Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Violence of Opposite poles: Sin and Holiness

Sin is a horrible destructive element mere words can barely explain. It is drastically different than the Holiness that the Trinity contain. We barely understand the holiness, the purity, the perfect Love, the wisdom, the mercy that is contained in God. God is perfectly just, there is not one speck of injustice in Him. And He loves us, creating us in His image. I don't know how He was able to endure Adam and Eve's sinning, knowing the destruction their choices would reap. But He also knew that it was the only path that would produce a free willed choosing by some, of God's Way in the end. The pain God must endure constantly watching His most loved creation destroy itself of its own free choice, must be unbearable on human standards.

And then to heap pain upon pain, God had to do the unbelievable, and contain Himself in human flesh IN ORDER TO SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES of the sins brought upon humanity by Adam and Eve, and all those following who choose again and again to sin, turning from God and godly ways. By suffering the very presence of evil undeservedly, God was able to somehow make the sacrifice that would perfectly repel evil, that evil could not withstand, and then offer it to those willing to accept it. It was the first human's treacherous rebellion that brought sin into the rest of humanity and Christ’s perfect humanity that was able to repel it's consequences.

I sometimes wonder if we have the words to express what happened on the cross. Spiritually speaking it was likely something like the force of opposite magnetic poles. Evil and holiness cannot cohabit. It is not possible. They may stand near each other as they do in this world, but they cannot unite. When Christ somehow miraculously took upon Himself the heavy burdensome sin of humanity, for a moment He experienced the separation and cried out "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I cannot conceive how that whole thing is possible either physically or spiritually. God is a lot more powerful than we give Him credit for I think. But that moment must have been a violent moment spiritually when taking upon Himself the full burden of sin, holiness HAD to depart. Evil and holiness cannot unite. And then it was done. Something else was created from that action. We call it a spiritual bridge, a way back to God. By accepting Christ’s sacrifice we can come into the presence of God and God can come unite within our very being. Now that really doesn’t follow known physical or spiritual ‘rules of creation’.

Even the rest of it is difficult to fully comprehend. I know one cannot kill God, so to me it makes sense that He resurrected Himself. Yet, it is still difficult to grasp that that moment now enables us to come to God and repent of our sin which Christ has now destroyed the power of over us. But we don't have to fully understand it to believe it and act upon it.

Father forgive us.

The Question of Marital Submission: Who Does It and What does it Mean

Quote: from http://www.biblestudyproject.org/local-church-messianic.htm#Its_eldership_is_open_to_men_who_fulfill_the_qualifications

“As a wife must lovingly submit to her husband's leadership in the marriage, so must women lovingly submit to exclusive male eldership in the congregation”.


Yes, a wife is to lovingly submit and be of a submissive heart to her husband ( as he must be to her). However, the submission that a believer gives to the church leaders is not the same as a wife gives to her husband. Church leaders whether elders, pastors, teachers, deacons, etc. are not to think of themselves in a one flesh relationship with the congregants. Neither are church leaders to think of themselves as Fathers or Masters. Rather, following Christ’s exhortations in Matt. 20: 20-28, leaders are to consider themselves servants who did not come to be served but to serve and give their lives.

The Question of Submission

The Grk. Word (hupotassoMENOI) translated ‘submission’ ( sometimes ‘subject’) in the NT is most often in the passive, thus it is not primarily about responding to requests from others, though it can be. The difference between obey (hupakou) and submit (hupotassomenoi) is that obey is always responding to another, while submit in the passive, is self instigated. We must be submissive to one another regardless of whether or not they ask for it. And our submission must be to their betterment. In this way kings, bosses, parents, and husbands also submit without having to wait for a request. They submit by giving something of themselves to support, assist, honor and improve the other. It is a way of placing oneself beneath another in order to lift them up. It may not always look so honorable. Sometimes, its just keeping the peace.

One of the first things we need to acknowledge about submission is that everyone is to be of a submissive heart. No one is excused from participation.

The following list was taken from Listening to the Spirit in the Text, written by Gordon Fee.

In the early church everything was done allelon ("one another").

They were members of one another (Rom 12:5;Eph 4:25),

who were to build up one another (1Thess 5:11;Rom 14:19),

care for one another (1Cor 12:25),

love one another (1Thess 3:12; 4:9; Rom 13:8; 1John passim),

bear with one another in love (Eph 4:2),

bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2),

be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another (Eph 4:32),

submit to one another (Eph 5:21),

consider one another better than themselves (Phil 2:3),

be devoted to one another in love(Rom 12:10),

and live in harmony with one another (Rom12:16).

Looking briefly at the gist of these Scriptures, we can see that they all entail a humble submissive attitude of mentally (at least) getting ‘under’ someone in order to lift them up. These are attitudes that everyone is to give toward others in the body of Christ; no one is to be left out.

A question was made in this discussion, about the uses of hupotage, hupakou, and hupotasso. So let’s take a look at where these are used regarding women in the NT epistles and in what forms. In the course of this discussion we will be viewing all of these verses, though not all in this article.

Hupotasso (submit) : Col. 3:18 (pres. Pl. Middle voice),

Huptassomenoi (submit - passive): 1 Cor. 14:34, Epe. 5:21, 24; Titus 2:5; 1 Pe. 3:1,5

Hupotage (subject) : 1 Tim. 2:11 (n.)

Hupakouo (obey/hear/heed): 1 Pe. 3:6

SUBMIT meanings in English:

English...... RandomHouse 1967 (fr. Latin submitt[ere])

7 definitions given:

1. to yield in surrender, compliance, obedience

2. to subject (esp. oneself) to imposed conditions, treatment

3. to refer or present for the approval or decision of another

4. to state or urge with deference;suggest or propose

5. to yield in surrender, compliance, obedience; to yeild to a conquerer

6. to allow oneself to be subjected to something imposed or to be undergone

7. to defer to another’s judgment, opinion, decision

English ...... Websters 1915 ( fr. L., submittere; sub/under = mittere/to send)

1. to put or place under (obsolete)

2. to let down; to lower (obs.)

3. to yield, resign, or surrender to power, will, or authority (often with the reflexive

Greek is not English and has different ways of expressing things. But even in English we can see that submitting is not only about an inferior yielding to authority. One can yield, surrender, give in to another’s judgment or opinion without them being an authority over us. Submitting to someone does not confirm that they have authority over us. Therefore, any supposed authority must come from someplace else other than one’s choice to submit to them. However, submission can have an element of obedience in it depending on the context. Every word has a range of meanings that are determined by context. Context is always the determining factor.

OBEY meanings in Greek:

The word used to mean “obey” throughout the N.T. is (h)upakouo. It is also used to mean “listen, heed”. It’s a fairly precise word for those meanings: listen, obey, obedience, obedient. The verb is derived from akouo, was commonly used in secular Gr. from Homer on. The adj. hupekoos, obedient, is in the Greek O.T., in Deut. 20:11 of subject peoples and in Prov. 4:3, 13:1 of a son’s obedience to his father.

In Acts 12:13 hupakouo means to open in the sense of “answering the door”. Elsewhere the verb group is used extensively and predominantly by Paul denoting obedience. And sometimes this obedience includes submission to earthly authorities. As a side note some might find it interesting, that in the Greek translation of the O.T. this was the word used when Adam listened to Sarah and did what she asked of him. He listened and obeyed.

The conclusion one cannot help but reach is that if Paul had meant obey or obedience in the places he used (h)upotasso or more specifically (h)upotassoMAI, then Paul would have used hupakouo instead. Fact is he did not.

