BIBLICAL FULFILLMENT
Woman's Role
I am Jessie Mills, Ph.D.
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A WOMAN’S ROLE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE

IN THE CHURCH, AT HOME, AND WITH HER HUSBAND


There has been much confusion, false teaching and a misinterpretation of scripture regarding the role of women in the church, in the home and in the marriage. In this teaching it is my purpose to definitely show according to the Bible what the proper interpretation of all the passages are regarding this subject.

Let us begin our study. To start off, the passages we will be looking at are: 1st Timothy 2:11-15, 1st Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1st Corinthians 11:1-16. Once we look at the clear context of these passages and the proper Greek word to use in regards to these passages we will see that there is no contradiction in scripture. No need for conjecture, assumptions or theories.

We see in the Old Testament that women were leaders, judges and prophets who in some cases had authority over men. This seems to be an apparent contradiction to what the passages I have listed above says. Notice I said an “apparent” contradiction, for we know the Bible does not contradict itself nor is God the author of confusion (1st Corinthians 14:33). If you misinterpret these passages, then there is a clear contradiction with unanswered questions. However, at the end of this teaching we will see that all the scriptures concerning this issue will be harmonized.

First we will turn in our Bibles to Judges Chapters 4, and continue through chapter 5. We see the story about a woman named Deborah. She was one of the judges in Israel. Other judges were Gideon, Samson and Samuel.

Deborah was a judge and prophetess. Israel, at this time, was under bondage to Jabin king of Canaan for 20 years. (Judges 4:2-3). The children of Israel came up to her for judgment. They would bring their disputes to be decided by her (Judges 4:5 ).  She had authority to settle disputes between men and women. We see from this authority that even if her husband had a dispute he would have to go to her. Though there is no record of her husband doing that, the point is, as Judge she had that authority over him do that, if he in fact, had a dispute with someone.

She called for Barak to take command of the troops to fight and over throw Jabin’s army  (Judges 6-7) but it is interesting what Barak’s response was in Verse 7. He would not go unless she went with him. She did, and gave the command to attack (Judges 4:14). Also, note that he was afraid to go himself without her. So because of his lack of courage Deborah says in verse 9, “...nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman,” which was Jael (Verses 21-22). The name Barak means “lightning” or “lightning flash.” He did not live up to his name in this instance. God did not tell Deborah not to go, or to go find another man who has courage. See in chapter 5 her song of victory. So here, we clearly have a woman in authority over men.

Next we have Miriam the prophetess (Exodus 15:20) and along with Moses and Aaron her brothers was a leader in Israel, for God said, “and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam (Micah 6:4).

Next, we have Huldah the prophetess (2nd Kings 21:8-20). Hilkiah the high priest (not just a priest but “high” priest) found the Book of the Law, which was read before King Josiah who tore his clothes after hearing about God’s wrath against Israel, and sent Hilkiah to go and inquire of the Lord. Hilkiah did not enquire of the Lord himself, but submitted that authority to the prophetess Huldah, who goes on to tell them what the Lord had said to her.

They did not question her as to what she said came from God or not. 

Yes, these examples, so far, are not in a church service, as some would argue. However, at this point I am only showing that women had authority in some capacity over men, the purpose being that there are some churches who take the submission of women to a whole level way beyond what Paul meant. 

Next in the New Testament, we will look at the book of Acts 18:24-28. We see a man named Apollos, “an eloquent man mighty in the scriptures.” However, he was not teaching everything accurately. Now we see one of the most troubling verses for those who say women should keep silent and or not teach men, whether within the church or outside the church. In verse 26, we see a husband, Aquilla, and his wife Priscilla, taking Apollos aside: “they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Notice that “THEY,” both Aquilla and Priscilla took him aside to TEACH him. It does not say, Aquilla took him aside and taught him, or Aquilla took him aside and taught him while Priscilla stood by. The clear reading of the text without assumption or adding to the word of God is that BOTH taught Apollos. For those who say women should not teach men this is not an apparent contradiction but a clear contradiction to their view.

