Women In The Church
By Andy Zoppelt
Part 3: Can A Woman Teach?
The first Timothy 2 controversy
Paul in speaking to the gentiles said, “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Eph 2:2-3, NKJV
We must remember that the gentiles did not have the law and His moral code. They lived their lives based on the standards of paganism, idol worship and cultic practices. The standards and practices of paganism was a major part of their lives. When many of the Ephesians came to Christ they brought in many of those paganistic and cultic practices. Why? Because for them, some of those practices made sense and many of those practices were well ingrained into their superstitions. For some, they were convinced these superstitions were right, good, and were beneficial and made them secure. In fact, for them, to go against many of these beliefs would leave them ill at ease and insecure. So many, who came out of these practice and were deeply evolved, came into the assemble, brining in many of these religious superstitions. Why do we think it would be otherwise? Don’t we see traditions, humanism, and our selfish ideas mixed with our beliefs today?
Therefore, when we read this letter addressed to Timothy, let us look for these influences of paganism and the cult of Artemis affecting and influencing the Ephesian assembly... because they are there and we can’t ignore it.
Anyone who has fully researched 1Timothy 2:18-15 would have to admit that these are difficult and controversial passage to say the least, unless one has a bias or bent. There are controversial because there are contradicting verses in them.
To try and understand this text without understanding the cultural, the biblical context and the letter that Paul received from Timothy, is a guarantee to miss its meaning all together. Of course we want to be literal in our reading of scriptures, but in some of these passages we will find contradictor statements that Paul has shared in other places.
Let’s look at a few:
“And Adam was not deceived [Is this true?], but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”
Nowhere do we find Paul stating that Adam was not deceived, not in the whole bible. We know that Adam did sin and was deceived contrary to the literal text made here by Paul. In fact. the sin of Adam, and not Eve, is placed on all of mankind. Any casual reader of Paul’s letter knows this; I don’t feel the need to give all the scriptures to back this up.
“Nevertheless she (the woman) will be saved in childbearing if they (they women) continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”
We know that women are not saved through childbirth but through faith.
I don’t know of anyone who applies these verses literally to women. We will deal with these verses later.
Timothy was having problems in the community of believers at Ephesus. Paul left Timothy behind at Ephesus to deal with false teachers (men and women) who were disrupting the harmony of the assembly there.
"As I urged you [Timothy] when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus [Why?] so that you may command certain ones (tisin – both men and women) not to teach false doctrines (men and women had to be teaching false doctrine) any longer nor to devote themselves to myths [What myths were they devoting themselves? Greek myths?] and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work..." 1 Timothy 1:3-4
Paul enumerates the general problems at Ephesus: false teaching, myths, endless genealogies.
Paul said, “Some [tis - both men and women] have wandered away from these (a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith) and turned to meaningless talk. They [men and women] want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm." 1 Tim 1:6-7,
Obviously this was a male and female teaching problem that needed correction. Both males and females were teaching and desiring to teach.
Paul is writing about some of these men and women who want to teach, but don’t have the foggiest idea of what they are teaching. They are mixing myths, endless genealogies and false understandings of the law. Paul was not against women teaching; he was against the content of some of their teaching... as well as the men also. This is what we will find in this letter.
Paul and Timothy were very close in their relationship.
Paul addresses Timothy like a son; Timothy was very well-informed of Paul’s teachings and traditions and the way Paul set up the local assemblies.
“For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every assembly.” 1 Cor 4:16-17,
Timothy knew of Paul’s “ways in Christ” and he knew what Paul taught “everywhere in every assembly.”
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, Timothy finds himself in Ephesus confronted with some unique problems which he sought Paul’s help.
Therefore if women were not permitted to teach and were to be silent, Timothy would only have had to be reminded by Paul: Paul often reminded others by saying: “You know,” or “Do you not know?” or “According to the traditions which I delivered to you.”
The personal letter to Timothy is nothing like Paul’s letter to the Romans. The letter to the Romans dealt with the traditions of salvation, body ministry, the law, and walking in the Spirit, etc.. Here Paul is responding to a letter concerning problems in the Christian community and we are only getting one-sided information. Reading a letter that is in response to another letter can have many difficulties to say the least… at this point, caution should prevail and other scriptures should be brought in to add clarity when we see this kind of difficulty.
Somehow Timothy did not have this understanding for obvious reasons… it was not a teaching that Paul left “ everywhere in every assembly.”
The problems we are having with the woman issues here can be directly attributed to the bias of the male translators and leaders. Their translator’s bias comes loud and clear when they use different translations for the same Greek word pertaining to both men and women. The word Paul uses for “peaceful” for men in verse 2 is the same word used in verse 11 for “silence” for women. That in itself should arouse the honest Berean and cause one to take as second look and question why. The word Greek diakonos is translated for a man as deacon, but for a woman it is translated servant. The only difference is that one is the male form of the word and the other is the female form of the word.
“ Peaceable,” in referring to men deals with the heart or attitude and not silence as used for women. Would we recommend that men be silent? There is a big difference between being silent and being peaceable.
In Ephesus, men were getting angry and therefore they should have a peaceful attitude and not an angry one. Women were teaching false doctrine and trying to use their doctrine to dominate (seduce) the men and they also were told to have a peaceable attitude.
“In like manner [in like manner to what? To the men having there problems!] also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”
1 Timothy 2:8-10
Where were these women getting their ideas of dress? Could it be they were getting it from the same source they were getting their teaching? What made them think such dress was acceptable? Would you not agree they got it from the worldly women of Ephesus like we see some of our women in the assembly today? Can we not honestly admit that Paul is challenging some of the trans-cultural practices in the assembly of what we often see today? We must look at the culture of Ephesus if we are going to understand what created such a stir in the first place. We just can’t read scripture and ignore the culture and practices that obviously have influenced the assembly. Timothy found himself in many unique situations and without answers… hence his letter to necessitate and incorporate Paul’s help.