SUBMIT meanings in Greek:

The Greek words (h)upotasso and (h)upotassoMENOI are more complicated. Vines Bible Dictionary made the mistake of saying that hupotasso is primarily a military term, which is truly inaccurate. It's usage in a military setting was about arranging oneself in the team to do their job. Military terms are such that are peculiar to the military and are somewhat out of place when used elsewhere. But submissive attitudes really permeate all of life including the military. And it’s good to remember that neither church relationships nor marital relationships are military in nature.

The base word hupotasso means to arrange oneself under more similar to our word subject perhaps. It is usually used of one commanding another to “submit”, yield, come under them in some manner. Most hierarchalists interpret submission as always to be compliance to another's commands/demands/requests. Their idea of voluntary and the voluntary inherent in hupotassoMENOI are entirely different. The voluntary in hupotassoMENOI means that a person is not in sin if she does not volunteer herself in the instances she doesn't believe appropriate. It is her decision, her "offering" to give.

In the N.T. Paul uses submit primarily in the form of hupotassomenoi , in the sense of a humble attitude, and arranging oneself in unity, conformity, and respect (summarized in Ephe. 5:33). Ephesians 5:21 and 1 Pe. 5:5 show it best.

Epe. 5: 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

1 Pe. 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.

Inserting the error of upotassomai meaning obey would make these two verses read that in Ephesians we are all to obey one another, and in Peter we are to first obey our elders and then obey everyone. Just doesn’t work does it. That is because upotassomai does not mean obey.

The way Paul uses the word most often throughout the N.T. is in the middle passive voice form. This way he is requesting that we all voluntarily, willingly, actively arrange ourselves to yield, fit in to one another at our own instigation. When Paul uses the verb in verse 21 and then omits the verb in verse 22 to the wives he is effectively carrying over this attitude and saying of a sort, “wives you too”.

In addition, those who think hupotassomenoi means submit to authority of another, there are much better and more precise words available that say exactly that, which Paul did NOT use. That would have been a form of archo (ruler, one in front, primary one, etc.) or despotes (master ).


Ephe. 5: 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

In order to understand this excerpt from Ephesians it is important for us to do at least two things: 1) search for some info on the Greek words used, which we just did 2) read the excerpt in the full context of chapter 5.

One of Paul's purposes in writing to the Ephesians was to admonish them to live in unity. Ephesians 4 starts with:

1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Chapter 4 through 6 tells us how we should live as coheirs of the grace of God, that we should be at peace with one another understanding that we are all equal under Christ.

Chapter five, vs. 1-2, admonishes all to love sacrificially. This is sandwiched with vs. 21 where Paul admonishes all to submit one to another. These are the same two points that Paul pointedly reminds first wives and then husbands in vv. 22-33.

In between these sandwiched verses are more “unity in the Spirit“ verses. We are to live spiritually clean lives and walk in the light. We are to live wisely, redeeming the days , and be filled with the Spirit. The thought structure is such that walking in love as pure children, being filled with the Spirit, will naturally enable us to be submissive toward one another. And that is what husbands and wives are to carry into ALL their marital and family relationships.

but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.


In Ephesians 5 Paul pictures the marital relationship as two becoming as one flesh. He shows this by picturing the husband as ‘head of’ (not over) the wife and the wife as ‘body of’ (not under) the husband. If each views the other as necessary in a similar way that a body must stay connected to the head, and the head must stay connected to the body in order to maintain life, then there is hope that they together may attain what Adam exulted about in Genesis: two becoming as one flesh. It is important that we stick to the metaphor that Paul provides instead of modernizing it. Paul was speaking to the first century Christians in terminology that they understood.

The wife’s submission is to be patterned after the conceptual sandwich that Paul spoke of in the preceding verses 1-21. She is to carry all of that into her attitude toward her husband in everything, in the same way all Christians are to express that tenderness and respect toward one another. The added thing for the wife is the intimacy of living as if one flesh and possibly trusting the husband as believers trust the Lord. We submit to the Lord because we trust his intentions for us.

Paul actually has more to say to the husbands than the wives: ten verses versus two. Husbands are reminded of the point of sacrificial love (fr. verses 1-2). We are all to emulate Christ in that respect. Husbands are reminded that admonition applies to their wives as well. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Christ did this (washed and cleansed believers) so that He could have a bride. This is a likely a reference to a story in Eze. 16 in which God finds Israel as an abandoned infant laying in her own blood (sin). He washes her and makes her His own. This is a redemptive story about removing the shame of uncleanness and dishonor. The early Christians would have recognized Paul was making an appeal to the men to confront the system of shame that surrounded women, where the presence of women were considered a defilement. Christ gave His Life to remove our shame. Husbands should give their lives so that the one who is now part of their life could live in honor, nurtured, protected and loved.

Ephesians is probably the fullest description of marital relationships of the NT Scriptures . It is built on the mutual authority in 1 Cor. 7 (written in 56 AD) and Galatians magna carte of Christian liberty and freedom from bondage to the law (written in 49 AD). Colossians was written about the same time as Ephesians, but likely shortly afterward (60-62 AD) since the reference to interpersonal relationships in 3:18-23 is a brief summarization of Ephesians 5:21-6:9. Titus and 1 Peter were both written afterwards, 63AD and 64AD respectively. So understanding Ephesians helps tremendously to clarify what Paul thought a Christian marriage should look like.

What About Headship?

This is the second response to the question of the subjection of women to men.

Quote: from http://www.biblestudyproject.org/local-church-messianic.htm#Its_eldership_is_open_to_men_who_fulfill_the_qualifications

“The underlying principles that are given for the headship of the man in the home and the congregation are the same, and are all theological, meaning that they must apply in all homes and congregations everywhere throughout the Church Age.”
And “The principle of the subjection of women to the men in the local congregation may also be found in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, which deals with the requirement of women, perhaps only married women (mbs 106, p. 42. See endnotes), to wear a headcovering in honor of male headship. The passages dealing directly with congregational eldership are consistent with these, and must logically be viewed as relevant to the general requirement of the subjection of the women to the men.”

A. English Definitions –

Origin: 1575–85; head + ship
1. the position of head or chief; chief authority; leadership; supremacy.

2. The position or office of a head or leader; primacy or command.

3. Chiefly British : The position of a headmaster or headmistress

4. Authority or dignity; chief place.

B. Headship in English is a relatively new word.

The question might be, what was a Greek word that would indicate the English equivalent of headship, meaning chief authority, first or chief place, etc. and where was it used in Scripture.
1. Arche - beginning, origin, principal part; first place, or power, or sovereignty. Magistry, office, an authority. (fr. Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon)
Peitarcheo – to obey one in authority.
2. Authentia – absolute sway, authority.

3. Prostatis – (fr. proistemi) , presiding officer, Prominent leader.

4. Proistemi - to lead, guard

5. prOteuO - to be first, or have first place (only used in 1 Col. 1:18)

6. despotis – master, ruler

Regarding the Greek word , kephale, that was used in the passages that hierarchalists use to glean the concept of headship from, the following quote disputes its use as meaning authority or power over, and lists several other words that can and were sometimes used to indicate various authorities.