No one can say that the word “they” only applies to Aquilla. Clearly adding something that is not there. However, we will see that these verses in Acts are not a contradiction and are in complete harmony with the rest of the key scriptures mentioned earlier and therefore again the Bible is in harmony.

Are we not looking at the clear reading of the texts?  See Proverbs 30:6, “Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you are found a liar.”

Now this brings us in our study to 1st Timothy 2:11-15 and on to 1st Corinthians 14:33-35. Here we will see what Paul meant by these verses. At first look, these scriptures seem to tell us the opposite of what we have learned already: That women are to keep totally silent, not teach or speak at all. Sometimes when there seems to be a conflict in scriptures we have to dig a little deeper and go to the original language from the Greek text, and when we do, the scriptures will come alive in complete harmony with each other.

1st Timothy 2:11-15

1st Timothy 2:11-15 reads: “Let a WOMAN learn in silence with all submission. (12) And I do not permit a WOMAN to teach or have authority over a man, but to be in silence. (13) For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (14) And Adam was not deceived, but the WOMAN being deceived, fell into transgression. (15) Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self control.”

I have made in caps the key word in these verses which when we have taken a closer look; will see what Paul was actually teaching.

The word “WOMAN” is from the Greek word, Gune (goo-nay) and means:

1) A woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow.

2) A wife

3) Of a betrothed woman.

The Strongs number that corresponds to this word “WOMAN” is number 1135 and states:

“A woman; specially, a wife: wife, woman.”

This word in Greek, “Gune” is translated in the New Testament as “Woman” 192 times and 92 times as “Wife.” Therefore, the word can be translated either way.

Therefore, we have some work to do to see which of these words fits best in the context of what Paul is communicating and will harmonize with the rest of scripture.

The question before us is: Did Paul say that a woman (meaning all women) should be silent or a wife?

Now we will look at the word, “MAN” used in these verses. It appears only once in Verse 12 of 1st Timothy 2: 11-15. The Greek word used for MAN is “Aner” and means:

1) With reference to sex

1a) Of a male

1b) Of a husband

1c) Of a betrothed or future husband

2) With reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy.

3) Any male

4) Used generically of a group of both men and women.

The Strongs number 435 states: “A man (properly as an individual male) fellow, husband, man, sir.” Therefore, how do we translate this word “MAN?” What is the best word to use to harmonize scripture? We will see that the best word for “WOMAN” ( gune ) is “WIFE,” and the best word for “MAN” ( Aner )is “HUSBAND.” It will fit the context of the other key passages we will study in a moment. Therefore, lets again look at 1st Timothy 2:11-15 with the best words in caps:

“ Let a WIFE learn in silence with all submission. (12) And I do not permit a WIFE to teach or have authority over a HUSBAND, but to be in silence. (13) For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (14) And Adam was not deceived, but the WIFE being deceived, fell into transgression.(15) Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self control.”

You see? Paul is actually talking about a husband and a wife. This husband-wife relationship. Now all of a sudden we say husband and wife instead of man and woman a lot starts to fall into place and makes perfect sense. No contradiction to what we learned about Deborah, Huldah and Miriam.  Here we see that Paul is saying something consistent with the rest of scripture.

Paul is NOT saying ALL women cannot have authority over men, he is saying WIVES cannot have authority over THEIR husbands. Again in Ephesians 5:22-27 Paul is talking about the husband and wife relationship. Everything fits together. The word of God is again vindicated from contradiction.

These scriptures have been misapplied and misused as a result of wrong thinking. Some churches have used these scriptures to make women submit in a way that God never meant. This has put a yoke around women and the church that God never meant. It is a perversion of scriptures.

