Archive for the 'Women in Ministry' Category

Josephus: Women unacceptable witnesses

Monday, September 28th, 2015

ancienthistory.about.com (Josephus – From William Whiston’s translation of Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews. Public Domain)

By Spencer D Gear

When someone makes this assessment of an historian, his writings are worthy of further pursuit: ‘In spite of his limitations, Josephus conducts us through that strange time and world which was home to Jesus and the Evangelists and so enables us better to hear and see the Word in the world in which it appeared’ (Scott 1992:394).

Who is this Josephus?

Josephus (ca. AD 37-100), a wealthy Jew, attempted to justify Judaism to cultured Romans through his writings (Cairns 1981:46) but he was called ‘a Jewish historian’ who ‘when measured against his own canons of objectivity and truthfulness, often failed to be a good historian’ (Herrick 2015 n. 16). He was ‘a historian writing principally about the Jewish people’ (Herrick 2015).

He also provided the earliest reference to Jesus outside of the New Testament and he also wrote of ‘the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James’ (Antiquities of the Jews, 20.9.1).

In the foreword to one edition of Antiquities of the Jews, William Sanford LaSor wrote:

Josephus, or more accurately Joseph ben Matthias, was born the year Gaius acceded to the throne of the Roman Empire, A.D. 37, and died sometime after A.D. 100. He was born of a priestly family and through his Hasmonean mother could boast of royal blood….

In brief we can divide his life into two parts, each about thirty-three years in length: the first half could be described as the life of Joseph ben Matthias, Jewish priest, General, and prisoner; the second half, with some reservations, as the life of Flavius Josephus the Roman citizen and author….

After the destruction of Jerusalem, Josephus was given a tract of land near Jerusalem, a number of books, and a chance to retire to a life off quiet contemplation. He chose, to return to Rome with Titus, where he became a client of the Flavian family, received Roman citizenship, and was commissioned to write a history of the Jewish people….

Josephus’ first literary work was the Wars of the Jews, published in the closing years of the reign of Vespasian. Since at that time Josephus was not confident of his ability to write in good Greek style, he composed the work first in Aramaic…. The Wars of the Jews was written under the commission of the Emperor, and can be looked upon as a bit of propaganda, designed to deter others who might have been tempted to revolt (Wars of the Jews III, v, 8). The title, on the analogy of Caesar’s Gallic War, is probably to be understood from the Roman viewpoint: the war against the Jews, rather than the Jewish War against Rome. It is Josephus’ most carefully written work.

His Antiquities of the Jews was published about fifteen years later (A.D. 93 or 94)….

The Life was written … shortly after the year A.D. 100, principally as an apology for his own life, to defend himself against charges made by Justus of Tiberias concerning Josephus’ conduct during the war in Galilee.

Against Apion is an apology for Judaism in which Josephus evaluates the ideals of Hellenism and shows its deficiencies while at the same time showing the excellencies of the Jewish religion (LaSor 1960:VII-IX).

Josephus and Jesus

Of Jesus he wrote:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross,[1] those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day;[2] as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day (Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3).

This passage is often regarded as containing Christian interpolations, but ‘most scholars agree that this basic information … is most likely a part of the original text. Josephus was not a friend of Christianity, and thus his mention of Christ has more historic value’ (Cairns 1981:46). However, this statement is found in all of the Greek manuscripts from the 11th century and is in Eusebius in a couple of places (Ecclesiastical History 1.11.7 and Demonstratio Evangelica 3.5.124).[3]

I have found Greg Herrick’s article helpful in coming to a better understanding of ‘Josephus’ Writings and Their Relation to the New Testament’ (Herrick 2015).

His view of female witnesses

loyalbooks.com

There is an unusual emphasis in Josephus for the 21st century. He has a major problem with women as witnesses. Josephus, in his major work, Antiquities of the Jews, stated: ‘But let not a single witness be credited, but three, or two at the least, and those such whose testimony is confirmed by their good lives. But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex‘ (4.8.15, emphasis added).

The editor of this edition of Josephus stated after the citation about women, ‘I have never observed elsewhere, that in the Jewish government women were not admitted as legal witnesses in courts of justice. None of our copies of the Pentateuch say a word of it. It is very probable, however, that this was the exposition of the scribes and Pharisees, and the practice of the Jews in the days of Josephus’ (4.8.15, n. 21).

Even though he seems to have stated that Jesus ‘appeared to them alive again the third day’ (Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3), with his attitude towards women as witnesses, he would encounter major difficulties with the NT emphasis of the first witnesses of Jesus after his resurrection being women. Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV) gives this description:

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me”.

Imagine it! The greatest event in world history, the physical resurrection of the crucified Jesus from the dead, was found by two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. These women met the risen Jesus, clasped his feet, worshipped him and went to tell the brothers to go to Galilee where they will see Jesus. That kind of information should blow Josephus’ mind as he was a contemporary with Jesus.

See the article by Ben Witherington, Why Arguments against Women in Ministry Aren’t Biblical.

The reliability of Josephus

The accuracy of Josephus as a Jewish historian has been questioned because ‘he is self-serving in his accounts, overly gracious and generous in his presentation of the Romans, and molds the facts of Jewish history to suit his own ends. He is notorious for his exaggeration of numbers’. This is seen when his works are examined in parallel and they ‘have unreconcilable variants’ (Scott 1992:393).

However, new data were found in the 1960s with the excavations of Masada and these ‘add credibility to Josephus’ handling of at least the major features of his subjects’ (Scott 1992:393).

Herrick essentially agrees with this assessment:

It is no mystery that many scholars hold that Josephus is woefully inaccurate at times. And, it would appear from the work of Schurer, Broshi, Mason, Mosley and Yamauchi that such a conclusion is fairly warranted.[4] Yet this skepticism does not need to be thorough-going, for there are many places where it appears that he has left for us a solid record of people and events—especially as regards the broad movements in history at this time. These might include facts about the Herodian dynasty, the nature of the Jewish religious sects, Roman rule over Palestine and the fall of Jerusalem. Boshi agrees that in many places Josephus errs, regarding numbers and names, but this is no grounds for dismissing all that he said as without foundation. Once again, the historical trustworthiness of Josephus, is perhaps not a flat declaration, “he is” or “he is not” but rather it proceeds on a case by case basis[5] (Herrick 2015).

Works consulted

Broshi, M 1982. The Credibility of Josephus, Journal of Jewish Studies 33, 379-384 Spring / Autumn. Now available at: http://www.centuryone.com/josephus.html (Accessed 26 September 2015).

Cairns, E E 1981. Christianity through the centuries: A history of the Christian church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Herrick, G 2015. Josephus’ Writings and Their Relation to the New Testament. Bible.org (online). Available at: https://bible.org/article/josephus%E2%80%99-writings-and-their-relation-new-testament (Accessed 26 September 2015).

LaSor, W S 1960. Foreword to Josephus: Complete Works 1867, VII-XII. Works tr W Whiston. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications.

Mason, S 1992. Josephus and the New Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

Mosley, A W 1965. Historical Reporting and the Ancient World, New Testament Studies, October, 10-26.

Schürer E 1973. The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 B.D. – A.D. 135), 3 vols, rev & ed G Vermes & F Millar. Edinburgh: T & T Clark.

Scott, J J 1992. Josephus, in J B Green & S McKnight (eds) & I H Marshall (cons ed), Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, 391-394. Downers Grove, Illinois / Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.

Yamauchi, E M 1980. Josephus and Scripture, Fides et Historia 13, Fall, 42-63.

Notes


[1] The footnote here stated, ‘A.D. 33, April 3’.

[2] The footnote at this point was, ‘April 5’.

[3] The 124 is in the text as (124).

[4] Here the footnote was: ‘Cf. Scott (1992:393); Schurer, 57, 58. He says, that the War is superior in accuracy to the Antiquities in the recording of details and therefore of greater [historical] value; Broshi (1982:383, 84); Mason (1992: 81, 82); Mosley (1965: 24-26) and Yamauchi (1980:58). [Note: Schurer is possibly referring to Schürer (1973) as in the bibliography on the article about Josephus by Scott (1992:394)].

[5] The footnote was: Broshi (1982:383, 84). It should be Broshi (1982:383, 384).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Should churches have female deacons?

Friday, September 25th, 2015

(image courtesy cliparthut)

By Spencer D Gear

We can be in personal discussion among Christians or in an Internet interaction, but raise the issue of women in ministry among evangelical Christians and you can expect to get some strong views both ways. Mostly I’ve heard the anti-women in ministry view defended most vigorously. Certainly, conservatives are opposed to women pastors.

Two prominent Christian leaders disagree

Leading California pastor, John MacArthur, uses 1 Tim 2:8-15 as his foundation for this conclusion:

Women may be highly gifted teachers and leaders, but those gifts are not to be exercised over men in the context of the church. That is true not because women are spiritually inferior to men but because God’s law commands it. He has ordained order in His creation—an order that reflects His own nature and therefore should be reflected in His church. Anyone ignoring or rejecting God’s order, then, weakens the church and dishonors Him (MacArthur 2013).

N T Wright, who teaches at St. Andrews University, Scotland, takes a different perspective. He concludes with this understanding of 1 Tim  2:8-15, after an examination of this passage:

How then would I translate the passage to bring all this out? As follows:

8So this is what I want: the men should pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, with no anger or disputing. 9In the same way the women, too, should clothe themselves in an appropriate manner, modestly and sensibly. They should not go in for elaborate hair-styles, or gold, or pearls, or expensive clothes; 10instead, as is appropriate for women who profess to be godly, they should adorn themselves with good works. 11They must be allowed to study undisturbed, in full submission to God. 12I’m not saying that women should teach men, or try to dictate to them; they should be left undisturbed. 13Adam was created first, you see, and then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived, and fell into trespass. 15She will, however, be kept safe through the process of childbirth, if she continues in faith, love and holiness with prudence (N T Wright, ‘Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis’, 2004).

I visited a Christian forum on the Internet where there was a thread on ‘female deacons.’[1] Some argy-bargy was there to read between traditionalists who oppose female deacons and those who are open to another view from Scripture. The latter are sometimes called progressives. I would prefer to use the terminology, ‘They let the plain meaning of Scripture speak for itself’ when interpreted in context.

The topic began with a comment about the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) convention adding to paragraph VI that stated that ‘the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture’. The person could only speculate why this change was necessary but said it was now ‘time to add [that] the office of deacons is limited to men as qualified by Scripture. I base this on 1Timothy 3:10-12’. The person brought this up because a local Southern Baptist Church (SBC) has female deacons and he considered this to be wrong. He said he was interested in any Scripture that would cancel this anti-female deacon Scripture and what we know about these verses.[2]

Others chimed in with these kinds of messages:

bronze-arrow-small It was a common thing for women to be teaching women and children. The person attended a ‘very traditional Baptist church’ where women sang, had exclusive Bible studies among women and were engaged in activities that pertained to children. ‘But when it comes to the main sanctuary, it is only men at the pulpit’. Why? ‘Everyone knows’ that is what the Bible teaches, or more specifically, ‘it is what Paul teaches’.[3]

bronze-arrow-small They can be in leadership roles according to Romans 16:1-2, but they cannot teach over the assembly, based on 1 Tim 2:13-14, 1 Cor 14:40 [Is this meant to be 14:34?] Women can be in leadership because Scripture allows them to be equal in worth to men (Gen 2:23). But this person insisted that women cannot be pastors according to 1 Tim 2:9-12. The view was that this maintained the divine order of accountability as articulated in Eph 5:21-33. The role of ultimate headship has been assigned to men (1 Cor 11:3). Women [cannot] be pastors, but they can have words of instruction in the church (1 Cor 14:26). This was a similar kind of ministry to that of Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah in the OT and Anna in the NT as well as the four daughters of Phillip who prophesied. However, it’s important to note that they didn’t teach in an official capacity over the assembly.[4]

bronze-arrow-small ‘Paul said women cannot preach in the church, but they can serve in other ways’. If you want to be upset with anyone, get upset with Paul. He is the one who wrote those letters and was influenced by God to do it.[5]

bronze-arrow-small Women can be elders in the Baptist church I attend, but it’s usually with their husbands. However, ‘the men teach the men and the women teach the women. This is how it ought to be’. It is not that women can’t teach men and men can’t teach women because we can learn together. When it comes to being authoritative over each other in certain aspects of gender, this is the way it is because men and women are not alike.[6]

bronze-arrow-small ‘We should take the Bible for what it says. If it says women are not to do certain things then they should not’.[7]

Then came …

Archaeology, tombstones & women presbyters

(image courtesy Catacombs of Priscilla, Rome)

It was pointed out that in the first four centuries of the NT era, archaeology has found grave sites that confirmed there were women presbyters. ‘One tombstone reads, (don’t remember the names in order) ___ the daughter of Lois the presbyter’.[8] He stated that in many areas around the Mediterranean Sea, there have been discovered paintings of women in leadership positions and inscriptions in churches and on tombstones. These women are named and their positions are that of bishops and deacons. His view was that ‘archaeology demands that we reconcile what we have from Paul with the evidence’.[9]

What is the evidence from archaeology? ‘As far as the statement that there is no tradition of women priests, there’s good evidence from archaeology and iconography, in areas of what is now the former Yugoslavia, and southern Italy, that there were women presbyters, leaders of Christian communities in those places, in the early centuries. And a presbyter is what we would call a priest today’ (Johnson 2010:98).

Aisha Taylor, a Roman Catholic, researched the archaeological evidence for women’s leadership in the early centuries of the church. She found that

there are iconography pieces all throughout the Mediterranean region … and they are not only mosaics[10] and frescos.[11] They are also inscriptions on tombs and artwork. They are on catacomb walls and on church walls, in very holy places. One of these is in the Catacombs of Priscilla.[12] It’s a second century fresco and it pictures a woman presiding at Eucharist, which is a role reserved specifically for priests, and only for priests. Another example is the fourth-century inscription on a tombstone in Jerusalem where it says in Greek, “Here lies the minister and bride of Christ, Sophia the Deacon, a second Phoebe.” This is also important in that it relates to the biblical person of Phoebe, a New Testament woman, who Paul references as a deacon. And the other important thing about that is the word for deacon, diakonos, is the word that’s used for Paul’s ministry as well. So it really shows an egalitarian form of ministry in the early church. These women had the same ministry as Paul….

I think the evidence is very convincing and one of the reasons is because of the large number of archaeological finds around the Mediterranean. In almost every major Christian community in the early church, you’ll find images of women as priests, bishops or deacons. And that’s convincing evidence. The other pieces that are important are the inscriptions on tombstones. People wanted future generations to remember these women as leaders in the church. They put them in the holiest places they could: in churches and on tombstones….

We know that in the first nine centuries in many places in the church, women were serving in ordained deacon roles. The scholarly evidence shows that there are sixty-one inscriptions and forty-one literary references to women deacons in the church.

One of the foremost scholars on women’s ordination is John Wijngaards. He was a former Roman Catholic priest and he actually left the priesthood over women’s ordination. In 2006, he published his book, Women Deacons in the Early Church,[13] so evidence is getting out there’ (Aisha Taylor 2010:92, 93). The claim: No women deacons in NT

What about this line of reasoning?

There were no women deacons. Scripture does not show us any. It of course speaks of the qualifications for being a male deacon and we know of Stephen’s being chosen to be a deacon, etc., but nothing about women as deacons. Unfortunately, and as has been noted, the root word (diaconos), meaning a “servant,” can be translated either as deacon or deaconess. But we know from history what deacons did and what they were considered to be …. and we also know what deaconesses were and what they did. When Pheobe (sic) is called a diakonos, therefore, we know that it means a deaconess, not a deacon, because we know that there was a difference, both from scripture and from history.[14]

I will be challenging that judgment below.

Another became quite aggressive with what I regard as an incoherent argument. He asked if another believed it was suitable for women to hold authority in the world and not in the church. Are there two sets of standards? If so, that’s hypocrisy![15]

Then there was one who pointed to Gal 3:26-28 and the egalitarian nature of the body of Christ,

‘In Galatians 3 … Paul says:

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

If there is no “male or female”… how can we then decide that what Paul says in 2 Timothy 2 [this refers to 1 Tim 2] is a rule for women specifically to be silent in church and for authority to be held over to men? And what authority? Is Christ not the Head? Either Paul contradicts himself, or he is speaking to [a] specific incident.

If we are all “one in Christ” where is the distinction?[16]

What kind of response would that elicit? The rejoinder came that there are three persons with three absolute roles in the Godhead. The Father’s role is not the Son’s and the Holy Spirit doesn’t complain about the Helper role or not being the commander in chief. That role is the Father’s. This person pointed out that the issue was context, context, context. His complaint was with Christians who practise eisegesis and don’t care about the context. He blamed this on the influence of a modern/postmodern world that affects the minds of Christians so they are afraid to affirm the importance of context. He also blamed ‘extreme eisegetical (sic) conservative Christians’ for hindering sound exegesis.[17]

The reply to this emphasis was: ‘I’m glad you mentioned context, because in the original context 1 Timothy 2:11-12,’ ‘woman’ can be translated as ‘wife’ and ‘man’ for ‘husband’. He was prodding: ‘Just some food for thought’.[18] This back and forth continued:

If God gives a woman the ability and blessing to speak His Word through her, via the Holy Spirit, which we all are told we are to possess once born again, should we not listen?
Does the Holy Spirit silence a woman simply because she is a woman?[19]

Biblical evidence: A woman as deacon

 

(image courtesy Catacombs of Priscilla, Rome)

Is there no evidence of any female in Scripture being designated as having the ministry of a deacon? My investigations of Scripture lead me to the following understanding:[20]

Talking of what Paul wrote, I do not know why we are arguing over whether a woman can be a deacon in the church when there is a clear example of a female deacon in the early church in Romans 16:1 (NIV), ‘I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.’ What was Phoebe’s ministry (Rom 16:1)? Paul states, ‘She has been helpful to many, and especially to me ‘ (Rom 16:2 NLT). So Phoebe, a female deacon, was ‘helpful to many’ and especially to a male – Paul. What that ‘helpful’ meant, we are not told directly in this text. K Hess points out that in Rom 16:1, the role of a female deacon is ‘left undefined’ (Hess 1978:549). Hess is careful to point out the difference between doulos (slave) and the feminine, diakonia (serving at table). This

is important for our understanding of diakonos. doulos stresses almost exclusively the Christian’s complete subjection to the Lord; diakonos is concerned with his service for the church, his brothers and fellow-men, for the fellowship, whether this is done by serving at the table, with the word, or in some other way. The diakonos is always one who serves on Christ’s behalf and continues Christ’s service for the outer and inner man; he is concerned with the salvation of men. Hence, Paul can see himself as a servant of the gospel (Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23), a servant through whom the Christians in Corinth had come to faith (1 Cor. 3:5), a servant of the new covenant (2 Cor. 3:6), a servant of Christ (2 Cor. 11:23), a servant of God (2 Cor. 6:4), a servant of the church (Col. 1:2 5)….

The work of a deacon finally developed into a special office, whose beginnings can be traced already in the NT (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-13). In the course of the church’s history the office developed a standardized form, though its precise form is not clear from the NT. Nor was it evidently universal in the church. Originally all the manifold functions exercised in the church could be called “services” or ministries (1 Cor. 12:5). Hence, the various office-bearers (apostle, prophet, etc., cf. Eph. 4:11 f.) were “servants”, diakonoi, of the church (cf. 1 Cor. 3:5; Col 1:25). But in the more specialized sense the concept was narrowed down to the material care of the church, which was closely linked with the office of the bishop (e.g. 1 Tim. 3:1-7, 8-13; 1 Clem. 42:1 f.; Ignatius, Mag. 2:1; 6:1; Trall 2:1). This means that for the “servant” there was always a task for spirit and body expressed by his role in public worship, care of the poor and administration. The service of God and of the poor were, after all, a unity, as the agape, the common meal implied. Originally it was obvious that all the “servants” stood in a brotherhood of service, but the concept was increasingly eroded by the growth of a hierarchy with its different grades….

The NT knows also the work of the female deacon, but her role is left undefined (Rom. 16:1; perhaps also 1 Tim. 3:11. The position is still recognized in some churches today. It was closely connected with that of the widow (Hess 1978: 548-549).

However, according to a leading Greek lexicon, the ministry of being a deacon is that of a ‘servant of someone’ or ‘helper’ and may include women (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:183-184). Thayer’s lexicon gives that meaning as ‘one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master; a servant, attendant, minister’. When used of a deaconess, it refers to ‘a woman to whom the care of either poor or sick women was entrusted’ (Thayer 1962:138).

In Romans 16:3 (NIV), Paul discusses the ministry of ‘Priscilla (female) and Aquila (male), my co-workers in Christ Jesus’- possibly a wife and husband duo. In 5 mentions of Priscilla/Prisca and Aquila in the NT (Acts 18:2-3, 18, 26; Rom 16:3 and 1 Cor 16:19), we know that this female and male couple (perhaps a missionary husband-wife team) ministered with Paul at Corinth (Acts 18:18) and then he left them at Ephesus (Acts 18:19).

Then Apollos was speaking boldly in the synagogue at Ephesus and needed some further instruction. Priscilla and Aquila heard him and ‘invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately’ (Ac 18:26 NIV). This woman Priscilla was involved in ministry to a man. She was not ministering to women as indicated here; a man was included.

In some of these examples in the Greek text, Priscilla precedes Aquila in the naming of them (see Ac 18:18, 26; Rom 16:3). It is uncertain why Priscilla, a female, is mentioned before Aquila, a male, in a male-dominated culture. Donald Moo indicated that ‘scholars have suggested that she may have been the more dominant of the two, the more gifted, the one who brought most money into the marriage, or the one who was most significant in their “home-based” ministry’ (Moo 1996:919, n. 11).

To the church at Corinth, Paul in his first letter was able to say, ‘The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord and so does the church that meets at their house’ (1 Cor 16:19 NIV). The inference is obvious: The husband-wife team was engaged in ministry in a house church – in their own house. There is no indication that Priscilla was involved only in ministry to the women and children in that house church.

I commend to you the article, ‘The Neglected History of Women in the Early Church‘ (Christian History Institute), by Catherine Kroeger. One of the points she makes is:

Paul also mentions Phoebe in Romans 16, “a deacon of the church at Cenchreae” [Rom 16:1 Interlinear]. He calls her a prostatis or overseer [Rom 16:2 Interlinear]. This term in its masculine form, prostates, was used later by the Apostolic Fathers to designate the one presiding over the Eucharist. And Paul uses the same verb, the passive of ginomai (to be or become), as he uses in Colossians 1:23 [Interlinear]: “I was made a minister.” In the passive, the verb sometimes indicated ordination or appointment to an office. Thus one might legitimately translate Paul’s statement about Phoebe: “For she has been appointed, actually by my own action, an officer presiding over many.” The church in Rome is asked to welcome her and assist her in the church’s business.

Becoming impatient

One fellow became rather intolerant towards those who close down women in ministry: ‘See what i mean OZ. Oh women can teach the word of God just not in church, ahh what? the church is God’s children, no its not, ahh what?’[21]

I urged him[22] to be more tolerant towards those who maintain the conservative line with silence of women in ministry. We need to provide the counter evidence.

In Brown’s Greek word studies from the NT, Hess did an extensive investigation on the meaning of diakonos (deacon, servant) that I’ve quoted at length below.

What was Phoebe’s ministry (Rom 16:1)? Paul states, ‘She has been helpful to many, and especially to me ‘ (Rom 16:2 NLT). So Phoebe, a female deacon, was ‘helpful to many’ and especially to a male – Paul. What that ‘helpful’ meant, we are not told directly in this text. K Hess points out that in Rom 16:1, the role of a female deacon is ‘left undefined’ (Hess 1978:549). Hess is careful to point out the difference between doulos (slave) and the feminine, diakonia (serving at table). This

is important for our understanding of diakonos. doulos stresses almost exclusively the Christian’s complete subjection to the Lord; diakonos is concerned with his service for the church, his brothers and fellow-men, for the fellowship, whether this is done by serving at the table, with the word, or in some other way. The diakonos is always one who serves on Christ’s behalf and continues Christ’s service for the outer and inner man; he is concerned with the salvation of men. Hence, Paul can see himself as a servant of the gospel (Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23), a servant through whom the Christians in Corinth had come to faith (1 Cor. 3:5), a servant of the new covenant (2 Cor. 3:6), a servant of Christ (2 Cor. 11:23), a servant of God (2 Cor. 6:4), a servant of the church (Col. 1:2 5)….

The work of a deacon finally developed into a special office, whose beginnings can be traced already in the NT (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-13). In the course of the church’s history the office developed a standardized form, though its precise form is not clear from the NT. Nor was it evidently universal in the church. Originally all the manifold functions exercised in the church could be called “services” or ministries (1 Cor. 12:5). Hence, the various office-bearers (apostle, prophet, etc., cf. Eph. 4:11 f.) were “servants”, diakonoi, of the church (cf. 1 Cor. 3:5; Col 1:25). But in the more specialized sense the concept was narrowed down to the material care of the church, which was closely linked with the office of the bishop (e.g. 1 Tim. 3:1-7, 8-13; 1 Clem. 42:1 f.; Ignatius, Mag. 2:1; 6:1; Trall 2:1). This means that for the “servant” there was always a task for spirit and body expressed by his role in public worship, care of the poor and administration. The service of God and of the poor were, after all, a unity, as the agape, the common meal implied. Originally it was obvious that all the “servants” stood in a brotherhood of service, but the concept was increasingly eroded by the growth of a hierarchy with its different grades….

The NT knows also the work of the female deacon, but her role is left undefined (Rom. 16:1; perhaps also 1 Tim. 3:11. The position is still recognized in some churches today. It was closely connected with that of the widow (Hess 1978: 548-549).?

According to a leading Greek lexicon, the ministry of being a deacon is that of a ‘servant of someone’ or ‘helper’ and may include women (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:183-184). Thayer’s lexicon gives that meaning as ‘one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master; a servant, attendant, minister’. When used of a deaconess, it refers to ‘a woman to whom the care of either poor or sick women was entrusted’ (Thayer 1962:138).