Now let us go on, but let us consider that we are hearing only Paul’s side and he is dealing with issues that are foreign to Timothy. Paul is addressing the unique situations Timothy is running into that are related to the unique trans-cultural practices of the women in Ephesus. If we ignore the Ephesian culture, we are missing the origin of the problem.
“Let a woman learn in silence [let’s use peaceably] with all submission [subjection is a better word. Subjection to what? To the whole community of course. Certainly not to men! We are all subjected to the Lord only]. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over [Gr. authentein] a man, but to be in silence [peaceable in her attitude and not aggressive.].” v 11,12, NKJV
Is this a question of forbidding a woman to teach and having authority over the man? Teaching has nothing to do with authority. Anyone can disagree and challenge the teacher, teachers just don’t have authority. Does it follow then that a woman teaching gives her authority over the man? Unless we can come up with some other verse in the bible that forbids women to teach, we are left to deal with the many verses that deal with teaching in scriptures that clearly have no “male only” translation. Teaching is a grace gift and not an office of authority.
Paul is dealing with a man and woman issue and not an authority issue. Men had there anger and women were trying to dominate (or seduce) the men, acting on ones self-interest and deception from some source.
There are many ways to translate “authentein,’ To “dominate,” “seduce,” murder”, etc.. For anyone, whether male or female, such teaching is forbidden. So let’s not read that there is some legitimate foundation for men having authority into this text and women are cutting into their rightful authority and hierarchy… though we men love hierarchy. Let us not also think that the women here are just taking the “rightful” authority away from the man. There is only one authority in the body of Christ, and that is Jesus.
If we males want to institute “male authority” within the body of Christ, then we all must be willing to submit ourselves to these men in authority… I have been there and done that… it is not God.
“have authority over” (v 12)
“And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over [authentein] a man, but to be in silence.” v 12, NKJV
We find two issues here: silencing the women and the subject of authority. In I Tim. 2:12, The King James Version “to usurp authority over” Strongs gives “authenteo (ow-then-teh'-o); from a compound of NT:846 and an obsolete hentes (a worker); to act of oneself, i.e. (figuratively) dominate:”
One who acts on oneself is to ignore the rest of the body of believers. There are countless pastors and leaders who act on their own authority within the body of Christ. 1 Cor 12:21 is clear, “the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.’” In other words, the eye cannot act on itself in its relationship to the body. The woman cannot ignore her male counterpart and that is the problem here: acting on oneself. Today it is the men who say to the women “we have no need of you in our assemblies,” keep quit!
In another article I will be dealing with authority and the marriage.
Using Strongs definition it should read “I do not permit a woman to teach or to act out of self interest with a man.” It makes a lot more sense.
Authentein is not one of the more common words dealing with authority or a right to authority. Historically it has had several meanings.
Let us look at the sexual usage of the word here. In the fourth century John Chrysostom used the same word, authentia to express “sexual license” or wrong sexual practices!
Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament states of 1Tim. 2:12, “The King James Version ‘usurp authority’ is a mistake.”
A mistake! How in the world is it that we can’t see it and why are we thus translating it? Is it that we men are building our communities around such mistranslation mistakes? This one word can change the history of the future of the body of Christ. We better know what it means here and we better get it right, the body of Christ is not for the participation of men only. Look around, look at history; face the fact, we find God using women in every aspect of ministry.
Scripture makes it clear that because of such a lack of revelation and discernment of the body, many are sick and sleep among us. (1 Cor 11:30) The Gospel is the power of God and God with the Holy Spirit is working and that includes women. We can either be standing with or against God. We better be sure, I would not want to be standing against God and try to stop all the women whom He is anointing with the Holy Spirit. If God is not against women teaching, let us not permit our male bias to hinder the new wine which He is pouring out today.
We do not find a first-century biblical mandate for translating the Greek infinitive authentein as “to exercise authority over.” we can find “to dominate” or “to get one’s way,” “seduce” “murder” etc.. Such behavior would be of the carnal nature and not usurping authority belonging to another. But then, isn’t the anger of men mentioned earlier the fruit of the carnal nature? They are not “usurping” the righteous anger of women. Shouldn’t such angry men have a peaceable attitude and not be silenced? Do we think it is different with the female saints?
Anytime anyone, whether male or female, teaches in order to dominate the assembly, it is wrong. In this case it was the woman… in other places of scriptures it has been the man.
I have been a Christian too long and much of what I have see is related to male dominance in the body and history: sons of Korah, Absalom, Diotrephes, bishops, popes etc..
If the issue of authority was in Paul’s mind, wouldn’t he have put authority first before and teaching as a specific example in this sentence? But what we find is that he starts with teaching, followed by authentein as an example. Considering this order, and using authentein to mean “to dominate,” “gain the upper hand,” or “acting on ones self,” it would read: “I do not permit a woman to teach a man in a dominating way but to have a peaceable behavior.” Considering the whole function of the body of Christ where there is neither male nor female, it makes a lot more sense and fits other teachings of Paul.
The issue Paul was dealing with was in the area of women acting in a way of teaching to gain the upper hand and control. Further in this article we will discuss this looking into Artemis the Greek goddess in Ephesus.
Why have we allowed the Lord’s daughters (at least 50% of the body of Christ) in the assembly to be so restrained? It is in large part that men have dominated the institutional Church for thousands of years, the very kind of domination that Paul and John were against. We men have brought a male bias to the translation and interpretation of Scripture for the sake of male dominance. Men have gradually, through the centuries, taken the kind of authority exercised by the gentiles that Jesus spoke against in Matthew 20:25, 26.
The confinement of women in the assembly has been the result of mainly one passage and the mistranslation of one Greek verb, authentein.
Paul, in choosing a word that only occurs here in the entire New Testament, should be reason for suspicion. Why would Paul use a word that was so different from our word authority? What was so unique or novice about this word that he did not use any of the more biblical words for authority? What were these women doing in Ephesus that caused Him to use this “special” word? Where they trying to sexually seduce the men in some kind of sexual spiritual experience? Were they believing that women were superior in knowledge and therefore trying to dominate the men? Was there some lash back coming from the women to male domination? Maybe it is all of the above. If we don’t know, then why do we act as though we do?