The wife who has some authority is to be humble enough to know that it is her husband who is her authority. So, if a wife thinks she has a word from the Holy Spirit that is telling her something that her husband does not know that would give her some authority over him, then this wife is in error and stepping out under her own authority. The authority over the woman is the husband, the symbol of that authority is her hair. (1st Corinthians 11:10). If the Holy Spirit has placed a word into the heart of the wife, and He wants her to speak it, He will make it possible to speak it according to the authority structure that He has set up, which I will show.

1ST Corinthians 14:33-35

Now, in our study we will now take a look at 1st Corinthians 14:33-35, and see if we still have this harmonization. (33)“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints (34) Let your WOMEN keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but to be submissive, as the law also says. (35) And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for WOMEN to speak in church.”

We see that the word, “WOMEN” is used twice in these passages we just read, and it is the same word as in 1st Timothy 2:11-15. The word “gune. Now, again, we must ask ourselves which English word do we use in these passages in 1st Corinthians, “WOMEN” or “WIFE?” It is very obvious that the word, “WIFE” is used by Paul. Let us take a closer look.

So, what group of women is Paul talking about?

1) All women

2) Wives


The context of who Paul meant makes it clear. In verse 35 the word “they” is used. Who are the “they” that must ask their husbands at home? Well, the kind of woman that has a husband is called a “wife.” Therefore, the correct translation of “women” is “wife.” Paul did NOT say ALL women should be silent, but wives. Paul is talking to wives in the church in these passages. Now let us translate these verses properly with the right English word:

(33) “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (34) Let your WIVES keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but to be submissive, as the law also says. (35) And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own HUSBANDS at home; for it is shameful for a WIFE to speak in church.”

What is “shameful” for the wife is for her to step out on her own authority. It does not mean that it is shameful for women to literally speak in church which again is a perversion of scripture.

Do not these passages in 1st Corinthians harmonize with the passages in 1st Timothy 2:11-15? It is clear the English word “women” does not mean ALL women. It is also clear that you cannot use the English word “woman” in the 1st Timothy chapter2 passages and “wife” in the 1st Corinthians chapter 14 passages. Everything so far discussed is harmonized.

A wife is not meant to walk BEHIND her husband but BESIDE her husband. In Genesis 2:18 we read, “And the Lord God said, it is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” And in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The word “one” in this passage means to unify.  Therefore, if you are an unmarried woman, this passage HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. Paul is NOT talking to you. He is talking to women who have husbands.

So, if a woman is unmarried are they to be silent in the church? In the broader context, it will all makes sense. Now, at this point in our lesson, an unmarried woman is probably thinking, “I had better not get married then so I can preach and teach.”

Notice in Luke 2:36-38. Anna was a prophetess, and a widow who spoke as was given utterance by the Holy Spirit. She did not have the head covering of a husband and therefore was not disobedient to God’s will. In addition, we see that Anna prophesied IN the temple (Luke 2:37). She also preached IN the Temple. See verse 38,” And coming in (the temple) that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and SPOKE (Greek = laleo) of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” She spoke in the assembly.

The person responsible for making sure everything that comes out of his household is pure water is the husband (Ephesians 5:26), and he holds the responsibility for everything that the wife says in the congregation. Therefore, when a wife prophecies she is going to do it with power or authority on her head (1st Corinthians 11:10). What that means is the wife is to prophecy, pray, teach and preach, under the direction and authority of her own husband. Because if what comes out of the mouth of the wife is not from God (Romans 3:4; 1st Thessalonians 5:21) then the husband (as the authority) has to take the rebuke for it NOT the wife.

As long as the person in authority has the position of authority on their heads, as long as the person is acting in accordance with the will of the person that is in authority over them, it is not them speaking. If the wife goes to the congregation on the authority of her husband, (to give a testimony, teach, or preach) she is acting with power on her head. It is therefore not the woman speaking, it is the husband speaking, and he alone takes the responsibility. The wife cannot step out on her own authority, but under the authority of the husband, the wife has every right to speak, preach and teach the word of God to both men and women. The single women are under this same authority, but her authority would be the Pastor or Elders of the church. However, a woman preaching in the assembly is not a common occurrence and really should be considered an exception to the rule. An example of the exception to the rule would be if a woman came back from a mission trip with great testimony’s of souls saved and revival, and she came before the congregation to tell of what went on there. This is something that would be very uplifting to the church and bring glory to God.

