Comparing Various Bible Translations for 1 Timothy 2:11–12


In my last post, I talked about how comparing various Bible translations can help show us areas where there may be disagreement between scholars.

The second chapter of 1 Timothy is probably one of the hardest passages to translate in the New Testament. Let’s look specifically at 1 Timothy 2:11–12.

The Bible translation committee for the English Standard Version took a conservative approach to these verses. Here’s the ESV text:

“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”

Now the New International Version translation committee takes a more moderate approach to these verses. Instead of saying “exercise authority” they translate it “assume authority.” Here’s the full NIV text:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

Differing still is the New King James Version, which states “have authority.” Here’s the full NKJV text:

 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”

If you venture into the land of Bible paraphrases, it gets really interesting. Here’s the text of The Message Bible:

“I don’t let women take over and tell the men what to do. They should study to be quiet and obedient along with everyone else.”

And finally, I’ll throw in one more paraphrase–the text of The Voice Bible:

It’s best if a woman learns quietly and orderly in complete submission. Now, Timothy, it’s not my habit to allow women to teach in a way that wrenches authority from a man. As I said, it’s best if a woman learns quietly and orderly.”

What’s a person to do with all these choices? Ideally, it should make us pause and want to study it a little further. In my next post, I’ll share my own conclusions on these verses.