If Paul had wanted to speak of an ordinary “exercise authority over”, he could have chosen a number of more popular words at that time: katexousiazo “exercise authority over.” In Matt 20:25 we find such an expression, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over [katexousiazo] them.” NKJV
Also we find it in 1 Peter 5:2-3, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over [or exercising authority over] God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” KJV
It is clear from Jesus and Peter that such authority is not accepted within the body of Christ.
Exousia is another perfect and common word for authority. There are some twelve entries within the semantic field of “exercise authority over” and forty-seven entries of “rule” and “govern”. Why didn’t Paul use one of these? The reason must be obvious; authentein carried a nuance (other than the general “rule” or “have authority”) that was particularly suited to the Ephesian situation. So what was the nuance for this purpose?
Part of the problem stems from the false belief that assumes that men have authority over other men and women…this just ain’t true!
Later in history the church leaders and the king translated into English a hierarchical slant to the translation to maintain their position. Their reasoning went like this: if there is no building, there is no bishop and therefore no king with authority over the people. Their point was to establish “men” in the church with authority over the people and create a clergy/laity.
We mentioned this earlier. In these verses, Paul was not addressing women who were taking the authority that was rightly delegated to men and therefore “usurping” their authority. Biblically, this is not a question of men losing their authority to women; because there is no place that establishes that men have such an authority over the saints period. The government is upon His shoulders. Men and women can only act as servants not popes. The scriptures demonstrates the greater the servant the greater the ministry.
There is also the assumption that authority resides in the act of teaching (or in the person who teaches). That is not true. Paul is referring to the “subject” of teaching that would allow the woman to dominate, etc. the man. If women are not to authentein men, are men therefore permitted to authentein women? Is anyone given the right to authentein over another? These are issues of flesh and carnality and not issues of authority.
If men try to get into such a position to “dominate” like Diotrephes, would that be forbidden? Of course! Didn’t we see this in the discipleship movement where men were exercising authority over other men? Again, most certainly! So should men be silenced for teaching the use of authority over other men? No! Only the teaching that men have authority over other men should be stopped and not men teaching.
I believe after much research of the word authentein, that “to dominate” is the proper usage of the word, but then a sexual nuance cannot be ruled out as seen in John Chrysostom definition. Could Paul then be saying, “I do not permit a woman to teach and to seduce the man.” But yet this could be the correct translation. Who can know for sure? We certainly have a clear example in Revelation 2:20, “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” NKJV
Jezebel was not called on the carpet for her “teaching,” but for the “content” of her teaching. So it is the same in Timothy, it is the “content” of her teaching for the purpose of denominating or seducing the man. Is makes sense that Paul first deals with a woman’s dress (too sexual) and then turns to an illicit relationship between the woman and the man through teaching. The flow would be natural.
Therefore the limited kind of teaching on the part of the women would to denominate or seduce the man. If for example the scriptures read: “I forbid a woman to teach or engage in sexual practices with a man;" it would imply that the woman should not involve a man in the heretical kind of Christianity which taught licentious behavior as one of its doctrines mentioned in Revelation above.
By and large we have underestimated the problems within the early assembly dealing with sexual sins (authentein).
We see this problem in 2 Peter 2:1.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, …3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber….13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices (begging for money), and are accursed children [born out of wedlock]. 15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness [Balaam led Israel into fornication]; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet.” NKJV
Rev 2:14, “Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.” NKJV
It is evident that a similar heresy was current at Ephesus, where these false teachers who “led captive silly women laden with sins" (2 Tim. 3:6). So could authentein have a sexual element… very will could be. No one really knows for sure; yet we have built an absolute doctrine around this difficult text to enforce our bias at the cost of Jesus’ body ministry. It is only certain that it is not to “exercise authority over”.
Almost all pagan religions had sexual practices. The religious art found in New Guinea, Polynesia, Indonesia, Africa, and South America are pornographic.
“Talmudic traditions: If Pe‘or is connected to the Hebrew stem p‘r 'open', used both of mouth and bowels, it might mean 'opening' and so Ba‘al Pe‘or could mean 'Lord of the Opening'” From Wikipedia.
The Israelites worshiped Baal-Peor “lord of the opening, a god of the Moabites (Num 25:3; 31:16; Josh 22:17), that is, "Lord of the Vagina". The rebellious Israelites were making images (and setting up pillars) in honor of this pagan deity that demanded gross sexual actions as a part of the "nature rituals" by the worshippers.
But if I Timothy 2:12 is understood as a prohibition against promulgating licentious doctrine and practices coming from the Ephesian women, how does this tie in with the entire passage? Clearly women are told to dress modestly and with propriety (9-10)
In Ephesus, where a great multitude of sacred courtesans who were attached to the shrine of Artemis, women had much to unlearn upon their conversion. Previously they had been taught that fornication brought the worshiper into direct communion with the deity. It is worth noting that certain Gnostics and Nestorians employed authentia to indicate a force binding together the fleshly and the divine. The verb authentein is thus peculiarly apt to describe both the erotic and the murderous.
During the sixth through second centuries B.C., the Greek tragedies used it exclusively of murdering oneself (suicide) or another person. During the Hellenistic period, the primary meaning of the noun authente¯s was still “murderer,” but the semantic range widened to include the “sponsor,” “author,” or “master” of a crime or act of violence.
Was there a meaning that approached anything like “have authority over”? Well “master” can be found, but it is in the sense of the “mastermind” of a crime, rather than one who exercises authority over another.
Like children with their security blankets, some brethren will refuse to turn loose the baggage which both binds and blinds, because the comfort of “assumed” orthodoxy has become more important than their quest to more fully understand God's will. Some also need to dominate others, especially to dominate women. Many will continue to get their satisfaction and status from dominion, rather than shared service. We are blindly following the interpretations of the dominating religions of 4 th to 16 th centuries.
May this not be so among discerning Christians. May God give us the wisdom and courage to expand and enhance the restoration of God's Kingdom.