The context of 1st Corinthians 14:26-40 is “order in the churches.” We see in verse 26 the men are rebuked for this disorder and Paul is telling them that, “all things be done for edification.” Therefore, the disorder is obvious as there was no “edification.” He also uses the same word in regards to “keeping silent” for men and woman. The Greek word is “sigao” Strongs number 4601 and states to:  “keep silent, keep close, hold one’s peace, be concealed.” This is not a harsh word to mean “shut up.” It is used of men in verses 28 & 30, and of wives in verse 34. We see also see that the word for “speak” in verse 34 referring to women is the Greek word, “Laleo,” Stongs number 2980 states:

1) To utter a voice or emit a sound

2) To speak

2a) to use the tongue or the faculty of speech

2b) to utter or articulate sounds

3) To talk

4) To utter, tell

5) To use words in order to declare ones mind and disclose ones thoughts

5a) to speak

This is the exact same word that is used in Luke 2:38 describing what Anna did: She SPOKE. Now this is a contradiction with those who say a woman is NOT to speak. However, we have seen in our study, backed up by scripture, that there is no contradiction when all verses are taken in context with the proper words. In fact, by looking at the meanings here of “Laleo” some would say a woman is not even supposed to sing! As singing is “uttering a voice” and “articulating sounds” and “to use the tongue.” Some churches of course will not go that far in their hypocrisy. We must always consider context.

We see that “order in the churches” is a command of the Lord (verse 37) and must be done, “decently and in order.”

When we are looking at the meaning of scripture one of the interpretive principles we use is “audience relevance.” To whom is Paul writing and is what he is saying for us today? Even though Paul is writing to the Corinthians he is not just singling them out, but these things are to be implemented in the churches, plural. Look at 1st Corinthians 14:34. So, because Paul says that these things  in the churches is a command  (verse 37) of the Lord, and no such command has been lifted then it is safe to say that what Paul is talking about is for ALL time, and in ALL churches.

1st Corinthians 11:1-16

Now let us take a look at 1st Corinthians chapter 11 regarding, praying, prophesying, and head coverings. In verse 3 we see that the “head of every man is Christ.” Meaning the man has no authority to go to except Christ. Therefore, he better be careful that what he preaches, teaches, or writes comes from God, and not from himself. “The head of the woman is man.” Here we are consistent again with the same Greek words for a woman (gune) to mean wife and the man (aner) to mean husband. “The head of Christ is God (John 8:26-29; 1st Corinthians 15:28).

In verse 4 we see that, “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.” This means that if a man prays or prophesies with any other authority than Christ he is dishonoring Christ. The covering for the man is Christ. The SYMBOL or evidence of that authority is for the man to wear NOTHING on his head. In verse 5 we see that if a wife, “prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head.” In other words if the wife steps out on her own authority, she is as having her head uncovered. She dishonors or disrespects her husband openly. When we continue with verse 5 we see that if she does disrespect her husband by ignoring his authority then, “that is one and the same as if her head was shaved.” In other words, the shaved head indicated that the woman either had been publically disgraced because of some shameful act or was openly flaunting her independence and her refusal to be in submission to her husband.

The “symbol of authority” that is talked about in verse 10 regarding the wife is her HAIR. The covering (authority) is the husband.  In verses 14 & 15 Paul talks about the “long hair.” But he is ambiguous as to how long, long is. Why? Because he is talking about men looking like men and woman looking like woman (Deuteronomy 22:5). If the length was so extremely important, Paul would have given a length. If anyone disputes this they MUST give a verse in scripture to say how long, long is. The length for the woman is such as to distinguish her as a woman. In verse 15 this “long hair” is a “glory to her.” What does this mean? This is how she glorifies Jesus and shows devotion to Him. By her obedience to the commands of God. Now we come to the last verse in 1st Corinthians 11 which is 16, and reads: “But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the churches of God.” What is this verse saying? To be contentious is to be argumentative or quarrelsome.

