Home > Acts, Bible Study, church life, quotes, S. Lewis Johnson > Priscilla: Women Teaching Outside the Church — S. Lewis Johnson Observations

Priscilla: Women Teaching Outside the Church — S. Lewis Johnson Observations


Sharing some great observations from S. Lewis Johnson, concerning a topic relevant today: the role of women in instructing others, including men, outside of the church.  Since our modern-day world includes many opportunities not only for face-to-face but also “virtual” online conversations (in online groups, blog comments, facebook posts, etc.), this issue still comes up from time to time.

So for future reference, here are S. Lewis Johnson’s observations concerning Priscilla’s role in Acts.

First, a character description from SLJ’s Acts series:

Most Bible students, however, believe that Priscilla is mentioned more frequently before Aquila, because of the fact that she evidently was a very well instructed woman in the doctrines of the word of God.  And, later on, in this very chapter, we shall see some evidence of it.

Concerning Priscilla’s role in teaching:

And so we read, “And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.”  Now, the woman did part of that exposition, too.  And incidentally if you will look at this in the Greek text, my Authorized Version here has the order Aquila and Priscilla, but the Greek text at this point in verse 26 reads that Priscilla and Aquila took him to themselves and taught him the way of the Lord more accurately.  So the implication from that, it’s only an implication, is that she took the lead.  And I’m willing to agree that when they got in the house she did more of the talking than Aquila [Laughter].  I will not debate that at all.  So I am willing to believe that she probably did take the lead.  And part of the effectiveness of this man Apollos was because Priscilla, who was instructed in the word of God, taught him more perfectly the things of the Lord.  The apostle says nothing about that in 1 Timothy chapter 2.  He talks about teaching in the church.  So ladies, the field is open outside the church.  Go ahead and pick on some of these fellows that don’t understand the doctrines of the sovereignty of God like they ought to, and instruct them in the great doctrines of the faith.  Do it, I need your help.  So do it.

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  1. February 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I just did a study on Priscilla and Aquila for our couple’s meeting, so this is timely

    • February 22, 2013 at 8:39 am

      That would be a good study, about an interesting couple in the early church — people we know at least some things about.

  2. Gerry L
    May 10, 2018 at 2:41 am

    It seems to me that SLJ is correct here, at least with respect to the validity of Pricilla teaching outside of the church. I have always thought that the issue that is important to God in this matter is the attitude of the heart of the woman in teaching.

    Is she seeking to glorify God, wisely in submission to His divine order, or is she interested in usurping the authority, and order, established by God, in her teaching.

    Does she see that this was Satan’s temptation to Eve, to cross this line, and does she know that she too is susceptible to this temptation?

    If she recognizes this and is able to keep it in mind, she has wisdom, and humility, and the inner peace that comes with these characteristics, and will be on guard against sinning against His divine order of things. As Peter puts it, she has learned the secret of the “hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (1 Pet. 3:4)

    Her purpose in teaching, then, is not pride, but rather love of her Savior.

    As Bunyan so beautifully describes it in the second part of Pilgrims Progress (where he also showcases women in ministry) in the scene where he describes going down into the valley of humiliation, and dwelling peacefully there.

    Truth does indeed set one free, when one no longer is unconsciously trying to prove their worth and knowledge, for they have internalized Paul’s teaching in such verses as: “what do you have that you did not receive”, and “anyone who thinks that he knows anything does not yet know as he ought to know.”

    • May 11, 2018 at 7:48 am

      Thanks for the comment, Gerry, and yes, some great points about Priscilla and the heart attitude — the purpose in teaching, out of love for our Savior and Lord.

      • Isreal2
        May 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm

        Hi Lynda

        Glad you agree. To be free from the compulsion to “be in charge”, to “have the authority”, to “prove our worth”, etc. only comes, I think, when we are assured personally and powerfully by “the Spirit Himself, who bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God”, and accepted by God our Father Himself.

        At least it was so with me. I hope I never forget, for long, this precious experience. Nothing can substitute for it, and the promises, though believed and held in the mind, while essential, and complementary, to this experience are none the less different and separate.

        I believe the experience without the full scriptural understanding, when valid and not a satanic counterfeit, such as Finney described of his “experience “, is what the Bible refers to as assurance, or perhaps simple assurance. The other, I think is referred to as “the full assurance Of understanding”.

        But I digress.

        Getting back on topic, and relating it to covenantal premillennial doctrine, I recall reading some of BWNewton on end times prophecy years ago. While he did not have a correct understanding of the purpose of the law, still, some of his insights into prophecy were telling.

        I am thinking specifically now of his comments on Zechariah 5:5-8. If I remember correctly he said that this verse refers to the rapid spread of covetousness throughout the world through the facility of women as they abandon God and morality in favor of money, sex and power.

        Newton made the point that in scripture women have an ability to lead passively and powerfully in these areas, a power not given to men. They do this by rejecting these things, in favor of purity, submission, and rejection of worldliness.

        In this verse, as I understand Newton, he was saying that in their capacity to lead in the end times, women will embrace, rather than reject, worldly power and worldly success and will be the means of quickly spreading it the world over.

        Newton said that the “basket” in Thee verse is actually the “ephah”, the universal symbol of commerce in the OT.

        Thus the two women are in a basket and the reference to the land of “shinar “ points to Babylon, the symbol for worldliness, and moral decay in every form.

        The reference to the wind says that at the end times these women, are now two, plural, acting together, rather than individually, and will thus spread this doctrine throughout the world.

        And the angel tells Zechariah that “this IS WICKEDNESS”.

        When I read this it struck me that this just what we now see with the rise of feminism throughout the world, even in Islam. This power driven movement extols success as the goal of life and professes that it is found in worldly power, sexual freedom, possession of things.

        Feminists claim that women have been powerless and this movement is necessary to correct this wrong.

        But the Bible says that God created women with great power. Power enough to convince her sinless husband, Adam in the garden, to choose for her over God, even though he knew exactly what he was doing:

        1 Timothy 2:14 (KJV)
        And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

        Now that is power, great power.

        A wise woman knows she possesses this power and uses it to advance the glory of God.

        But the unwise woman, the feminist, also knows she possesses this power, but chooses to use it to advance herself, and to deny the Glory of God.

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