Truth will win out; whether or not we will be a part of it is up to us. The talents of all Christians, male and female, will be used to God's glory and to the growth of His Kingdom. He probably won’t ask us… but then He is already using women as apostles, deacons, and leaders without our permission.
Ephesus was notorious for its commitment to the Queen of Heaven, Artemis. The entire region of Asia Minor, was culturally matriarchal. It was taught that if a person wanted to have a higher experience of the deity, he or she would go to the Temple of Artemis and would engage in sex with a temple prostitute (male or female). Followers of Artemis claimed that the ecstasy of sex brought one closer to god.
Adam formed first- what does it mean? (v13)
“13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
What about Paul naming Adam as “first” in the creation process? Isn’t Paul saying something thereby about male leadership: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim.2:13)? Yet, if one looks closely at the immediate context, “first-then” (pro¯tos . . . eita) language does nothing more than define a sequence of events or ideas. Ten verses later Paul states, “Deacons must be tested first (pro¯ton) and then (eita) let them serve” (1 Tim. 3:10).
In Ephesus there was a distortion of the Genesis account mixed with Greek mythology (Hence the "myths and endless genealogies" mentioned in 1 Tim 1:4), which states that women were first created. Paul addresses this Adam and Eve distortion in stating that Adam was first created.
But doesn’t the Greek conjunction gar (for) at the start of verse 13 introduce a creation order dictum? The conjunction gar typically introduces an explanation for what precedes, not a cause. If the sense of verse 12 is that women are not permitted to teach men in a domineering fashion, then verse 13 would provide the explanation, namely, that Eve was created as Adam’s “helper/partner” (Gen 2:24) and not his boss. Would we thus make the mistake in reading, “women are not permitted to teach men in a domineering fashion” because “Adam was created to be Eve’s boss” [i.e., first] surely make no sense. We are reading into it because of a subjective belief.
Are we saying women must not teach men because God created men to lead, following the creation order of male and then female. This reading of the text is problematic for a number of reasons. First, there is nothing in the context to support it. Paul simply does not identify Eve’s transgression as her taking the lead over Adam. Paul is only correcting a false belief in the woman being created first.
1 Timothy 2 is not about giving males superiority because they were created first. This cannot be demonstrated nowhere in scripture before or after that verse. Instead Paul is correcting some false teaching concerning women, which is what 1 Timothy is addressing in Ephesus.
Is there any other God-ordained instance of a person having authority over another simply because they were created first, or is the story of Adam and Eve the only one?
Eve sined and not adam (vs 14)
“And Adam was not deceived [Is this true?], but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”
Was Paul shifting the blame for sin in verse 14 to women, contradicting his own teaching that sin entered the world through Adam? Can we see why Peter stated some of Paul’s teaching was hard to understand?
Are we reading that since the man was not deceived (Which he actually was), it must imply that the propensity of women’s deception must be that God has trusted and chosen only men in the position of ministering in the assembly or to lead and teach?
There are women out there who are far superior in humble service, love, in works, in word and integrity then many men. What makes a good leader or teacher… sexual plumbing? No! God is looking for those who have a heart full of the Holy Spirit and His giftings. God still looks at the heart, not the plumbing.
So what can be said about Eve’s transgression and man’s seniority? Is Paul using Eve as an example of what can go wrong when a woman usurp the male’s created leadership role? But this is without scriptural support. Eve was not deceived by the serpent to “usurp the authority over” Adam, that was not the point brought out in Genesis. The point was that she was deceived into disobeying a command of God, namely, not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She was deceived, like most of us, by listening to the voice of false teaching (Satan) and was deceived by it. Paul’s warning to the Corinthian congregation confirms this: “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds [also being deceived] may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3).
The language of deception calls to mind the activities of the false teachers at Ephesus. If the Christian women were being encouraged as being the superior sex through the Ephesian culture and if they therefore assumed the role of teacher over men, this would go a long way toward explaining verses 13-14.
Saved through Child bearing (v 15)
“Nevertheless she will be saved [made safe] in [the] childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” 1 Tim 2:15, NKJV
Those who argue for creation/fall dictums in verses 13-14 stop short of including “women will be saved (or kept safe) through childbearing” in verse 15. Could single women and barren women not therefore be saved since they cannot or should not bear children? What kind of salvation is Paul writing about: eternal life? Or is there some kind of mysterious physical salvation or protection in childbearing? Is it at all possible that there is a historical or cultural element to understanding this verse? We will make this point at the end.
Revisiting Genesis 3
At this point we need to go back and look at Gen 3:1, where we “assume” we find such a belief or order.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, 'You (plural not singular) shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'"
Who was Satan talking to in using the plural “you”? T he plural form of “you” in Hebrew indicating the presence of more than one person. So if Adam was not there, where was he? Adam was directly told by God that he was responsible to “guard and keep” the garden.
Gen 3:6, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” KJV
Did she have to go looking for him or was he there all the time? Was it that all she had to do is turn to him and pass the fruit to Him? It appears from the context that Adam was probably “with her” or very near by as the woman was talking to the serpent, making his sin even greater. If Adam was the supposed “stronger vessel”, why did he not protect the “weaker vessel”? Is that not the supposed belief about men and family? That makes him doubly to blame, one for rebellion against God’s command given directly to him and the second for not protecting his wife. He was the one whom God personally spoke to about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. To accept that Adam knew what was happening and never stopped Eve makes for a different story all together; that makes him responsible for sin coming into the world (which much of the scriptures confirm). What is it when we assume that Adam was not there? Nothing in the context tells us he wasn’t there, more of the context tells us he was there. “You” in the singular might have at least taken some of the edge away from of it. We must remember God saw them as one. Where else could he have been? It doesn’t say, “and later Adam met Eve…”
What do we know? We know he made the decision to eat for himself. We know he didn’t protect his wife and refuse to eat but instead rebelled against God. We know he didn’t love God enough to “keep his commandments”. We know he was not guarding the garden from Satan. We know that when he got caught he blamed God and not Satan.