Women, Authority and the Bible
Page 101-104
" Those who, like Bauer, insist that kephale means “superior rank” say that since kephale is used with that meaning in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, that meaning must have been familiar to Greek-speaking people of the Old Testament. The facts do not support this assumption.
The Septuagint was prepared by a large group of Hebrew-Greek scholars for the thousands of Jewish people who lived outside of Palestine. For these Jews, Greek was their first and sometimes only language, and they could not have read a Hebrew Old Testament even if one had been available. They used the Septuagint in their synagogues. For all the early churches outside Palestine, the Septuagint translation was the Old Testament, for it was written in the only language they knew.
We studied all the instances in which the Hebrew word ro’sh (meaning “head”) appears in the Old Testament and how it was translated in the Septuagint. Ro’sh occurs approximately 600 times and the Aramaic word re’sh occurs 14 times. Usually ro’sh or re’sh simply means the physical head of a person or animal, the same meaning that the Greek word kephale usually has in the New Testament. In the 239 instances when Ro’sh refers to a physical head, the Septuagint translators nearly always translated it with kephale. But like our English word head, ro’sh sometimes had metaphorical or figurative meanings, including leader or someone in authority, or beginning, as in ro’sh hashshanah (Ezek. 40:1 , “at the beginning of the year”).
At 180 times, the Hebrew word ro’sh, meaning “head,” clearly refers to a “chief something”-a chief man, chief city, chief nation, chief priest, that is, the leader or authority figure in the group. Apparently, this meaning for ro’sh was as common in ancient Hebrew as it is in English today. But as we have seen from the Liddell, Scott, Jones and McKenzie lexicon, that was not a common meaning in the Greek language of New Testament times. The findings of these lexicographers are confirmed when we examine the Greek words that the translators of the Septuagint used when the Hebrew word ro’sh means leader or chief. In the 180 instances when ro’sh means leader or chief, the Septuagint translators rarely used kephale. Archon, meaning ruler, commander or leader, was used 109 times (about 60 percent). Apparently the translators believed that archon rather than kephale more accurately conveyed the meaning of the Hebrew ro’sh when it meant ruler or leader.
Translators today face similar problems. In an English writer says, “he was hotheaded,” translators to another language probably could not use the literal words for hot and head and still convey the author’s meaning of “violent temper.” In the same way, Septuagint translators of ro’sh knew that the literal kepahle (head) might not give the correct idea because kephale did not mean “leader” or “authority” to ordinary Greek readers. For example, Joshua 23:2 reads, “Joshua summoned all Israel, their elders and heads [ro’sh] their judges and officers…” But the Septuagint translators did not use kephale for “heads” in this passage. They used a form of archon, “their elders and leaders (or rulers).” The word ro’sh also appears in 1 Chronicles 8:10 , 13 and 28 in the phrase of “heads of fathers’ houses.” In each instance, the Septuagint translators used a form of archon rather than kephale.
Although archon was the most common word used for ro’sh when it meant chief or authority, it was not the only one. The translators occasionally used thirteen other words……."

Septuagint translators used fourteen different Greek words to translate ro’sh:
1. Archon (meaning ruler, commander, leader________________109 times
2. Archegos (captain, leader, chief, prince) ____________________10 times
3. Arche (authority, magistrate, officer) ________________________9 times
4. Hegeomai (to be a leader, to rule, have dominion) _____________9 times
5. Protos (first, foremost) ___________________________________6 times
6. Patriarches_____________________________________________3 times
7. Chiliarches (commander)__________________________________3 times
8. Archipules (chief of a tribe) ________________________________2 times
9. Archipatriotes (head of a family)____________________________1 time
10. Archo (verb; ruler, be ruler of)______________________________1 time
11. Megas, emgale, mega (great, mighty, important)_______________1 time
12. Proegeomai (take the lead, go first, lead the way)______________1 time
13. Prototokos (firstborn or first in rank)_________________________1 time
14. Kephale (where head can mean top or crown)_________________¬_8 times
Kephale (in head-tail metaphor)______________________________4 times
Kephale (where manuscripts have variant readings) ______________6 times

Ro’sh (not translated)_______________________________________6 times

End Quote ...

Those are some of the main words that could be used to describe the modern term headship in the Scriptures, except for kephale which the study disputes using it for authority over or superior rank. So, the next question is, especially in the NT, are these words ever used to describe a gender headship of men over women, or a marital headship of husbands over wives? In fact is the English word “headship” ever used in Scripture? No, it isn’t.

And then, of course, the big question is how IS kephale (the word translated as “head”) used in the NT Scriptures? None of the Greek words I’ve listed thus far, that can be used to describe a ‘headship’ of authority, leadership, primacy in the sense of command, etc. has been used in the NT to describe a relationship of men over women or women in subjection to men. This is an important point. Only kephale (meaning literally the head on one’s shoulders) has been used metaphorically in a sense of interdependent relationship.

Arche as beginning, first, pre-eminent….

1 John 1:11 The Word of Life ] That which was from the beginning (arche), which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

Colossians 1:18 
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

In Colossians 1:18 both kephale (literal head) arche (beginning, original, authority), and proteuO (first) are used. We know that they do not all mean the same thing. Here we have Jesus in a head-body metaphor, also as the arche (the first one, the one carrying the power-hence concept of authority) and the one having pre-eminance. And head (kephale) does not in this place convey the equivalent of the English “headship”. Rather it links a metaphorical relationship between head and body. Arche is used to convey the 'point person', the one who comes first, representative of authority. And proteuo is used to convey pre-eminence.

Kephale in metaphors ...

Kephale has the meaning of literal head. There is no one use in metaphor. The primary uses of kephale in metaphor, when used in a metaphor of head of and body of, in the NT are one of relational interdependency.

What are some other Scriptures where the words ‘head of’ are used. Is there a place where ‘head over’ is used in the NT?

A. Relational metaphors:

John 15:5-8
5“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

This is not a head-body metaphor, but it is similar in that the branches rely upon the vine for their sustenance. Thus Christ is source for life and growth. One of the differences is that the branches in this type of metaphor bring nothing to the relationship. They are not as needed as the vine is. They can be removed and the vine still grows. In the head-body metaphors, the believers are viewed as a whole, one group, such as husband and wife. If husband does not stay connected and do his part, the whole entity, the marriage, suffers. If the wife does not stay connected and do her part, the whole entity, the marriage, suffers. It is not more about the body or more about the head. It is their connectedness that matters.

This is not about Christ being an authority figure. It is about Him being The Way, The Truth and The Life; in other words, the source of everything that we need.


Ephesians 1: 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 
22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

In my estimation, Christ is the source of all authority, as well as pre-eminent above all authority of all things including earthly and heavenly principalities and powers. Fact is that Christ created authorities and powers. Thus any concept of Christ being an authority over is rather demeaning His real place in the scheme of creation.

When it is saying that He gave Him to be head (kephale) over all things to the church, I still see that as a source/pre-eminence/primacy issue. Jesus is the first born, out of His side we were born. He is the source of our life in His body, like the vine and the branches. I don't see it as a worldly concept of authority over, since He is so far beyond that in being our creator and creator of all life as we know it. He created us as human beings, and now by suffering death for us, He is our source of life as part of His body, and thus pre-eminent in our midst. From Him come all things that matter.


Col. 1: 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

He is the firstborn, the Creator of all things including dominion, principalities or powers. He is pre-eminent and all powerful since He holds all this together since all things ‘consist’ IN Him. IN ADDITION: Christ is the ‘head of’, kephale, the body. In this sense, in a head-body relational metaphor, Christ is source of life to the body, the upholder of its life, the one from whose side the body was born. Thus in EVERY area Christ is pre-eminent.

Through Christ we have reconciliation. Through Christ we can make peace with our enemies as we both yield to His life giving sustenance, if we continue in the faith staying attached to the ‘vine’ of Life.

Col. 2: 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power..

Colossians 2 continues in the same vein as chapter one, reminding us that we gain our sustenance, our completeness in Christ, for in Him all fullness of God dwells, who is the source of (of not over) all sovereignty (arche) and power. Christ does not direct all sovereignties (angelic beings, fallen angels) or powers, but He is their creator.

Co. 2: 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

Further down in Colossians 2, we see an expanded explanation of how Paul is using the head-body metaphor. Clearly, the relationship to the head (kephale) is one from in which the body is nourished, receives life, and is able to grow, as long as the body is firmly attached to it’s head.

Eph. 4: 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

In Eph. 4, we have Paul again repeating the head-body metaphor as a relationship of nourishment, in which the body relies upon the head as source for its life. As we the body, rely upon Christ, He is able to make us mature to be like Christ, and thus edify each other in love.