Here are the two links I was thinking about.[23] I recommend that you listen to the interview with N T Wright. However, the first article is an excellent overview.

  1. Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis. Note his explanation of 1 Tim 2.
  2. Why I support women in ministry‘ (an interview with Wright).

As Wright points out, 1 Corinthians cannot be referring to the absolute silence of women when the church gathers (as traditionalists want to interpret 1 Cor 14:33-34). How do we know this? First Corinthians 11:3 teaches that ‘every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head’. These women were not praying and prophesying with their mouths closed.
In addition, 1 Cor 14:26 (NIV) tells us what should happen when the church gathers (which is a long way from most churches today): ‘What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up’. It does not say, ‘each of you, except women.’
We need consistent exegesis and interpretations.
There is some interesting information about women in ministry in ‘Women teachers in the early church‘ (Rev Kathryn Riss).

What about women’s ministry in the Old Testament?

A person asked about Deborah and I raised the person of Huldah, Old Testament ministries by women.[24]

(image courtesy datab.us)

 

I have had anti-women in ministry, males and females, use Deborah as an example of someone who was not in a leadership position in the church. I have a fairly standard answer:

I must be reading a different Bible to yours. Judges 4:4-6 (ESV) states,

‘Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgement. 6 She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun’.?

Therefore, Deborah, the prophetess, most certainly had a leadership role in judging Israel.

Second Kings 22:15 says of Huldah, the prophetess, that ‘she said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the Lord. . .”’

The OT prophetess was a public person who heard the voice of God and delivered it publicly to God’s people, Israel, and to individuals. She was a ‘thus says the Lord’ person in ministry.

My conclusion is that there were definitely prominent women in active ministry to men in the Old Testament.

Ambiguity of office of deacon

A person gave a detailed and engaging comeback:

Where I may quibble is in the ambiguity of the office of deacon. In Acts 6:1-6, the deacons were appointed for a very specific reason. Allow me to dwell in the land of literary analogy here, but I see the deacon / deaconess role as one of physical service, the hands of the church whereas elders were the mouth of the church. The Apostles were pretty clear in their pronouncement that they were to preach and / or teach over addressing the physical needs of the widows in this Acts passage.

From what we later read in qualifications (1 Timothy 3:8-13), there isn’t really a way to glean that there was any teaching or preaching requirement placed on them. So yes, in that sense, there is a bit of ambiguity. However, implicit in the aspect of being hands is that there would be some “teachable moments” in their service, the most obvious lesson being taught through love and selfless sacrifice of comfort in their service.

For the record, I find that the “wives” of translations like the ESV should probably be translated “women” based on various commentaries I have come across. This makes sense from a contextual viewpoint and would be a clear Scriptural approbation of the deaconess role.

So, if we then take the preceding passage about elders and the Titus passage about eldership into view, it really begins to clear up.

Elders are required, in both cases, to be able to teach. This requirement is not covered with deacons because they’re not teaching in a more formalized position of overseeing a local church. I would draw a line between what the Apostles did in preaching or even my pastor does now in preaching, for instance, versus what I do when I sit down to talk to someone about the gospel. Even though both are technically teaching / preaching, there is a difference in the office of what’s being done. This is consistent with Paul’s orderly instructions for prophesying and speaking in tongues, because something being done in church requires some structure.

That said, women teaching and / or preaching is a different discussion than this discussion of female deacons. I actually hesitate to lump the two together because I find the case to be much murkier for female preaching and teaching.

The only way I see to “circumvent” the above would be in finding things too ambivalent to make a decision upon; which would make the roles of elder and deacon essentially one in the same. That seems problematic from the standpoint of the clear juxtaposition of Acts 6:1-6 to the Apostles, and the fairly reasonable resemblance of the apostolic role to the elder role. Many Baptists seem to have confused the two, as most Baptist churches I know appoint deacons who oversee. I find this to be in error.[25]

That was a thoughtful piece of input. My response was:[26]

You have given the example of the practical ministry to those in need, according to Acts 6:1-6 as being that of deacons. I hope you noticed that the noun, ‘deacon’ (feminine form) is in Acts 6:4 (Interlinear), ‘But we to prayer and the diakonia of the word’. However, in Acts 6:2 (Interlinear), the verb is used for ‘serve (deaconize) tables’. So one can be a ‘deacon’ of the word of God and a ‘deacon’ in serving those in need. How about that?

It seems to me that this person has defined ‘deacon’ in a much narrower view than that of the NT. If he considered the word study of diakonos above that I quoted by K Hess, he would note that Paul was a deacon and this is the specific language:

Paul can see himself as a servant (diakonos) of the gospel (Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23), a servant through whom the Christians in Corinth had come to faith (1 Cor. 3:5), a servant of the new covenant (2 Cor. 3:6), a servant of Christ (2 Cor. 11:23), a servant of God (2 Cor. 6:4), a servant of the church (Col. 1:25)’.?

In Col. 1:23,[27] Paul states, ‘of which I became a diakonos’ (minister, servant, deacon). First Cor 3:5 asks, ‘What, therefore is Apollos and what is Paul? Diakonoi (plural), i.e. servants/deacons/ministers, through whom you believed’. Second Cor 3:6, ‘Who also made us competent diakonoi (plural) of a new covenant’. In the context at 2 Cor 3:3, Paul uses the verbal form diakoneo, ‘Having manifested that you (Corinthians) are an epistle deaconized (ministered to) by us….’ Then we have the verses that affirm that they are diakonoi (plural) of Christ (2 Cor 11:23); in 2 Cor 6:1, Paul describes his colleagues and himself as ‘working together’ and then in 2 Cor 6:4 he states, ‘in everything commending ourselves as diakonoi (plural) of God’. Paul states in Col 1:24 that he rejoices in what he has suffered for the Colossians, but in the next verse, Col 1:25, he states, ‘of which I became a diakonos‘.

So, a deacon (diakonos) has a much broader understanding in the NT than that of serving with practicalities to those in need as in Acts 6:1-6 (Interlinear).

Therefore, your statement needs to be questioned: ‘In qualifications (1 Timothy 3:8-13), there isn’t really a way to glean that there was any teaching or preaching requirement placed on them’. Yes there is, when we understand the broad use of diakonos in the NT that I have described above. Paul and Apollos were deacons through whom the Corinthians came to believe (1 Cor 3:5 Interlinear). Are you suggesting the Corinthians believed without any preaching / teaching by Apollos and Paul?

To both the Ephesian and Colossian Christians, Paul declares he is a servant (diakonos) of the gospel (Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23). Surely there is a speaking, teaching, preaching role in being such a deacon of the gospel? That is what is affirmed in 1 Cor 3:5.

I quibble with the narrow definition of deacon that does not involve a speaking, teaching function as that is not what I find in the breadth of illustrations of its use in the NT. However, ‘to deaconize / serve’ is the Greek infinitive used in Acts 6:2 (Interlinear), ‘to serve tables’. Yes, this Acts 6 passage does speak about gathering the disciples and not neglecting the word to serve at tables (Acts 6:2), but that is addressing a local issue and does not deal with the breadth of meaning of ‘serve’ (diakonos – noun or verbal forms). However, Acts 6:4 (Interlinear) affirms they were diakonos of the Word. So the breadth of meaning here indicates serving at tables and serving with the Word.

I want to note that our understanding of the role of pastor today seems to have evolved to a role that does not seem to be evident in the NT church. The pastoral ‘position’ today seems to be closer to that of a formalised teaching elder. But I have no problem with that gifted person being male or female. I especially recommend to you the interview with N T Wright on women in ministry (above). See also my articles:

cubed-iron-sm Must women never teach men in the church?

cubed-iron-sm The heresy of women preachers?

I want to say that my position is in no way influenced by feminism in Australian society. My understanding is based on exegesis of the biblical text in context. I find there are biblical inconsistencies when we close down women in teaching ministry to all people.

(image courtesy cliparthut.com)

 

I speak from personal experience as one who was a die-hard traditionalist in women-only as teachers in the evangelical church. I was a difficult nut to crack as my Baptist church was rigid in its adherence to men-only in the teaching ministry – except for teaching other women and children. And have a guess where else? On the mission field! The mission field would be in sad shape if it were not for women who were in teaching ministry on the field – teaching to men and women. Some of my family is from the Christian Brethren (Plymouth Brethren) denomination which is staunchly anti-women in ministry. I have known outstanding Brethren women teachers on the mission field who come home on furlough and were not allowed to do in the local church in Australia what they could do overseas. It’s called hypocrisy!

Strange emphasis

This one came from out of left field:

A deacon is a servant of a priest. They do not preach or assume authority in any traditional Christian church unless they are men working in place of the vicar. This is presumably the case with the early Christians.

Every traditionally secure church has rejected female leadership under explicit canon law- the Scriptures simply do not allow it.[28]

That is not my understanding of Scripture.[29]

That is not what I have gleaned from exegesis and exposition of the NT. I’ve attempted to expound a biblical view in this article. Paul was a deacon who preached and assumed authority but his ministry was also designated as that of a diakonos (deacon/servant).
I think this person introduced some personal presuppositions that intruded into his response here, especially in his view of ‘servant of a priest’ and ‘men working in the place of the vicar’. He wants to associate the vicar with early Christians. Where is such a concept in the NT?

What is ‘every traditionally secure church’? Is that meant to exclude Pentecostal charismatics? Is that meant to exclude traditional evangelical churches and women in active teaching ministry to men on the mission field where there are not enough ‘men in ministry’ to cover the need?

In addition, take a read of Romans 16, where we have these women in ministry:

  • ‘Phoebe, a deacon/servant of the church in Cenchreae’ (Rom 16:1);
  • ‘Greet Priscilla and Aquila, fellow-workers (sunergoi) of me (Paul) in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 16:3). Priscilla is the woman and she is named before the male (possibly her husband), Aquila, indicating she might have had the more prominent ministry. She and her husband were ‘fellow-workers’ with Paul. She was not relegated to teaching only women and children as nothing of that kind of restriction is mentioned here.
  • Rom 16:3 states that Priscilla and Aquila had a church that met in their house. Imagine that – a woman and a man leading a house church!
  • Rom 16:7, ‘Andronicus and Junias, my relatives … outstanding among the apostles’. Junias is a female and is an apostle among the larger group of apostles (beyond the 12).
  • Rom 16:12, ‘Tryphaena and Tryphosa, the ones labouring in (the) Lord’. We are not told exactly what this ‘labouring’ was, but it does not say, ‘labouring, except for labour among a group that includes men and women’. In Douglas Moo’s commentary, he notes that these two ‘were probably slaves or freedwomen and may have been sisters’. He noted that both names, as Lightfoot noted, are found at about Paul’s time for servants in the imperial household’ (Moo 1996:925, 925 n. 53).

Husband of one wife

Image result for husband and wife clipart public domain

(image courtesy acclaimimages.com)

 

This kind of emphasis often comes up in a discussion of men and women in ministry: ‘1 Timothy 3 gives a list of requirements for being in the leadership of a church. One of them was being a man of one wife. That should automatically rule out female preachers and deacons’.[30]

This was another view by one who abandoned the traditional line. His claim was that only males were legally permitted to commit adultery in the first century through an addition to marriage. Therefore, Paul had no reason to affirm “a woman of only one husband” as that is all that could have existed at that time in the NT world. The person stated that sexism has no place in the body of Christ. He would list Bible verses, do the exegesis, and discuss history, but he has found men are more interested in telling women what not to do that the men have little interest in the truth. These men are interested in power.[31]

One response was: ‘How would you explain Paul’s clear reference to Phoebe as a deaconess? What about women speaking instructions to the church in 1 Cor. 11:5?’[32] He continued:

I know extra-biblical writings aren’t inspired, but it does suggest accepted practice in the early church. Pliny wrote there were female deacons in the church at Bithynia. (G. H. R. Horsley, ed., New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity: A Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Published in 1979 (North Hyde, N.S.W.: The Ancient History Documentary Research Centre, Macquarie University, 1987), 122.)

That would have been just after John’s death, timewise. If they’d been there even a few years they’d have been operating in that office while John the Apostle was living. [33]

Another chimed in,

Yes, the husband of one wife, not two or three wives. There were Jewish men in the assembly who may have had more than one wife because they were coming from Judaism, where polygamy was allowed. It would not be necessary to make this rule for women seeing that women were never allowed, even in Judaism, to have more than one husband.[34]

Should this rule out women preachers? I wrote:[35]

The 1978 edition of the NIV for 1 Tim 3:12 is translated, ‘A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and household well’. The latest edition of the NIV renders this verse as, ‘A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well’. Why the change? It is because the Greek word translated ‘wife’ is gune and it can mean either wife or woman. Arndt & Gingrich’s Greek lexicon gives the meaning as ‘woman … of any adult female’ or ‘wife’ (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:167). A&G support 1 Tim 2:11ff as referring to a ‘woman … of any adult female’. So the meaning is that ‘a deacon must also “be faithful” to his own wife [1 Tim 3:2] and must manage his children and his household well [1 Tim 3:4]’ (Fee 1988:89).
This letter was written to Timothy who was in an Ephesian culture (see 1 Tim 1:3) where there were false teachers. Ephesus was a provincial capital in Asia Minor where the Temple of Artemis (Diana) was located. This cult of Artemis was a syncretism of various religions but was a cult of ‘Oriental fertility rite, with sensuous and orgiastic practices’. We don’t know the fuller details of how this cult influenced the false teachers in Ephesus but Paul was concerned to root out the error that was infiltrating this new church (Fee 1988:40).

Therefore, it is not surprising that in 1 Tim 3 Paul is addressing the need to deal with faithfulness of a man to his woman/wife in a sexually promiscuous culture. We must not impose our understanding of ‘husband of one wife’ on this text (are bachelors prohibited from being church leaders?) when ‘man of one woman’ or ‘faithful to his wife’ could be better translations.

It is sometimes difficult for us to get to the core of what was happening in the culture of the first century and not to impose our understanding of marital fidelity onto the text, based on our 21st century perspective.

It’s time for a logical fallacy

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)Fallacies index

I’ve encountered it over and over where Christians can’t deal with the heat of discussion so they use logical fallacies to divert attention from the hot topic under discussion. That’s exactly what Mike did with this reply to me:

I did deal with Deborah. By dealing with all Judges spoken of. They were sent to fight. They have nothing about them to translate to preacher. Maybe we should take from them to put fleeces in our yard to determine what God wants us to do. Gideon did it. As far as we know, no blacks were Judges. Should we then conclude only whites can be preachers?

The leaps progressives make to fight for women ordination into the priesthood is absurd. Were priests in the temple women? No. Does NT clearly and prescriptively say in 1 Tim 3 the. I overseer is to be a husband of one wife?[36]

My reply was: ‘That’s a red herring logical fallacy. This kind of fallacious reasoning leads to a breakdown in logical conversation. That’s what you have done with this kind of response’.[37] A fellow challenged me on this. His view was that I didn’t deal with the arguments on this Christian forum. It isn’t a university and discussions are ‘pretty fluid’ and his claim was that I ‘come across as pompous and conceited. Plus, like I said, it looks like you cannot deal with his argument and that you are trying to deflect from that’. His view was that in the time it took to respond to his two posts I could have responded to the one promoting a logical fallacy. He was trying to be helpful in how I ‘come across’ and the need to be ‘gentle and helpful’, both ways, and that I ‘appear disrespectful to those on the outside looking in’.[38]

Off topic for the sake of communication

I, therefore, decided to take a lot of time to respond to Mike, who promoted the logical fallacy,[39] and to take up the challenge that I did not answer Mike’s questions. Now to his points:

1. Deborah was a prophetess (Judges 4:4) who judged Israel. You say that judges in the OT were sent to fight, inferring that Deborah was one such fighter. However, that is not what Judges 4:5 states. She sat under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. She questioned Barak, ‘Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you…’ Then in Judges 4:14, Deborah said to Barak, ‘Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?’

Without a doubt, Deborah, the prophetess, had a speaking and leadership role in Israel. It is true that Deborah was not a preacher but she had a public speaking role as a prophetess. We cannot claim silence for Deborah. She was eminently a public person and with a vocal dimension to her ministry.

2. Your statement, ‘Maybe we should take from them to put fleeces in our yard to determine what God wants us to do. Gideon did it’, is unrelated and irrelevant to our discussion. This is one example of a red herring fallacy. We are not discussing a public speaking role. If you want to use Gideon, perhaps you should go to Judges 6:22-24 for Gideon’s public speaking example where the angel of the Lord ministered to him and Gideon said, ‘”Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die”. Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, “The Lord is Peace”‘. We are dealing with public speaking issues. Here Gideon is speaking to the Lord God.

We are not discussing what God wants us to do, so the ‘fleeces’ episode (Judges 6:36-40) is a red herring.

3. You say ‘no blacks were judges’. How do you know and what has that to do with eminent public speakers in the OT? Zilch! Hence it is a red herring fallacy.

4. Should only whites be preachers? That’s a horribly racist suggestion and an irrelevant spin off from our discussion. It’s another red herring.

5. Your claim is, ‘The leaps progressives make to fight for women (sic) ordination into the priesthood is absurd’. Firstly, I’m not a ‘progressive’; I’m an exegete of Scripture. I have no other thoughts in mind but to determine what the Scriptures state. I’m finding that the leaps traditionalists make to ignore the archaeological evidence from the early centuries (that I’ve documented above) that female deacons were presbyters, bishops and deacons, is amazing. To skip over this evidence causes me to ask, who are the ones being ‘absurd’?

6. ‘Were priests in the temple women?’ Not to my knowledge! But are there ‘priests’ in the Protestant church today? Just because there are examples of male-only ministries in the OT, does not exclude the eminent females in ministry in the OT such as Miriam,[40] Deborah and Huldah. Let’s not overlook Anna, the pre-crucifixion prophet (Luke 2:36), an eminent female in ministry.

7. You perceptively ask: ‘Does NT clearly and prescriptively say in 1 Tim 3 the overseer is to be a husband of one wife?’ Some translations use ‘the husband of one wife’ (1 Tim 3:2 ESV) but the ESV has a footnote at this point, ‘Or a man of one woman; also verse 12’. The latest edition of the NIV translates as, ‘faithful to his wife’ (1 Tim 3:2 NIV). The NRSV translates as, ‘married only once’ (1 Tim 3:2 NRSV).

Commentator and Greek exegete, Gordon Fee, notes that there are at least 4 options in the meaning of this phrase, which the CF.com poster only wanted to interpret one way. Fee states that the options are:

a. Require that overseers be married as the false teachers were forbidding marriage and that Paul urges marriage for wayward widows (1 Tim 5:15; cf 2:15).

b. It could prohibit polygamy with its emphasis on ‘one wife’, but polygamy was rare in pagan society.

c. It could be prohibiting second marriages. This is supported by much data including ‘all kinds of inscriptional evidence’ that praises women who were married.

d. It could refer to marital fidelity. The New English Bible translates the phrase, ‘faithful to his one wife’ (1 Tim 3:2 NEB). So it refers to living an exemplary married life in a culture where marital infidelity was common. It was assumed it would happen in that culture.
Fee concludes that the fourth option, ‘the concern that the church’s leaders live exemplary married lives seems to fit the context best – given the apparently low view of marriage and family held by the false teachers (1 Tim 4:3; cf. 3:4-5)’ (Fee 1988:81).

Therefore, the meaning of ‘husband of one wife’ is not as straight forward as it seems at first glance. There is the additional factor that ‘until the reforms of Justinian[41] [for Hebrew women], a Jewish man might legally have more than one wife at a time, a practice that may be in view in the stipulation that an elder should be “the husband of one wife” (1 Tim 3:12). Polyandry [a woman having more than one husband], however, was not possible for a woman, and adultery was punished harshly’. As for Greek women, the extant Greek literature defines Greek women according to their sexual function: courtesans,[42] concubines[43] for the daily pleasure of the master, wives to bear legitimate children and keep house. Wives were neglected socially and sexually (Kroeger 2000:1278-1280).

Conclusion

On the Internet, the topic of female deacons led to a negative conclusion. Although most supported the service ministries of women to practical needs as deacons, but not in the teaching role. There were a few, including myself, who tried to show that the nature of the ‘deacon’ ministry – without a preaching / teaching dimension – cannot be supported by exegesis of the biblical text.

I showed this in relation to Paul’s ministry where diakonos was used also to apply to more than ministry to practical needs. There is also a post-NT period when women were engaged in ministries of elder, deacon and bishop. The archaeology of the first few centuries AD demonstrates this through paintings in catacombs and on inscriptions on tombstones.

Works consulted

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[44] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Fee, G 1988. 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (New International Biblical Commentary). W W Gasque (NT ed). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

Hess, K 1978. Serve, Deacon, Worship, in C Brown (ed), The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol 3, 544-549. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Johnson, A 2010. Roman Catholic Woman Bishop, in M E Fiedler (ed), Breaking through the Stained Glass Ceiling: Women Religious Leaders in Their Own Words, 96-99. New York, NY: Seabury Books.

Kroeger, C C 2000 Women in Greco-Roman world and Judaism, in C A Evans & S E Porter (eds), Dictionary of New Testament Background, 1276-1280. Downers Grove, Illinois / Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.

MacArthur, J 2013. Can Women Exercise Authority in the Church? Grace to You (online), August 29. Available at: http://www.gty.org/blog/B130829/can-women-exercise-authority-in-the-church (Accessed 24 September 2014).

Moo, D J 1996. The Epistle to the Romans (The New International Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Taylor, A 2010. Former executive director, Women’s Ordination Conference on the archaeological evidence for women’s leadership, in M E Fiedler (ed), Breaking through the Stained Glass Ceiling: Women Religious Leaders in Their Own Words, 91-96. New York, NY: Seabury Books.

Thayer, J H 1962.Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti, tr, rev, enl. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Notes


[1] Christian Forums.com, Christian Communities, Baptists, ‘Female deacons’, August 26, 2015. Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/threads/female-deacons.7904366/ (Accessed 23 September 2015).

[2] Ibid., Larry Smart#1.

[3] Ibid., Crowns&Laurels#9.

[4] Ibid., Poor Beggar#3.

[5] Ibid., Mr.Stepanov#7.

[6] Ibid., Goodbook#13.

[7] Ibid., mizzkittenzz#88.

[8] I have not located this statement in an online search.

[9] Christian Forums, ibid., Hank77#23.

[10] A mosaic is ‘a picture or pattern produced by arranging together small pieces of stone, tile, glass, etc.’ (Oxford Dictionaries 2015. S v mosaic).

[11] A fresco is ‘a painting done rapidly in watercolour on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling, so that the colours penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries’ (Oxford Dictionaries 2015. S v fresco).

[12] They are in Rome. ‘The Catacombs of Priscilla sit on the Via Salaria, with its entrance in the convent of the Benedictine Sisters of Priscilla. It is mentioned in all of the most ancient documents on Christian topography and liturgy in Rome; because of the great number of martyrs buried within it, it was called “regina catacumbarum – the queen of the catacombs.” Originally dug out from the second to fifth centuries, it began as a series of underground burial chambers, of which the most important are the “arenarium” or sand-quarry, the cryptoporticus, (an underground area to get away from the summer heat), and the hypogeum with the tombs of the Acilius Glabrio family)’ (Catacombs of Priscilla, available at: http://www.catacombepriscilla.com/index_en.html, accessed 25 September 2015).

[13] The full details for author and book are, J N M Wijngaards 2006. Women Deacons in the Early Church: Historical Texts and Contemporary Debates. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company (Herder & Herder).

[14] Christian Forums.com. ibid., Albion#33.

[15] Ibid., Bluelion#6.

[16] Ibid., 98cwitr#74.

[17] Ibid., mikedsjr#76.

[18] Ibid., mikecwitr#77.

[19] Ibid., 98cwitr#80.

[20] Ibid., OzSpen#107.

[21] Ibid., Bluelion#114.

[22] Ibid., OzSpen#116.

[23] Ibid., OzSpen#118.

[24] Ibid., OzSpen#119.

[25] Ibid., Striver#122.

[26] Ibid., OzSpen#125.

[27] All verses in this paragraph are from an Interlinear version of the Bible.

[28] Christian Forums.com, ibid., Crowns&Laurels#123.

[29] Ibid., OzSpen#126.

[30] Ibid., classicalhero#26.

[31] Ibid., LaSorcia#48.

[32] Ibid., Poor Beggar#27.

[33] Ibid., Poor Beggar#28.

[34] Ibid., Hank77#37.

[35] Ibid., OzSpen#129.

[36] Ibid., mikedsjr#136.

[37] Ibid., OzSpen#138.

[38] Ibid., John Robie#148.

[39] Ibid., OzSpen#152.

[40] See Ex 15:20-21 (ESV).

[41] Justinian was an important late Roman and Byzantine emperor who reigned from AD 527 – 565 (The Ancient History Encyclopedia 2009-2015. S v Justinian I).

[42] A courtesan was ‘a prostitute, especially one with wealthy or upper-class clients’ (Oxford Dictionaries 2015. S v courtesan).

[43] A concubine was ‘chiefly historical (in polygamous societies) a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives’ (Oxford Dictionaries 2015. S v concubine). In contemporary society she would function like a mistress.

[44] This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’, 4th rev and aug ed, 1952 (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Anti-women in ministry juices flowing

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

pond5.com (public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

What is the New Testament view of women in ministry?

1 Corinthians 14:26 permits open ministry by both men and women: ‘Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you’ (NLT). So such ministry is available to ‘brothers and sisters’.

But when Paul wrote to Timothy (who was in Ephesus) he said: ‘I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.[1] Let them listen quietly’ (1 Tim 2:12 NLT). Women are not to teach men and have authority over them seems to be the clear teaching of this verse.

Is Paul confused and contradictory or is there something else going on here? We do know from Acts 2:17 what happened on the Day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: “‘In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams”’ (NLT). There will be ministry, including prophecy, for both men and women. Galatians 3:28 confirms that there is no sectarianism in Christianity, ‘There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[2] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (NLT).

How do these Scriptures play out with leading Bible teachers of today? Let’s check two of them who take opposing views.