Was he waiting to see how Eve would be affected from eating from the tree? Then when he saw she was still alive and not effected by the fruit, he ate also. Was he using her as his Guinea pig? Was he, in his mind, already beginning to want to be free from God’s rule and now after seeing Eve eat of the fruit and live, did he then believed he could be free also and be like God.
Job when tested never gave into his wife when she told him to curse God and die. Why? Because Job loved the Lord and walked in the integrity of obedience. Too bad Adam didn’t have the same integrity. Adam never said a word to stop Satan.
The only thing we fully know is that he ate fully knowing what he was doing.
“Male dominance, egotism, patriarchal power and preferential priority is at an end. No longer can Genesis 2-3 be employed to reduce woman to an inferior position or state. If redemption is real the warfare between the sexes is over. At the same time, female seduction, manipulation, and domineering is also over, ‘for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’” Don Williams, The Apostle Paul and Women in the Church
“In the Church of which Christ is only head, males and females possess equal rights and privilege... To make any distinction in the church of Jesus Christ, between males and females, purely on the ground of sex is virtually to strike this text from the sacred volume, for it affirms that in Christ there is no difference between males and females, that they are all one in regard to the gospel of the grace of God.” Luther Lee, "Woman's Right to Preach the Gospel," 1850
On the Origin of the World is a modern title given to an unnamed Gnostic work from the Nag Hammadi Library (Codex II, tractate 5). Though this document was not composed in the first century, it contains common Gnostic reinterpretations of the Genesis account. In this work, Adam's companion Eve is but a likeness of the heavenly Eve who enlightens Adam: "After the day of rest, Sophia sent Zoe, her daughter, who is called 'Eve (of Life),' as an instructor to raise up Adam, in whom there was no soul" (NHC II,5,115,31-34). The heavenly Eve then turned herself into the tree of knowledge (116, 27-33). The jealous creator-gods commanded the human Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree (118, 16-24), but the wise serpent, the bisexual man created by heavenly Eve, exposed their deceit and helped the earthy couple by encouraging them to eat of the tree (118,24-119,19).
Another Gnostic book, The Apocryphon of John, was probably written shortly after the last books of the New Testament. In this book's reinterpretation of the Genesis account, the acts of sex and childbearing are attributed to the chief evil ruler: "Now up to the present day sexual intercourse continued due to the chief archon [ruler]. And he planted sexual desire in her who belongs to Adam. And he produced through intercourse the copies of the bodies, and he inspired them with his opposing spirit" (NHC II,1,24,26-31). Hippolytus, one of the Church Fathers, describes Gnostics who had a negative view of sex (Ref. V,4), and Clement of Alexandria cites a Gnostic work named The Gospel of the Egyptians in which the Lord forbids procreation (Strom. III,9). Paul comes down hard on these false teachings in 1 Timothy 4:1-5,7.
1 Timothy 2:11-15 can now be read in an entirely new light, not as a point of canon law but as a specific response to a localized threat in the Ephesian church. In a city where Gnosticism was thriving and even beginning to make inroads into the church, radical feminism and anti-family values were very real threats. Are we surprised? Paul's argumentation in 13-15 may then be construed this way: "Eve was not superior to Adam; if you want to argue based on the chronology of creation, remember that Adam was created first, then Eve. And Adam wasn't enlightened by Eve; on the contrary, Eve was deceived, and she sinned grossly. And women who bear children will indeed be safe, provided they are faithful."
Furthermore, the life-style of the church must be consistent with the gospel of the body of Christ. Therefore any old barriers must be broken down as Christ makes all things new.
SIN Came into the world THROUGH ADAM not eve .
The Bible clearly places the full responsibility on Adam for sin coming into the world and not Eve.
Rom 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed (from Adam, not Eve) upon all men (includes women), for that all have sinned.” KJV
1 Cor 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” KJV
Job 31:33, “If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom:” KJV
Rom 5:12-19, “ Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned… For if by the one man's [Adam] offense many died…. For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one…. through one man's offense judgment came to all men….For as by one man's [Adam] disobedience many were made sinners”
So did Paul forget a doctrine that he so abundantly taught? If the issue of who was responsible for sin entering the human race was clearly understood by Paul, so what was his reasoning for saying the woman sinned and was created first? There can be no question; he was correcting a statement that Eve was born first and the woman did not sin but the man. Could the letter from Timothy have gone something like this, “Paul, the men are fighting among themselves. Some of the women are dressing seductively and are teaching the men that sexual relationships will open them up to a higher relationship with God. They also learned from others that Eve was born first and they can give a safe birth through Artemis the fertility god. How do I deal with this?” His response would fit perfectly with such a question.
The woman sinned and Adam was formed first. What are we to draw from this: Women have a propensity to sin not men? Women can’t be trusted to teach? Nonsense! Absolute nonsense!!!! So then what was the question Paul was answering?
The leaders of Israel were deceived in who Jesus was: they were men, they were leaders and they were scholars. There were more male leaders who lead Israel down the wrong path than women. Time would not permit to cover all the Kings and leaders who were deceived and who lead the nation to ruin. False prophets and false shepherds abound in Israel. The ten spies were men, Israel wonder in the wilderness for forty years because of their deception. The sons of Korah were deceived, Aaron was deceived, Peter was deceived, the leaders who tried to get the church to be circumcises were deceived. So what absolute point can be made in an isolated reference to the woman in the garden? That man can’t be deceived or have a less propensity to be deceived? This is a question involved in flesh and spirit and not male and female.
Mary wasn’t deceived and Anna wasn’t deceived about who Jesus was while he was yet a child. It took Peter three years to find it out. Such tail chasing is built on bias and builds a straw man argument while denying the whole picture of deception. We believe what we want to believe!
The facts are that men sin far more than women and long before women sin. It has been men (clergy) that has led the body of Christ down the wrong road into this institutional system of clergy/laity. Christian men fall into sexual sins (adultery and pornography) far more than women. Women tend to score higher in college than men. It is men that leave the family more than women. Next time you see a sports event and the camera turns to one of the players, what does he say? “Hi mom” not “hi dad” so if your looking for some sinful proclivity in women, you are absolutely looking in the wrong place and looking at the wrong sex. We are surrounded by the facts that we have chosen to ignore. Let us be honest about the facts, they are as clear as the nose on our faces: men dominating have screwed up the church more than any woman. More divisions take place through the hands of men than women.