So, based on the previous verses 14 and 15 what Paul is saying about a woman’s hair and their exact length is that there is no such custom. This is clear from the fact Paul does not give a length of how long, long is for hair. In other words don’t make a big deal on how long, long is.

We see in 1st Peter 3:3-4 that the outward appearance of the woman is not what is the most important thing to God, but the inward person. This is what is, “precious in the site of God.” Does the MAN MADE head covering actually make her submissive? Do some people only have a “form of Godliness?” (1st Timothy 3:5). The real test of a wife who respects her husband is how she talks about him when he is not around, especially with her friends. See 1st Peter 3:1-3. It is the CONDUCT of the wife that is most important. This is the true test. What I have just said pertaining to wives goes the same for the husband. Men-do you respect your wife? The real test again is how you talk about her when she is not around, especially to your friends.

Now, seen as we are on 1st Peter, let us look at chapter 3 verse 7 where it talks about a woman being “the weaker vessel.” This word “weaker” is “asthenes” in the Greek and means “without strength” meaning physical strength. Are women generally not as physically strong as men? The answer is yes. This is what Peter is saying. This does NOT teach that women are weaker emotionally or in decision-making, or is more easily deceived than a man.

So, what does 1st Corinthians Chapter 11 teach us? Well, one thing it does NOT each us is that a wife must have a veil, a hat, a scarf, or some other MAN MADE COVERING on her head. Why the insistent in some churches of the visual representation of a head covering? Either they doe not see the truth because of wrong teaching, and have not looked closely at the verses in question, or she is on display to the men of the congregation and everyone else as to her submission. This is not the meaning that Paul is trying to communicate.

So many assumptions have been made regarding all these verses in this study. However, it is clear that now all these verses harmonize. We see that in 1st Corinthians 11, verse 5 harmonizes with all the other scriptures talked about above. Women CAN pray, prophecy, teach and preach in the church, and they are not only relegated to teaching other women or small children. If men want to say that 1st Corinthians 11:1-16 is NOT talking about a church setting, and women have to wear a literal man made covering then women are in more bondage than ever! In order to be obedient, women would have to always have some sort of covering near by or on their heads at all times in case they want to pray. In the car, at home, at work, when they go out. When they feel the need to pray they will have to quickly put it on. Even a quick, “Thank you Lord.” is a prayer. What a burden, and a yoke that men have put around women in general, their wives, and the church!

If 1st Corinthians 11:1-16 IS talking about a church setting then women CAN prophecy and pray in the congregation as verse 5 says, and no, you cannot divide chapter 11 in half and say verse 5  is outside the church setting and 13-15 is in a church setting.

Proverbs 3:11-12: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; (12) For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

We will now also touch on Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16.

Ephesians 5:19: “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.” 

Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

We are going to focus on two words that will tell us who is allowed to speak, and teach whom.

If we look at the words, “ONE ANOTHER.” in both Scriptures it is the word “heautou” Strongs number 1438 and states:

1) Himself, herself, itself, themselves.

In other words, this word is GENDER NEUTRAL. It applies to both men and women. Therefore, both MEN & WOMEN are TEACHING and ADMONISHING ONE ANOTHER. These verses Harmonize with all the others, again the Bible is vindicated and there is no contradiction or trying to make these verses say something the Bible does not say.

So now the question that has to be asked is: Why did God set things up this way? Why this hierarchy? This is troubling to some men and some women as well.

Let’s go back to 1st Corinthians 14:34 .....”as the law also says.” What is this “law?” Why does Paul not mention it specifically? As we have seen that 1st Timothy chapter 2:11-15 and  1st Corinthians chapter 14:34-35 tie together, we also find with further investigation, and in the context of the husband and wife, that the “law” refers to Adam and Eve, and what God lays down in Genesis chapter 3. We read in 1st Timothy 2:13-14:

“For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (14) And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

Therefore, this does lead us back to Genesis and the Garden of Eden. Let us look at Genesis chapter 3 more closely.

