Guest Post: Should Ladies Use Bible Study Material and Commentaries Written by Women?

David Burchard Christian Ethics Leave a Comment

Affirmation: Women are to teach other women how to be excellent housewives and mothers. Older women are to disciple younger women in the practicals of femininity. Women should teach their children. Christian women will naturally instruct, encourage, exhort, and rebuke one another from the Bible in the regular flow of life, in their relationships with one another. Formal instruction from God’s Word, from pulpits, stages, Bible studies, books, etc., is to come from men.

Denial: Women are not to be vocational Bible teachers. They are not to teach the Bible at seminaries, from pulpits, in Bible studies, or books.

Implication: If women in your church want to study the Minor Prophets together, and use a commentary to do so, they should not use a Nancy Guthrie commentary. They should find a quality commentary written by a man (starting with Calvin as a rule of thumb).

My brother, Noah Burchard, has written on this topic. With permission, I here reproduce his argument.

Section 1

I believe Christians should read theological literature, expounding on the Word of God, written by godly men, not written by women.

I. I see no pattern in Scripture of women teaching women God’s Word in a formal manner.  I understand that writing a book is not equivalent to preaching from the pulpit. However, for ladies in a church to sit down and read hundreds of pages of Biblical teaching by a woman should not be quickly dismissed as purely informal (informal in the sense of Acts 18:26). I believe Titus 2 gives us the clearest view of feminine, intentional “teaching” for women to engage in. 

Titus 2:3-6: “Older women .. may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, being subject to their own husbands…” 

II. We should desire Christian women, as we desire all Christians, to feast upon the best teaching of God’s Word, for their sanctification and the glory of Christ. Who is the best teacher on the minor prophets? Not Nancy Guthrie, as godly of a woman as she may be. Our good God has given us good and faithful male elders to teach us about the minor prophets for centuries. Men like T.V. Moore, who wrote an excellent book on Haggai, Zech, and Malachi. Men like Moore have labored hard at preaching and teaching in a God-ordained manner, and their books are not just for men to read.

1 Tim. 5:17: The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, esp. those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 

Section 2

I. The confession rightly affirms the clarity and sufficiency of Scripture.

“The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.”

Scripture is sufficient for rightly understanding whether women in a local church should use Nancy Guthrie’s commentary in their study of God’s Word. Even those who think this matter is gray should recognize that the regulative principle here commends conservative practice.

II. Regarding texts on women teaching Scripture:

1 Timothy 2:11-14

Let a woman learn in silence with complete submissiveness. But to teach I do not permit a woman, nor to exercise authority over a man, but to remain silent. For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived hath fallen into transgression

1 Corinthians 14:33b-36

As in all the churches of the saints, the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says. If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home, because it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church. Did the word of God begin with you, or did it come to you alone?

Titus 2:3-6

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, being subject to their own husbands…” :

How shall older women encourage the younger? Does Titus 2 teach that women should teach women Scripture? Titus 2 shows discipleship regarding practical, feminine, domestic godliness. I believe a godly older woman may encourage younger women to strive after this godliness with Biblical truths, (ex. showing the high calling of motherhood from 1 Tim. 2:15, “But women will be preserved through the bearing of children…”). For questions on matters of systematic doctrine, a woman should inquire of her husband or the elders (1 Cor. 14).

1 Timothy 5 is another example showing the roles of a virtuous woman. Note the absence of Bible teaching. “A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.”

In light of the above texts, I see no ground in Scripture for women teaching Scripture via a book, Sunday School, etc., straying from the Titus 2 list.

I see no ground in Scripture for women to seek female exposition of Scripture, as Nancy Guthrie provides.

III. Regarding a woman being known as a Bible teacher:

Guthrie studied at Covenant Theological Seminary and now teaches the Bible at conferences around the world. At the  top of the About Nancy page of her website, she writes in big bold letters:


I pray I never hear my daughter say these words, just as I pray I never hear her say she is called to be a Navy SEAL, or a son to say he feels called to be a stay-at-home dad or professional ballerina. How can Guthrie interpret her life this way from the Scripture? No woman should ever aspire to be known as a “Bible teacher.”

Calvin: “If women set out to teach, by what right will they do it?”

IV. Regarding the best books:

Richard Baxter: “It is not the reading of many books which is necessary to make a man (or our wives) wise or good, but the well-reading of a few, could he be sure to have the best.”

Is Nancy Guthrie the best on the minor prophets? Most certainly, she is not.

I do not write this out of a low view of the godliness of women, or their understanding of Scripture. So many women I know put me to shame in godliness and Scriptural understanding. I do not write it to Pharisaically wag my finger at Nancy Guthrie or women who like to use her Bible study material. I write because I believe the Scripture is clear on this matter, and greater conformity to the Scripture here will only lead to greater glory to God and the sanctification of Christ’s church.

Sola Scriptura.

Semper Veritas. Semper Fidelis. Semper Reformanda.

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