Eph. 5 :23, 25, 28-30
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body of His flesh and of His bones.

Further on in Ephesians, chapter 5, We have Paul again building a head-body metaphor. Since we already have the foundation laid in several places (John 15, Colossians twice, Eph. Once before) a Berean reader will note the similarities. The husband’s preeminence to the wife is to be like Christs preeminence to the body in that he is to provide for and nurture his wife in a similar manner as Christ does for the church. The husband is to give himself and his strengths to the task of sacrificially loving his wife for her benefit. In so doing, he will benefit himself for they are to live as if they are one (vs. 5:31). For the interesting thing about the head-body metaphor is the unmistakable fact that as much as the body cannot survive without the head, the head also cannot survive without the body.

These are not pictures of modern ‘headship’ (authority, leadership, supremacy) but of cleaving to one another to benefit the other. The stronger gives sustenance to the weaker so that their relationship may thrive. For those men who may think that they need authority over their wives in order to bring something different and valuable to contribute to the marriage, may I point out that friends do not need differentiate themselves by authority and submission. Men and women are different enough thanks to God’s creativity. We need only add in our own uniqueness and skills, along with devotion and respect.

Next, I will look at hupotage and hupotassomai, the submission of wives, and Ephesians 5 in detail.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How Does the New Testament As A Whole View Women?

How Does the New Testament As A Whole View Women?
An Excerpt of an article by John Zens found at:


I'm giving this its own post since it is a sizable excerpt with plenty of "meat" to discuss on its own merit.

How Does the New Testament As A Whole View Women?

Before coming to 1 Tim.2:12, which is often seen as a restrictive text regarding females, it is imperative for us to review the overwhelmingly positive picture of Abraham’s daughters painted in the New Testament (Luke 13:16). This information cannot be dismissed or forgotten when reflecting on two passages, 1 Cor.14:34-35 and 1 Tim.2:12, that mention concerns about some sisters.

**Neither the Gospel narratives nor the recorded words of Jesus ever put restrictions on the ministry of women.

**Jesus fully accepted women as his disciples and they accompanied him in his travels with the male disciples (Luke 8:1-3). These women also supported the mission of Jesus with their own resources. These facts may be much more significant that it initially appears. In the first century it was unheard of for a Jewish rabbi to have female followers. Luke reports this rather matter-of-factly, yet this band of women, men and Jesus was hardly kosher to the curious onlookers as they went from city to village.

**After Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and saw God’s salvation, Anna the prophetess “gave thanks to God and spoke of him [Jesus] to all the ones expecting redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:25-38). Anna did not just proclaim Christ to women, but to “all.”

**Jesus applauded the evangelistic efforts of the Samaritan woman (John 4:35-38). After experiencing a revelation of Jesus, she left her jar at the well and went to her city telling men, women and children about the Messiah (John 4:28-29). Everyone in Sychar knew about her history of broken relationships, yet she boldly proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah – a Redeemer even for those outside of Judaism!

**In the context of Jesus’ crucifixion the male disciples fled, yet the women were present and they helped in his burial (Matt.27:55-56,61; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 23:55-56; John 19:25-27).

**A woman’s testimony was disallowed as evidence in first century courts. Yet the Lord chose females to be the first witnesses and proclaimers of his resurrection (John 20:1-2, 11-18; Luke 24:1-11, 22-24; Mark 16:1-8; Matt.28:1-11).

**After Christ’s ascension, 120 men and women prayed together and chose a replacement for Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:14-15).

**The Spirit came upon the 120 disciples and they spoke the wonderful works of God in many foreign languages (Acts 2:1-4).

**Some thought that what was occurring on the Day of Pentecost was evidence of too much wine, but Peter insisted that it was a fulfillment of what Joel prophesied would come to pass – “your sons and daughters will prophesy….I will pour out my Spirit on my male and female slaves and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18). There is no suggestion that males may prophesy freely, but that females are restricted in some ways.

**Philip the evangelist had four virgin daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). We would not be wrong in assuming that there were many other sisters who had this gift, not just Philip’s offspring.

**Paul entrusted his letter to the Romans to Phoebe, and she delivered it. She was a deacon in the assembly at Cenchrea and Paul has the highest regard for her (Rom.16:1-2). Paul recognized her as a prostatis, which carried with it the idea of leadership (cf. 1 Thess.5:12).

**Paul designates Priscilla and Aquila as his “co-workers” (Rom.16:3). The same word is used with reference to people like Timothy and Titus.

**Junia and Andronicus (wife/husband or sister/brother) were greeted by Paul as “outstanding among the apostles” (Rom.16:7). They were his relatives and had been in prison with him. There were people called “apostles” who were not among the Twelve, like Barnabas. Junia was also among such apostolic workers. There is no reason to think that she was the only such female apostle.

**Among all the people Paul greeted in Romans 16, ten were sisters among whom were “Tryphena and Tryphosa [who may have been twins], women who work hard for the Lord” (Rom.16:12).

**In line with Acts 2:17-18, Paul encouraged brothers and sisters to prophesy in the gatherings (1 Cor.11:4-5; 14:23-24).

**The open meeting Paul describes in 1 Cor.14 envisions all the men and women – “the whole assembly” – “each one of you” – “you may all prophesy one by one” – functioning together in an encouraging manner.

**Gal.3:28 indicates that “in Christ” human distinctions, like male and female, are no longer norms of judgment in the congregation. In the first century, prejudices abounded in folks’ minds when certain people like “Gentile,” “Jew,” “slave,” and “woman” were mentioned. Paul is saying that in the body of Christ this should not be the case.

**Women were prominent in the assembly at Philippi, beginning with Lydia’s home. In Phil.4:3 Paul asks for two sisters – who must have had no small spiritual influence in the body – to be at peace with one another. He calls Euodia and Syntyche “co-workers” and “co-strugglers” in the gospel.

**2 John is addressed to “the elect lady and her children.” This probably refers to a respected sister in whose home the saints gathered. She had apparently exerted significant spiritual influence upon a number of people. Women’s homes are mentioned as meeting places for the brethren in Rom.16:5, 1 Cor.1:11, 16:9 and Col.4:15.

**In Rev.2:20-24 Christ rebuked the Thyatiran congregation for allowing a false prophetess, nicknamed “Jezebel,” to “teach” some of the Lord’s servants to sin grievously. If it was such a crime for a woman to teach the brethren, why didn’t the Lord just condemn the assembly for even allowing a woman to instruct others? This incident in Thyatira implies that the assembly permitted other male and female prophets to teach the truth. Christ’s bone to pick with them wasn’t that a woman taught, but that what this woman set forth was false teaching. We will come back to this passage in the course of our investigation of 1 Tim.2:12.

This survey of New Testament highlights concerning women is important because it reveals the freedom of the sisters to function in the kingdom. In the general flow of the New Testament there are no jitters about “restrictions” upon Christ’s daughters. Such a survey also should also serve as a corrective to those who squelch and intimidate the sisters by using their interpretation of two passages – 1 Cor.14:34-35 and 1 Tim.2:12 – to cancel out the ministry of sisters unfolded in other Scriptures."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Order of Creation

Our understanding of humanities responsibilities in life are shown in how God created the world.

Women are not a different species. Men and women need to be viewed as humans first, who are consequently ALSO created as male and female like the rest of creation. As humans we were created last. God created in an order that what went before supported what came after. Sun, moon, stars all supported the life cycles on the earth. Earth and water were created to bring food to the creatures that came after. Animals were created to give humanity something to extend guardianship, care and compassion to, as well as entertainment. How boring a world without the myriad of different creatures we have. And last humanity was created to 1) be benefitted and supported by all that went before, and 2) as the last created to extend guardianship to all that went before. That is the true order of creation.