Here in chapter 3 we see the fall of mankind into sin. We see that it was the woman who was deceived first. Now, again some men have used this chapter incorrectly.  To make women believe they are weaker emotionally, and more easily fooled than a man. That they are to be in a submissive role at ALL times. In and out of the church. Well, I am going to make some observations regarding this that I believe contradict that view.

If Satan went after the woman first because she was the one more easily deceived because she was weaker emotionally, give me scripture and verse that he knew that? There are none. They have to use conjecture. Some men say that Eve should have gone to her husband to consult with him about what Satan said, and if she did that she would have not taken the fruit. Well, for one thing how would Eve know at this point to go to her husband for consultation? Give me scripture and verse. None. Again this is conjecture. The hierarchy pertaining to the roles of men and women was not given yet. It was not given until AFTER the fall (Genesis 3:16). So how would she know to even think of it if in fact she was supposed to? A woman does not have to go to her husband for every little decision she needs to make. Did Satan approach Eve because she was more gullible? Scripture and verse? None. So what then? Why did Satan go after the woman first? What was it about her that made her easier prey to being deceived than the man in his mind?

One thing we know about Satan. He attacks at just the right time. Or when he thinks the best time is. He is not all knowing. You have heard it said that “Timing is everything.”  “Strike while the iron is hot.” Remember Satan is extremely cunning, and highly intelligent. Where in the Bible can we find examples of other people being tempted at just the right time? Look at King David in 2nd Samuel 11:1-27 and 2nd Samuel 12:1-23 regarding his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. Here David was King. He had everything he could want. He was the “apple” of God’s eye, (Psalm 17:8) and a “man after His own heart.”(1st Samuel 13:14). It happened at just the right time. Not when David was a shepherd boy, not even after he killed Goliath. He was tempted to sin at a time when he had the most to lose and when he had his guard down.

Look at David’s son Solomon.  Same thing. He had everything. The richest, and wisest man in the world. See 2nd Chronicles chapter one, he fell out of favour with God. It came when he had the most to lose, and when his guard was down. Look at Job and how Satan wanted to destroy him (Job chapter 1 and 2) Satan approached God at just the right time. When Job had everything he could want, and had the most to lose. The problem for Satan, is that he was not successful. Look at the temptation of Jesus. Again not successful, but he picked his time when Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:1-11).Totally alone, and starving and thirsty, Satan approaches Jesus to tempt Him at the end of the 40 days not before. The last person we will look at is Peter in Luke 22:31-32. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” It appears from the next verse that Satan was granted the request for it says, “....and when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren.” Peter denied Christ, then returned to Him, and became bold and fearless. Notice Satan asked for this request BEFORE Pentecost. There is no way he would even have a chance at being successful after the power of the Holy Spirit fell upon Peter and the rest of the Apostles. My point is Satan also picked the right time to tempt Eve, and had nothing to do with how weak she was emotionally.

Look at Genesis 2:8. The man was created first. There is some time gap between the man being created and the woman. See Genesis 2:18-22. Adam was given the task of naming “every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them.” Granted, back then there were not all the species we have today, but we can assume there were a lot. Nevertheless the point is Adam had a relationship, and a fellowship with God before Eve, and for a considerable time frame. This close relationship that Adam had with God was not cultivated as yet between Eve and God AT THE TIME of the deception. How do I come to that? Look at chapter 3. Right away from the creation of Eve we have Satan making his move. Some may counter that by saying that there is no proof that between the time Eve was created, and Satan attempting the deception was a very short time or almost immediately. Well, I propose this to you. Look at Genesis 3:20, “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve....” Are you trying to tell me that Adam new Eve for a long period of time without naming her? Did he go around for months or years calling her “woman?” I would suppose some churches would like to say so. The point is that Satan picked the woman as she was the most vulnerable AT THAT TIME. Before she could have that close fellowship, and relationship with God that Adam had. Also notice that it was to Adam that God gave the command to not eat of the fruit. It was the responsibility of Adam to tell Eve. Notice in Genesis 3:2-3 she added to God’s word. She got correct the part about not eating the fruit, but added, “nor shall you touch it.” God never said that. Either she added this last part on her own, or Adam added it and told Eve or he did not communicate properly the importance of God’s command. At this point Eve was the weakest SPIRITUALLY. Satan never even attempted to go after Adam first. 