NTWright071220.jpg

N T Wright 2007 (courtesy Wikipedia)

N T Wright, a prominent evangelical exegete and historian of Christian origins from the UK, wrote about women in ministry: ‘I believe we have seriously misread the relevant passages in the New Testament, no doubt not least through a long process of assumption, tradition, and all kinds of post-biblical and sub-biblical attitudes that have crept in to Christianity’ (Wright 2004).

 

John F. MacArthur Jr..JPG

John F MacArthur Jr 2014, aged 75 (courtesy Wikipedia)

On the contrary, John MacArthur Jr, a renowned USA evangelical expositor, adopts an opposite view:

‘Women may be highly gifted teachers and leaders, but those gifts are not to be exercised over men in the context of the church. That is true not because women are spiritually inferior to men but because God’s law commands it. He has ordained order in His creation—an order that reflects His own nature and therefore should be reflected in His church. Anyone ignoring or rejecting God’s order, then, weakens the church and dishonors Him’ (MacArthur 2013).

So which is it? Are women open to any ministry in the church or are they restricted so that they cannot exercise authority over men and this includes preaching to men?

Could the tradition against women having authority over men (including preaching to them) be labelled as the orthodox view? Is the pro-women in ministry perspective, advocated by N T Wright and this writer, the heterodox (heretical) perspective?

Watch the argumentation that follows.

Juices flowing

Image result for pouring juice public domain

pond5.com (public domain)

On the local level here in Australia, it doesn’t take much for the anti-women in ministry juices to start flowing along with the pro-women in ministry voices. On one blog, all it took was a recommendation to a church in Brisbane and it was off and running. The context was an article on ‘Whatever Happened to Teaching in the Churches?’ by Bill Muehlenberg (17 Feb 2015). This was an excellent article that confronted this problem of the decline in teaching in many churches. Bill began the article with a stimulating observation:

Once the regular teaching of the Word of God, of doctrine, of theology, and its application in the Christian life was a mainstay of any evangelical church. It was pretty much the core activity. Yet there seems to be such a dearth of good, solid teaching in so many churches today.

Instead of proper instruction in which believers are fed with the solid meat of the Word, with emphasis on biblical doctrine and proper exposition of key biblical themes and teachings, all we seem to get in so many churches today are topical sermons.

These are often little more than pep talks with one or two verses thrown in along the way. Most of our Sunday morning sermons tend to be feel-good, how-to chats, emphasising how the Christian can be successful, happy, confident, and have a good time.

We promise folks their ‘best life now’ and give them motivational speeches, upbeat homilies, and the like. The systematic instruction and teaching of the Word of God, its core doctrinal truths, and basic Christian doctrines are almost never heard any more in so many churches today.

In the Comments section, I responded to the article:[3]

Here in Brisbane my wife and I attend a church with solid expository preaching but the services are ho-hum boring. They could easily send me to sleep. The pastor does not know how to get and retain people’s attention with his teaching (he preaches through books of the Bible).

As for the reason for this, thank Bill Hybels, Rick Warren and the seeker-sensitive marketing approach. I engaged in an email exchange with a pastor of such a church locally and he told me that I would find his church too contemporary. I visited once. It is not that being modern is the problem; it’s the lack of biblical content. There was no Bible reading in the entire service and to call the topical ditty a sermon is to redefine the word.

My nephew and his family attend one such church in my suburb of another denomination and his 8-year-old son told me, ‘We get a concert every week’.

Turning it around will take a revival, I believe.

But then the comments took a different turn. This is how the provocative juices got started with one woman’s comment, ‘I can’t find one in Brisbane also. It grieves me’.[4] Another woman’s response was: ‘Hi Sharon, Here are the details of a biblically solid church in Brisbane. I highly recommend them www.mcc777australia.org/mcca_brisbane_102.html’.[5]

That got Sharon’s juices flowing:

Thanks Ella for the link. When I clicked on it, it appears that there is a woman pastor. Is that correct? If so, that is a heresy and one of the main reasons why it is difficult to find a church that will actually preach what the bible teaches. Have a look at your bible, at the biblical role of women and who is allowed to teach in a church meeting. I too had to have an education by the HS [Holy Spirit] on this topic. It led to a lot of repentance on my behalf.[6]

So, according to this person, to be a woman pastor is to commit ‘heresy’ and her anti-heresy, traditional view, comes from ‘an education by the Holy Spirit’. However, there was no definition of heresy provided and how pro-women in ministry is heresy.

What is heresy?

(Courtesy Hendrickson Publishers)

Gerhard Nordholt’s summary of the New Testament Greek understanding was that in 1 Corinthians there is a distinction between haireseis and schismata. While schismata split the church through personally motivated disputes, there is an eschatological dimension added by the haireseis. ‘Haireseis are the results of the schismata’ and, according to 2 Peter 2:1, the activities of false teachers lead to haireseis. Passages such as Titus 3:10, Matthew 18:15-20 and 2 John 10 demonstrate how to deal with heretics (Nordholt 1975:534-535).

Thus, in New Testament times, the Christian understanding of heresy was that it referred to: (1) Dissensions and destructive opinions that were, (2) Contrary to the teachings of the ekkl?sia; (3) Schisms led to heresies; (4) Thus, haireseis (plural) had an eschatological-dogmatic dimension that attacked the church’s foundational doctrines. Here dogmatic refers to doctrines that are officially and authoritatively confirmed. (5) Therefore, in the New Testament, the standard by which to assess hairesis (singular) is the content of the Scriptures. Those in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church tradition would include Tradition and Scripture as standards for judging heretical doctrines (see Wilhelm 1910).[7]

Gillian Evans in her more recent analysis of the history of heresy provided a brief summary of the classification of the three main senses in which heresis was used in early Christian Greek:

One took it to mean just a ‘way of thought’, and that could be used of the Christian faith itself, with no pejorative connotations. In another sense it could mean a system or ‘school’ of thought, as distinct from a separate community or schism. Its third sense is … [how – SDG] heresis began to be used for a ‘false teaching’ which purported to be true faith for Christians. Therein lay its danger, for it could mislead the faithful. (Evans 2003:65-66)

Evans stated that this evolution of the understanding of the meaning of ‘heresy’ underlies many of the difficulties she discussed in her study. In the early years of the Christian church these heresies included those dealing with issues imported from ancient philosophy (including allegorical interpretation and the nature of the Trinity), the incarnation, Christology (including the God-man relationship of Jesus), dualism (evil versus good), ministerial succession of the Catholic church, discounting the need for divine assistance in salvation (Pelagianism), the Easter controversy, transubstantiation, the Iconoclast controversy, separation over confessional identity, heresies associated with a prominent figure or hierarchies (examples being Marcionites, Arianism, Pelagianism), and the Inquisition (Evans 2003:65-89).

Therefore, a heresy is a teaching that attacks one of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. Harold O J Brown in his extensive study on Heresies (Brown 1984) assessed that

”heresy” came to be used to mean a separation or split resulting from a false faith (1 Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20). It designated either a doctrine or the party holding the doctrine, a doctrine that was sufficiently intolerable to destroy the unity of the Christian church. In the early church, heresy did not refer to simply any doctrinal disagreement, but to something that seemed to undercut the very basis for Christian existence. Practically speaking, heresy involved the doctrine of God and the doctrine of Christ – later called “special theology” and “Christology” (Brown 1984:2-3).

So some kind of skirmish or division (schismata), whether that be over baptism, the nature of the Lord’s supper, eschatological differences, or women in ministry would not be regarded as heresy in the early church.

The challenge

I did not think it was helpful to let this kind of comment go unchallenged, so I responded:

I urge you not to accuse women in ministry, even pastoral ministry, as engaged in the promotion of a heresy. Here’s an article by N T Wright that deals with some of the controversial passages and concludes differently from your position that it is ‘heresy’. See N T Wright, ‘Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis’, ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm[8]

I expected a reply but not with this kind of twist. The juices were flowing with a different emphasis:

Hi Spencer, I have heard it all before and I still disagree because there are quite a few holes in his arguments. I have written extensively on this in my blog but if you want an expert, have a listen to David Pawson.

As for me, like many Christian woman (sic), I embrace biblical womanhood and throughly (sic) enjoy it for what it is. I fasted and prayed over this issue for 3 years before it all became clear. Never been happier. I will still call it heresy. You have to do biblical gymnastics to make the other way make sense.

Most men I know have never really fasted or prayed over it – maybe because it doesn’t really effect their obedience to the Lord. The women I know who have… they seem to end up at the same position as myself.[9]

God and logic

(Courtesy Apologetics 315)

Before getting into an examination of Sharon’s approach, it is important to examine the place of logic in the life of a Christian believer. Did God invent logic or is it from some secular source? Norman Geisler & Ronald Brooks present some challenging material in their publication, Come Let Us Reason (Geisler & Brooks 1990). Brooks tells of his first logic teacher, Howard Schoof, whose exhortation was, ‘The next best thing besides godliness for a Christian is logic’. Brooks’ comment was, ‘Clean living and correct thinking make a potent combination’ (Geisler & Brooks 1990:7).

What is logic? Geisler & Brooks state that ‘Logic really means putting your thoughts in order…. Logic is a way to think so that we can come to correct conclusions by understanding implications and the mistakes people often make in thinking’. They continue,

Simply put, you can’t avoid studying logic, so you might as well know what you’re doing. It is the basis of all other studies. It is the basis for all math and science. Even music, from Bach to the Beach Boys, is based on logic. Without it, there could be no rational discussion of anything; writing would be impossible. How can you put a sentence together without a logical order?… The only way to avoid logic is to quit thinking, because logic is the basis of all thought (Geisler & Brooks 1990:11, 13, emphasis in original).

So, what happens when a person uses logical fallacies?

Notice the approach

Sharon used this kind of reasoning:

1. ‘I have heard it all before and I still disagree because there are quite a few holes in his arguments’.

There is not one specific example given here but generalisations of ‘heard it all before’ and ‘quite a few holes in his arguments’. This is committing a question begging logical fallacy. This is fallacious logic because simply assuming that the conclusion is true (directly or indirectly) – hearing it all before and holes in the argument – does not provide evidence for the conclusion that rejects women in pastoral ministry. Here the assumption is made that hearing it all before and the alleged holes in the arguments are evidence to support her view. This is not true when no evidence has been provided.

She appealed to generalities and did not deal with the specifics from N T Wright’s article that was pro-women in ministry. She failed to give her biblical reasons.

2. ‘As for me, like many Christian woman (sic), I embrace biblical womanhood and throughly (sic) enjoy it for what it is’.

This commits an ‘appeal to belief’ logical fallacy. As this link demonstrates, ‘This line of “reasoning” is fallacious because the fact that many people believe a claim does not, in general, serve as evidence that the claim is true’. Sharon’s appeal to ‘many Christian women’ to demonstrate her point is a pointless argument since she has not demonstrated her case or rebutted N T Wright’s pro-women position. However, to be fair to her, doing this on another person’s blog is nigh impossible. She could have said something like, ‘I disagree with these points made by Wright. Here are some links to my and other articles where I address these’.

Her statement, ‘I embrace biblical womanhood’. So who defines ‘biblical womanhood’? Sharon does, and her following comments tell us from where she obtained this understanding. So who is correct? N T Wright, Sharon Stay, Spencer Gear or David Pawson? Sharon’s statement seems to commit the ‘appeal to authority’ logical fallacy.

3. ‘I have written extensively on this in my blog[10] but if you want an expert, have a listen to David Pawson’.

Now she has committed the appeal to authority logical fallacy as she has written extensively about this topic on her blog. So is she a specialist in defining ‘biblical womanhood’ and how it ought to function in the church? Then she appeals to the ‘expert’, David Pawson. However, she gives no link to or statement about where I would find his exposition on women in ministry. Why would David Pawson’s[11] exposition be any more authoritative and exact in biblical terms and exposition than that of N T Wright?[12]

4. ‘I fasted and prayed over this issue for 3 years before it all became clear. Never been happier’.

My response to her was: ‘We can’t have a logical conversation when you generalise like this, present yours as the elevated spiritual position (prayer and fasting), and denigrate men as not complying with your spirituality’.[13]

This commits another logical fallacy, appeal to consequences of a belief. It is an erroneous line of reasoning because the consequences of belief that come after prayer and fasting do not tell us whether the belief is true or false. That decision needs to be reached by an examination of the biblical text. This controversy over women in ministry would not have arisen if it were not for differing interpretations of the biblical text. So, it’s an issue of hermeneutics, not whether one prays and fasts over this issue.

5. ‘I will still call it heresy. You have to do biblical gymnastics to make the other way make sense’.

Here Sharon has committed another logical fallacy, appeal to ridicule. It is false reasoning because mocking a pro-women in ministry position by labelling it as ‘heresy’ does not provide the evidence to demonstrate that it is false. She has not told us what constitutes heresy and how the pro-women view stacks up as heretical theologically.

6. ‘Most men I know have never really fasted or prayed over it – maybe because it doesn’t really effect (sic) their obedience to the Lord. The women I know who have… they seem to end up at the same position as myself’.

Here she has committed another logical fallacy, faulty generalisation or leaping to a conclusion. Sharon has committed this fallacy because she has not observed enough men to come to her conclusion. Her statistical sample is from ‘most men I know’. This is not a statistically large enough sample to reach a valid conclusion. This is an unrepresentative sample. Therefore, the reasoning is fallacious. Determining men’s views on women in ministry by using ‘most men I know’ as the sample, is not the way to go about gathering data for one’s position. A better way would be to engage in careful examination (exegesis) of the biblical text.

The God of logic

Dr Michael C Labossiere has stated that ‘a fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts. To be more specific, a fallacy is an “argument” in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support’ (The Nizkor Project: Fallacies).

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

An objection that could be raised is that to use logic is to use a secular, naturalistic approach and we do not need that with God. To make that kind of statement that opposes God and logic, one has to use logic.

‘Logic is unavoidable…. The Gospel of John begins with the statement, “in the beginning was the Logos.” The basis of all logic is that some statements are true and others are false. If this word about God is not a logical word, then what is it? The whole idea of theology is that rational statements can be made about God. Even someone who says the opposite has just made a rational (although untrue) statement about God. Logic is undeniable’ (Geisler & Brooks 1990:15-16).

So to live in reality, where we need to use logic, we understand that God is the God who created logic. After all, Scripture affirms this of Jesus, the Word, ‘All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made’ (John 1:3 ESV). Therefore, God made logic. He made us with the ability to communicate and that requires the absolute necessity of engaging in logical discussions.

What happens when we use logical fallacies?

If logic is a way to arrive at correct conclusions or valid inferences, then logical fallacies, whether formal or informal, are mistakes in thinking. A formal fallacy deals with the form of an argument – the way we think. An informal fallacy relates to the meanings of the terms we use. These can be either unclear or misleading or they could be irrelevant to the topic (Geisler & Brooks 1990:13). I highly recommend this publication for a Christian view of logic.

We know God is interested in correct thinking because he tells us that part of our growth in Christ involves,

22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:22-24 ESV, emphasis added).

This is further emphasised in Romans 12:2, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (ESV, emphasis added).

The God who created logic is concerned that Christians be transformed by the renewal of the mind. In the context of Eph 4:22-24, that refers to getting rid of the corrupt and deceitful desires of one’s former lifestyle and being renewed by thinking righteous, holy and godly thoughts. However, these are in accordance with logical thinking about God.

A logical fallacy is a defect in reasoning. I have heard them by politicians, public speakers (including preachers), and on the internet. When I view Aussie politicians being interviewed on TV, I hear them avoid the journalist’s question to go with ‘the message’, which is what he/she wants to promote. Very often this means changing the topic and not answering the question, which is using a red herring logical fallacy. The media are good at doing this also by pumping a false view of the politician’s view that can be a straw man logical fallacy. This fallacy trumps up a distorted version of the politician’s view, so the journalist is not attacking the politician’s view but a fabricated, journalist-invented version of this.

What happens when we use the illogic of logical fallacies? We are using faulty logic to try to make our case, but it amounts to an failure to have a reasonable conversation. We need to call attention to speakers who use this tactic. Know the prominent logical fallacies. The Nizkor Project has listed and explained some of the most prominent ones (based on the work of Dr. Michael C. Labossiere). For those who want a Christian approach, see Geisler & Brooks (1990).

How that person responded

How did Sharon respond to my statement about her generalisations and denigration of men? She wrote:

I wasn’t trying to speak in generalities – what I was trying not to do was have a large, lengthy discussion on Bill’s site, back and forth. This is far too lengthy a topic to discuss on someone else’s site. That is why I referred you to my site. You can click on my name and it will lead you there (when people post who have a website their name is a link to their website.) clip_image001

I also wasn’t trying to take the elevated view as you call it. I simply stated the facts as I know them – that most christian (sic) men I know have not fasted or prayed on this issue and when I asked them why they believed what they did, they couldn’t give a logical answer that correlates with all that scripture has to say. Most just told me to accept it!

When I asked a senior lecturer at Malyon (Baptist Bible College) why he believed in women pastors (he had just preached on this topic but completely ignored Timothy and Corinithians (sic)) he told me that it was because the words of Paul are to be put on a lower level to the words of Jesus. According to him, Paul apparently had it wrong. He must not agree with “all scripture being inspired by God”…I went home and cried that day at the apostasy in the church.

So that has been my experience. My husband and I are in agreement on this issue. He leads in our family. clip_image001[1]

I think we all need to keep praying for unity with God on this issue as it seems to me we can’t all be right when our opinions differ so much. That was why I started the prayer and fasting in the first place. It was not to elevate myself into a higher spiritual position. It more like 3 years of weeping and fasting and praying for the church in our nation, agonising over the state it is in. Begging God to reveal truth to me. He did. That’s all. There is a lot more I need to learn but what I have learnt I will share and speak out.[14]

After this comment about the Baptist Malyon College in Queensland, I contacted my son who is an MDiv graduate of that college about this senior lecturer at Malyon who devalued the words of Paul. My son’s reply was, ‘John Sweetman [principal of Malyon] has gone on record plenty of times as having a complementarian view of marriage but an egalitarian view of ministry’.

Another traditional dynamic

Another woman offered what was a consoling anti-women, but accommodating view:

Sharon, I agree with you wholeheartedly, however what do you do when the men aren’t there? Isn’t it better to have a woman preacher who speaks the word of God in truth than leaving a vacuum? God is the law maker and sometimes we need to allow that He will work with what He has as in the case of Deborah being the judge of Israel. But of course wherever there is a woman pastor filling the gap our prayer needs to be, “Lord, provide a godly man to take her place”.
Thankfully we are in a church where the minister preaches faithfully to the word of God, though I haven’t heard a sermon on Mat 19 in a long time.
Many blessings[15]

Sharon’s response was:

Thanks Ursula. Deborah is often brought up as a justification for women being pastors. However Deborah though a prophetess, was not the leader of the ‘church’ at the time. Hers was a governmental position – the levitical system was still ruling the ‘church’ or worship, in the line of Aaron.
You see the same with Miriam, another prophetess often quoted to justify women overseers of the church. She too was not leading the worship. It remained with the Priestly Levites who were all men.
It was the same for all the women prophetesses in the O.T. At no point were the women running the sacrifices etc.

In the NT it’s the same – the role of prophetess is outside the role of church leadership. That is why both exist simultaneously. You can have a prophetess and have men leading the church. They are not mutually exclusive as some teach.
Many women in NT times, opened their homes for church meetings to be held there, but they did not actually lead the services and oversee the church. The NT is quite clear that a ‘husband of but one wife’ was to oversee the church. Women primarily were to be busy in the home, raising the children and teaching other women how to love their husbands and children.[16]

There are issues with this kind of traditional response, so I chose to challenge her:[17]

I must be reading a different Bible to yours. Judges 4:4-6 (ESV) states,

‘Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgement. 6 She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun’.

Therefore, Deborah, the prophetess, most certainly had a leadership role in judging Israel.

You state, ‘Many women in NT times, opened their homes for church meetings to be held there, but they did not actually lead the services and oversee the church’. How do you know that? That doesn’t explain the possibility of Junias/Junia being a female apostle (Rom 16:7 NIV).

You state that ‘the NT is quite clear that a ‘husband of but one wife’ was to oversee the church. Women primarily were to be busy in the home, raising the children and teaching other women how to love their husbands and children’.

Let’s check out how ‘quite clear’ it really is. The elder must be the ‘husband of one wife’ is from 1 Tim 3:2 (KJV, ESV, NASB, NET), but the NIV translates as ‘faithful to his wife’ and the NLT, ‘He must be faithful to his wife’; REB, ‘faithful to his one wife’. The Greek is literally ‘to be of one wife husband’. There could be four different meanings of this statement. The issue in Ephesus (where Timothy was when Paul sent this letter) was promiscuity (marital infidelity and a low view of marriage, see 4:3; 3:4-5) and not polygamy. When we examine the context, Paul is talking about an overseer’s character qualities in 1 Tim 3:2-5. So the meaning leans towards that of the NIV, NLT, REB since they are dynamic equivalence (meaning-for-meaning) translations.

She has adopted the standard English translation of 1 Timothy 3:2, ‘husband of but one wife’, without doing the hard exegetical work to understand the meaning of this statement. Gordon Fee states that these four possible options in deciding the meaning of this statement are:

1. ‘Requiring that the overseer be married’;

2. ‘It prohibits polygamy’;

3. ‘It could be prohibiting second marriages’;

4. ‘It could be that it requires marital fidelity to his one wife (cf. NEB: “faithful to his one wife”)’ (Fee 1988:80, emphasis in original).

Fee favours the latter meaning because

in this view the overseer is required to live an exemplary married life (marriage is assumed), faithful to his one wife in a culture in which marital infidelity was common, and at times assumed. It would, of course, also rule out polygamy and divorce and remarriage, but it would not necessarily rule out the remarriage of a widower (although that would still not be the Pauline ideal; cf. 1 Cor. 7:8-9, 39-40). Although there is much to be said for either understanding, of the third option, the concern that the church’s leaders live exemplary married lives seems to fit the context best – given the apparently low view of marriage and family held by the false teachers (4:3; cf. 3:4-5) (Fee 1988:80-81, emphasis in original).

Conclusion

In my encounter with Sharon (see above), I picked up her use of 6 logical fallacies. Is this a serious issue when she presents so much illogic in her argumentation? It is detrimental because it is impossible to have a logical conversation with a person who uses logical fallacies. When people logical fallacies in speech or writing, I find it is important to draw this to their attention. That’s why I recommend that you get to know major logical fallacies that people use. See the link to the Nizkor Project above.

The additional issue for this advocate of silence of women in leadership positions over me is dogmatism about what she claims is her correct view. She claims that the pro-women in ministry view is heresy and of herself she says ‘I embrace biblical womanhood’ (inferring that I don’t). Also, ‘‘I fasted and prayed over this issue for 3 years before it all became clear’, which makes her spiritual exercises superior to those who obtain a view of women in ministry through, say, exegesis of the text. When she complained about men she knows who ‘have never really fasted or prayed over it – maybe because it doesn’t really effect (sic) their obedience to the Lord’, she not only exalts her superior spirituality but also has judged the men’s motivation as it doesn’t affect their obedience to God. This is a strange and condescending emphasis.

I have heard Sharon’s kind of view many times down through the years, but her elevation of her own spirituality in arriving at this decision came out of left field for me. Anyone who claims that we need prayer and fasting to arrive at a view of ‘biblical womanhood’ is taking a different tack to the exegesis I’ve encountered on this topic.

Sharon has the additional problem that she used the general term of speaking to a senior lecturer at Malyon College and his denigration of Paul, without mentioning who he was and in what circumstances he said this. There is no way for me to check who said this, under what circumstances, and whether that is what he said and believes.

Her calling the pro-women in ministry view a heresy is contrary to the view of the church of the first century and its understanding of heresy. As Harold Brown put it, ‘In the early church, heresy did not refer to simply any doctrinal disagreement, but to something that seemed to undercut the very basis for Christian existence’ (Brown 1984:2).

Other links

This is a range of my articles on women in ministry (there may be a repeat of information in some of them):

3d-red-star-small Anti-women in ministry juices flowing

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry in church history

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry: an overview of some biblical passages

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry in I Corinthians: A brief inquiry

3d-red-star-small Women wrongly closed down in ministry

3d-red-star-small Amazing contemporary opposition to women in public ministry

3d-red-star-small The heresy of women preachers?

3d-red-star-small Women bishops – how to get the Christians up in arms!

3d-red-star-small Are women supposed to be permanently silent in the church gathering?

3d-red-star-small Must women never teach men in the church?

 

Works consulted

Brown, H O J 1984. Heresies: The image of Christ in the mirror of heresy and orthodoxy from the apostles to the present. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Evans, G R 2003. A brief history of heresy. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Fee, G D 1988. 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (New International Biblical Commentary), W Ward Gasque (NT ed). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

Geisler, N L & Brooks, R M 1990. Come let us reason: An introduction to logical thinking. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

MacArthur, J 2013. Can women exercise authority in the church? Grace to You (online), August 29. Available at: http://www.gty.org/blog/B130829/can-women-exercise-authority-in-the-church (Accessed 23 February 2015).

Nordholt, G 1975. ????????, in Brown, C (ed) The new international dictionary of New Testament theology, vol 1:A-F, 533-535. Exeter, Devon, U.K.: The Paternoster Press.

Wilhelm, J 1910. Heresy. In The Catholic encyclopedia (online), vol 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Available at New Advent http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07256b.htm (Accessed 7 August 2014).

Wright, N T 2004. Women’s service in the church: The biblical basis (online). A conference paper for the Symposium, ‘Men, Women and the Church’, St John’s College, Durham, September 4. Available at: http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm (Accessed 23 February 2015).

Notes:


[1] The footnote at this point was, ‘Or teach men or usurp their authority’.

[2] The footnote was, ‘Greek Jew or Greek’.

[3] Spencer Gear, 17 February 2015, 4pm, available at: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/02/17/whatever-happened-to-teaching-in-the-churches/ (Accessed 22 February 2015)

[4] Ibid., Sharon Stay, 17 February 2015, 8pm.

[5] Ibid., Ella Gathercole, 18 February 2015, 7am.

[6] Ibid., Sharon Stay, 18 February 2015, 7pm.