The concept that because woman was created after the man, then she is somehow relegated to subjection, is pure eisigesis and conjecture. It is not in the creation account.

What is in the creation account is that unlike all the other creatures, God took special care in how He went about creating humanity. He purposely created first the man alone, so that the man could learn that aloneness was not good and that he needed a companion, a ‘help’ for his aloneness. When the man realized that he was alone unlike all the other creatures, THAT is when God proceeded to take from the side of the human, flesh and bone, and from that foundation formed a woman to be his perfect counterpart, a help for his aloneness.

Friday, December 05, 2008


This is written in response to some dialogue with a person who believes that women are created to be subjugated to men.

A. All humans were created for the pleasure of our Creator. God made us male and female for companionship. Gen. 1:26-27, Gen. 2:18. Ha-adam (the human) means humanity, not a male human. The first human represents all humanity. God names both the man and the woman “human”. Gen. 5:1-2. http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/OTpdf/gen1.pdf

B. There is no ‘headship’ in the creation of humanity. Humans were given dominion/guardianship together over the earth and its creatures, not over each other. Gen. 1:28. Together humanity as a whole, including both men and women, is to exercise guardianship type dominion over the care of the earth (beginning with the garden) and over all the creatures of the earth. That is actually the first mandate given to humanity.

C. The claim that 1 Tim. 2:13 is a statement of headship is neither anywhere in 1 Tim. or in Genesis.

D. There is a reason (which can be discussed later) why Paul is making the statement that “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” but it had nothing to do with any perceived headship or authority of men over women.

E. In 1 Tim. 2 Paul is not discussing male authority over women and God did not mention anything about giving men authority over women in Genesis.

F. There was a reason that God made the genders separately, but it was not about establishing male authority over women. It was about helping the male understand that it was not good to be alone. Gen. 2:18 After the man understood that he was alone and it was not good, then God proceeded to form the woman from the very substance of the man.

a. “I will make him a helper comparable to him”

ezer – fr. azar – help, succour…. Used about 20 times in the OT primarily about God and military aid. It is not a word of a person who is under someone else’s authority, but of one who gives strong aid to another who is in need. The English word ‘helper’ does not do justice to the Hebrew because the English sense is one who is an assistant of another. And that is NOT the case with ezer.

Ex. 18:4 And the other was named Eliezer, for he said, "The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.


“Again we see that ezer refers to someone who has the power to help. Then why do some insist that woman’s being an ezer to man means that women should be subordinate to men, and women’s judgment restricted to issues involving child rearing and house keeping. If anything the Biblical evidence supports her full participation in partnership with men, to carry out God’s commandments to humanity. Woman being made not only in God’s image, but also an ezer made in God’s image, is to be a powerful ally and partner for the man.”

b. Kenegdo – comparable, corresponding to, equal to, matching. Kenegdo modifies the strength and power of the word ezer, so that the woman is a help that is not superior but equal to, matching , fit for, meet for, etc. the man.

G. Quote from What Paul Really Said About Women by John Bristow:
"In 1 Cor 11:9 http://bible.logos.com/passage/tniv/1%20Cor%2011.9 , Paul reminded his readers that woman was created because man needs woman. The Authorized (King James) Version misses the force of the words in Greek. It reads simply, 'Neither was the man created for the woman, but woman for the man.' Many modern translations render Paul's words more accurately: 'Neither was the man created for the sake of the woman, but the woman for the sake of the man.' What Paul was unmistakably stating is that men need women. . . Paul was reminding his Jewish readers that before God said said that Eve's desire should be for her husband, Adam already needed Eve. And Paul was reminding his Gentile readers that the Stoic disdain for women is unrealistic and unnatural. . . Paul added in 1 Cor 11: 'Nevertheless, neither woman without man nor man without woman in the Lord.' Each needs the other. Paul was writing this in the context of discussing public worship. His words opposed the pagan practice of excluding women in worship and the synagogue practice of relegating women to a side chamber. . .

H. After the fall sin comes into their relationship. As a result of this sin God curses the serpent (3:14) and the earth upon which he is cursed to crawl (3:17). Adam and Eve’s punishment had already been established: spiritual death. To the man and the woman God explains what life will now be like. Some Christians misinterpret God’s words as prescriptive. But that is not the case, rather God is describing the future.

a. To the woman who acknowledged her error in being deceived, God gives the first promise of rescuing. Between her seed and the seed of the serpent there will be enmity. He also explains that her toil/grief and conception will be increased. There is no explanation why, just the warning that it will happen.

b. And to your husband will be your desire (teshuqua – basically turning towards, desire, longing) and he will rule/dominate (mashal – harsh rule, have dominion) you. This is God speaking to the woman warning her that there will be a negative change in her relationship with her husband. When she turns toward him (perhaps a comparison to her turning away from God and putting a longing that should be for God upon her husband) his response will be to dominate. Some say this is an indication that her longing/desire is bad and others say it is from innocence, and others that it is an inordinate (out of balance) desire for the husband to provide something he cannot. We do not know for certain.

c. Richard Hess, fr. Discovering Biblical Equality pg. 92 ……… “Rather, Genesis 3:16-17 is best understood as a description of the new order of things, of how life will be lived as the result of the Fall, rather than how it should be lived. It is not a command for one sex to rule over the other any more than Genesis 3:17-19 is a command for all Israelite men to be farmers or a prohibition of the use of weed-killer. These are not God's decisions on how things must be, such that violation of them would be sin.”

There is more that can be said on the creation of man and woman, humanity, but I will let that suffice for now.

I will close with a quote from a free online article: Man and Woman at Creation: A Critique of Complementarian Interpretation


“In Genesis 1 and 2 we discover God’s perfect, pre-fall intentions for the world and all its creatures, including God’s intentions for human identity and human purpose. When we know what something is (identity) and what it is mean to do (purpose or calling), we have the basis for knowing our proper expectations of, and obligations toward, that ‘something’. Thus, only when we have grasped the created purpose and identity of humanity as male and female are we able to make faithful judgments about the many normative questions facing us today. What do the creation texts reveal? And what light do they shed on whether or not a universal, fixed exclusion of women from (some) leadership reflects God perfect intentions for womanhood?”

I believe that man and woman, as equal partners in humanity, were meant to complement one another in mutuality to achieve common goals; and in marriage to complement one another in their differences so as to live as if they were one.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Someone asked me elsewhere if I would share something of my story. So for them, here goes.
Do not suppose however, that knowing something of my experiences will enable anyone to then claim that my understanding of Scripture is experience driven. It is not. Though my experiences do give me an insight into some aspects of life, my life experiences did not reveal to me truth or healing. God’s Word and God’s actions in my life did and do.

I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic school for my early grades. My family taught that the man was the leader and a woman had to follow, obey/yield to her man if she expected to find happiness. And a husband was the way to happiness for a woman. I was abused and sexually molested from a young age, and raped several times from my teen years to a young adult. I witnessed how the men in my extended family treated their women. My mother divorced my father when I was very young, married another when I was in “middle school” age, and though he was the love of her life, he was very promiscuous. There were a couple women in my extended family who ruled the roost and I was not impressed with them. My uncle was such a good man, yet his wife and his daughter were abusive. It never occurred to me that there was another way to do life and marriage. Because of these teachings when my first husband said he was not ready to raise a child and required that I give up our child to adoption at birth, I thought I had to do as he requested. Until that time I did love him. After that I had to leave him as I could not bear to be around him for the inner pain it caused me to have to give up what has now turned out to be my only child. And in my early 20’s I seriously contemplated suicide.