Now let us look at another verse in scripture that has perplexed many. It is 1st Timothy 2:15.

1st Timothy 2:15

“Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”

 We are going to take a look at two words in this verse: “Saved” and “Childbearing.” First we will take at a look at the word, “Saved” It is the Greek word “sozo” Strongs number 4982, and has a wide range of meanings, but the primary ones are: “ To save, i.e. Deliver or protect (literally or figuratively) heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole.

Examples of this word being used in scripture are Matthew 8:25 where we have the disciples in a boat with Jesus and a storm arose. They called out to Jesus to “save (sozo) us.” In Matthew 9: 21-22 we have a woman made whole (sozo) when she touched His garment. In Matthew 14:30 we have Peter walking on water and he begins to sink. He calls out to Jesus to “save (sozo) me.” In Mark 5:23 we have Jesus restoring a girl to health. The word “healed” in verse 23 is “sozo.” In Mark 6:56 many who were sick were laid in the marketplace and begged Jesus that they might touch the hem of His garment and be made “well” (sozo). There are also many verses where this word pertains to salvation of the soul. However, in

 1st Timothy 2:15 salvation of the soul is an impossible interpretation based on Ephesians 2:8-9 “ For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Now we will take a look at the word, “Childbearing.” It is the Greek word “teknogonia” and is Strongs number 5042 and states: “ Childbirth (Parentage) i.e. (by implication) maternity (the performance of maternal duties) childbearing.”

The first word in Verse 15 is “Nevertheless” and is important. Paul has just got through saying it was the woman who was first deceived and fell into sin. Then he says, “Nevertheless.” Here he is saying:  “Even though it was the woman who sinned first and was deceived, God will have mercy on the woman and not all is lost for her.”

Therefore, we know that “sozo” cannot mean salvation in this passage. A woman does not receive salvation through childbearing. We will see from the context that the best interpretation is to “preserve” or to “make whole.” So what is it about the woman that needs to be preserved or made whole?  It is the woman’s honor. Through motherhood and maternal duties, she will be made whole, or have restored honor, and as Genesis 3:20 says she became the “Mother of all living.” Now what about women who cannot have children? As the female off the species, she is still restored to honor.

In Genesis 3: 14-15 God shows the serpent absolutely no mercy. However, to the woman He shows complete mercy. God knew all the ramifications that this sin would entail on humanity, yet He restores her honor in the Kingdom of God. Even though there are always consequences to sin (in this case pain for the women in childbearing) this is one of the best examples of God’s mercy in the Bible. He would have been fully justified to take her life and send her right to hell, but He didn’t. If anyone questions God’s mercy upon humans then they should do a study of Genesis 3. Look at the fifth commandment of God in Exodus 20:12. He does not just say to honor your father, but honor your father AND your mother.

Now we will look at 1st Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 for the qualifications of Overseers (Bishop or Pastor) Elders and Deacons.