[7] Wilhelm’s (1910) article on ‘heresy’ is recommended for an insightful assessment of the issues historically and with a practical dimension – even though the article is a century old.

[8] Ibid., Spencer Gear, 19 February 2015, 7am.

[9] Ibid., Sharon Stay, 19 February 2015, 8pm.

[10] Sharon’s blog is called, ‘He Leads Me’ (Accessed 23 February 2015).

[11] David Pawson is a British Bible teacher and author. See: http://davidpawson.org/.

[12] N T Wright is a British New Testament scholar, Anglican clergyman. See: http://ntwrightpage.com/. At the time of writing this article, he was Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland (Accessed 22 February 2015).

[13] Spencer Gear, loc cit, 20 February 2015, 10am.

[14] Sharon Stay, loc cit, 20 February 2015, 7pm.

[15] Ibid., Ursula Bennett, 20 February 2015, 9am.

[16] Ibid., Sharon Stay, 23 February 2015, 7am.

[17] Ibid., Spencer Gear, 23 February 2015, 1pm.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

The heresy of women preachers?

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected in 2006 as the first female Presiding Bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church and also the first female primate in the Anglican Communion (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

Go to one of the conservative Christian forums[1] on the Internet and raise the issue of women in teaching ministry in the local church. If you support women in this kind of ministry, as I do, expect a tirade of invective (covered with Christian jargon) from traditionalists who oppose women teaching men in the local church. I experienced this when I participated in two threads on Christian Forums: (1) ‘Women’s pastors’,[2] and (2) ‘Can women hold office in the church even pastors’. There were so many inflammatory comments in these 2 threads that the moderators of the forum closed the threads permanently after many posts.

One person stated that liberal theology was associated with a more liberal view of women in ministry. I asked him, ‘Are you affirming that those who support women in ministry are promoting “liberal ideology”’? A person responded, ‘I would answer in the affirmative. Liberalism has risen mainly out of the 19th century, it denies the authority of the Word of God, and it is heresy’.[3] Since I’m a supporter of women in teaching ministry, even female pastors, he accused me of promoting theological liberalism, denying the authority of Scripture, and heresy.

My response was:

I do not deny the authority of the Word of God. I support the inerrant Scripture. I am not promoting heresy when I support women in ministry because I’m convinced – THROUGH EXEGESIS – that God has not excluded women from preaching and teaching ministries. I am NOT a heretic; I do NOT promote false doctrine. I come to a position different from your traditional view of women in ministry.

Are you telling me on this forum that I’m a heretic because of my support for women in ministry?[4]

Inerrancy is the biblical doctrine that teaches that ‘being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives’ (The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Short Statement #4).

A controversial verse

One verse seems to be used as a shot-gun approach of conservative Christians. It is First Timothy 2:12, which states: ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet’ (NIV). This is the verse that the traditionalists use to close down the teaching of women over men.

International Greek scholar, exegete and specialist in biblical criticism, Dr Gordon D Fee, in his commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, wrote of 1 Timothy 2:12:

Verse 12, which begins with Paul’s own personal instruction (I do not permit; better, “I am not permitting,” implying specific instructions to this situation), picks up the three items from verse 11 and presents them with some further detail. I am not permitting a woman to teach corresponds to a woman should learn. Teaching, of course, is where much of the problem lay in the church in Ephesus [where Timothy was located]. The straying elders are teachers (1:3; 6:3); the “worthy” elders, for whom Timothy is probably to serve as something of a model (4:11-16; cf. 2 Tim. 2:2), are “those whose work is teaching” (5:17). Indeed, Paul calls himself a teacher in these letters (2:7). But he is here prohibiting women to teach in the (house-) church(es) of Ephesus, although in other churches they prophesy (1 Cor. 11:5) and probably give a teaching from time to time (1 Cor. 14:26), and in Titus 2:3-4 the older women are expected to be good teachers of the younger ones.

Part of the problem from this distance is to know what “teaching” involved. The evidence from 1 Corinthians 12-14 indicates that “teaching” may be presented as a spiritual gift (14:6, 26); at the same time, some in the community are specifically known as teachers (cf. Rom. 12:7), while more private instruction is also given (Acts 18:26; here by a woman). Given that evidence and what can be gleaned from the present Epistles, teaching most likely had to do with instruction in Scripture, that is, Scripture as pointing to salvation in Christ (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15-17). If that is what is being forbidden (and certainty eludes us here), then it is probably because some of them have been so terribly deceived by false teachers, who are specifically abusing the OT (cf. 1:7; Titus 3:9). At least that is the point Paul will pick up in verses 14 and 15 (Fee 1988:72-73, emphasis in original).

So, no matter how many supporters of the traditional interpretation that may be included, there are others who disagree. Gordon Fee is one of them and so am I. N T Wright is another (see below). I’m encouraged to know that there are others in the evangelical community who support women in ministry.

What does 1 Timothy 2 teach?[5]

While I affirm the inerrancy of Scripture in the original manuscripts, I find it difficult to determine from the New Testament where ‘ordination’ of either men or women is taught, as experienced in our 21st century church. Where is the language of ordination to the pastorate in the NT?

First Timothy 2:8 reads, ‘I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling’ (ESV). What the ESV has translated as ‘then’ is the Greek connective ouv, meaning, ‘therefore’. This means that the sentence of 2:8 is linked to what precedes it and what is said in v. 8 goes back to the subject of the paragraph that begins in 1Tim 2:1 (‘I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings’ etc. God desires all to be saved (2:4).

So in v. 8, Paul is saying to Timothy in Ephesus and dealing with what is happening in the Ephesian house church(es), (this is my paraphrase): Therefore, while we are dealing with prayer, God’s desire for all people to be saved, one God and Jesus the one mediator (v 5), Jesus who gave his life as a ransom (v 6) and Paul appointed as a preacher and apostle (v7), therefore while we’re dealing with the subject of prayer, I urge that people pray with lifting up holy hands and ‘without anger or quarrelling’ (v. 8). This was the demeanour in prayer in Judaism and early Christianity.

Where should that be happening? It is to be everywhere in and around Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3) in the house-churches – everywhere where believers were gathered in Ephesus.

Please remember that when this book was written there was no NT canon of Scripture. However, the book could have circulated to other churches in the region around Ephesus. First Timothy was written to Timothy to deal with a particular church or group of churches dealing with various situations. There was false doctrine being taught in Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3). The ESV reads, ‘that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations….’ It does not say that these are specifically men or women who are doing this. They are ‘certain persons’. In 6:3 it is ‘anyone’ who ‘teaches a different doctrine’. However, 2:12 indicates something was happening with women and their domineering authority and these women had to be quietened down. Their teaching of false teaching had to cease.

First Timothy 1:6 refers to ‘certain persons’ who have ‘wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law’ (1:6-7).

Who were some these wondering off into false doctrine, getting into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers? Could they have been the women spoken about in 1 Tim 2:12 who had a domineering authority and were usurping authority (not church authority as the word used is authentein and not exousia)?  What had to be done with these women promoting false doctrine? They had to learn quietly and with submissiveness (2:11) and were not to teach but to remain quiet (2:12).

This is not a closing down of all women down through the ages from preaching and teaching men (the traditional view) but is a practical issue to deal with the false doctrine being perpetrated in the house church(es) in Ephesus.

Another slant: Opposing what Paul said

This was an interesting approach to oppose women in ministry:

I think those who are opposing what Paul said [1 Tim 2:11-15] should read that article I posted earlier.[6] It seems those who are opposing are weighing in the internal evidence which there is none. If Paul meant something other then (sic) what he wrote in scripture there would be evidence to the contrary but there isn’t. Scripture clearly prohibits women teaching spiritually above men. It’s a bitter pill to swallow and I know people have a hard time with scriptures like that but the Bible can be a source of comfort and a source of seriousness and we have to accept that.[7]

How should I respond?[8]

I don’t understand why this person is putting it that I am ‘opposing what Paul said’ when in fact I am AGREEING with what Paul said. I’m disagreeing with his interpretation because I do not see it as being consistent with the exegesis, context and culture Paul was addressing in Ephesus (for the 1 Tim 2:11-15 passage).

He stated that there is no internal evidence (Is he referring to 1 Tim 2?). There is a stack of internal evidence that I have provided in both of these threads on the two related topics.

He stated:

If Paul meant something other then (sic) what he wrote in scripture there would be evidence to the contrary but there isn’t. Scripture clearly prohibits women teaching spiritually above men.

I do wish he would differentiate between what Paul stated in Scripture and his interpretations – his hermeneutics and mine. The way he has written this indicates that his is the only correct interpretation and mine is contrary evidence. That is not the case. We weigh the evidence and come to different conclusions.

I support the inerrant Scripture but have rejected the traditional interpretation against women in ministry – for exegetical, contextual and cultural reasons.

He stated that ‘Scripture clearly prohibits women teaching spiritually above men’. No it doesn’t. In the Ephesian church of 1 Timothy 2:12, it states that women must not authentein (the only time the word is in the NT), i.e. not have domineering authority over a man but must have a quiet demeanour. The context seems to indicate that women could have been involved in disruptive behaviour, including the promotion of heresies (perhaps Gnostic-related or Diana-related) and these women were told to ‘learn quietly with all submissiveness’. The examples of Adam and Eve in 2:13-14 and the woman being deceived suggest that women in Ephesus were being deceived and they had to be told to not teach and remain quiet. She must ‘learn quietly with full submissiveness (2:11).

He stated: ‘I know people have a hard time with scriptures like that’. No, I have a hard time with his conservative, traditionalist interpretation of Scriptures like that because I do not find it to be consistent with the exegesis, context and culture of Ephesus.

I urged him not to place his view as the only correct one in opposition to those who disagree with his position as ‘I think those who are opposing what Paul said’. I am one who is opposing what he said. I’m not opposing what Paul said. I’m agreeing with Paul’s teaching, but that is contrary to his teaching.

Let’s get this clear. I have a very high view of Scripture and in 1 Tim 2:11-15 I’m agreeing with Paul’s teaching.

Extremism

The Salvation Army logoThe Salvation Army logoThe Salvation Army.svg

(image courtesy Wikipedia)

There are some extremist views that arise when discussing this topic. Here is one that I encountered. He stated that this ‘is part of the reason why I will not give to the salvation army. Almost all the heretical groups in modern history were started by women. Both Booths hated the God of the Bible, Calvinism and vehemently wrote and spoke against Him’.[9]

My response was that this is an inflammatory statement. This biographical piece, ‘Founders William & Catherine Booth’, refutes his view. Since the Booths were not Calvinists, does that make their views heretical?

I’m not a Calvinist. Does that make my views heretical also? Do I not worship the God of the Bible because my theological conclusion is not that of his Calvinism? Is he telling all those who are not Calvinists, including all the non-Calvinists on Christian Forums.com that they are not worshipping the God of the Bible and are thus heretics?

He wrote: ‘You folks can twist and skew and spew all the nonsense that you want to justify an unbiblical position’ of supporting women in teaching ministry. I consider that this also is flaming others and me. The citation is no longer available online at that Christian Forum. It seems as though the moderators could have removed it as it violates their ‘flaming’ code.

Examples of women in ministry

A standard line by traditionalists is that we must use 1900 years of teaching on the subject (against women in ministry) to define orthodoxy. One fellow wrote: ‘Interesting, the view point that was not heretical for 1900 years is now supposedly “heresy”’.[10] The same person spoke of ‘your inconsistent hermeneutic and lack of appreciation of 2000 years of Church Tradition’.[11] He continued:

If we go by what the Scripture says, how the earliest Christians that actually read and wrote in Koine Greek interpreted, and how Christian tradition for nearly 2,000 years interpreted until people 50 years ago thought they knew better than all those people read the same Bible, then know women should not be ordained pastors.[12]

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

(image courtesy The Nizkor Project)

This argument, based on 1900-2000 years of practice commits a logical fallacy: Appeal to common practice. In this Nizkor Project link it is stated this way:

The Appeal to Common Practice is a fallacy with the following structure:

1. X is a common action.

2. Therefore X is correct/moral/justified/reasonable, etc.

The basic idea behind the fallacy is that the fact that most people do X is used as “evidence” to support the action or practice. It is a fallacy because the mere fact that most people do something does not make it correct, moral, justified, or reasonable.

Dr Marianne Meye Thompson (courtesy Fuller Theological Seminary)

Today we can see examples of women in ministry. Dr Marianne Meye Thompson is George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. I’m encouraged to know that there are others who have investigated the role of women in ministry and have come to a different conclusion to the traditionalists. But the more important issue is, ‘What does the Bible teach?’

Church of the Nazarene in Australia

Church of the Nazarene in Australia

From its inception, the Church of the Nazarene has recognised from Scripture and history that God calls women to preach and pastor. Brad Mercer has expounded on this in his article, ‘Women in Ministry and the Church of the Nazarene’ (Mercer 2013). In this article Brad states the Church of the Nazarene’s stance clearly:

From its very beginning the Church of the Nazarene has recognized from both Scripture and history that God calls women to preach, to pastor, and to other positions of leadership. Many Christians today contend that the Bible teaches the opposite, that women are forbidden by Scripture to preach, or to pastor, or be in any positions of authority over men in the Church….

In light of the opposition to women in ministry from some branches of evangelical Christianity, the General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene adopted an official statement in 1993. This simply put into writing as official policy what had been practiced in the Church from its inception.

904.6. Women in Ministry
We support the right of women to use their God-given spiritual gifts within the church. We affirm the historic right of women to be elected and appointed to places of leadership within the Church of the Nazarene. (1993) [From the Manual, the official statements of doctrine and polity of the Church of the Nazarene] (Mercer 2013).

Nazarene researcher, Richard Houseal (2003), has presented an analysis of ‘Nazarene Clergy Women: A Statistical Analysis from 1908 to 2003’. How is it that you have ‘certified membership’ in the Church of the Nazarene when you have this resistance to what the Church of the Nazarene affirms, the promotion of women in ministry?

Logo (image courtesy Baptist Union of Victoria)

In the Baptist denominations in the States of Victoria and New South Wales, Australia, women are ordained to ministry – pastoral ministry. See:

However, as for my home state of Queensland, it has reached a different conclusion. As of 2009: ‘Queensland Baptists has decided that women will not be accepted as candidates for ordination'(Registration and Ordination Guidelines, Adopted by the Board of Queensland Baptists, 25 June 2009, section 5.4, Assembly 22.05.2009).

Carolyn Osiek’s research has uncovered support for silence and non-silence of women in ministry in the early church fathers. See: ‘The Ministry and Ordination of Women According to the Early Church Fathers‘.

Elizabeth Hooton (1628-1671) was the first Quaker woman preacher and she lived in the 17th century. That’s a long time before the last 50 years.

William and Catherine Booth (evangelists and pastors) founded the Salvation Army in the UK. Catherine was a co-founder, a prominent woman in ministry who was gifted by God. Today there are Salvation Army female officers around the world who are functioning – yes, functioning – as women pastors.

clip_image001Photo of Catherine Booth, co-founder of the Salvation Army (image courtesy Wikipedia)

See ‘The Women in Leadership‘ emphasis in the Salvation Army in Australia.

The fact is that Catherine Booth is a female example, NOT of somebody who called herself a pastor. She was one with an evangelistic-pastoral gift as the co-founder of the Salvation Army. No matter how some want to brush aside God’s gift of women to public ministry, Catherine Booth is an example of how defining away the supposed ministry doesn’t work. If there was anyone who was a demonstration of a female Christian woman in active ministry among men and women, it was Catherine Booth. History demonstrates it. It is too late to try to convince me that ‘a woman can call herself a pastor but that doesn’t make her one either. It is a deception and biblically impossible’.

Mission work around the world would be in a sad state if women missionaries were prevented from ministering publicly to women AND men. I’ve seen situations where conservative Western congregations have a very strict view of women missionaries not allowed to minister publicly in a mixed congregation when they return home on furlough, but when these same women return to the mission fields, it is straight back into mixed ministry. This is hypocritical. If it is good enough for mixed ministry in Africa, it surely is good enough for mixed ministry in Australia.

The issue does get down to biblical interpretation and I’m of the view that for too long women have been silenced in ministry because of a traditional, but distorted, understanding of certain Scriptures.

Here is another example that is trotted out in this controversy: It is claimed in some churches that women must be absolutely silent in public ministry to a mixed congregation because 1 Cor 14:33b-34 states, ‘As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission as the Law also says’ (ESV).

How is it possible to have women to ‘keep silent in the churches’ when the very same book of 1 Corinthians 11:4 speaks of ‘every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head’ (ESV). The context is wives (who are women) prophesying in the church publicly. Women can’t prophesy with their mouths shut. We either have a contradiction (which I don’t think it is) between 1 Cor 14:33b-34 and 1 Cor 11:4 or we have the ‘silence’ of women in 1 Corinthians 14 to be addressing an issue specific to the Corinthian church.

However, I emphasise that even though 1 Corinthians is addressing issues in the Corinthian Church, it has broad application – yes, application – if those kinds of issues are happening in any churches from the first to the twenty-first century. However, the issues of 1 Cor 14:33-34 are not designed to close down all women in ministry for all time in any church anywhere in the world.

John MacArthur Jr’s view

John F. MacArthur Jr..JPGJohn F MacArthur Jr (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

You may be interested in John MacArthur’s traditional view against women in ministry from 1 Timothy 2. See: God’s High Calling for Women, Part 4.

MacArthur, in expounding on 1 Tim 2:11-12, stated in this article:

Silence, you’ll remember, refers to not teaching.  It refers to not teaching.  Subjection refers to not ruling.  That is, women in the church are not to be the teachers when the church assembles itself in its constituted worship, women are not to be the teaching persons, and they are not to be the ruling ones.  The context makes it very clear that that’s what he has in mind because verse 12 says, “I permit not a woman to teach,” and therein does he define the kind of silence he’s talking about, nor to usurp authority, and therein does he define the kind of subjection he is talking about.  In the assembly of the church women are not to teach and preach, and they are not to rule.  Now, there’s no doubt that that’s exactly what he is saying.  Obviously in Ephesus some were seeking to do both of those things and that’s why he has to deal with this….

It does not mean that women cannot teach the Word of God to children or other women.  It does not mean they cannot speak out for God the gospel of Jesus Christ on every occasion that they are given.  It does not mean that cannot contribute in a Sunday-school class, or in a Bible study, or in a home fellowship meeting.  What it is saying is that in the duly constituted worship and service of the church, there is to be clear line of distinction between the role of men and women that God wants established as His pattern, and that is that men do the leading, and the teaching, and the praying, and the preaching, and women learn in silence with all subjection.

The major problem I have with MacArthur’s exposition on women in ministry is circular reasoning (begging the question fallacy). Before he begins his exposition on 1 Timothy, we know what his view as a conservative expositor is on women in ministry (no women in public ministry among a mixed audience) and that is where he concludes (no women in public ministry among a mixed audience). We can’t have a logical discussion when this kind of logical fallacy is used.

A better understanding by N T Wright

NTWright071220.jpg (N T Wright, photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Why don’t you take a read of this article by N T Wright (2004) for an alternate view: ‘Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis’. In this challenging and thought provoking article, Wright wrote of 1 Timothy 2:12,

The key to the present passage, then, is to recognise that it is commanding that women, too, should be allowed to study and learn, and should not be restrained from doing so (verse 11). They are to be ‘in full submission’; this is often taken to mean ‘to the men’, or ‘to their husbands’, but it is equally likely that it refers to their attitude, as learners, of submission to God or to the gospel – which of course would be true for men as well. Then the crucial verse 12 need not be read as ‘I do not allow a woman to teach or hold authority over a man’ – the translation which has caused so much difficulty in recent years. It can equally mean (and in context this makes much more sense): ‘I don’t mean to imply that I’m now setting up women as the new authority over men in the same way that previously men held authority over women.’ Why might Paul need to say this?

There are some signs in the letter that it was originally sent to Timothy while he was in Ephesus. And one of the main things we know about religion in Ephesus is that the main religion – the biggest Temple, the most famous shrine – was a female-only cult. The Temple of Artemis (that’s her Greek name; the Romans called her Diana) was a massive structure which dominated the area; and, as befitted worshippers of a female deity, the priests were all women. They ruled the show and kept the men in their place.

Now if you were writing a letter to someone in a small, new religious movement with a base in Ephesus, and wanted to say that because of the gospel of Jesus the old ways of organising male and female roles had to be rethought from top to bottom, with one feature of that being that the women were to be encouraged to study and learn and take a leadership role, you might well want to avoid giving the wrong impression. Was the apostle saying, people might wonder, that women should be trained up so that Christianity would gradually become a cult like that of Artemis, where women did the leading and kept the men in line? That, it seems to me, is what verse 12 is denying. The word I’ve translated ‘try to dictate to them’ is unusual, but seems to have the overtones of ‘being bossy’ or ‘seizing control’. Paul is saying, like Jesus in Luke 10, that women must have the space and leisure to study and learn in their own way, not in order that they may muscle in and take over the leadership as in the Artemis-cult, but so that men and women alike can develop whatever gifts of learning, teaching and leadership God is giving them.

Is my view egalitarianism in disguise?

A fellow made this accusation against me: ‘You probably don’t really care about how the vast majority of interpreters for all time have viewed the subject. You are more concerned about modern notions of egalitarianism than the view that is in simple terms presented in the Bible’.[13]

My response was:[14] I am not the slightest bit interested in ‘modern notions of egalitarianism’ – a secular approach to egalitarianism. I’m interested in the equality of men and women before God.

I support a high view of Scripture and I’m interested in careful exegesis of the text, including culture and context. When I pursue this approach, I come out with a version of women in ministry that is different from the one that is promoted by traditionalists.

I’m very concerned that God’s gifts should be allowed to function and not closed down by faulty hermeneutics. I find it interesting that you claim that I’m interested in modern notions of egalitarianism. I wonder what the interpreters of the traditional way would have thought about the history of interpretation when Martin Luther promoted justification by faith and nailed his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenberg. I wonder what had been taught in the centuries preceding Luther about justification by faith.

This person’s accusation of egalitarianism did not come through dialogue with me on whether I supported egalitarianism. It came by his imposition by assertion about what he thought my views were. He, in his judgmental view, arrived at a totally wrong understanding of my view.

I’m not going to allow the traditional teaching against women in ministry in the centuries prior to my lifetime to stop me from carefully examining the biblical text to find what it states in the inerrant text (in the autographa). I’m excited about what I’m finding from the biblical text that contradicts the traditional view. It gives me insights into how Martin Luther might have felt after he discovered in Scripture justification by faith after centuries of a different interpretation.

Conclusion

I’m of the view, from a careful exegetical and contextual examination of 1 Tim 2:11-15, that it has been used as a defining section of the NT to close down all women in public ministry among men. Instead, it was addressed to a specific circumstance in the Ephesian Church. It was never meant to apply to all women in ministry since the time of Christ’s passion-resurrection, but to all women who were promoting false doctrine. By application, the same should apply to men who promote false teaching. They should be silenced in the church by not being permitted to teach.

In addition, N T Wright has summarised the other influence at Ephesus so well. There was a dominant religion in Ephesus with the biggest Temple associated with a female-only cult. The Temple of Artemis (called Diana by the Romans) dominated the area. The worshippers of a female deity were assisted by priests who were all women. The women domineered the men. It would be strange for Paul to write to Timothy about an issue in the Ephesian Church and not raise the matter of Diana in the Ephesian culture and the problem with the female deity and female priests. Wright has nailed it: ‘I believe we have seriously misread the relevant passages in the New Testament, no doubt not least through a long process of assumption, tradition, and all kinds of post-biblical and sub-biblical attitudes that have crept in to Christianity’ (Wright 2004).

I’m not going to allow the traditional teaching against women in ministry in the centuries prior to my lifetime stop me from carefully examining the biblical text to find what it states in the inerrant text (in the autographa). I’m excited about what I’m finding from the biblical text that contradicts the traditional view. It gives me insights into how Martin Luther might have felt after he discovered in Scripture justification by faith after centuries of a different interpretation.

This is a range of my articles on women in ministry (there may be a repeat of information in some of them):

3d-red-star-small Anti-women in ministry juices flowing

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry in church history

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry: an overview of some biblical passages

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry in I Corinthians: A brief inquiry

3d-red-star-small Women wrongly closed down in ministry

3d-red-star-small Amazing contemporary opposition to women in public ministry

3d-red-star-small The heresy of women preachers?

3d-red-star-small Women bishops – how to get the Christians up in arms!

3d-red-star-small Are women supposed to be permanently silent in the church gathering?

3d-red-star-small Must women never teach men in the church?

Works consulted

Fee, G D 1988. W W Gasque (NT ed).1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (New International Biblical Commentary). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

Mercer, B 2013. Women in Ministry and the Church of the Nazarene, The Voice (online), March 25. Christian Resource Institute. Available at: Women in Ministry and the Church of the Nazarene (Accessed 23 December 2014).

Wright, N T 2004. Women’s service in the church: The biblical basis, a conference paper for the Symposium, ‘Men, Women and the Church’ (online). St John’s College, Durham, September 4. Available at: Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis by N.T. Wright (Accessed 16 December 2014).

Notes


[1] Christian Forums.com and Christian Forums.net are two examples.

[2] I participated in these 2 threads as OzSpen in Christian Forums.com.

[3] abacabb3#109, Christian Forums, Baptists, ‘Can women hold office in the church even pastors?’ Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7856346-11/ (Accessed 7 January 2015).

[4] Ibid., OzSpen#113.

[5] Some of this material is in ibid., OzSpen#119.

[6] Here James is referring to the article, ‘Women pastors / preachers? Can a woman be a pastor or preacher?’ for which he provided the link in ibid., James is Back#154.

[7] Ibid., James is Back#167.

[8] This is my response at ibid., OzSpen#173.

[9] This post was by twin54 but at the time of preparing this article, I was unable to locate his original citation. It may have been deleted by the moderators because of its inflammatory nature. Here I’m quoting what he stated as OzSpen#284, Christian Forums, Baptists, ‘Women’s pastors’. Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7856138-29/ (Accessed 8 January 2014).