That is when the Lord found me, drew me to him, lifted the burden of sin off my shoulders, convinced me that He loved me, revealed to me who Christ was and His great sacrifice, and touched my life in an inexplicable healing manner. Slowly, God began to show me in Scripture that He loved women as much as He did men, that He was able to use a woman as well as He could use a man.

God revealed to me what true equality in spite of differences was about, and is still revealing this to me. At first I did not want to accept that this could be true, because the traditional view of a woman needing to be a certain kind of womanly before men would accept her was ingrained so deeply in my psyche. I fought with God that that could not be what Scripture was saying, that men would simply not accept a woman who was not what I learned from Catholicism and traditionalism. But slowly I began to believe as the Lord took me through the Scriptures.

I had bought some Greek and Hebrew books and researched words on my own. I read voraciously every study resource I could find. I thought I had discovered a secret that God hadn’t revealed to anyone else at first. And then I began to run across other Christians who had “discovered” the same about traditionalism and the Scriptures. Paul Jewett was a big help. Joy Dawson, an incredibly anointed woman who preached and taught in YWAM also helped. Even Kathryn Kuhlman was a help and a woman who had her own Christian university, Marianne Sitton. After them, I began to find Christians who believed in Biblical equality and mutuality all over the place. And I continued researching as I do yet today. Very early as a Christian I went to a Lutheran Bible Institute, took a couple years of courses, including how to correctly inductively study the Scriptures. I’ve been studying, researching, and teaching ever since for about 36-37 years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


In certain eras of our Christian history women did the work of overseers but were not called such. However, it seems that earlier in our history, closer to the time of Paul and the apostles, some women were actually doing the work with the titles.

In the church of St. Praxedis in Rome there are some interesting mosaic portraits portraying pictures of women bishops/episcopa. One is of Bishop Theodora. Another of St. Praxidis, a woman bishop with her son pope Pascal I.

There is a floor moxaic covering the tomb of Guilia Runa (pronounced Julia). Giulia Runa presbiterissa was a presbyter, that is, a priest.
Some other women named as priests (found on their tombs in Rome) were “Veronica presbitera daughter of Jesetis”, and Faustina presbitera”.

In the catacombs of Priscilla, there is a fourth century fresco. The fresco shows a male bishop ordaining two women. This is seen by the garments worn by the bishop and the women. The same liturgical vestments the women were wearing are worn by Catholic priests today.

This information with pictures and more like it can be found in some of the calendars that CBE sells. The above is from the 2003 Calendar. I’ve also got the 2007 Calendar.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Complementarity is not ONLY about women being primarily nurturers and men being primarily providers, although most Christians agree those are accurate facts. To be complementary means forming a complement, completing each other. The concept and word was born in 1590-1600. Although I believe that when Paul said for husband to view wife as “body of” and for wife to view husband as “head of”, he was mirroring the two being complementary to each other and together forming a complete whole. The meaning of complementary is not directed at any specific particulars.

So, ”complementarity without hierarchy” is in fact staying within the correct realm of the actual meaning of complementary. As such there is no requirement for hierarchy in being complementary. If pressed I believe that egals are perhaps being more complementatry than those Christian who coined the term complementarian some 10 or so years ago. While Complementarian evolved in meaning to limit the women to roles in which they complemented men in certain ways and freed men to be everything else (thus complentarity is achieved by restricting one group to promote the freedoms of the other group), I don’t really see that as real complementarity.

Some non-egals argue that egals say there are no differences in how men and women are to relate to each other. They claim the goal is to be symmetric. They then conclude that If there aren’t any differences in gender roles or in how men and women are to relate to each other, then egals are assuming no differences between genders.

Egals don’t say that there are no differences in how men and women relate to each other. There are no required differences in addition to natural differences. Because individuals are so different it is not displaying God’s unconditional love toward others to require them to fit your picture of acceptable roles for men and women in life. All men are not lovers of blue ‘things’. All women are not lovers of ‘pink’ things. This should give you some small clue that we do not in any way preach symmetry. To tell all women to be the same and all men to be the same as is preached by some hierarchalists is far more symmetric.

There are many activities associated with gender. But there are few inherent activities associated with gender. Childbirth is an activity that is inherently a woman’s activity, in the same way that inseminating a woman is inherently a man’s activity. An inherent activity is one that the opposite gender is not capable of performing at all.
Roles of many sorts are not an issue of inherent abilities but are man made organization of activities that groups of people decide that certain groups of people should do. The concept of ‘roles’ came in about 1600 in France and referred to an actors part in a play. It is not a Biblical concept that I have found.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Recipes are good to get a gist of how to balance things. Recipes are nice because one does not have to think. But if what you are using the recipe for is important, then it’s best to just allow the recipe to give you a general direction and to put brain in gear to hammer out the details for yourself. Any really good recipe is made to be adjustable. Any really good recipe is open to improvement.

Notice how God does not give us detailed recipes but more like some fixed details yet mostly general directions in which details can be filled in by us. The OT which was a schoolmaster while Israel was growing, was a bit more detailed. And that is because we were less mature as a species. They didn’t graduate until Christ came and offered an invitation into the next school, maturity, by His death and resurrection. Many have chosen to skip “maturity” and just hoof it in life where they were without Christ, without God, without the instruction and equipping of the Holy Spirit. We who are Christians are in the real school of life, to gain maturity (we are to all grow into the fullness of the man Christ Jesus) by drawing close to God and yielding to both His written Word and the living instruction of the Holy Spirit.

Regarding recipes (rigid roles) for marriage, In my view, a Christian couple should peruse the recipe’s that are floating around these days too numerous to mention. Then they can take what seems good and toss the rest as they adjust the recipe to fit their needs. Then with the help of God they can yield to the Holy Spirit to help them mature into one new entity, a mature union of two living harmoniously as if they were really one.

That’s my 2 cents
To all those who claim that egals spout sameness,

I don’t know where you heard this from but it appears to be a strawman (empty caricature) that gets presented for demolition every now and then. So go ahead demolish it. I’m right there with you. It’s not our strawman. I don’t know who he belongs to.

Christians who believe in Biblical equality do not believe men and women are without innate differences. We do not wish for men and women to look or act alike. We do not wish for Christians to all look or act alike. Thank God He made men and women different. But let’s not paint all men blue and all women pink trying to emphasize the differences or make new differences. God did a fine job that doesn’t need improving upon.

OK. End of rant! ((SMILES))

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thinking Again About 1 Tim. 3:1-7

I always find it interesting how we arrive at our conclusions. Do we take into account the differences of languages. When there is a question do we do some research on the original language. By research I do not mean checking Strong’s (the least accurate ‘dictionary’), but looking in as many Greek-English dictionaries we can and checking to see what various scholars think. Do we consider history and culture of the time? Do we check what the early churches were doing 300-600 years later? Are we on the alert for idioms? Do we consider the differences in Greek thinking and Hebrew thinking of the Biblical era? Or do we just believe our local leaders because they are leaders and should know. Are we open to the possibility that no one may know the answer to our questions for certain because it was 2000 years ago and some things have changed beyond comparison?

1 Tim. 3 starts off with pistos ho logos – faithful is the saying. And continues with ei tis – if anyone (anyone means ANYone, not just men) – episkopE oregO kalos ergon epithumeO - supervision is craving, of ideal work he is desiring.

OK, so the faithful saying (is that referring to a local well known saying, a slogan or colloquialism?) is that anyone who desires to minister in supervision is desiring a good thing. Its ideal work; it may even imply that it speaks well of the person who desires to serve thus. So, if someone wants to serve thus, we should be proud of him/her. They deserve a pat on the back for such servantmindedness. Yet, many today would say that if a woman desired to serve in her church in either supervision or ministry (diakonos = transliterated today as deacon), people assume and infer that she is seeking to grasp power. But Paul specifically said “anyone who desires”. So what do we make of that.