Both Adam and Eve confessed, "I did eat," and both tell truthfully the source of influence that led to their eating. So far they are equal. But Adam added a little flare to God in indicating His part in his sin. There was a remote cause for his downfall through the woman that he ignored, —Satan. But Adam does not, like Eve, mention Satan; and yet he does not remain silent as to Satan as the cause to God. Instead Adam accuses God to His face in “The woman YOU gave me.” Satan must have rejoiced in hearing Adam charging God with folly while shielding him from the blame. Is it not this scene, this conduct on the part of Adam, to which Job refers (31:33) when he complains, " If, like Adam (not Eve), I covered my transgressions by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom?” Adam made an evil choice. Adam advanced to the side of the serpent, inbecoming a false accuser of God. But Eve accused Satan. What followed was the natural outcome of Eve's better choice. God proposed to draw the woman yet farther away from Satan. He said to Satan, "I will put enmity between you and the woman (not man) (3:15). In effect, he said: "She has chosen to make the breach; I will widen it."
"It [woman's seed] shall bruise your [Satan] head, and you shall bruise his heel” They are future tenses, not imperatives. The final victory does not come out of Adam, but Eve. It was the seed of the woman (not man) that brought forth the last Adam… Jesus!
The relationship between the sexes was not intended to be one of female domination and male subordination. But neither was it intended to be one of male domination and female subordination. Such thinking is native to a fallen creation order (Gen. 3:16).
Paul would not approve loud, bossy men, men like Diotrephes “who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us (He exercises authority over everyone).” 3 John 9
So is Paul banning all women to teach? The bible is full of contrary examples demonstrating that no such principle exist in God’s usage of man vs women: Deborah the judge, Huldah the prophet who advised the leadership of Judah (2 Kings 22), Junia the apostle (Romans 16:7), Priscilla teaching Apollos (privately) Acts 18:26 and the numerous female prophets in the NT etc. (Read women in the Old Testament and New Testament in my articles.) We have taken eight Greek words from verse 12 and negated all of history concerning women in the Old and the New Testament, appearing as God is violating His own principles.
Esther was not told to be silent, 4:14, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" NIV
Artemis and cultural influences in ehphesus
Let’s look at the historical setting. In Ephesus Artemis (Artemis is the Greek name; Diana is what the Romans called her) was the Mother-Goddess, Artemis was the source of life, the one who nourished all creatures, and the power of fertility in nature. She was the same power presiding over conception and birth that was adored in Palestine under the name Ashtoreth. Her worship was traced back to the Amazons.
One of the “myths” accepted at the time was that the Amazons (women) were far superior to men! Therefore, proponents of the Amazons’ goddess Artemis taught female superiority, and this background caused marital problems for the Christian couples of Ephesus. Paul addresses this problem in Ephesians 5:22 as he urges wives to defer to their Christian husbands.
Her temple at Ephesus was one of the wonders of the world, and therefore dominated the Ephesian culture and practices. She was known as the “image which fell down from heaven” (Acts 19:35). Maidens turned to her as the protector of their virginity, barren women sought her aid, and women in labor turned to her for help… “to be safe” in childbirth. Also Paul uses "the" which doesn't get translated: "she will be safe [not saved] throughout the childbearing if they continue in faith, love, holiness and sobriety". This reference to a safe childbirth is another strong proof that he is dealing with wives influenced by Artemis whose name meant "safe".
The Temple of Artemis was an enormous structure; it was a temple where the female-deity Artemis was worshipped, the priests were women. Thousands of women died in childbirth or in illnesses following childbirth. A goddess that promised protection had a very loyal following. Men were attracted to this religion of a multi-breasted goddess because sex was a part of the worship of Artemis. They believed sexual intercourse in the temple linked them with the gods. There were so many young female priestesses serving in the temple that they were called bees. A bee adorned one of their coins, and blatantly advertised their city's main attraction. This would explain the false teachers devoting themselves to “myths and endless genealogies” mentioned in 1Tim 1:4. The long genealogies linked them to their Amazon predecessors, whom they believed to be the real people that founded Ephesus. Paul was convinced that they were mythological genealogies and not biblically based.
These women were the rulers of the temple and the men were second class citizens. The temple and its culture would have certainly had an impact on the Christian community, as all cultures affect Christianity throughout the world and time. Such cross influence for us is called compromising. In Ephesus female religious teachers were prominent; a custom that began to influence the church at Ephesus.
Compromises with pagan religions was and is to this day common; look at many of our celebrations: Christmas, Easter, do they not have pagan roots also? Look at our “church buildings,” our clergy/laity, Christianity/paganism mixtures are so common how could one deny it?
There were five false doctrines that were widely believed in Ephesus that influenced the church there:
1. Eve was created before Adam and received "special knowledge" when she ate the forbidden fruit.
2. Female "Mediators" passed this "special knowledge" on to men during sexual rites featuring intercourse.
3. Mediator women mixing sex with worship were called " Authenia" from the Greek word " Authenteo".
4. Warrior women called Amazons, who were superior to men, founded the city of Ephesus and set up the worship of the fertility goddess Artemis.
5. Artemis, whose name meant SAFE, could keep a woman safe during the dangers of childbirth.
When the wording of an isolated scripture matches the conditions of that culture of that day and not the context of other scriptures, we need to revisit the scripture in both the context of the culture and scripture. We need to look at all of Paul’s teachings and practices on the subject and not just pick the one verse and often one word. We all like to link our bible teaching to the culture to give a text a clearer understanding; except where the culture disagrees with our interpretation.
We have numerous cultural practices from the world in the church: Madison Avenue techniques for growth, worship teams up front of an audience, corporate structures, buildings, programs, entertainment, in fact we have learned and drawn more from the world than from scripture in most cases. So you tell me that the church in Ephesus was different? That I am to ignore the influences and culture? Especially when there is no context in scriptures that support it.