[10] Ibid., abacabb3#86.

[11] Ibid., abacabb3#100.

[12] Ibid., abacabb3#155.

[13] Ibid., abacabb3#163.

[14] Ibid., OzSpen#164.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 20 May 2016.

Women in ministry in church history

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

clip_image002

A female Quaker preaches at a meeting in London in the 18th century (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

Is there support for this kind of statement that I picked up on a Christian forum:

If we go by what the Scripture says, how the earliest Christians that actually read and wrote in Koine Greek interpreted, and how Christian tradition for nearly 2,000 years interpreted until people 50 years ago thought they knew better than all those people read the same Bible, then know women should not be ordained pastors.[1]

Carolyn Osiek’s research has uncovered support for silence and non-silence of women in ministry in the early church fathers. See:

blue-arrow-smallThe Ministry and Ordination of Women According to the Early Church Fathers‘.

blue-arrow-small See also her assessment, ‘The Church Fathers and the Ministry of Women’.

Elizabeth Hooton (1628-1671) was the first Quaker woman preacher.

How do you think that that person would respond to the first article by Carolyn Osiek? Here goes:

Did you actually bother reading that link? It provided no evidence that within the catholic/orthodox tradition that there have ever been female preachers. There were heretical female preachers, however, as the link points out…

Quakers had heretical beliefs. Then you have Quaker offshoots called Shakers who believed that the second Jesus already came, and its a woman. If all you have are a few odd occurrences amongst the vast preponderance of Christian practice, it does not help your case.

Again, you probably don’t really care about how the vast majority of interpreters for all time have viewed the subject. You are more concerned about modern notions of egalitarianism than the view that is in simple terms presented in the Bible.[2]

My response was:[3]

Yes, I did read the link, but it seems that you have missed this part of the link that does not support your view:

In support of the second interpretation, i.e., that deaconesses did receive an actual ordination, are three additional pieces of evidence. First, they appear with other members of the clergy, for example in the distribution of leftover gifts from the offerings of the faithful; even though they are mentioned last, they are the only group of women included in a list that stops with rector or cantor.(27) Second, a later Epitome or summary of this part of the Apostolic Constitutions entitles the two sections on deaconesses (Ap. Const. 8.19-20) “About the Ordination (Cheirotonia) of a Deaconess” and “Prayer for the Ordination (Cheirotonia) of a Deaconess.”(28) Third, Canon 15 of the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) directs that a woman shall not receive the ordination (cheirontonia) of a deaconess until she is at least 40 years of age, and she must remain unmarried.(29) Here in an independent source from approximately the same period the ordination of deaconesses is taken for granted.

This person provided not one example of Quaker ‘heretical’ beliefs. I don’t take generalised statements as an indicator of heresy. I need specifics. Then we can discuss them when compared with Scripture.

Extreme examples do not define the regular

As for mentioning Shakers as an offshoot from the Quakers, have you not heard of offshoots from evangelical Christianity today? I’m thinking of the Pensacola & Toronto ‘blessings’ within Pentecostalism. Do these invalidate the legitimacy of evangelical and/or Pentecostal beliefs? I think not. Extremists should not be used to redefine the norm.

Are the actions of Rick Warren and the Pope meant to contaminate evangelical Christianity? It represents one leader and his actions.
See Carolyn Osiek’s assessment: The Church Fathers and the Ministry of Women
Why did he make this kind of false allegation against me?

You probably don’t really care about how the vast majority of interpreters for all time have viewed the subject. You are more concerned about modern notions of egalitarianism than the view that is in simple terms presented in the Bible.

When tradition is allowed to dictate

I am not the slightest bit interested in ‘modern notions of egalitarianism’ – a secular approach to egalitarianism. I’m interested in the equality of all people before God (see Galatians 3:28 NLT).

I support a high view of Scripture and I’m interested in careful exegesis of the biblical text, including consideration of culture and context. When I pursue this approach, I come out with a version of women in ministry that is different from the one this person promoting on this Forum.

(Martin Luther, courtesy Wikipedia)

clip_image004I’m very concerned that God’s gifts should be allowed to function and not closed down by faulty hermeneutics. I find it interesting that you claim that I’m interested in modern notions of egalitarianism. I wonder what the interpreters of the traditional way would have thought about the history of interpretation when Martin Luther promoted justification by faith and nailed his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenberg. I wonder what had been taught in the centuries preceding Luther about justification by faith.

I’m not going to allow the traditional teaching against women in ministry in the centuries prior to my lifetime to stop me from carefully examining the biblical text to find what it states in the inerrant text (in the autographa). I’m excited about what I’m finding from the biblical text that contradicts the traditional view. It gives me insights into how Martin Luther might have felt after he discovered in Scripture, justification by faith, after centuries of a different interpretation.

This is a range of my articles on women in ministry (there may be a repeat of information in some of them):

3d-red-star-small Anti-women in ministry juices flowing

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry in church history

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry: an overview of some biblical passages

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry in I Corinthians: A brief inquiry

3d-red-star-small Women wrongly closed down in ministry

3d-red-star-small Amazing contemporary opposition to women in public ministry

3d-red-star-small The heresy of women preachers?

3d-red-star-small Women bishops – how to get the Christians up in arms!

3d-red-star-small Are women supposed to be permanently silent in the church gathering?

3d-red-star-small Must women never teach men in the church?

Notes


[1] Christian Forums, Baptists, Women’s pastors, abacabb3#155. Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7856138-17/#post66790550 (Accessed 18 December 2014).

[2] Ibid., abacabb3#169.

[3] Ibid., OzSpen#170.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Women wrongly closed down in ministry

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Fireball by dear_theophilus - A ball of fire. Burn baby!

(courtesy dear_theophilus)

By Spencer D Gear

(Catherine Booth, courtesy Wikipedia)

 

Speaking of 1 Corinthians 14, N T Wright wrote that ‘what the passage cannot possibly mean is that women had no part in leading public worship, speaking out loud of course as they did so. This is the positive point that is proved at once by the other relevant Corinthian passage, 1 Corinthians 11.2–11, since there Paul is giving instructions for how women are to be dressed while engaging in such activities, instructions which obviously wouldn’t be necessary if they had been silent in church all the time’ (Wright 2004).

What about 1 Timothy 2? Wright explained that 1 Tim 2:12 ‘is the main passage that people quote when they want to suggest that the New Testament forbids the ordination of women…. There is good, solid scholarship behind what I’m going to say, and I genuinely believe it may be the right interpretation’. He continued:

The key to the present passage, then, is to recognise that it is commanding that women, too, should be allowed to study and learn, and should not be restrained from doing so (verse 11). They are to be ‘in full submission’; this is often taken to mean ‘to the men’, or ‘to their husbands’, but it is equally likely that it refers to their attitude, as learners, of submission to God or to the gospel – which of course would be true for men as well. Then the crucial verse 12 need not be read as ‘I do not allow a woman to teach or hold authority over a man’ – the translation which has caused so much difficulty in recent years. It can equally mean (and in context this makes much more sense): ‘I don’t mean to imply that I’m now setting up women as the new authority over men in the same way that previously men held authority over women.’ Why might Paul need to say this?

There are some signs in the letter that it was originally sent to Timothy while he was in Ephesus. And one of the main things we know about religion in Ephesus is that the main religion – the biggest Temple, the most famous shrine – was a female-only cult. The Temple of Artemis (that’s her Greek name; the Romans called her Diana) was a massive structure which dominated the area; and, as befitted worshippers of a female deity, the priests were all women. They ruled the show and kept the men in their place.

Now if you were writing a letter to someone in a small, new religious movement with a base in Ephesus, and wanted to say that because of the gospel of Jesus the old ways of organising male and female roles had to be rethought from top to bottom, with one feature of that being that the women were to be encouraged to study and learn and take a leadership role, you might well want to avoid giving the wrong impression. Was the apostle saying, people might wonder, that women should be trained up so that Christianity would gradually become a cult like that of Artemis, where women did the leading and kept the men in line? That, it seems to me, is what verse 12 is denying. The word I’ve translated ‘try to dictate to them’ is unusual, but seems to have the overtones of ‘being bossy’ or ‘seizing control’. Paul is saying, like Jesus in Luke 10, that women must have the space and leisure to study and learn in their own way, not in order that they may muscle in and take over the leadership as in the Artemis-cult, but so that men and women alike can develop whatever gifts of learning, teaching and leadership God is giving them (Wright 2004).

NTWright071220.jpg

N T Wright (2007), courtesy Wikipedia

That is not the kind of meaning you will get in an ordinary church discussion or on the Internet. If you want to see the heat rise in Christian discussions, raise the topic of women in ministry and especially that of women pastors. I saw this on a Christian forum online. A question was asked about whether Baptist churches ordain women. Here are …

Some samples

  • ‘Women are not ordained in any truly Baptist Church. There is no such thing as a women (sic) pastor. If a “church” has a women (sic) pastor and calls itself Baptist it is deceiving itself and others’.[1]
  • ‘In some liberal Baptist churches, they are, but it’s rare, thank God. The Bible does not allow for women pastors’.[2]
  • ‘The last church I was at had a woman pastor and yes she was ordained in spite of what other (sic) say. Women are allowed to preach, those who object don’t understand what Paul wrote. Women are equal to men they can hold the same positions any one who tells you other wise does not understand God and what He said. I am also in a baptist college being trained for ministry and there are plenty of women being trained with us. upon graduation they will be ordained. So those who were saying no really don’t know what they are talking about and are out of date’.[3]
  • ‘You will not find women pastors/preachers in any Bible believing church. Simple as that. Those who claim that we are out of date don’t really believe the Bible. They, therefore, can make it mean and say whatever they want. They can claim that Paul was speaking in a cultural context all they desire but there were many cultures included during his time and he was very clear in what he said and culture wasn’t an influence’.[4]
  • ‘No true Scotsman. If a woman is being called by God to preach, who are we to stand in her way? It’s not unbiblical for a woman to preach’.[5]
  • ‘It is unbiblical to have female pastors and teachers, and it is not really “their choice”. The Scriptures are very clear about women preaching and teaching in the churches or usurping authority over men. Choosing to violate Scripture is called “disobedience”.
    Autonomy simply means that each local church must be governed from within — not from without — and under the authority of Christ and the Holy Spirit. That puts an even greater responsibility on the local church.
    Every Christian who attends a church which is in any violation of Scripture has the moral responsibility and duty to speak up. If there is no repentance, then the only other choice is to move on.[6]

Baptists in Australia

Karina Kreminski

Karina Kreminski, ordained Baptist minister, lecturer in Missional Studies (from 2015), Morling College, Sydney, Australia (courtesy Together magazine), Karina was formerly senior pastor at Community Life Church, Cherrybrook, NSW 2014.

Here in Australia, this is the position with Baptists and ordination of women:

As of 2009: ‘Queensland Baptists has (sic) decided that women will not be accepted as candidates for ordination'(Registration and Ordination Guidelines, Adopted by the Board of Queensland Baptists, 25 June 2009, section 5.4, Assembly 22.05.2009).

  • However, the Baptist Union of Victoria (Australia) has been ordaining women since 1978. See, ‘A history of women’s ordination in the Baptist Union of Victoria’, (Darren Cronshaw 1998).
  • The Baptist Union of NSW [New South Wales] and the ACT [Australian Capital Territory] began ordaining women in 1999 (see HERE).

Regarding ordination of women in the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) in South Africa,[7] this is the DRC position:

In 1990 … the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa restored the ordination of women as ministers, probably to divert attention from their racial position and to counteract their image as socially hyper-conservative and patriarchal. However, since this was a decision taken without women, the real struggle for women’s ordination in the DRC only began in 1990. The first woman was ordained only in 1995, namely Gretha Heymans as a youth worker in Bloemfontein. In 2000, the crisis of women being trained as ministers in the DRC and not receiving calls was so huge that a conference was held by female proponente (candidate ministers) under the title “Moeder Kerk en haar dogters” (Mother Church and her daughters) during which the situation was discussed. This led to the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa on 17 November 2000 formally asking the women for forgiveness for having treated them for centuries as second class members. References to “feminist theology” were, however, absent from this conference (Christina Landman, ‘Remembering feminist theology in South Africa‘ pp. 208-209).

Can women prophesy in silence?

A woman provided a link to American Baptist Churches that ordain women:
Women In Ministry | American Baptist Churches USA.[8]

My response was:[9]

I noticed that this person’s link is to American Baptist Churches USA. When my wife, children and I lived in the USA and Canada for 7 years, we noted that the American Baptist Churches tended to have more churches and preachers of theological liberal persuasion – with a lower view of the Bible. I wouldn’t expect these to be too adamant about what the Bible says about women pastors. Some Baptist churches with a higher view of biblical authority object to female pastors, particularly when I Cor 12-14 and 1 Tim 2:11-15 are in the mix.

I’m not of that persuasion. I have a high view of Scripture but my exegesis of Scripture in context does not support an absolute silence of women in ministry – even mixed ministry to men and women.

Mission work around the world would be in a sad state if women missionaries were prevented from ministering publicly to women and men. I’ve seen situations where conservative Western congregations have a very strict view of women missionaries not allowed to minister publicly in a mixed congregation when they return home on furlough, but when these same women go back to the mission fields, it is straight back into mixed ministry. I find that to be hypocritical. If it is good enough for mixed ministry in Africa, it surely is good enough for mixed ministry in Australia.

The issue does get down to biblical interpretation and I’m of the view that for too long women have been silenced in ministry because of a skewed and false understanding of certain Scriptures (e.g. I Corinthians 11-14); 1 Timothy 2:11-15).

Just one example: It is claimed in some churches that women must be absolutely silent in public ministry to a mixed congregation because 1 Cor 14:33b-34 states, ‘As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission as the Law also says’ (ESV).

How is it possible to have women to ‘keep silent in the churches’ when the very same book of 1 Corinthians 11:3-5 speaks of ‘every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head’ (ESV). The context is wives (who are women) prophesying in the church publicly. Women can’t prophesy with their mouths shut. We either have a contradiction (which I don’t think it is) between 1 Cor 14:33b-34 and 1 Cor 11:3-5 or we have the ‘silence’ of women in 1 Cor 14 to be addressing a different issue in the Corinthian church.

What about female apostles?

I responded to a fellow who was opposing women in leadership positions in the church.[10]

I asked: What about apostles after the time of the 12 apostles? Do they have authority in the church?

Let’s examine Romans 16:7. This verse reads: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me” (ESV). The NIV translates as: “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.”

These two different translations show some of the dimensions of the difficulties in translating this verse. Literally, the Greek reads, word-for-word (English translation): ‘Greet Andronicus and Junia/the kinsmen of me and fellow-captives of me who are notable among/in/by the apostles who also before me have been in Christ’.

The controversy surrounds the gender of Junia, relating to the phrase, ‘among the apostles.’ If Junia is feminine and she is among the apostles, this makes her a female apostle.

So is Junia a male or female apostle? See my article: Are there apostles in the 21st century?

First Timothy 2 and the quagmire

I experienced further opposition from a person who is antagonistic to women pastors. He wrote:

I’ll be honest, I don’t know Greek (though I wish I did!) So I can’t claim any knowledge on that one way or the other. However, if you’re stating that Junia is a female apostle and held a position of authority, it would contradict Paul’s own words that state a woman should not be in a position of authority. He does not qualify the statement by saying “in your church” or “in your province”, etc, but simply “I do not allow a woman to…” So now you must ask, where was Paul correct, or incorrect. Where was he inspired, or not inspired. Is this a contradiction, or not?[11]

My response was:[12]

Could it be that there is another possibility? I’m thinking that this person’s understanding of ‘position of authority’ as applied to all churches, based on 1 Tim 2:11-15 could be incorrect. Has that thought ever come to him?

Since this person doesn’t understand Greek, could that not be a possibility? I’ll cite a contemporary Greek expert who is an evangelical, Dr Gordon Fee, from his commentary on 1 Tim 2:12:

Gordan-feeGordon Fee, Emeritus Professor of New Testament, Regent College, Vancouver BC, Canada

Verse 12, which begins with Paul’s own personal instruction (I do not permit; better, “I am not permitting,” implying specific instructions to this situation), picks up the three items from verse 11 and presents them with some further detail. I am not permitting a woman to teach corresponds to a woman should learn. Teaching, of course, is where much of the problem lay in the church in Ephesus [where Timothy was located]. The straying elders are teachers (1:3; 6:3); the “worthy” elders, for whom Timothy is probably to serve as something of a model (4:11-16; cf. 2 Tim. 2:2), are “those whose work is teaching” (5:17). Indeed, Paul calls himself a teacher in these letters (2:7). But he is here prohibiting women to teach in the (house-) church(es) of Ephesus, although in other churches they prophesy (1 Cor. 11:5) and probably give a teaching from time to time (1 Cor. 14:26), and in Titus 2:3-4 the older women are expected to be good teachers of the younger ones.

Part of the problem from this distance is to know what “teaching” involved. The evidence from 1 Corinthians 12-14 indicates that “teaching” may be presented as a spiritual gift (14:6, 26); at the same time, some in the community are specifically known as teachers (cf. Rom. 12:7), while more private instruction is also given (Acts 18:26; here by a woman). Given that evidence and what can be gleaned from the present Epistles, teaching most likely had to do with instruction in Scripture, that is, Scripture as pointing to salvation in Christ (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15-17). If that is what is being forbidden (and certainty eludes us here), then it is probably because some of them have been so terribly deceived by false teachers, who are specifically abusing the OT (cf. 1:7; Titus 3:9). At least that is the point Paul will pick up in verses 14 and 15′ (Fee 1988:72-73, emphasis in original).

This kind of information from a Greek exegete just might provide some possible challenges to the position this person was advocating – if he were open to this challenge.

Women excluded from ministry because of faulty interpretations

Marianne Meye Thompson, Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

I find that one of the saddest outcomes for women is the closing down of their ministry by a comprehensive false understanding of Scripture such as 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Is this meant to be applied to all of the churches since the time of Christ?

This fellow wrote: ‘While anything is possible, and I admit my ignorance of Greek, I cannot, in good conscience, simply take your, or this one source’s, word for it. Give me some time to prayerfully study what you’ve brought up, and seek other references’.[13]

This was my response:[14]

One of the toughest verses to interpret in the context of 1 Tim 2:11-15 is v. 15, ‘Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control’ (ESV). What does that mean when there is the singular ‘she’ and the plural ‘they’? How can a woman be ‘saved through childbearing’ when that would be works and there is the practical issue that some women have died in child birth?
In 1 Tim 2:12, ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man’ (ESV), there are three verbals:

  • ‘I do not permit’, epitrepw, is Greek present tense which indicates continuing or continuous action. It means, ‘I am not permitting’, so it seems to be addressed to a situation in Ephesus where Timothy is. What is Paul not permitting?
  • ‘a woman to teach’. ‘To teach’, didaskein, is a present tense infinitive, so again the present tense means, ‘a woman to continue to teach’, thus inferring a contemporary situation in the present time in Ephesus.
  • ‘to exercise authority’, authentein, is a present tense infinitive so it is talking about a woman continuing to exercise authority and she is not permitted to do this.

So the meaning is that gunaiki (a woman, not the definite, the woman) is creating an issue with her teaching and she is not being permitted to continue teaching and to continue exercising authority over andros (a man, without the definite article).

So, this verse is not making a general application to ALL women in the church but to a particular woman in the church at Ephesus – probably a house church or in house churches. What could she have been doing for Paul to close her down in teaching and exercising authority? We know from 1 Tim 1:3; 6:3 that there were certain people who were teaching false doctrine. Could this woman have been one of them and she was silenced by this instruction? It was meant for her, a singular woman, and not for all women throughout NT history.

Applied to ALL women when ALL were not intended

Therefore, I’m of the view that 1 Tim 2:11-15 has been used as a defining section of the NT to close down all women in public ministry among men when it was addressed to a specific circumstance in the Ephesian Church. It was never meant to apply to all women in ministry, but to all women who were promoting false doctrine. By application, the same should apply to men who promote false teaching. They should be silenced in the church by not being permitted to teach.

This is a range of my articles on women in ministry (there will be a repeat information in some of them):

3d-red-star-small Anti-women in ministry juices flowing

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry in church history

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry: an overview of some biblical passages

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry in I Corinthians: A brief inquiry

3d-red-star-small Women wrongly closed down in ministry

3d-red-star-small Amazing contemporary opposition to women in public ministry

3d-red-star-small The heresy of women preachers?

3d-red-star-small Women bishops – how to get the Christians up in arms!

3d-red-star-small Are women supposed to be permanently silent in the church gathering?

3d-red-star-small Must women never teach men in the church?

Work consulted

Fee, G D 1988. W W Gasque (NT ed). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (New International Biblical Commentary). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

Wright, N T 2004. Women’s service in the church: The biblical basis, a conference paper for the Symposium, ‘Men, Women and the Church’ (online). St John’s College, Durham, September 4. Available at: http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm (Accessed 16 December 2014).

Notes


[1] Christian Forums, Baptists, ‘Women’s pastors, Twin1954#5, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7856138/ (Accessed 16 December 2014).

[2] Ibid., South Bound#6.

[3] Ibid., Bluelion#11.

[4] Ibid., Twin1954#13.

[5] Ibid., Ringo84#14.

[6] Ibid., Job8#77.

[7] The thread was started by a woman from South Africa who was inquiring about Baptists and their views of women pastors.

[8] Women’s pastors, Blue Wren#65, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7856138-7/ (Accessed 16 December 2014).

[9] Ibid., OzSpen#73.

[10] Ibid., OzSpen#79.

[11] Ibid., Metal Minister#80.

[12] Ibid., OzSpen#82.

[13] Ibid., Metal Minister#83.

[14] Ibid., OzSpen#94.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Women Anglican bishops – how to get the Christians up in arms!

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

JeffertsSchori.JPG

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (Episcopal Church USA)

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

If you want to see the fighting fundies in action and the opposition in battle lines, take a visit to an Internet Christian forum and raise the issue of women in ministry. The sparks are likely to fly as the controversy rages.

I picked up this one on a Christian forum. It started with:

Hey Everyone,
What do you think of the new decision [July 2014] from the Anglican Church regarding female Bishops?
More info: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28300618[1]

How the BBC reported Anglican women bishops

This BBC news item reported that

The Church of England has voted to allow women to become bishops for the first time in its history.

Its ruling General Synod gave approval to legislation introducing the change by the required two-thirds majority.

A previous vote in 2012 was backed by the Houses of Bishops and Clergy but blocked by traditionalist lay members.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was “delighted” but some opponents said they were unconvinced by the concessions offered to them.

The crucial vote in the House of Laity went 152 in favour, 45 against, and there were five abstentions. In November 2012 the change was derailed by just six votes cast by the lay members.

In the house of Bishops, 37 were in favour, two against, and there was one abstention. The House of Clergy voted 162 in favour, 25 against and there were four abstentions….

It comes more than 20 years after women were first allowed to become priests. More than one-in-five of priests in the church are now female…. The first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year.

Another lay member, Susie Leafe, director of the conservative evangelical group Reform, said she was “very disappointed” by the vote.

“There is still at least a quarter of the Church for whom this package does not provide for their theological convictions,” she said.

The motion had the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Prime Minister David Cameron.[2]

Christian response to this radical news

How do you think Christians on a forum would respond to this information? There was mixed input. Here is a sample:

  • ‘1Tim 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach’.[3]
  • ‘I found an interesting article that talks about women presbyteries in the early church and when that position was officially eliminated in AD344. We see them mentioned in Paul’s writings. But this article mentions historical writings including Polycarp and others.
    http://www.faithdefenders.com/church-life/WomenEldersintheEarlyChurch.html’.[4]
  • ‘Just to be clear, this isn’t the Anglican church worldwide. Anglican churches in my city (Sydney) are opposed to this.
    Regarding Anglicans in the UK, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me. This is the same church that in recent years allowed homosexual bishops. I actually thought women bishops were already allowed’.[5]
  • ‘A BISHOP must be a man of one wife. I didn’t know god changed his mind on lesbians and that type of marriage. my pastor and my demonation allows woman pastors but not bishops based on that verse’.[6]
  • ‘No big deal.
    The church has been dead for sometime’.
    Matthew 5:13 (NIV)
    “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses it’s saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot”.[7]
  • This was about as crass as it got with this comment, ‘About bloody time’.[8]

My personal response: In support of women in ministry

Initially, I wrote,[9]

How does this relate to what happened on the Day of Pentecost and in the NT age?

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they
shall prophesy (Acts 2:16-18 ESV).?

How about the possibility that Junia (or Junias) was a female apostle according to Rom 16:7 (NIV): ‘Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was’?

I’m not as convinced as most that women are excluded from public ministry in the church. We’d be in a sad state on many a mission field if women were excluded from public ministry. But practicalities should not dictate theology. The Bible determines our stance on women or no-women in public ministry to a mixed gathering.

Then a woman wrote:

  • ‘If the Bible says that a woman should not be a pastor then being a Bishop is a slap in God’s face’.[10]

I replied:[11]

I find it too easy in the Western, traditional church to discard women in ministry and especially women bishops, based on verses such as 1 Tim 3:2 (ESV) . For an overview of some of the issues in 1 Timothy, I recommend a read of Gordon Fee’s article, ‘Reflections on church order in the pastoral epistles, with further reflection on the hermeneutics of ad hoc documents’ (Fee 1985). All is not as easy as it looks to modern readers to interpret these pastoral epistles and the false teachings being refuted.
In his commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (1&2 Timothy, Titus), Gordon Fee provides this exposition of 1 Tim 3:2, ‘the husband of but one wife’ as a qualification for overseers/bishops. He wrote:

The husband of but one wife is one of the truly difficult phrases in the PE [Pastoral Epistles] (cf. 3:12; 5:9, of the ‘true’ widows, and Titus 1:6). There are at least four options: First, it could be requiring that the overseer be married. Support is found in the fact that the false teachers are forbidding marriage and that Paul urges marriage for the wayward widows (5:14; cf. 2:15). But against this is that it emphasizes must and wife, while the text emphasizes one, that Paul, and most likely Timothy, were not married, and that it stands in contradiction to 1 Corinthians 7:25-38. Besides, it was a cultural presupposition that most people would be married.