Then we have a list of qualifications for those who are desiring the good work of supervision.

Bruce C.E. Fleming in “Familiar Leadership Heresies Uncovered”, lists the furst 12 qualifications as such:

1. Above reproach – the overarching requirement
2. Faithful spouse – as applicable, some were single
3. Temperate – self-controlled (cf. Titus 2:2,5)
4. Sensible or sober – found here and in 2:9a, 15b.
5. Orderly – also used in 2:9a, 15b
6. Hospitable – a wordless ministry (1 Peter 4:9-11)
7. Apt at teaching – ministry of the word (2 Tim. 2:24)
8. Not excessive drinker – or not quarrelsome over wine
9. Not a striker or not pugnacious or a bully
10. Forbearing or gentle – (Phil. 4:5)
11. Uncontentious or not a brawler – (Titus 3:2)
12. Not-avaricious or no lover of money (Heb. 134:5)

Verses 4-7 are qualities showing spiritual maturity:

1. one who leads, manages, guides own household (proistemi – before standing, leading, presiding)
2. having own children in subjection with gravity
3. not a novice (lest he become puffed up with pride and fall into condemnation)
4. having a good testimony (reputation) among unbelievers (outsiders) so as not to fall into disgrace and a snare of the devil.

If we look at the qualities as a list we see they are a list of inner, spiritual characteristics that every believer should aim for. Even being an apt teacher is something every believer can achieve as they mature in their relationship with the Lord. Let the older brethren minister to the younger, let us look out for one another, etc. is a common theme in Scripture. It is not terribly difficult to look up the meanings of words, do the cross references and see this is a reasonable list we can likely all agree upon with the exception of one phrase in vs. 2.

Interpretively translated as ‘husband of one wife’ in most bibles, the Greek is simply “of one woman, man” – heis gunE anEr. Different church denominations and different nations have interpreted this differently. Some have said it meant one had to be a husband, but it seems to me to be a really circuitous route to say that, plus there is nothing anywhere in the Scriptures that requires one to be married in order to serve the Lord. Another meaning has been that a man must have only one wife versus two or more wives, yet while this is a reasonable requirement for ANY married man, it is not one addressed as such in Scripture elsewhere. Another interpretation is that a husband must have married only once, not divorced and then remarried. This I find very far fetched as there were specific requirements for divorce both before and after Christ and divorce was not considered a stigma against the divorcee. And then we have the interpretation that because it is mentioning a husband, then it must mean that one who wishes to be an overseer must be a man. However, taking that interpretation would also mean tagging all the other ideas of being married, and not twice, and having only one wife versus two or more, along with it. But the direct problem with that interpretation is that it would make Paul first words of “anyone who desires” of non effect. It is my opinion that we should read the Scriptures in such a way as to not “strike out” things in other parts of Scripture. If we understand Scripture correctly, it should not be a matter of striking out or nullifying other parts but of all fitting together in a reasonable manner.

”According to Lucien Deiss (notes to the French
Bible, the TOB, Edition Int├ęgrale, p. 646, note a), this
Greek phrase was used in Asia Minor, on both Jewish
and pagan gravestone inscriptions, to designate a woman
or a man, who was faithful to his or her spouse in a way
characterized by “a particularly fervent conjugal love.”

When I read Deiss’ comment about how this phrase
was used on ancient grave inscriptions in Turkey, where
Paul and Timothy ministered, I confirmed it with him
myself, reaching him by telephone in Vaucresson, France.
Some might find this insight into 1 Timothy 3:2
surprising because modern versions of the Bible
translate this Greek phrase as – “husband of one wife” –
making this qualification appear to be restricted to men
only! Instead, rightly understood, this qualification is
about faithfulness in marriage by a Christian spouse. It is
not saying that oversight is “for men only.”

Pages 87-88
Think Again about Church Leaders by Bruce C. E. Fleming (Think Again Series)
or pg 128 in ‘Leadership Heresies” http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A3FYPTYWIELEZD”

So, I’m only addressing one question of why some think women cannot be elders or deacons. I’ve shared a few of my reasons why I say that Biblically women can serve in any ministry. My question to you is how do you arrive at your conclusions for this section. How do you take into consideration chapter One and Two. How about chapter Four where Paul is admonishing Timothy not to neglect his gift (11-14). How about chapter Five where Paul speaks of elders (neither male or female) presiding well (proistEmi).

Perhaps, someone can look up proistEmi, episkopE, and presbuteros and tell us what they find.

Please share what you think.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

1 Corinthians 14:34-35


It is a popular patriarchal and complementarian view that because of the words in 1 Corinthians 14 "let your women be silent", that therefore all women should not utter a word in the assembly. I find this to be a huge stretching of the words in question, the phraseology, and context of the full sentence, the aim of the chapter in question, and a selective omission of the places in Scripture where women did speak in general assembly. This is also an attempt to support the idea that women are not to teach or preach. After all if they cannot utter a word, that effectively prohibits them from teaching or preaching. Taken to the full end it also would prohibit women from singing and taking part in worship.

Objection 1
The Upper Room Prayer Meeting

Acts 1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey. 13And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Peter's Sermon; the Coming of the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

It is important to note that both men and women were in assembly together AND that they prayed together with one accord AND that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit speaking with other tongues as the Spirit anointed them in the upper room prayer meeting (Acts 1:12-14/2:1-4). To speak as the Holy Spirit anoints one is not every day speaking. Anointed speaking would be described as exhortation, edification and encouragement as moved by the Holy Spirit. This is also teaching and preaching. If men and women can teach and preach to one another under a heavy anointing, then they can also do so under a "light" anointing. I would call general assemblies with preaching by the elders, leaders, teachers, pastors, etc. "light anointing". I would also call bringing a psalm, a teaching, an exhortation, a prophesy, etc. by the general congregation, a "light" anointing. After all the idea is that one does not preach or teach their own thoughts but the concepts they sense they are directed to do so by God. If God used both men and women in one place, then He will use them in other places.

This noted incident is enough in my mind, to cross off the popular interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:35 to be meaning women are never to utter a word in church assembly.

Objection 2
1 Cor. 11: 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.

Chapter eleven is discussing the propriety of wives praying and prophesying in public following the social customs of head coverings. The admonition is for wives to pray and prophesy in attire that will not bring shame, but honor, to their husbands. This is not a discussion of wives doing street corner preaching, but regular praying and preaching (anointed exhortation, comfort and speaking forth the Word) in the assembly which is why there is concern over attire.

Objection 3
The context of 1 Corinthians 14 is one of orderliness. There is no underlying message of who may or may not exercise Spiritual gifts. Rather all are encouraged to participate and edify.

26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

Note the points that have preceded: an admonition on respect in relationships and attire while ministering (11:1-16), respect in communion celebrations (11:17-34), honoring one another’s gifts and ministries (chap. 12), exercising gifts with love of brethren (chap. 13), acknowledging that prophesy is to be desired more than anything (14:1-25), and that there is to be an orderliness in how we exercise our speaking gifts (14:1-25).

Paul has been working at establishing an over all respect and honor as well as a devotion to desiring spiritual gifts. Paul does not wish to dissuade participation but rather encourage respectful participation. Before verse 35, there is not even a remote hint that Paul would not want women to participate in the ministering of the Holy Spirit.

Thus again this is more than enough in my mind to cross off the popular interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:35 to be meaning women are never to utter a word in church assembly.

Objection 4
The Greek word used for "silent" is sigao. My favorite Greek Concordance defines this as "hush", also to keep secret, hold ones peace, and keep close. Vines Complete Expository Dictionary holds a similar definition. Sigao was also used in Luke 9:36, 20:2; Acts 12:17, 15:12; Romans 16:25; 1 Cor. 14:28,30,34.