Are we saying that Paul was sending a letter to Timothy void of the obvious struggles Timothy would be having with women coming out of a culture ruled by a female deity with female priests?
Just look at our music industry, we have Christian rock and Christian rap, where did such influence come from? There is tremendous gravity for the church to be pulled in the direction of the world and paganism. Given enough time we find the church inundated with paganism and worldly-ism. George Barna and Frank Viola wrote a complete book on “Pagan Christianity.” Are you saying we are to ignore these facts and that Paul never dealt with such compromises? Are we saying that Timothy didn’t deal with any cross-cultural problems, that all problems were only doctrine? Are we to understand the Paul’s letter was written in a vacuum and that all was right with Timothy and he was just in search of a good biblical letter? You would have to be naive or bias to believe that. You would have to have a propensity to disavow women from the ministry of the body of Christ.
Let us look at some of the influences that have literally crippled and plagued the body of Christ in the past 2000 years.
The Many Divisions
We read initially of division occurring at Corinthian over ministries and ministers. An interesting note here, Paul doesn’t get this news from a man, but from a woman, was it the woman that got Paul’s response? “For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you.”
1 Cor 1:11, also read 1 Cor 3
“Also, many [not all] of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
Acts 19:19-20. NKJV
How about those who didn’t burn their books? Did they try to influence the assembly?
“And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” Acts 15:1-2, NKJV
We have judaizers to this very day trying to influence us in Judaism. I have heard many Jews tell me that I can’t understand Christianity unless I understand Judaism.
“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.” 1 Tim 6:20-21, NKJV
We have the new agers making inroads all the time with humanistic approaches to Christianity. We are seeking teacher because we have itching ears for knowledge. We are ever learning and never able to come to the true knowledge of the truth. We are plagued with twisted intellectual and theological winds of doctrine. We mystically look for meanings in scriptures that are not there.
“For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world,” 2 Tim 4:10, NKJV
“If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15, NKJV
Music, structure, dress, programs, etc., etc… We are surrounded by the influences of the world in most of our practices. Money and power have been the bases of much of our ministries.
"Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana (Artemis) may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship." Acts 19:25-27, NKJV.
The roots of our holidays are rooted in paganism. Many of our practices are rooted in paganism..
Paganism, Gnosticism, Judaism and the occult flourished in Ephesus.
Gnosticism taught "myths and endless genealogies" of the spiritual universe (1 Tim. 1:4,7)
The Gnostics taught that the Hebrew Scriptures were to be rejected or reinterpreted; Paul taught that "all Scripture is God-breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16, NIV, emphasis mine).
The Gnostics taught that Jesus was a spiritual being only; Paul taught that Jesus was a man (1 Tim. 2:5) who was really manifested in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16).
The Gnostics taught that only certain "enlightened" persons are destined for salvation; Paul taught that the grace of God had appeared to all men (Tit. 2:11).
The Gnostics "forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods" (1 Tim. 4:3a, NIV); Paul taught that God created marriage and food and therefore it is good (vv. 3b-5).
The Gnostics taught that the resurrection had already taken place (2 Tim. 2:18); Paul taught that it had not.
Finally, true to their name, the Gnostics believed they had special "gnosis" or spiritual knowledge; Paul warned Timothy about "the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge [gnoseos], which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith" 1 Tim. 6:20, 21
There can be little doubt that many of Paul's arguments in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus were carefully crafted with Gnostic, Judaism, the world, etc., teachings in mind. Can an understanding of these teachings open up the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:11-15? I believe that it can.
2 Tim 2:2, states, "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men and women ('anthroopois', Strong's 444-- defined by Thayer's Greek Definitions as 'a human being, whether male or female') who will also be qualified to teach others." If a person, male or female, is reliable, sound, qualified-- then Paul says he/she should teach others God's truth! Men and women can teach.
Rom 12:6-7, “Having then gifts [both men and women] differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use [male and female] them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry [feminine noun], let us use it in our ministering; he [or she] who teaches, in teaching;” NKJV
“Teaches” is a masculine noun, thus the translators use “he”, but it means both he and she. The Greek masculine, “When referring to Persons, Masculine Gender is the ‘default’ Gender in Greek, thus in pluralized situations the masculine will be used for groups composed of both Males and Females.” (Wheeler's Greek Syntax Notes,) No one would say since “ministry” is a feminine noun that Paul was meaning that only women can have ministries.
There are many instances of Paul praising women who teach the truth such as Priscilla, Acts 18:2,18,26; 1 Cor. 16:19; and Romans 16:3; Phoebe, a "diakonon" servant/minister in Romans 16:1, Junia in Romans 16:7, "outstanding among the apostles" Nympha, and "her house church"—Interesting that she is the only leader mentioned by name in Laodicea, Col. 4:15. Also Euodia and Syntyche who "contended at my side in the cause of the gospel" verbally wrestling with unbelievers, Phil. 4:1-3. He hails many other women as co-workers in Christ Jesus. If Paul had issued a blanket edict against all women teaching everywhere Paul would have reprimanded these women instead of praising them!
Jesus tells us "...whoever (male or female) practices and teaches these commands, will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:19. Jesus put no gender restrictions on teaching, but said "whoever" and promises greatness for both men and women who teach His commandments.
Jesus and Paul were constantly dealing with dedicated Christian women teaching the true gospel-- they repeatedly praised such women! Paul was dealing with false teachers teaching myths and pagan ideas learned from the religion of Artemis and the false Gnostic doctrines.
Jesus praised the woman of Samaria that publicly preached the words of Jesus to the men and women of her village. As a result, "Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony ...” John 4:39.
Robert H. Rowland, a Church of Christ minister for 50 years states, “On a trip to the Republic of China in the early '80s, I found long term missionaries being confronted by newcomers for allowing wives and daughters to pray at their tables or in family devotionals. The newcomers also demanded that English-speaking missionaries dismiss or silence female translators in classes and in the assemblies... I wrestled with the woman's role all that day. I wrestled with it back across the Pacific on my long flight home. I knew something was wrong with our traditional arguments, and I knew I must find out what it was. After returning to the States, I made an intense year-long study of this issue. I concluded that many of my long-held arguments were false and inconsistent with clear Biblical teachings and records.”