Second, it could be that it prohibits polygamy. This correctly emphasizes the one wife aspect; but polygamy was such a rare feature of pagan society that such a prohibition would function as a near irrelevancy. Moreover, it would not seem to fit the identical phrase used of the widows in 5:9.

Third, it could be prohibiting second marriages. Such an interpretation is supported by many of the data: It would fit the widows especially, and all kinds of inscriptional evidence praises women (especially, although sometimes men) who were ‘married only once’ and remained ‘faithful’ to that marriage after their partner died. This view would then prohibit second marriages after the death of a spouse, but it would also obviously – perhaps especially – prohibit divorce and remarriage. Some scholars (e.g., Hanson) would make it refer only to the latter.

Fourth, it could be that it requires marital fidelity to this one wife (cf. NEB: ‘faithful to his one wife’). In this view the overseer is required to live an exemplary married life (marriage is assumed), faithful to his one wife in a culture in which marital infidelity was common, and at time assumed. It would, of course, also rule out polygamy and divorce and remarriage, but it would not necessarily rule out the remarriage of a widower (although that would still not be the Pauline ideal; cf. 1 Cor. 7:8-9, 39-40). Although there is much to be said for either understanding of the third option, the concern that the church’s leaders live exemplary married lives seems to fit the context best – given the apparently low view of marriage and family held by the false teachers (4:3; cf. 3:4-5) (Fee 1988:80-81).

Because of these difficulties in exegesis and exposition of 1 Tim 3:2, I will not be too rigid to adhere to a view that excludes women from the ministry as an overseer/bishop. All is not as clear as it seems.

  • In addition, there is the very difficult verse to interpret associated with the role of women: ‘Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control’ (1 Tim 2:15 ESV). For an explanation of this verse, see my article: Must Women Never Teach Men in the Church?

Conclusion

I’m convinced the weight of biblical evidence favours women in ministry. See my articles:

Works consulted

Fee, G D 1985. Reflections on church order in the pastoral epistles, with further reflection on the hermeneutics of ad hoc documents. Journal of the evangelical theological society, 28(2), June, 141-151. Available at: http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/28/28-2/28-2-pp141-151_JETS.pdf (Accessed 27 July 2014).

Fee, G D 1988. New international biblical commentary: 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus. W W Gasque (ed). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

Notes:


[1] Doulos Iesou#1, Christian Forums.net, ‘Church of England allows female bishops’, available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/church-of-england-allows-female-bishops.54712/ (Accessed 27 July 2014).

[2] BBC News UK, ‘Church of England General Synod backs women bishops’, 14 July 2014, available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28300618 (Accessed 27 July 2014).

[3] Reba#1, Christianforums.net, op cit.

[4] Ibid., Deborah13#5.

[5] Ibid., Eora#6.

[6] Ibid., jasonc#9.

[7] Ibid., allenwynne#10.

[8] Ibid., Claudya#8.

[9] Ibid., OzSpen#7.

[10] Ibid., Kathi#16.

[11] Ibid., OzSpen#20.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 19 November 2015.

Are women supposed to be permanently silent in the church gathering?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

CATHRINE BOOTH

Catherine Booth

(Courtesy Zion Christian Ministry)

By Spencer D Gear

This is one way to get a discussion going on the Internet:

cubed-redmatte  Take one:

If women are to be silent…why are they allowed in the choir???

1 Corinthians 14:34
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
So why are women allowed to be children’s ministers, music directors, even deacons, but Paul says they must be silent?
clip_image001

To those who say that a woman cannot be a pastor, but allow your women church-goers to hold roles in the church that go against the very verse you use to claim they cannot hold leadership positions in a church I must ask: Dont (sic) you find this to be the very definition of hypocrisy?[1]

A response to this was, ‘There are some problematic verses for staunch advocates of exclusively male roles for church. The verse had a local meaning only referring to some inappropriate behaviour by some women at Corinth, probably interrupting orderly conduct during the house church gatherings’.[2]

My comeback was:[3]

Just as important as your issue seems to be, if women are to remain silent in the church (1 Cor 14:34), how is it that we have this teaching from Acts 2:16-18 on the day of Pentecost?

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants[
a] and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy (ESV).

Do we have a contradiction between Acts 2:16-18 and 1 Cor 14:34 OR, as I believe, was Paul addressing a particular error in the Corinthian church where the women needed to remain ‘quiet’ because of the disorder they may have been causing? This seems to be inferred from 1 Cor 14:40 (which follows 14:34):

So, dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues. But be sure that everything is done properly and in order (1 Cor 14:39-40 NLT).

Could it be that the silence of women in 1 Corinthians 14 is not a contradiction (as it seems on the surface) with Acts 2, but that 1 Cor 14:34 is meant to deal with a situation specific to the Corinthian church and was not meant to close down women in ministry for all of the NT era?

Could it be that the alleged silence of all women in ministry since the first century has been a wrong interpretation? Otherwise, we have a substantive contradiction between Acts 2:16-18 and 1 Cor 14:34?

Another’s rejoinder was, ‘There is no contradiction…. Prophesying is different from making a sermon from the pulpit’.[4] My response was, ‘I can see nothing in 1 Cor 14 that even remotely sounds like ‘making a sermon from the pulpit’. Could that be your imposition on the text?’[5] Another responded to the idea that ‘prophesying is different from making a sermon from the pulpit’:

A bit of history might me useful here. The Pulpit was used in the Christian church as early as A.D. 250. It came from the Greek ambo, which was a pulpit used by both Greeks and Jews for delivering monologues. The Centrality of the Pulpit in the Order of Worship was introduced by Martin Luther in 1523.

In contrast the NT Christians met in homes around a meal. It was highly participatory as were the gatherings themselves. Contrary to all social norms, slaves ate with the (sic) rest of the group including the host, not separately and women were included, again contrary to custom. In that setting it is preposterous to suggest some formal hierarchy of genders being taught, rather than some corrections to inappropriate behaviour by some women experiencing a new liberty for the first time. We must never impose 21st Century church structures onto the NT records. The former have an historical process behind them which is not always true to sound biblical exegesis.[6]

To this historical information, another tried to give some spin:

This is so misunderstood. In the early church the women and children sat on one side and the men on the other – the women chatted and tended to the children and they were told to remain silent.

There are many women pastors called and anointed. There will be many women who have not fulfilled their calling because of the misunderstanding of this scripture.[7]

This earned the reply:

That was true of the synagogue but not of Christian gatherings which were communal, participatory and informal by today’s standards.

Here is a quote from a great Christian and scholar. Mark Strom.

Paul fought against the influence of abstraction, idealism and elitism upon his ekklesiai Ultimately, Paul lost. Only a generation or two after the apostle, the abstract categories of theology had become the model for discussing his God and message. Ideals of Graeco-Roman morality like serenity, moderation and courage shaped the ways believers read and applied Paul’s instructions on the life of faith. Church conventions of leadership and authority adapted and reinforced the common marks of rank and status. Similar conventions of abstraction, idealism and elitism have continued to shape Christian thought and practice almost without exception and across all traditions to the present day. Evangelicalism is no exception.”

Paul’s gatherings focused on integrating allegiance to Jesus Christ with everyday concerns. The people met to equip one another for the decisions and options they would face outside the gathering. The gathering did not convene for religious worship. They did not gather for a rite. Nor do the sources suggest a meeting structured around the reading and exposition of Scripture following the model of the synagogue. They met to fellowship around their common relationship to one another on account of Christ. Most evangelicals agree that a rite is not central to church; most argue that preaching is central. But rite and preaching share common ground. Both are clergy-cantered. Perhaps the reason so many theologians and clergy resist any shift away from the centrality of the sermon lies not only in the fear of subjectivism or heresy, but also in the fear of losing control and prestige.

Professionalism, even elitism, marks the sermon and the service and distinguishes clergy from congregation. Paul faced something similar at Corinth. The strong had transferred to themselves certain social and religious marks of rank and status-education, eloquence, a leader’s style, even clothing. They had also come to regard the fruits of Christ’s work-the Spirit and the evidences of his presence-as further marks of status, even “spiritual” status. Paul would not tolerate this creation of new rank within the assembly. He urged the Corinthians to see what they had as gifts of grace. They must honour the least honourable. This was not conventional; it was not moral. This was not theology; it was not about words. This was the meaning of grace.

Little in modern Christian experience matches this. Academic, congregational and denominational life functions along clear lines of rank, status and honour. We preach that the gospel has ended elitism, but we rarely allow the implications to go beyond ideas. Paul, however, actually stepped down in the world. His inversions of status were social realities, not intellectualized reforms.

Dying and rising with Christ meant status reversal. In Paul’s case, he deliberately stepped down in the world. We must not romanticize this choice. He felt the shame of it among his peers and potential patrons yet held it as the mark of his sincerity. Moreover, it played a crucial role in the interplay of his life and thought. Tentmaking was critical, even central, to his life and message. His labour and minis[bless and do not curse] try were mutually explanatory. Yet for most of us, “tent making” belongs in the realms of missionary journals and far-flung shores. As a model for ministry in the United States, Britain or Australia, it remains as unseemly to most of us as it did to the Corinthians. At best it is second best.

Evangelicalism will not shake its abstraction, idealism and elitism until theologians and clergy are prepared to step down in their worlds. Some might argue that since the world often shows contempt for the pastoral role, then professional ministry is itself a step back. But that is to ignore the more pertinent set of social realities: evangelicalism has its own ranks, careers, financial security, marks of prestige and rewards. Within that world, professional ministry is rank and status.

Paul’s conversations were rich in stories. These stories characterized the gathering. The believers came together around Christ and his story. They also came with their own stories. They came to (re)connect their stories to his and to each others’ stories. That was the gathering. They taught, prophesied, shared, ate, sang and prayed their stories-their lives-together around Christ. The Spirit made the conversation possible. All the people shared the Spirit through whom they met God and one another face to face. They urged one another in conversation to grow into the full measure of their freedom and dignity.

This touches on themes that have appeared in this thread, generally supporting a limited role for women. Much needs reappraising as the issue of women is in fact a subset of some far wider issues.[8]

AGL Oct 08.JPG

  Anne Graham Lotz (Courtesy Wikipedia)

This is an important issue for us to consider since so many gifted women in ministry have been closed down by well meaning men and women. Even Billy Graham acknowledges that his daughter Ann Graham Lotz is the best preacher in the family. How could that be when Anne, some say, is supposed to be silent in the church?

Mentioning Anne Lotz got a couple of them going. One response was: ‘Ann is a teacher not a overseer. Her husband is a deacon. Female deacons are allowed in the SBC and were found often from 33AD to the 300’A.D’.[9] My response was: ‘That’s not the issue being raised. The issue is women who are to be silent. When Anne is a teacher, she is not silent. It is HERE on Anne Graham Lotz’s homepage that there is the quote of Anne being the best preacher in the Graham family’.[10] Another response to me was: ‘We accept women as missionaries who preach, teach and in some cases have established churches. Since ‘missionary’ is the Latin word for the Greek word ‘apostle’ such women are therefore performing in apostolic roles from a NT perspective’.[11]

In response to Johnz on a related topic, I wrote:[12] I also have Gordon Fee’s book on the Holy Spirit in Paul’s letters, called God’s Empowering Presence. I must admit that I’ve only read chunks of it. I find his commentary on 1 Corinthians in the New International Commentary series to be a breath of fresh exegetical air in this debate.

However, I have also heard some fairly trite ‘messages’ delivered in churches as manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit over the years, but this is easily dealt with according to 1 Cor 14:29, ‘Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said‘ (ESV, emphasis added).

Too little of this kind of ‘weighing’ goes on in my part of the world.

It seems to me that ‘weighing’ is needed for all of these supernatural vocal gifts, whether prophecy, tongues and interpretation, a word of knowledge, a word of wisdom.

Does this kind of ‘weighing’ the content of the message happen in the groups to which you belong/have belonged? On the practical level, how does it happen in your groups? My experience is that it is rare in the groups and churches I have attended.

One fellow got rather pointed in his reply to another person and me: ‘How many of the 12 were women? How many leaders of the early church were women? This does not make women inferior. But God created men and women to have specific roles’.[13] My reply was:

Arguing from silence is not a good way of producing evidence. How many of the 12 were married? Is that an argument against married men in ministry?

bronze-arrow-small C E Cerling Jr has a helpful article in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, ‘Women ministers in the New Testament church?‘ that seems to contradict the view that you are here promoting.
bronze-arrow-small Australia’s New Life newspaper has an article online that provides NT material that differs from what you are saying: ‘New Testament Women Church Leaders‘.
bronze-arrow-smallSee also, ‘What the Bible Says about Women in Ministry‘, by Betty Miller.

I’ll stick with what the Scriptures teach and it does not close down women in ministry, as far as I can read. But this I know: Hermeneutics by some men and women has closed down many God-gifted women in ministry.[14]

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the evangelist, Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, wrote this article, ‘Jesus Calls Women to Serve and Lead‘. In it she states what happened to her when she addressed a group containing men. She wrote:

What legitimate, Biblical role do women have within the church? That question demanded an answer early in my ministry when I accepted an invitation to address a large convention of pastors.

When I stood in the lectern at the convention center, many of the 800 church leaders present turned their chairs around and put their backs to me. When I concluded my message, I was shaking. I was hurt and surprised that godly men would find what I was doing so offensive that they would stage such a demonstration, especially when I was an invited guest. And I was confused. Had I stepped out of the Biblical role for a woman? While all agree that women are free to help in the kitchen, or in the nursery, or in a secretary’s chair, is it unacceptable for a woman to take a leadership or teaching position?

When I went home, I told the Lord that I had never had a problem with women serving in any capacity within the church. I knew that the New Testament declared that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) And God emphatically promised, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy… (Acts 2:17) But the problem the pastors obviously had was now my problem. And so I humbly asked God to either convict me of wrongdoing or to confirm His call in my life. The story of Mary Magdalene came to mind, so I turned to John 20.

At the beginning of John 20, Peter and John had been to the empty tomb, then returned to Jerusalem. With the sound of their footsteps fading in the distance, Mary Magdalene returned and encountered the risen Christ. Then I read His command to her, “Go…to my brothers and tell them…” Jesus was commanding Mary to go to Jerusalem and tell eleven men what she had seen and heard. Mary obeyed and ran back to Jerusalem to deliver the glorious news, I have seen the Lord! With great joy and relief, I concluded that Jesus Himself did not have a problem with women in ministry.

Mary Magdalene was actually the very first evangelist! Since Jesus had obviously been present when Peter and John were there, why did He withhold Himself from them, but reveal Himself to Mary? He could so easily have given the task of announcing His resurrection to Peter and John, but instead He had given it to Mary. I believe He was making an undeniable, obvious statement that reverberates through the centuries, right up until our own day. Women are commanded and commissioned to serve Jesus Christ in whatever capacity He calls them, within or without the organized church, in word or in deed.

That these men could be so rude to an invited female guest, beggars my imagination.

A fellow responded to me:

Your (sic) overlooking a very simple fact. Paul’s prohibition was in a leadership role over men and their headship. God is a God of order…it is throughout the Bible…think of Jerico (sic), did God need them to march in the formation he designated to collapse Jericho’s walls, of course not. God clearly wanted the task performed to HIS COMMAND.

Gods command to us with respect to God, man, women is clearly defined as man was made for God, woman was made for man. Its really that simple from a humanperspective (sic). From a God perspective, its very complex. God alone understands his edicts and reasons, he is the potter we are the pot. Can the pot say to the potter why did you make me this way? Of coursenot (sic), the potter has complete license to make whatever he wants for his desired purpose…whether its to set up high on display for adoration, or whether it is to be set lower, or even destroyed…ALL is up to the POTTER’s desire, and none is of the POT’s desire.

As for women receiving gifts, of course they do, as you mentioned they can be deaconesses, lead children, sing in choirs, even take on certain leadership positions that dont (sic) involve men. Dont (sic) forget older women are critical to teaching the younger women.

So no there is no contradiction in the bible, the error was actually in the reader, who did not know, from the scriptures all I have stated here is plainly stated in the texts. That’s (sic) what sanctification is all about for the believer…conversely,…..

Its (sic) ALL foolishness to the unsaved. Which are you? clip_image001[1][15]

The original poster called the respondents back to the topic of the original post: ‘Please answer the question in the thread title. If you’re going to generically apply said verse to all of creation, then why do you permit them to speak in church?’[16]

A reply was:

I answered that particular question: What Paul meant was that women were not to be discipled under men and vice versa. It has nothing to do with being physically silent, but has to do with administering inherent doctrinal and disciplinary authority.

The only two roles I see that have inherent doctrinal and disciplinary authority are apostle and elder. I can argue that women could hold neither of those positions in the early church, but I’d agree that all the others could be held by women as long as they did not confer inherent doctrinal and disciplinary authority over men.

By “inherent” authority, I mean authority in the position that is not delegated. For instance, Phebe (sic) — carrying Paul’s most significant theological work to the Romans–was almost certainly the head of the delegation sent from Corinth by Paul and she was likely the only woman in charge of a number of men, but her authority was delegated from Paul, like that of a military sergeant is delegated from the commanding officer.

There isn’t any indication that the role of “deacon” held inherent authority, but it certainly had authority delegated from the elders.

This is not even the same thing as the general term of “leadership,” which does not take an office to exercise.[17]

cubed-redmatteTake two:

‘A woman prophesying or being a servant of God does not make them pastors. Women being deaconesses or teachers does not make them pastors’.[18]

This view was rightly challenged:

I agree. But then the modern pastor has no biblical counterpart from which women can be excluded.
In the NT pastor is just one of the gifted ministries. Since women in NT times were active in the other ministries we cannot now exclude women from a pastoral role when that simply did not exist as we have it today. I cannot recall any named person entitled ‘pastor’ in the NT. It is used only once in Eph 4:11, in the plural. Otherwise the Greek word (shepherd) is applied only to Jesus as any kind of title in the NT.

The NT always talks about elders – plural – in local congregations. Thus a woman can be part of a leadership team and express her ministry gifting as God intends. The one-man-in-charge is just a scaled down pope – a “pope one very parish’ as one church leader once stated.
Also, the NT Christians weren’t into titles as we are today. Some women obviously had leading roles in the NT church. But you will not find one man designated ‘pastor’ in the NT.
[19]

‘Take two’ (my designation) made a reply to another:’1Tim. 3: 8-13, John 12:26 “him”, Titus 1: 6-9 and any place where you find the title “Overseer”, “Elder” or “Deacon” it is referring to the position we call “Pastor” today and is referring to men in those positions. There were no female “Overseers”, “Elders” or “Deacons”’.[20]

My answer to this fellow was: ‘Your issue is not just with women as pastors, but with women in any prominent ministry as leaders. Why would you be raising the issue of how many were in the 12 if you were not against women in these kinds of roles? Where in the Scriptures does it state: Women, thou shalt not be pastors? Where?’[21] Then I added, ‘Please direct me to NT passages where pastor = elder, overseer or deacon in meaning’.[22] And again: ‘You do err in making this kind of statement in the last sentence because Romans 16:1 is pointedly clear. A female named Phoebe was a diakonos, a deacon, in the Roman church’.[23] Another replied for him, ‘He wont be able to. Foot in mouth disease is rampant’.[24]

His replies failed to hit the mark: ‘Deacons and deaconesses do not fulfill the same rolls’[25] and ‘grab a Bible dictionary or concordance’.[26] Another jumped in for me, ‘Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, NIV The only time pastor occurs in the NT’.[27] This person also explained re deacons and deaconesses: ‘Only due to church history, not adherence to the Scriptures. There was a similar situation with Song of Songs. The church fathers did not believe Holy Writ would contain anything so blatantly sexual. Thus, it must be an allegory. Today, that approach is commonly rejected. Preconceptions governed exegesis’.[28] My reply was, ‘That’s your 21st century speaking. They both come from the same Greek word, diakonos. Now try to prove to me that diakonos doesn’t mean diakonos when she is a female. God didn’t make me a lemming!clip_image002[29] His reply was, ‘So? They don’t fulfill the same functions today’.[30] Another chimed in, ‘The question for us is not whether they fulfill the same functions today, but whether they fulfilled the same functions in the Apostolic Churches’.[31]

Still another: ‘We may do, but that is simply ignoring biblical categories, For anyone who takes the Scriptures seriously that is not on in my view. And, even it that is true they were a operated as plurality in the NT church, not as a single unit. I am bemused that those who see that NT, taken literally, forbids women in leadership, yet are less than literal with other verses, as you seem to be above’.[32]

cubed-redmatteTake three:

‘What they called deacons and overseers in Biblical days we call pastors today’.[33] My response was, ‘Who said? Please provide exegesis to demonstrate such’.[34]

cubed-redmatteTake four:

Mary Jo Sharp (courtesy The Gospel Coalition)

 

Discuss women in ministry on a Christian forum online and the anti-women-in-public-ministry brigades are not long to raise their voices. Here are a few samples:

Overseers=Men only
Deacons= Both Men and Women
Elders=Generally Men since they were the community leaders at the time with some exceptions (Lydia)
[35]

My reply was:[36]

I can’t be as confident of this kind of teaching coming from Scripture as you are. Dr Robert Morey has written a thought-provoking article titled,Women Elders in the Early Church‘. In it he states,

these women functioned in a truly presbyterial (sic) capacity. They had charge not only of the other widows but of all the women in the church. They were not “exercising authority over men” (1 Tim. 2:12). They were discipling the women (Tit. 2:4).

In Titus 2:3–5, Paul tells Titus to teach the presbutidas (i.e., women elders) to teach the younger women. That he was not simply saying that old age was all that was necessary is clear from the fact that these women teachers had to meet spiritual qualification (v. 3). The subjects in which they were to instruct the other women required spiritual maturity (vs. 4–5). Thus while these women were “older” in age, it is their being spiritually mature that is in view.

This is why Paul says that these women must be hieroprespestata (v. 3). This word means according to Vincent,

“… becoming those who are engaged in sacred service. The meaning is the more striking if, as there is reason to believe, the presbutidas represented a quasi-official position in the church” (Word Studies in the New Testament, IV, p. 341).

As Moulton and Milligan point out:

“It is sometimes thought that the presbutidas of Titus 2:3 … are the members of a priestly or organized class in view of the hierprepes which follows” (p. 533).

Given the distinction between the sexes in the first century, that there arose a need for women elders to counsel and instruct the women in the congregation is no surprise. While Paul tells Titus to teach by verbal instruction (Greek: lalew), the women elders are to disciple the younger women personally. It would not have been appropriate for Titus to do so.

The women elders were under the authority of the male elders who had oversight over the entire congregation. Just as the deaconic came to include women who could minister to the women in those physical areas where the male deacons could not, the presbytery or eldership came to include women who could minister to other women in spiritual and domestic areas where the male elders could not.

These women elders instructed new female converts and even baptized them (see Lange’s Commentary, Vol. II, p. 59 on 1 Tim. 5:9).

The following comments from various scholars are given to establish the fact that the existence of women elders in the Early Church has been noted for many years and is not something recently “invented” by feminist scholars.

We then conclude that these “widows” were a distinct and most honorable order, whose duties, presbyteral rather than deaconic, apparently consisted in the exercise of superintendence over and in the ministry of counsel and consolation to, the younger women (Ellicott’s Commentary, VIII, p. 203).

Such widows, called presbyteresses, seem to have the same relation toward their sex as the presbyters toward the men (Lange’s Commentary, Vol. II, p. 58).

They supervised the female members in much the same way as the elders were responsible for the men (Scott, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 57).

They corresponded in office for their own sex in some measure to the presbyters, sat unveiled in the assemblies in a separate place, by the Presbyters and had a kind of supervision over their own sex (Alford, The Greek Testament, Vol. III, p. 347).

“An order of widows is referred to whose duties apparently consisted in the exercise of superintendence over … the younger women, whose office in fact was, so to say, presbyteral rather than deaconic. The external evidence for the existence … of such a body, even in earliest times, is so fully satisfactory and so completely in harmony with the internal evidence supplied by 1 Tim. 5:10, e.g., that on the whole we should adopt this view. That the widows here were church officials, who to command respect, must have been foremost in the performance of the duties for which women are looked up to.” (Sadler, Colossians, Thessalonians and Timothy, p. 236–237)

Fourth, the documents of the Early Church clearly speak of an order of women elders or disciplers who had a ministry in the church and even a special seat of honor in the congregation.

“The Fathers … to the fourth (century), recognized a class known as presbyteresses ‘aged women’ (Tit. 2:3), who had oversight of the female members and a separate seat in the congregation” (Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. IV, p. 257).

Stahlin in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. IX, p. 464f, points out that it is clear that in the Early Church there existed an order of women who ministered on a spiritual level to the other women. It is impossible to reduce their ministry to that of the deaconic.

In Ignatius’ Letter to the Smyrneans (XIII, 1), he mentions “the virgins who are called widows.” While Lightfoot’s contention that the order of widows was not primarily made up of unmarried virgins is well taken, yet, it is still clear that some unmarried women were allowed to join the order if they met the spiritual qualifications.

Just as it was no longer thought necessary for men to be married and to be the father of children to be qualified to be an elder, even so it developed that spiritually mature unmarried women could join the female presbytery.

When Polycarp wrote his Letter to the Philippians, he stated the qualifications for becoming a “widow,” i.e., woman elder (IV), as well as those for deacons, deaconesses (V) and male elders (VI). The context is clearly dealing with church offices.

Other references to this order have been found in Hermas Vis. II.4; Clem. Hom. XI. 30; Tert. de Pudis 13; Apost. Constitutions VI, 17, 4; Test. Domini. 1.23 and among the heathen, Lucian De Mort. Perezr. 12.

It was not until the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 344) that the order of women elders was officially abolished.

“The appointment of the so-called female elders of presidents shall not henceforth take place in the church” (literal translation of Canon II).

The Canon reveals that certain women were “elders” or “presidents” in the church up to that time. This is the same council that forbade the “laity” from observing the love feast (Canon 28) and in forbidding “lay” intrusions into “clergy” business. It was a council which did much to strengthen the grip of priestcraft on the church and to overturn the last elements of the priesthood of the believer which still survived from Apostolic times.