Luke 9:36When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.
Luke 20: 26But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.
Acts 12: 17But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren." And he departed and went to another place.
Acts 15: 12Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, listen to me:
Romans 16: 25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began
1 Corinthians 14: 28But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. ……30But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. …34Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

In none of these places is sigao used to forever muzzle one from speaking, but rather for them to hush or for them to hold their peace for a specific purpose, usually in order to better hear someone else speak. It is a matter of respectful orderliness. It does not even mean they cannot speak again the whole evening, but simply a specific time for a specific purpose. Verse 35 could make sense in addressing disorderly wives to speak their questions at home rather than disturbing the assembly with them and this would seem a possible sensible point to the preceding sentence.

Objection 5
"for they are not permitted to speak". This is a problem. It is really not possible for Paul to have said that himself. He just got through discussing how a woman should dress WHILE speaking in the assemblies (chp. 11:1-16). Then Paul discusses how EVERYONE has gifts for the benefit of the whole (chp. 12). Then goes on to say that EVERYONE should desire to prophesy and seek after the best gifts. Then he goes on to say that EVERYONE should come to the assemblies with something to share giving examples of types of contributions that are SPEAKING!

These are all in the same epistle. The preponderance of evidence that Paul intends for women to speak in the assembly is too great to believe that those words were Paul's. They had to be someone else's that he was quoting in order to counter in the next sentence. According to the original Greek, the next verse should start with a disjunctive particle such as Rubbish!, Not! or similar negative. Instead, many translation have gone with "or", which takes out the intent and force.

In effect Paul is responding to those words meant to silence women from speaking and saying that the idea is rubbish. This goes along perfectly with everything else Paul says about women in his epistles. How could Paul praise a woman minister of Cenchrea, a woman teaching Appolos a renown speaker, female fellow workers in the gospel, and a woman apostle (Romans 16) if it were his intent to stop women from speaking.

This is an important point in understanding this section of Scripture as well as in understanding that we must weave Scripture together properly in order to understand it properly. One section cannot stand out in contradiction to the rest. When that happens, we are interpreting it incorrectly.

Objection 6
However, the rest of verse 34 is confusing, because clearly women are permitted by Paul to speak, there is no obvious relationship to speaking and being submissive, and there is no Scriptural Law that addresses this issue. It is possible that there is a local cultural law, but would seem unlikely for Paul to cite it. It is possible that he is referencing some local laws relative to the respect of women toward their husbands, of which there were numerous, both by the Greeks and Jews. Honor and Shame in the World of the Bible by V. H. Matthews et al, is supposed to discuss many of these. It is also possible that it is addressing the additional “laws” of the Mishnah created by the Pharisees since they concluded that to hear a woman’s voice read the Law tainted the Law. Heavy misogynism.

There are other possible interpretations being considered by present day theologians. A. C. Thiselton (in his new NIGTC) [1] suggests that the questions could be regarding sifting and weighing the words of the prophets, i.e. judging the prophets. While this is a good possibility, I think one needs to remember that the general congregations are not the ones to judge the words of the prophets either, but the prophets as a group, possibly including other anointed leadership.

Another possible interpretation, and the one I prefer, is that verses 34 and 35 are another’s words likely in a letter from the Corinthians that Paul is quoting and actually repudiating in verse 36. “Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?” Paul has quoted others and then responded to them in other places such as he does in 1 Cor. 6:12-13, and proceeds to answer in verse 14.

Fee argues for an interpolation in First Epistle . [2]

The first makes sense since women were coming out of a place of ignorance and most needed to learn more before they could offer informed constructive discussion. The second makes sense if Paul is addressing those who would think only men would ever be capable of discernment since it is the Holy Spirit who inspires and brings truth.

[1] The First Epistle to the Corinthians by Anthony C. Thiselton, pgs. 1156-1160
[2] First Epistle by G. Fee, page 710


It is not speech but abuse of speech that is being addressed here. This includes the speaking of tongues, the prophesying, and the probable disorderly questions. Neither tongues, nor prophesy, nor questions are being forbidden, but simply controlled. Paul is simply calling to order ordinary members of the congregation. Even Paul is willing to control and restrain himself even where he has rights if it means he is able to serve others better.

Serving All Men
1 Cor. 9:19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; ..............

Regardless of all the possibilities; if it is addressing the discussion of discerning the words of the prophets or if Paul is admonishing those who wish to retain a privilege to themselves, it IS addressing disorderly speech in general. This is seen clearly in Pauls concluding statement: 39Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order. IMO if we go beyond that we err.


Further notes:

Those who argue for absolute silence of women in church meetings mostly argue around these points:

1. It specifically addresses “women” so this is something only for women.
2. The word silent means absolute speechlessness therefore all women should not utter a word in the assembly which rules out teaching, preaching, etc.
3. It makes mention of “the Law”, so this is not only for any particular incident or for a limited time frame.
4. As is reasonable for women who are in submission to their husbands, wives need to ask questions of their own husbands instead of disturbing the church service.
5. Because it says that it is shameful for a woman to speak in church this further cements the restriction.

Those who argue against absolute silence of women in church services mostly argue around these points:

1. context rules out absolute silence ; the context is orderliness not gender preferences
2. Greek meaning of sigao is closer to “hush” rather than absolute forever silence.
3. Other Scriptures in the same time frame have Paul promoting women speaking and in ministry, so he cannot do both at the same time since they contradict one another
4. The upper room experience has both men and women speaking in tongues together and prophesying before each other.
5. In context Paul just got finished admonishing EVERYone to bring something to give/share at the meeting and admonished everyone about how to operate in tongues and prophesy before the congregation.
6. Since the verse says to ask husbands at home, the prohibition for orderliness likely was about wives loudly asking husbands questions, thus they should ask them at home, rather then disturb the flow of the moving of the Spirit
7. There is no Scriptural Law in the Torah that prohibits women from speaking. If Paul were to be referencing a local law, that does not make it a universal restriction. And it is unlikely that Paul would do so. In fact the only known “law” against women speaking in spiritual matters is from the Jewish Talmud, the oral traditions of the Prarisees, which has no universal binding on Scriptural admonitions.
8. Some argue that the restriction is not against every kind of speaking but only the sifting, weighing, and judging of the prophetic words given.
9. There are a few scholars who are arguing for it to be an interpolation and have good scientific reasons for concluding this. One being that verses 34-35 are in different places in different manuscripts (not connected with verse 33). Another reason being that this section does not flow with the rest of the chapter upsetting the context by interrupting the theme of prophecy, spoiling the flow of thought. (Gordon Fee supports this) Another reason being that a professor of paleography examined certain manuscripts with a high powered magnifying glass and demonstrated that the words had been inserted and not part of the original writing of the manuscripts.
10. There are also a growing number of scholars supporting verses 34-35 being a quote from the Corinthians in a letter to Paul which he is refuting. The disjunctive particle in verse 36 seems a good indication that this is correct.

Not sure if I covered everything, but that is the gist of it.


I also found this quote:

Out of respect to the congregation, a woman should not herself read in the law. It is a shame for a woman to let her voice be heard among men. The voice of a woman is filthy nakedness.

this if from Mishna sotah 3.4;B sotah 20a.

J. Lee Grady said this about it:
"It should be noted that the Jewish Talmud is a collection of comments by rabbis who disagree, and the statement here about the "obscenity" of teaching women the law of God is challenged. However, many scholars of early Jewish thought believe the quote here represents the prevalent opinion of rabbis in the first century. Women were not allowed to study the Torah or to become disciples of rabbis."

In my opinion this is likely where the comment in verses 34-35 came from, from the Talmudic law. But Paul could not have agreed with it since he promoted women in ministry, honored and acknowledged their service in the Lord. It is likely though that there were Jewish Christians who still still held such a restrictive view.