How are we going to deal with the thousands of women throughout the third world nations who are being sent out (apostles) and who are raising up assemblies and teaching?
Thank God He is not seeking our permission. We conscientiously need to rethink our position. We need to be prepared to contain the new wine being poured out throughout the world.
Throughout the centuries, God has raised up outstanding women in the Body of Christ to places of leadership. They have stood in the five-fold ministry of the assembly as apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. Several women come to mind who have profoundly shaped the character and ministry of numerous men, myself included: Madame Guyon, Hannah Whithall Smith, Jesse Penn Lewis, Jackie Pullinger. Clare Hale Babcock baptized three hundred souls. Sadie McCoy Crank established fifteen churches in Southwest Missouri, baptized over five thousand souls.
In the August 1990 Christian Chronicle it was reported that two couples, Pete Brazles and Curtis Shumards, were leaving for Honduras to work in medical missions there. They would join eight women who had been on the field for years. These eight women have been leading and serving the Honduran Church in a program named Predisan, a Spanish word meaning "to preach and heal" (Luke 9:25). These women included Doris Clark, Amanda Madrid, June Hendricks, Debbie Dabbs, Katherine Deams, Celia Lett, Paula Haught and Sandra Warner Mesia. These Christian women are surely fulfilling the Lord's command to preach and heal.
Would you be so brave to write to these women and tell them to stop and come home because God is forbidding them to speak and teach?
Thank God that none of the above women needed the approval of men… they had God’s approval. I can here God’s response to such women, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Can as much be said about us? In the U. S., we are translation and doctrinally bound and spiritually poor.
Our restriction of women in the ministry is based on two very difficult texts; but to a small minority these two texts present a clear mandate for restricting women in the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-15 are not so clear when all the facts surrounding them are presented and cleared up.
I don’t think we have truly calculated and understood the scope of Peter’s statement when he wrote concerning the problems of Paul’s letters: “Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:15-16, NKJV
Paul on one hand says, “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision (Rom 3:1 NKJV) and then goes and circumcises Timothy (Acts 16:3).
Often in Paul’s letters we find a clear contrast between what he wrote in one chapter in contrast to another. For example, Paul writes throughout his letters that all members share in body ministry (Rom 12, 1 Cor 12 -14, Eph 4, etc..) and then we find him saying that women are to be silent. Then he says the wall between male and female has been brought down. How can we have women ministering along side of Paul, being imprisoned with him; functioning as prophets, ministers, apostles and responsible for meetings in their home and be silent? Something is obviously wrong.
We simply are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Never do we find a male vs. a female doctrine on the roles on teaching or body ministry… it is a silent subject. We assume these limits from very selected, difficult and unclear text. When Paul states that he does not permit women to teach, does he also state that only men are to teach? We don’t find it. No where do we find a male-only limit being presented with the gifts, ministry and body ministry. Verses we do find relating in these areas use words to include both male and female.
The Jewish customs and teaching found in the Talmud demoralized the women. The Talmudic states, “From women a beginning of sin and because of her all die.” The Babylonian Talmud sites ten curses of Eve “she must be bound up, she is convicted to be in servitude and that man has no accountability to treat her well.”
Church Father Tertullian in the second century wrote: “You, women, are the devils gateway. You are the unsealer of the forbidden tree. You are the first deserter of the Divine law. You are she who persecuted him, whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man, on account of your desserts that is death even the Son of God had to die.”
The Hebrew word cha-yil. It is translated: army, war, host, forces, wealth, substance, goods, riches, valor, strength, etc... It is used over 250 times in the scriptures and translated consistently like that except the three occurrences when it relates to women. In Proverbs 31:10, we have “Who can find a virtuous woman.” No, “Who can find a powerful woman? Who can find a capable woman?” It is also used in Ruth. I want to make the point that Proverbs 31 is an analogy. It is a personification of wisdom. It is the very definition of wisdom and in the personification the figure chosen is a woman. The Greek word used in the Septuagint is dudimus, dynamite. “Who can find a dynamite woman?”
Contrary to the tradition of men, the Old and New Testament is filled with women speaking, ministering and recognized as leaders. We just can’t simple take an unclear text and refute a clear one. So when we find a text that appears so, we need to look at the original language, the translators work and the surrounding cultural belief system that were making inroads into the body of Christ at that time and at that location.
Today we are struggling with the women issues because of how Paul addressed these issues and how the translators and scholars have further stirred up the pot.
One of the major reasons is that in his letters he is responding to letters sent to him, giving us a one-sided conversation in a two-party dialogue.
How the questions sent to Paul makes all the difference in the world. Such a difficulty can easily give us the liberty to read our bias into the text. We know that Paul is not preaching one thing and living another.
Ministry is a FUNCTION and not a vertical RANK of authority. The issue is not positions of authority but service; so why would Paul make an issue of authority in the body of Christ if such authority did not exist?
Ministry is a grace gift committed to the support of the body, and grace is given to all the members of the body, to everyone is given a measure of the gift of Christ. The body is one in equality.
Men feel that somehow women are robbing them of their authority. We men certainly don’t want to be “robbed” of our authority. I have often heard that if the women would just back off, maybe men would take their rightful place. What is their rightful place? If men are waiting for women to back off so they can claim their rightful place, it doesn’t say much for the man being the stronger vessel. Maybe the truth is that men have backed off and women are filling in the gaps.
No woman has ever held me back from taking my “rightful” place in ministry, it is because I love Jesus and I am not conscious of the sexual orientation or competition of the one doing the ministering.
To pull back the thousands of women who are healing the sick and winning souls and raising up assemblies throughout the world for a couple of misunderstood bible verses doesn’t make sense. My heart cries when I see what we are doing to the female part of Christ’s body. I want to hear what are sisters have to say and not silence them.
God bless our faithful and loving women, I wish some of our men were as faithful.
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