Could it be that the close down of some women in ministries of leadership has more to do with our contemporary views than what is written in the NT text?

Another responded to Robert Morey’s comments:

I would agree with Morey about the specifics of the gender division (sic). I’m not as sure as he that gender division would have required female elders–unless that role was limited to governing women only.

But really, the idea that women were required to be physically silent is preposterous in context of all Paul and Luke have to say about the role of women in their own work.

We can debate intelligently about how their roles actually functioned but the idea of physical silence is the result of someone who is simply not reading scripture.[37]

First Corinthians 14:28-40 (ESV) reads[38],

28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

The same Greek word is used for ‘silent’ if there is no interpreter of tongues (v 28), of the first prophet in v. 30 (when the other is speaking),  as for the silence of women in the church (v 34). It’s the Greek, sigaw, which Arndt & Gingrich’s lexicon give as the main intransitive verb meaning ‘be silent, keep still’ with the meaning of (a) ‘say nothing, keep silent’ (1 Cor 14:28). This also is the meaning in Acts 12:17; 15:12; (b) in the transitive form of the verb, ‘stop speaking, become silent’ (1 Cor 14:30), which is also the meaning in Lk 18:39; Acts 15:13; (c) ‘hold one’s tongue, keep something secret’ (Lk 9:36). For an intransitive verb, it means to ‘keep silent, conceal something’ as in Rom 16:25 (Arndt & Gingrich 1957: 757).

So the meaning of sigaw in relation to 1 Cor 14:34 and silence of women in the church could be: be silent, keep still. The context gives further insight with this kind of language: ‘For God is not a God of confusion but of peace’ (1 Cor 14:33). It seems that confusion was happening in these meetings of the early church at Corinth and women could have been some of the culprits. They were told to keep silent/quiet wherever this was happening in churches. This is further emphasised in 1 Cor 14:40 with, ‘But all things should be done decently and in order’.

I’m not of the view that these verses are teaching the permanent silence of all women in the church throughout all of the existence of the church when the gifts of the Spirit are being manifested in the church gathering. As 1 Cor 11:5 indicates, wives could pray and prophesy in the church gatherings.  Some women in ministry were allowed in the Corinthian church – women could prophesy, as a gift of the Spirit. One cannot be silent, shut up, and speak prophesy to the church gathering.

Conclusion

There is a lot of mixed information in the above posts. How is it possible to gain a reasonable, biblically based understanding of women in ministry? See my articles:

cubed-iron-sm Women in ministry in I Corinthians: A brief inquiry

cubed-iron-sm Amazing contemporary opposition to women in public ministry

cubed-iron-sm Women in ministry: an overview of some biblical passages

cubed-iron-sm Must Women Never Teach Men in the Church?

Works consulted

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[39] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Notes


[1] Christian Forums, Baptists, ‘If women are to silent … why are they allowed in the choir?’, 98cwitr, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7776824/ (Accessed 4 October 2013).

[2] Johnz#5, ibid.

[3] OzSpen#9., ibid.

[4] Digout#63, ibid.

[5] OzSpen#66, ibid.

[6] Johnz#69.

[7] SharonL#70.

[8] Johnz#71, ibid.

[9] SeventhValley#10, ibid.

[10] OzSpen#11, ibid.

[11] Johnz#15, ibid.

[12] OzSpen#22, ibid.

[13] Revrobor#24, ibid.

[14] OzSpen#26, ibid.

[15] slickvolt#32, ibid.

[16] 98cwitr#33, ibid.

[17] RDKirk#34, ibid.

[18] revrobor#29, ibid.

[19] Johnz#31, ibid.

[20] revrobor#36, ibid.

[21] OzSpen#39, ibid.

[22] OzSpen#42, ibid.

[23] OzSpen#45, ibid.

[24] slickvolt#44, ibid.

[25] revrobor#47, ibid.

[26] revrobor#48, ibid.

[27] Johnz#49, ibid.

[28] Johnz#50, ibid.

[29] OzSpen#51, ibid

[30] revrobo#54, ibid.

[31] progmonk#55, ibid.

[32] Johnz#59, ibid.

[33] revrob#53, ibid.

[34] OzSpen#60, ibid.

[35] SeventhValley#64, ibid.

[36] OzSpen#67, ibid.

[37] RDKirk#68, ibid.

[38] I supplied the following post at OzSpen#72, ibid.

[39] This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’ (4th rev & augmented edn 1952) (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 26 January 2017.

Amazing contemporary opposition to women in public ministry

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Elizabeth Hooton Warren, 1600-1672 (public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

When traditional evangelicals, who are against women preachers/pastors, speak out, they can make statements like this:

Andronicus and Junia were probably not called apostles in Romans 16:7. This is the only verse where these “two men” are mentioned. They are said to be Paul’s kinsmen and fellowprisoners and were “of note among the apostles.” Does this mean, as some say, that they were noteworthy apostles? Someone could be “of note” among the apostles without being an apostle. It could mean that the apostles had noted them as significant servants of the Lord. Also, if they were apostles of note, they were some of the more important apostles. But this is the only verse of the Bible where these two men are ever mentioned. Certainly, they are not being called apostles here.”[1]

How do we respond to the claim that Junia was not a female but that Andronicus and Junia were males? This is how I replied to this post:[2]

1.  A prominent Greek lexicon

That is not how the eminent Greek lexicon of Arndt & Gingrich sees it. While it is given a masculine definite article, ho, their assessment of the Greek material is:

Junias (not found elsewhere, probably short form of the common Junianus); a Jewish convert to Christianity who was imprisoned with Paul Ro 16:7. The possibility, from a purely lexical point of view, that this is a woman’s name, Junia; ancient commentators took Andronicus and Junia as a married couple, is probably ruled out by the context (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:381).

So to be so adamant that you put in bold and underline that Andronicus and Junia are ‘two men‘ is hardly in keeping with the Greek lexical possibilities.

The late Greek exegete and commentator, Australian Leon Morris, has a different take to you. I remember hearing Leon Morris speak when he would pick up his Greek NT and exegete and expound the Scriptures as he spoke from the Greek text alone. I recommend a read of his commentary on Romans 16:7 (Morris 1988:533-534). His conclusions are:

  • Junias: The patristic commentators seem to have taken the word as feminine, Junia, and understood Andronicus and Junia as husband and wife.
  • They were Paul’s kinsfolk, probably fellow Jews.
  • They were fellow prisoners of him, in jail together or they shared the same fate as he.
  • ‘Outstanding among the apostles’ might mean that the apostles held them in high esteem or that they were apostles, and notable apostles at that. The latter understanding does more justice to the Greek construction.
  • This couple seemed to have belonged to the wider apostolic circle (the circle of apostles was wider than the 12 according to the NT).
  • As for a woman being an apostle, Morris wrote: ‘We should bear in mind Chrysostom’s comment: “Oh! how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should be even counted worthy of the appellation of apostle!”’

2.  A prominent church father

A leading Greek exegete and commentator does not agree with the view that Andronicus and Junia were ‘two men’.

John Chrysostom, Courtesy Wikipedia

The fuller quote from John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, (with the link to his writings) is:

“And indeed to be apostles at all is a great thing. But to be even amongst those of note, just consider what a great encomium this is! But they were of note owing to their works, to their achievements. Oh! how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should be even counted worthy of the appellation of apostle!” (Chrysostom, Homily on the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans XXXI).

Chrysostom’s dates were ca. AD 347-407 (Cairns 1981:141). So by the 4th century his understanding was that Junia was a female apostle, and a noteworthy one at that. Could it be that Chrysostom got it correct and some have got it wrong since then? Could it be that the opposition to women in public ministry is unwarranted? Could gifted women have been closed down by the male chauvinism in the ministry? I write as a male and I’ve read a lot against women in ministry by males. I am not of that view.

3.  A minimised view of the ministry of an apostle and a response

Douglas Moo PhD, Wheaton College

Contemporary Greek exegete and commentator, Donald Moo, downplays the role of an apostle outside of the original 12 apostles of Jesus. He wrote in his commentary on Romans:

The identity of Andronicus’s “partner” is a matter of considerable debate. The problem arises from the fact that the Greek form used here Iounian, depending on how it is accented, could refer either (1) to a man with the name Junianus, found here in its contracted form, “Junias” (cf. NIV; RSV; NASB; TEV; NJB); or (2) to a woman with the name of Junia (KJV; NRSV; REB). Interpreters from the thirteenth to the middle of the twentieth century generally favored the masculine identification. But it appears that commentators before the thirteenth century were unanimous in favor of the feminine identification; and scholars have recently again inclined decisively to this same view. And probably with good reason. For while a contracted form of Junianus would fit quite well in this list of greetings (for Paul uses several other such contractions), we have no evidence elsewhere for this contracted form of the name. On the other hand, the Latin “Junia” was a very common name. Probably, then, “Junia” was the wife of Andronicus (note the other husband and wife pairs in this list, Prisca and Aquila [v. 3] and [probably], philologus and Julia [v. 15])….

In two relative clauses Paul draws the attention of the Roman Christians to the stature of this husband and wife ministry team. The first description might mean that Andronicus and Junia were “esteemed by the apostles.” But it is more natural to translate “esteemed among the apostles.” And it is because Paul calls Junia(s) an “apostle” that earlier interpreters tended to argue that Paul must be referring to a man; for they had difficulty  imagining that a woman could hold such authority in the early church….

But many scholars on both sides of this issue are guilty of accepting too readily a key supposition in this line of reasoning: that “apostle” here refers to an authoritative leadership position such as that by the “Twelve” and by Paul. In fact, Paul often uses the title “apostle” in a “looser” sense: sometimes simply to denote a “messenger” or “emissary” and sometimes to denote “a commissioned missionary.” When Paul uses the word in the former sense, he makes clear the source and purpose of the “emissary’s” commission. So “apostle” here probably means “traveling missionary” (Moo 1996: 923-924).

Has Douglas Moo overlooked something significant in the hierarchical order of the ministry of apostles after the 12 apostles of Jesus? See 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (ESV),

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Butearnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Gordan-fee

Gordon Fee PhD

Professor Emeritus, Regent College

Greek exegete, Gordon Fee, disagrees with Douglas Moo’s perspective and explains that Paul

illustrates that diversity [of ministry gifts] by means of another considerable list (cf. vv 8-10), which has several remarkable features: (1) He begins with a list of persons (apostles, prophets, teachers), whom he ranks in the order of first, second, third. (2) With the fourth and fifth items (lit. “miracles” and “gifts of healings”) he reverts to charismata, taking two from the list in vv. 8-10. These are both prefaced by the word “then,” as though he intended the ranking scheme to continue. (3) The sixth and seventh items (lit. “Helps” and “guidances”), which are deeds of service, are noteworthy in three ways: (a) they are the only two not mentioned again in the rhetoric of vv. 29-30; (b) they are not mentioned again in the NT; © they do not appear to be of the same kind, that is, supernatural endowments, as those on wither side (miracles, healings, tongues)….

That leads to the further question, Does Paul intend that all of these be “ranked” as to their role or significance in the church? To which the answer seems to be No. He certainly intends the first three to be ranked. One might argue also for the rest on the basis of the “then … then” that prefaces the next two. But that seems unlikely…. The gift of tongues … is not listed last because it is least but because it is the problem. As before, Paul includes it because it is a part of the necessary diversity; but he includes it at the end so that the emphasis on diversity will be heard first.

Why, then, does Paul rank the first three? That is more difficult to answer; but it is almost certainly related to his own conviction as to the role these three ministries play in the church. It is not so much that one is more important than the other, nor that this is necessarily their order of authority, but that one has precedence over the o0ther in the founding and building up of the local assembly….

(1) First, apostles…. It is no surprise that Paul should list “apostles” first. the surprise is that they should be on this list at all, and that he should list them in the plural…. For Paul this is both a “functional” and “positional/official” term. In keeping with the other members on this list, it is primarily “functional” here, probably anticipating the concern for the “building up” of the body that he has already hinted at in v. 7 and will stress in chap. 14. Most likely with this word he is reflecting on his own ministry in this church; the plural is in deference to others who have had the same ministry in other churches (Fee 1987:618-620).

Thus, Gordon Fee understands the role of an apostle to be the ministry gift for the founding of churches. Surely such a role is necessary and continues today! And Paul to the Romans (16:7) affirms that that can be the role of a female apostle.

Conclusion

An eminent church father of the fourth century, John Chrysostom, does not agree that Junia was a male. He not only supported the view that she was a female apostle, but also was a noteworthy apostle. He is closer to the time of the apostles than those of us in the 21st century. Did he know more about this issue of supporting women in public ministry than contemporary church folks?

The role of an apostle is hierarchically fist in order (not of authority) in the founding of local churches. This role continues in the 21st century.

See my further articles on women in ministry:

References

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Cairns, E E 1981. Christianity through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church, rev & enl edn. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Fee, G D 1987. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Moo, D J 1996. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Morris, L 1988. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company / Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Notes


[1] Christian Forums, Baptists, ‘Women preachers’, DeaconDean #145. Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7707393-15/#post62296957 (Accessed 31 January 2013). I have been interacting on this site as OzSpen.

[2] Ibid., OzSpen #148.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

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Open Clipart Library

Women in ministry: an overview of some biblical passages

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

By Spencer D. Gear

I.    Introduction

J. Hudson Taylor “founded the China Inland Mission as a faith mission in 1865, and by 1890 it embraced 40 percent of the missionaries of China.” [1a] It is now called the Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

 

J Hudson Taylor

Courtesy Wikipedia

“J. Hudson Taylor makes extraordinarily ample use of the services of unmarried ladies,” wrote a German missionary in 1898, adding that he thought the idea “unbecoming and repellent.”
He was not alone — many missionary societies severely criticized the idea of sending single females to the mission field. But by 1898, the tidal wave of evangelical missions was sweeping away strict gender roles. The Women’s Missionary Movement, begun in America in the early 1860s, had already given birth to 40 “female agencies” — mission societies that sponsored only single women. Barred from ordained ministry in their homeland, hundreds of women eagerly volunteered to serve abroad.

A large measure of this change can be attributed to the policy of Hudson Taylor. Women were vital to the China Inland Mission from its inception. In 1878, he took a much criticized step in permitting single female missionaries to work in teams in the interior of China. By 1882, less than 20 years after its founding, the CIM already listed 56 wives and 95 single women engaged in ministry.

Women labored sacrificially and with distinction in virtually every capacity of [Hudson] Taylor’s mission. . .  Most of the single women missionaries in the CIM worked with a female partner or on teams that included married couples. But some struck out independently. [2]

It is difficult to know how many women, married and single, are involved as missionaries around the world.  I emailed a number of agencies to try to nail down some information.  One international mission agency emailed this response: “I do not know the context from which you write. If it is Brethren, it would astonish home assemblies to know all that courageous single lady missionaries do, but then get shut out of communicating this to the male home constituency!

“Lady missionaries tend to stay longer than married couples, and also often make better church planters – they push forward nationals; men too often want to control things.  As a rule of thumb in most missions today the numbers are 1/3 married men, 1/3 married ladies and 1/3 singles, with only 10% of the singles as men.” [3]

What would happen if we withdrew all the married and single women in public ministry from the mission field?  I’m talking about withdrawing adult women who minister to adult males and adult females on the mission field.

On Sunday, 18th July 2004, I attended Birkdale Baptist Church (Redlands Shire, outer Brisbane) with my son, Paul, Angela and my two grandsons, Joseph & Daniel.  I heard one of the finest sermons I have heard in quite a while by Robyn Lanham, a female missionary with WEC International.  Such God-gifted ministry would be closed down if women were not allowed to preach and teach publicly in this church or any church.  Did God make an error when he gifted Robyn Lanham with the ministry gift of teaching?

I am convinced that the Bible teaches that God gifts men and women for public ministry to adult males and adult females.  I have to survey the entire Bible in about 40 minutes.  I’ve been asked to keep it simple.  That is difficult when having to deal with difficult Greek grammar.  However, I want you to hold me accountable.  If there is anything in what I preach that is not simple enough, please shout out, Spencer!  I will stop so that you may ask your question of clarification.  I mean this.  If you want to debate this with me, please do that at morning tea after the service.

Should women teach men?  We are getting to that, but let’s look at an example from a very prominent female preacher.

Anne Graham Lotz (Angel Ministries)

Billy Graham has called his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, “the best preacher in the family,” [3a] yet she has experienced some shocking harassment by pastors in the evangelical community.

Anne Graham Lotz learned this lesson personally as she began her itinerant ministry 13 years ago. She was addressing a convention of 800 pastors. As she walked to the lectern, Anne was shocked to see that many of the pastors had turned their chairs around and put their backs to her. She managed to share her message but was shaken. She asked herself, “Was the inaudible voice I had heard from these men, in essence saying, ‘Anne, you don’t belong in the pulpit when men are present’ authentic or not?” Wanting to follow God’s plan for her life, Anne went home and opened her Bible. As Anne read, the Lord told her that He put the words in her mouth and that she was not responsible for the reaction of her audience. God confirmed the call in her life. “Anne, you are not accountable to your audience; you are accountable to Me.” [3b]

II.    Foundation principles in understanding the Bible

If we are to interpret the Scriptures there are three basic principles that we must not depart from:

A. First, God is the God of truth; he does not lie.

Isaiah 45:19 says, “I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the LORD , speak the truth; I declare what is right”  (NIV).  God is the God of truth.
Hebrews 6:18, states: “It is impossible for God to lie.”

God is the God of truth.  He does not lie or speak with a forked tongue.  His word is utterly dependable.  He cannot agree with women in public ministry on the one hand, and deny women in public ministry as a universal principle in the Kingdom of God.  So, how do we deal with the passages that seem to say that women must be silent and not have a public ministry, yet there are other clear examples of women in active public ministry?

B. Second, when we interpret the Bible, we must understand it in context.

Like reading my local newspaper, the Bundaberg News-Mail, it is important to understand verses as they relate to the verses around them, the entire book in which those verses are found, and in harmony with the entire Bible.  We must consider the context of any verses.

C. Third, we must understand the grammar of the original language, and the history & cultures of Bible times.

This takes work and most people don’t have the tools to do it, sadly.  All of us, especially preachers, must engage in historical-grammatical interpretation of the biblical text.

I Tim. 2:12 states: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (NIV).  Sounds clear on the surface, but we cannot interpret it without a knowledge of grammar (including the meaning of words, “authority” and “silent”) and a knowledge of what was going on in the Ephesian church where Timothy was.  We must understand the history and culture.

I Tim. 5:3 (ESV) reads: “Honor widows who are truly widows.”  Who are the true widows as opposed to the false widows?  We need a knowledge of grammar, history & culture.  I have noticed that the search for those who are “true widows” is not an issue in this church.  Why?  Cultural understanding.

I Cor. 11:5 reads (NIV): “And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head — it is just as though her head were shaved.”  I know that a hat on a woman’s head is an issue in Brethren assemblies, but they don’t seem to be an issue here in this church.  Why?  Culture.

I want to put a proposal to you that the teaching on the silence of women in ministry needs to be based on proper grammar and understanding of culture and history of the biblical texts. But I’m jumping ahead of myself.

III.    What do the Scriptures say?


Here I will look at 4 controversial areas.

3d-red-star-small  What does the OT say?
3d-red-star-small  The New Covenant and women from the Day of Pentecost onwards.
3d-red-star-small Four controversial passages:

a. I Cor. 14:33-34: “Women must remain silent in the churches.   They are not allowed to speak” (v. 34).

b. I Tim. 2:9-15, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (v. 12).

c.  I Tim. 3:12, “A deacon must be the husband of but one wife”.

d.  Can women be apostles or elders? Rom. 16:7 states, ‘Greet Andronicus and Junias…. They are outstanding among the apostles”.

A. Women in ministry in the Old Testament

The Old Covenant had very different rules for men and women.  There were special privileges given to certain male Jews and not to male Gentiles.  Some had larger functions than others  did (e.g. the Levites).  There were women in ministry in the OT. The OT congregation had almost no function.

We have OT examples of women in active ministry:
6pointblue-small  Miriam, the prophetess (Ex. 15:20); 
6pointblue-small  Noadiah, the prophetess (Neh. 6:14);

6pointblue-small Queen Esther (Book of Esther);

6pointblue-small Deborah, a prophetess (Judges 4:4);

6pointblue-small Huldah, the prophetess (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22);

6pointblue-small Isaiah’s wife was a prophetess (Isa. 8:3);

What does a prophetess do?

 

6pointblue-small Judges 4:4-6 says that Deborah, the prophetess was “judging Israel at that time. . . the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.”  To Barak she prophesied, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor…’”

6pointblue-small 2 Kings 22:15 says of Huldah, the prophetess, that “she said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the Lord. . .”

The OT prophetess was a public person who heard the voice of God and delivered it publicly to God’s people, Israel, and to individuals.  She was a “thus says the Lord” person.

My conclusion: There were definitely women in active ministry to men in the Old Testament.

B.    The New Covenant and women

Luke 2:36 speaks of Anna the prophetess.

A limitation on female ministry seems to contradict the principle of men and women being equal before God and being able to minister.  See Paul’s epistles:

blue-arrow-small 1 Cor. 11:5, “And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head”; so women had active public ministries.
blue-arrow-small  I Cor. 14:26, ” What then shall we say, brothers [and sisters]? [3c]  When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.”  The word, “adelphoi” means “brothers” but it also means “brothers and sisters.”  See I Cor. 11:2-16 where women are addressed (v. 5).  See also Phil. 4:1-3 where Paul addresses the believers as “brothers” (adelphoi) in v. 1, but then, in the next sentence, in vv. 2-3 Paul addresses two women.  So, the term “brother” in Paul’s writings refers to men and women.
blue-arrow-small  Gal. 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
blue-arrow-small  Eph. 5:21, ” Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

A critical dimension of understanding the Bible is that God, being the God of all knowledge, is not going to give teaching in Old and New Testaments that contradict each another.  He is the God of truth.

Therefore, it should not be surprising that God would tell us in advance what would happen with the coming of the New Covenant.  He prophesied through the prophet Joel what to expect with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant, from the Day of Pentecost onwards.  In Joel 2:28 it was prophesied: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”

That change has come about because of the New Covenant?  The law of God is written on the human heart.  The Spirit indwells people who repent, believe and trust Jesus as their Lord and Saviour – Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and non-slaves.  Special clergy classes of people are abandoned as the Spirit gifts all people for ministry, males and females.

Magnifying glass over Bible - top view

If women are to be silenced from public ministry in the church, including ministry among men, it will violate God’s New Covenant.  From the Day of Pentecost onwards, Joel 2:28-32 began to be fulfilled according to Acts 2:17, “And in the last days [beginning with Pentecost] . . . I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy”.   Here is not the place to get into what is meant by “prophecy,” except to say that you can’t engage in “prophecy” in the church gathering and be silent at the same time.  So, the New Covenant has done away with the silencing of women in public ministry among a mixed audience of males and females.

Some of Paul’s writings make the teaching ministry available to all believers, including women.  In Colossians 3:16, “teaching and admonishing” is the responsibility of “one another,” which must obviously include male and female.  If “teaching and admonishing” are restricted to males only, consistency of interpretation should require that compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, bearing with, forgiveness and love (Col. 3:12-14, NIV) must be practised by males only.  Such a conclusion regarding Christian character is untenable.  See also 1 Cor. 14:26 where “each one” (male and female) in the church is encouraged to minister via a psalm,  teaching, revelation, tongue and interpretation when the church gathers.  If women are restricted from teaching, consistency of interpretation requires their silence with psalms, revelations, tongues and interpretations.  Paul affirmed the teaching ministry of women (Acts 18:26, Titus 2:3) and commended women in ministry (Rom. 16:1-15; 1 Cor. 11:5; Phil. 4:2-3.).
Does this include women in a teaching ministry of men? 

C.    The Controversial Passages

   1. I Cor. 14:33-34: “Women must remain silent in the churches.   They are not allowed to speak” (v. 34).

Remember the general principle of the New Covenant.  God has poured out his Spirit on ALL flesh, male and female.  God’s gifts of the Spirit are for BOTH men and women.
If women are excluded from a significant ministry in every church today (as they are in many evangelical churches), this will have ramifications at a deep level in the local, national and international church.  Should not this restriction have been included in the Pauline passages dealing with the churches’ teaching ministry (e.g..  Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4)?  Except for the one sentence in 1 Tim.  2:12, the gifts of the Spirit to the church have never been differentiated on the basis of sex in the entire New Testament.

How do we understand this silence of women issue in I Cor. 14?  I Cor. 11:5 says that women can pray and prophesy.  So, women allowed to speak in ch. 11 and told to be silent in ch. 14 does not make sense for the God of truth who does not lie.

Could something else be going on here?  What is happening that will help us in this church in Bundaberg in 2004?  Let’s examine this “something else” that helps our interpretation.

Take a look at the context of these verses from I Cor. 14:33ff.  We find this:

a. There was confusion in the Corinthian church as 14:33 states, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” God wanted peace instead of disorder in this church.

b. Could it be that the women had a big part in creating this confusion?  How?  By speaking and that was disrupting the church gathering.

c. We get this idea from 14:35 where the women are told  that “if they want to inquire about something” then they should “ask their own husbands at home.”  Were they seeking to learn in the church gathering and it was resulting in rowdy confusion?  Seems so.

d. If “it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church,” it cannot mean that women are forever stopped from public ministry in the church gathering as I Cor. 11:5 and 14:26 make clear.  It has to mean that it is shameful for a woman to engage in disruptive behaviour while in the church gathering and so contribute to the confusion in the church meeting.  This is a silencing of the women in “all the churches of the saints” (v. 33).  The inference is that it applied to all of the churches as women seem to have been the culprits in creating this confusion. [4]

e. This temporary silence of women in all the churches, would stop the confusion, quit the disruption, and “all things” would then “be done decently and in order” (v. 40, KJV).

