thus it could be, “I do not permit a *wife* to teach or to have authority over [her] *husband*; she must be silent [hésuchia; tranquil, inner calm]. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Adam and Eve, the prototypical marriage, is the reason for this.

        Paul doesn’t start talking about church order until the next chapter. Nothing in chapter 2 points to the gathering in any way. I think Paul is giving instruction to Timothy about proper behaviors of the people he has charge over, and he wants this behavior all the time (“I want men everywhere…”)

        By the way, I do appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you. Maybe this discussion will spur us all to love and good deeds

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