While this explanation may not be acceptable to those who hold firmly to the traditionalist view of the silence of women in the church’s mixed gathering, I cannot see any other way out of it, without making God a liar or a perpetrator of contradictory messages.  Such would be blasphemy!  God can’t say on the one hand that it is OK for women to speak by praying and prophesying (11:5) and on the other hand women are to remain silent.  It surely was a local situation that was not meant to silence women for all time.  This also seems a more reasonable explanation in light of God’s views of the change, promoting women in ministry in the New Covenant, from the Day of Pentecost onwards. 

For a more extensive examination of this passage from I Corinthians, see: “Women in Ministry in I Corinthians: A brief inquiry.”

Let’s look at another challenging  passage, probably the most difficult passage.

2. I Tim. 2: 9-15, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (v. 12).

In I Tim. 1:3, Paul tells Timothy to “stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer.”  Then right at the end of the book, I Tim. 6:20-21, Paul writes: ” Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge [note those words],  which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.

This was a letter to Timothy about correcting false doctrine in the Ephesian church.  It was known as a Gnostic heresy (false teaching about false knowledge).

v. 11 “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission” (NIV).[5] In quietness a woman should learn and in full submission.

v. 12  “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (NIV).

“Authority” (v. 12) is an unusual word.  The normal Greek word for authority is exousia.  This verb is authentein, a rare word.  This is the only place it is found in the entire NT.  It means, to “have authority, domineer over someone.” [6]  It means being master over or domineering or something like that.  It’s a hard word to translate, but it is not the ordinary word for authority.  It does not have to do with authority in the church but a domineering that is going on in the Ephesian church.

A woman is permitted no teaching, no domineering over a man; she must be in quietness.  If your translation says that she must remain “silent” (as in the NIV), don’t believe it.  The word may mean silence, but there is another, clear, unambiguous word in Greek for silence that means to keep your mouth shut. [7]  It is NOT these words.  This word translated “silence” is exactly the same word in I Tim. 2:2:  We must live “quiet” lives.  I do not know why the NIV translated the very same root work, “quiet” (1 Tim. 2:2), “quietness” (1 Tim. 2:11) and “silent” (1 Tim. 2:12).  It is clear that “quiet” does not mean keep your mouth shut.  It means, not disturbing the peace, not disrupting things.  It’s the same word in 1 and 2 Thessalonians about the unruly, idle people who are sponging off others and not living in love. It does not mean women are to keep their mouths shut, but women are to stop disrupting things.  Get on with peacefulness.  Practise quietness, not domineering, not disrupting the community.

According to the remainder of Scripture, salvation is obtained by grace through faith.  But what does I Tim. 2:15 say? ” But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (NIV)  This verse links salvation to having babies.  How is this possible?  I have heard about Christian women who have died in child birth.

In trying to understand this passage, v. 15 was the toughest nut for me to crack, but when I began to understand this Gnostic heresy, it opened up for me.  For a more detailed explanation of this section of Scripture, see my paper, “Must Women Never Teach Men in the Church.”

Flower  What was the nature of this gnostic heresy?

According to I Tim. 6:20-21, those into false doctrine at Ephesus were involved in “godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge (gnosis).”

Flower  What was the Purpose of 1 Timothy?

The epistle begins (1:3) and ends (6:20-21) with a concern about false teaching.  The issue of false teachers and their teaching, mentioned throughout the letter (chs. 1, 4, 5, 6), also appears in the wider context of the pastoral epistles (2 Tim. chs. 2-4 and Titus chs. 1 and 3).  The purpose, then, of 1 Timothy was to provide instructions to combat the Ephesian heresy which Timothy encountered.  Within this context, I propose that 1 Tim. 2:12, is not a universal command applied to every Christian church, but a specific direction given to Timothy to correct the Ephesian error.

Flower  What was the nature of this Ephesian false teaching?

a. Those embracing false doctrines at Ephesus were involved in “worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ (gnosis)” (1 Tim. 6:20-21).  This Gnostic heresy included …

b. Elaborate systems of intermediate beings who bridged the gap between God and man, complete with astounding genealogies and fantastic myths about these primordial beings.  Other Gnostics were considerably closer to Jewish traditions and gave exaggerated roles to Adam, Eve, Cain and Seth. [8] See 1 Tim. 1:4, 4:3, 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:18, 23, 3:6-8, 4:5, 14, Titus 3:9.

c. If you read Acts 19, you will find that the Ephesian church was pioneered in the midst of confrontations with occult and pagan practices (Acts 19:9, 13, 18-19, 27).  The apostle Paul warned of the “savage wolves” who would attack the believers (Acts 20:29-30).  He exhorted them not to be “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness, in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14).  However, the Ephesian church reeled under the impact of various kinds of false teachings, influencing many to defect from the faith (cf. 2 Tim. 1:15, 4:14-15).


d. Some of the prime targets of the false teachers were women who listened to anybody, without coming to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:6-9).

However, there is every indication that women were involved in propagating this Gnostic heresy through their roles of mediatorship (suggested by 1 Tim. 2:5-9).  The city of Ephesus contained thousands of female prostitutes associated with the temples of Artemis (or Diana) and Aphrodite (Venus).  It was considered a commendable duty to be a temple prostitute.  There was a long tradition in ancient religions of female figures serving as mediators.  Women were supposed to possess a special affinity for the divine.  This “mystic-sexual principle” was evident in early Christian heresies. [9]

Some false teachers exalted and revered Eve as the mediator who brought divine enlightenment to human beings.  They said that secret gnosis was given to Eve by the serpent, making her the originator of the knowledge of good and evil.  It was even proposed that Adam received life through Eve’s instruction. [10]

A Gnostic sect, the Nicolaitans, promoted heretical views in Ephesus according to Revelation 2:6.  They revered a book which, they claimed, was the work of Noah’s wife, Noria.  Sexual immorality was exalted because of its sacred nature, they said. [11]

If the heresy of 1 Timothy involved Gnostic groups, women probably were among their teachers.  Many early Christian writers showed that “women performed all churchly roles within many Christian gnostic groups.”  It is reasonable, then, to conclude that women in Ephesus were teaching heresy. [12]

False teachers were prohibiting marriage (1 Tim. 4:3) and may have encouraged women to leave their homes and meet together (1 Tim. 5:13).

All of this concern for public reputation, model domestic life, appropriate décor, and maternal domestic roles of women, clearly implies that the opposition Paul and Timothy faced in Ephesus, constitutes an assault on marriage, and what were considered appropriate models and roles for women. [13]

Flower How was this to be corrected?

The apostle is adamant about what should be done with false teachers: “Instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines” (1 Tim. 1:3).  They “must be silenced” and reproved severely (Titus 1:11, 13).  Could it be that this is the meaning of 1 Tim. 2:12?  Since women were involved in practising and teaching errors which plagued the Ephesian church, they were forbidden from teaching, as a temporary measure, until they received adequate instruction (1 Tim. 2:11).  One view is that “evidently the ban on teaching by women had been issued as one of several emergency measures during an extremely critical period in the history of the Ephesian church.” [14]

At the core of Paul’s strategy was the elimination of all unqualified or deviant would-be teachers, both male and female, so that the church’s teaching ministry would be carried out exclusively by a small retinue of approved “faithful men” who would be able to take from Timothy the teaching he had himself received from Paul and transmit it to others (2 Tim. 2:2).  Thus, neither women nor all men could teach in Ephesus, but only a group of trained and carefully selected individuals. [15]

Mary Lee Cagle, Pioneer Preacher, Church of the Nazarene

Courtesy Encyclopedia of Alabama

 What about that difficult v. 15, “women will be kept safe through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”?  I don’t have time to go into the details, but this verse is not an explanation of how a woman can earn eternal salvation, but a Christian response to Paul’s argument for the temporary silence of women teachers.  A female false teacher “will be restored only when individual women continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty, thereby demonstrating the maturity of faith demanded of any Christian teacher. [16]  For an in-depth treatment, see “Must Women Never Teach Men in the Church?

My conclusion is that 1 Timothy 2:9-15 is not a command to prevent all women from teaching in the church for all times.  Paul’s intention was not to place a permanent limitation on women in the ministry.  Rather, these verses were addressed to a problem situation in Ephesus where women were teaching heresy.

I agree with Mark Roberts conclusion: “So today, if women fail to continue in faith and love and holiness with modesty — like men who fail similarly — they should not teach.  Ones like these, whether female or male, need to learn in silence and to practice what they learn.  But if women have learned, if they have persevered in the Christian faith, if the Holy Spirit has gifted them for teaching, let us not quench the ministry of the Spirit through women. . .  We must encourage our sisters as they seek to serve Christ in his frighteningly patriarchal church.” [17]

3. I Tim. 3:12, “A deacon must be the husband of but one wife”

This is also the same statement for elders in 1 Tim. 3:2, that the elder must be “the husband of but one wife.”  On the surface, this verse looks as though all debate is ended. Deacons can only be men because the qualification is “the husband of but one wife.”  In context, if we look at v. 8, Paul is speaking of male deacons who “are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, . . . etc.”  That’s how it seems with a surface reading.

Let’s observe something about the phrase “husband of but one wife” (NIV).

The word translated, “husband” is the Greek, aner.  Let’s check out the most authoritative Greek-English lexicon (a lexicon is a dictionary), Arndt & Gingrich, and discover the various meanings of aner. [18]  This is what we find:

Flower   Remember the story of the feeding of the 5,000 people by Jesus.  In Matthew 14:21 it reads, “The number of those who ate was about five thousand men [aner], besides women [gune]and children.”  These are the words translated as “husband” and “wife” in I Tim. 3.  There is no way that we would translate Matt. 14:21 as “The number of those who ate was about five thousand [husbands], besides [wives] and children.” Aner in this context means “man in contrast to woman.” In addition to Matt. 14:21, you’ll find find “man in contrast to woman” used also in passages such as Mk. 6:44; Acts 4:4; I Cor. 12:3;
Flower  Also, aner speaks “of a woman having sexual intercourse with a man” referring to Joseph and Mary in Lk. 1:27, 34;

Flower  Yes, it can be translated as “husband” See Mt. 1:16; Acts 5:9ff;
Flower  It also means a “man in contrast with a boy” (I Cor. 13:11);
Flower  It refers to a “full-grown man” (Eph. 4:13);
Flower Aner is also used as the equivalent to “someone/some people” in Lk. 9:38; John 1:30; Acts 6:11.

So, there is no reason why aner should be translated only as “husband.”  It is just as valid to translate as “a man, a mature man, or a person.”

In the phrase, “the husband of but one wife,” the word for “wife” is the Greek, gune.  Again we go to the most authoritative Greek-English lexicon by Arndt & Gingrich [19] and this is what we find.  Gune can refer to the following:

blue-arrow-small  Remember Matt. 9:20?  It reads, “Just then a woman [gune] who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.   So, gune here refers to “any adult female.”  You’ll find a similar kind of use for gun? in Lk. 1:42; 1 Cor. 14:34ff.
blue-arrow-small  Yes, it can refer to “wife” as in Matt. 5:28; I Cor. 9:5; Col. 3:18ff.
In Luke 4:26, we read, ” Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.”  The “widow” is gune in the Greek.
blue-arrow-small  In Matt. 1:20, Mary is said to be Joseph’s bride or wife.
blue-arrow-small  In Rev. 12:1-17, gune speaks of “the woman in heaven.”

So, gune can mean an adult woman, wife, or widow.

What then is the meaning of “the husband of one wife” in 1 Tim. 3:2, 12 as it refers to qualifications of deacons and elders?  One of the outstanding evangelical Greek scholars of today is Dr. Gordon Fee.  He writes that this “is one of the truly difficult phrases in the Pastoral Epistles.” [20] There are at least 4 options for what it means:

First, it would require that overseers & deacons should be married.  Support could be found “in the fact that the false teachers are forbidding marriage and that Paul urges marriage for the wayward widows” (see 5:14; cf. 2:15). [21] But, this would contradict what Paul says in I Cor. 7:25-38 that singleness was best for most effective ministry.  Besides, in that Roman culture, it was assumed that most people would be married.

There’s a second possible interpretation: to prohibit polygamy (having more than one wife at the same time).  This would emphasise the one wife aspect, “but polygamy was such a rare feature of pagan society.” [22] Even further, if you go to I Tim. 5:9, it states that “no widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband” (NIV).  So, warning against polygamy would have been irrelevant.

A third option: “It could be prohibiting second marriages.”  “It would fit the widows especially and all kinds of inscriptional evidence praises women (especially, although sometimes men) who were ‘married once’ and remained ‘faithful’ to that marriage after the partner died.” [23]  So, this view would mean that a widow or widower could not remarry and be a church leader, and divorce and remarriage would be prohibited for deacons and elders.  But, the scriptures give biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage in passages such as Matt. 5:31-32; 19:1-9; Mark 10:1-9, and 1 Cor. 7:10-15.

The fourth possibility is that “it could be that it requires marital fidelity to his one wife.” [24] That’s how the New English Bible translates the phrase, as “faithful to his one wife.”  Again I quote prominent Greek scholar of today, Gordon Fee:

In this view the overseer is required to live an exemplary married life (marriage is assumed), faithful to his one wide in a culture in which marital infidelity was common, and at times assumed. . . The concern that the church’s leaders live exemplary married lives seems to fit the context best—given the apparently low view of marriage and family held by the false teachers (4:3; cf. 3:4-5). [25]

Therefore, the “husband of one wife” can also be translated as “the man of one woman.”  He was a one-woman man.  While the English Standard Version [25a] translates I Tim. 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6 as “the husband of one wife,” it gives this footnote: “Or a man of one woman.”  Today’s New International Version [25b] translates the phrase as “faithful to his wife.”  It is giving an example of the need for faithfulness in marriage relationships.  Commentator R. C. H. Lenski explains: “The emphasis is on one wife’s husband, and the sense is that he have nothing to do with any other woman.  he must be a man who cannot be taken hold of on the score of sexual promiscuity or laxity. . . To begin with, a man who is not strictly faithful to his one wife is debarred [from service as an overseer].” [25c]

It cannot restrict deacons to males only.  We know this from Rom. 16:1.  Let’s take a look into who Phoebe was.

Rom. 16:1 states, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea” (NIV).  We need to note that Phoebe, in the Greek is said to be a “diakonos.”  Paul used the Greek masculine, “diakonos,” in 1 Tim. 3:8 (cf. 3:11) to indicate male deacons.  Here in Rom. 16:1 we have clear biblical evidence that the feminine “diakonos” was used to refer to a female deaconess. [26]

You will miss this in some English translation. The NIV: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant [footnote: “or deaconess”] of the church in Cenchrea.”  The NASB, ESV, KJV and NKJV, all refer to Phoebe, “the servant.”  The New Living Translation and NRSV read: “Our sister Phoebe, a deacon in the church.”  The RSV translates as “our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church.”  Phoebe was a female deacon, i.e. a deaconess.

A final controversial issue:

4. Can women be apostles or elders?  Rom. 16:7

This verse reads: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me” (that’s the ESV).  The NIV translates as: “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me.  They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.”  These two different translations show some of the difficulties in translating this verse.
Literally, the Greek reads, word-for-word (English translation): “Greet Andronicus and Junia/Junias the kinsmen of me and fellow-captives of me who are notable among, in or by the apostles who also before me have been in Christ.”
The controversy surrounds:

(a)  Junia’s gender?  Male or female?

(b) The phrase, “among the apostles”, and

(c) If Junia is feminine and she is among the apostles, this makes her a female apostle.

Let’s look at this briefly.  Three quick points:

a. Firstly, let’s examine the gender of Junia.

The Greek form, jounian (from Junias), depending on the Greek accent given to it, could be either masculine or feminine.  So the person could be a man, Junianus, or a woman, Junia.  “Interpreters from the thirteenth to the middle of the twentieth century generally favored the masculine identification, but it appears that commentators before the thirteenth century were unanimous in favor of the feminine identification; and scholars have recently again inclined decisively to this same view.  And for probably good reason. . .  The Latin ‘Junia’ was a very common name.  Probably, then, ‘Junia’ was the wife of Andronicus (note the other husband and wife pairs in this list in Rom. 16: Prisca and Aquila [v. 3] and [probably], Philologus and Julia [v. 15].” [27]

b.    Second: Is Junia a female apostle?

The phrase “esteemed/notable by the apostles” is a possible Greek construction as in the ESV. [28] But it is more natural to translate as “esteemed/notable among the apostles,” as with the NIV.  Why is it more natural?  It’s a technical Greek expression that I explain in another paper on women in ministry that I will give to the deacons to consider. [29]  Andronicus and Junia were probably a husband and wife team of apostles. [30]

c.    Junia is therefore a female apostle

This means that Junia was a female apostle, not one of the Twelve, but one of the ministry gifts of Christ to the church (see Eph. 4:11).

IV.  Summary


1. In the OT there were women in public ministry: prophetesses.
2. In the NT,

a. From the Day of Pentecost, in this New Covenant, God is pouring out his Spirit on all flesh.  Spiritual gifts are for both men and women, including public ministry of preaching, teaching, other gifts of the Holy Spirit, BUT men or women who teach false doctrine must not be given the floor until they have corrected their teachings and  have returned to biblical  truth.
b. In the NT, the restrictions placed on gifts for women AND men are in local churches for correction of error or to stop confusion or bedlam in the church gathering, according to I Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2.

c. We haven’t had time to examine what Paul said in I Cor. 7:
ff. about his preference for singleness for the most effective ministry, “because of the present crisis” (I Cor. 7:26).


d. Objections to women in ministry should be on the same level as women wearing a head covering in I Cor. 11, food sacrificed to idols (1 Cor. 8), slavery (I Tim. 6:1ff) and those who are truly widows (1 Tim. 5).  A local custom or heresy drove them.


e. What have we done to gifted women with teaching, preaching and other public ministries?  Too often we have sent them to the Sunday School to teach children (and many have done that in humility and have done it well).  But it is wrong to do that when we may have women who are gifted Bible teachers in this church and they are prevented from exercising those gifts because of the elevation of male-only ministry in the evangelical church.


f. Take these examples: The OT Tyndale Commentaries written by Joyce Baldwin, Dean of Women at Trinity College, Bristol.  She wrote the commentaries on Esther [31], I & 2 Samuel, Daniel [32], and Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

 

Dorothy L. Sayers, courtesy Wikipedia

g. Dorothy Sayers (died 1957) was a British Christian who was a “novelist, playright, academic, and a Christian apologist. . .  Works like The Mind of the Maker (1941) reveal how skillful an apologist for orthodox Christian teaching she was. . .  Sayers was a prominent member of that midcentury group of English Christian writers of whom C. S. Lewis is the best known.” [33] Closing down women in public ministry among men closes down God’s gifts to the church.  I cannot support such censorship within the church.

h. I call on this church to set the women free to exercise the gifts that God has given them.  Since the Day of Pentecost, God has poured out his Spirit on all people.  The gifts of the Spirit are not discriminated on the basis of gender.  Please, Please – let the men AND women loose to exercise their God-given gifts.  Some of the worst preachers I have ever heard, who should never be let loose in any pulpit, have been men.


i. I close with I Cor. 12:4-7, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (NIV). [34]

Gold Chain Of Round Links Clip Art

 


In support of women in ministry see:
http://www.warc.ch/dp/walk/01.html
http://www.theologymatters.com/TMIssues/Janfeb00.pdf
http://www.womenpriests.org/classic/brooten.asp
http://www.ptmin.org/view.htm

For a contrary view on Junia see:
http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1163 

 

Endnotes

1a.  Cairns 1954/1981, p. 402.
2.  Tucker 1996 [22 April 2007].
3.  Patrick and Robyn Johnstone, Operation World, info@operationworld.org; [3rd  August 2004].
3a.  See: http://www.cbsnews.com/earlyshow/healthwatch/healthnews/20010913terror_spiritual.shtml [3rd August 2004].
3b.  See: http://www.cbn.com/700club/profiles/annegrahamlotz2.asp [3rd August 2004].
3c.  What does adelphoi (brothers) mean?  Is it referring to males only, or are women included?  Gordon Fee links his comments about adelphoi in 14:26 with his explanation of the vocative adelphoi in I Cor. 1:10:

“Although it means ‘brothers,’ it is clear from the evidence of this letter (11:2-16) and Phil. 4:1-3 that women were participants in the worship of the community and would have been included in the ‘brothers’ being addressed.  The latter passage is particularly telling since in v. 1 Paul uses the vocative adelphoi, and then directly addresses two women in the very next sentence.  It is therefore not pedantic, but culturally sound and biblically sensitive, for us to translate this vocative [in I Cor. 1:10] ‘brothers and sisters’” (Fee 1987, p. 52 n22).

   4.  Gordon Fee states,

“The most commonly held view is that which sees the problem as some form of disruptive speech.  Support is found in v. 35, that if the women wish to learn anything, they should ask their own husbands at home.  Various scenarios are proposed: that the setting was something like the Jewish synagogue, with women on one side and men on the other and the women shouting out disruptive questions about what was being said in a prophecy or tongue; or that they were asking questions of men other than their own husbands; or that they were simply ‘‘chattering’’ so loudly that it had a disruptive effect.
    “The biggest difficulty with this view is that it assumes a ‘church service’ of a more ‘orderly’ sort than the rest of this argument presupposes.  If the basic problem is with their ‘all speaking in tongues’ in some way, one may assume on the basis of 11:5 that this also included the women; furthermore, in such disarray how can mere ‘chatter’ have a disruptive effect?   The suggestion that the early house churches assumed a synagogue pattern is pure speculation; it seems remote at best” (Fee 1987, p. 703).

  5.  The following information on “authority” and “quiet” is based on Gordon Fee, cassette tape, “Pastoral Epistles: About Women”, preached at Waverly Christian Fellowship, Melbourne, 1997.
6.  Arndt, Gingrich & Bauer 1957, p. 120.
7.  That is, use the negative, m?, with lale? (I speak), thus meaning “I do not speak.”
8.  Kroeger 1980, p. 15.
9.  Ibid., pp. 15-16.
10.  Ibid., p. 16.
11.  Ibid.
12.  Roberts 1983, p. 19. n39
13.  Scholer (1985).]
14.  Bilezikian 1985, p. 261.
15.  Ibid., p. 182.
16.  Mark D. Roberts, “Women Shall Be Saved: A Closer Look at 1 Timothy 2:15,” The Reformed Journal, April 1983, p. 17.  Ibid.
18.  Arndt, Gingrich & Bauer, pp. 65-66.
19.  Ibid., p. 167.
20.  Fee 1988.
21.  Ibid., p. 80.
22.  Ibid.
23.  Ibid.
24.  Ibid.
25.  Ibid., pp. 80-81.
25a. 
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version [ESV].  Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Bibles (a Division of Good News Publishers), 2001.
25b. 
Today’s New International Version: New Testament Preview Edition 2001, available from: http://www.tniv.info/pdf/TNIV_NewTestament.pdf [12th August 2004].
25c.  Lenski 1937, 1946, 1961, 2001, pp. 580-581.
26.  Arndt, Gingrich & Bauer 1957, pp. 183-184.
27.  Moo 1996, pp. 921-922.
28.  This is using the preposition, ev, in its instrumental sense.
29.  “With a plural object [apostles], ev often means ‘among’; and if Paul had wanted to say that Andronicus and Junia were esteemed ‘by’ the apostles, we would have expected him to use a simple dative [case] or [the preposition] hupo with the genitive [case].  The word epistemoi (‘splendid,’ ‘prominent,’ ‘outstanding’); only here in the NT in this sense [cf. also Matt. 27:16]) also favors this rendering” (Moo 1996, p. 923,
n39).
30.  Gordon Fee (1987) says that that Rom. 16:7 refers to “probably Andronicus and his wife [Junia]” (I Corinthians, n80, p. 729). Gordon Fee says that that Rom. 16:7 refers to “probably Andronicus and his wife [Junia]” (p. 729, n80).
31.  Baldwin 1984.
32.  Baldwin 1978.
33.  Pollard 1978, pp. 334-335.
34.  Today’s New International Version, available from: http://www.tniv.info/pdf/TNIV_NewTestament.pdf [5th August 2004]

References

William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich 1957, transl & adapt. of Walter Bauer (4th ed) 1952, “authenteo,”A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House.

Joyce G. Baldwin 1978 Daniel (The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, gen. ed., D. J. Wiseman).  Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Joyce G. Baldwin 1984, Esther (The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, gen. ed., D. J. Wiseman).  Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Gilbert Bilezikian 1985, Beyond Sex Roles: A Guide for the Study of Female Roles in the Bible.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

Earle E. Cairns 1954, 1981, Christianity through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Gordon D. Fee 1987, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. ed. F. F. Bruce.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Noel S. Pollard, “Sayers, Dorothy Leigh,” in J. D. Douglas, gen. ed., Twentieth-Century Dictionary of Christian Biography.  Carlisle, United Kingdom: Paternoster Press, 1995.

Gordon D. Fee 1988, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (W. Ward Gasque, New Testement ed., New International Biblical Commentary). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger 1980, “May Woman Teach?  Heresy in the Pastoral Epistles,” The Reformed Journal (October).

R. C. H. Lenski, 1937, 1946, 1961, 2001, Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus, and to Philemon.  Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

Douglas G. Moo 1996, The Epistle to the Romans (The New International Commentary on the New Testament).  Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Noel S. Pollard 1995, “Sayers, Dorothy Leigh,” in J. D. Douglas, gen. ed., Twentieth-Century Dictionary of Christian Biography. Carlisle, United Kingdom: Paternoster Press.

Mark D. Roberts 1983, “Women Shall Be Saved: A Closer Look at 1 Timothy 2:15,” The Reformed Journal (April).
David M. Sholer 1985. “The Place of Women in the Church’s Ministry: 1 Timothy 2:9-15,” Dean of the Seminary, Professor of New Testament, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicago,   The address was delivered at Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia, on March 15, 1985, sponsored by Zadok Centre, Canberra, Australia, and available on cassette tape.

Ruth A. Tucker 1996, “Unbecoming Ladies: Women played a controversial but decisive new role in China missions,” Christian History (October 1), available from: http://ctlibrary.com/418 (Accessed 22 April 2007).

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (I Cor. 12:7, NIV).

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 October 2015.

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