1st Timothy 3:1-7 & Titus 1: 5-9

Overseers and Elders

In the first verse of 1st Timothy chapter 3 it says this, “.....If a man desires the position of a Bishop, he desires a good work.” Then in verse 2, “....the husband of one wife. Then in verse 4, “One who rules his own house well...” Then in verse 5, “for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God? “Then in verse 7, “....he must have a good testimony...” So far it is clear from the context that the office of an Overseer or Bishop or Pastor whichever word you want to use (they all mean the same thing) is for men only. The same goes for Elders. We see from the descriptions of Bishops and Elders in these scriptures that they are two designations of the same office or function. There are clear parallels for Bishops and Elders. One of the main distinctions for a Bishop is the he must not be a “novice” (1st Timothy 3:6). In other words a new convert, as the main teacher and overseer, he must be well grounded in the word, and the fact that the other requirements do not develop in a person over night.

Acts 6:1-7, Romans 16:1 & 1st Timothy 3:8-15

Deacons

The first mention of Deacon (Diakoneo Strongs #1247) is in Acts 6:2. The backdrop is that there was a complaint brought forward by the Hellenists (Greek speaking Jews) stating that their widows were being neglected in the daily ministry of the needs of the people. The twelve Apostles, “Summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. (3) Therefore brethren, seek out from among you seven men of reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom whom we may appoint over this business; (4) but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’ In the governing, and organizing of the church it is here that a new office is established. The seven men had been chosen by the church but the commission, and authority had been given by the Apostles after they prayed, and had laid hands on them. The laying on of hands is not to be taken lightly but taken seriously (1st Timothy 5:22). There were no women chosen though there would have been women involved in the choosing process as well as some of the women in the church would no doubt have been qualified.

The church at this time was growing very rapidly. In Acts 1:15 there were 120 disciples. In Acts 2:41 there were “about 3000 souls added.” In Acts 2:47 people were “added to the church daily those who were being saved.” In Acts 5:14 “believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” Therefore, we have a rapidly growing church, and there needed to be some organization. With the ordination of this office of Deacon we see in Acts 6:7, “ Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” This harmonizes with 1st Corinthians 14:40 and 1st Timothy 3:15, and with the hierarchy God has set up in His church. With this organization and order in the churches the gospel is preached and numbers are added daily. We see that the seven that were chosen were men. The question we need to ask is are men the only ones who can become Deacons? If the answer is yes then how do we reconcile Romans 16:1 where Paul mentions Phoebe, “who is a servant?” The word servant is the Greek word Diakonos-Strongs #1249, and the meaning in both uses of Deacon are virtually the same. This word is also often used to describe people who are not ‘Deacons,’ so we must consider carefully all the key scriptures that speak about it. Of the more than 30 occurrences of diakonos in the New Testament, only four refer to a specific office-title (Deacon). They are: Philippians 1:1 and 1st Timothy 3:8, 12, 13. We must remember one of the rules of biblical interpretation: Interpret the less clear passages (Romans 16:1) in light of the clear passages.

Phoebe’s standing in Romans 16:1 can be interpreted in one of three ways: 1) she was an ordained officer in the church-A Deacon. 2) She was someone who was not connected to any office whatsoever but served in an unofficial capacity. 3) She was an official servant of the church, but in a different office than a male Deacon. Remember that the word diakonos is often used to describe someone who is not a Deacon. There is no question that her activity sounds similar to the activities of a Deacon. The description of her activities, together with her official sounding introduction by Paul, are the best arguments that she was a Deacon. The problem is that no where are female Deacons of the same office as male Deacons found anywhere in the Bible or early church. All the indicators within Romans 16:1-2 and the other passages support the interpretation that Phoebe was in the “order of widows” (1st Timothy 5:9). Therefore, her official sounding introduction by Paul makes perfect sense.

Should the church have women in the church who serve in an official capacity as Phoebe?

The answer is yes. However, their activities should be patterned after the order of widows and not after the male Diaconate. This again harmonizes with the rest of scripture we will take a look at, and harmonizes with the hierarchy God has set up.

It is clear then that Acts 6:3-6 teaches that women are automatically excluded from this office, (of male Deacons) unless it can be proved that they are permitted by subsequent revelation that it is not binding in the church in all generations. Does subsequent revelation teach that before the cannon of scripture was closed, and all the apostles had died, God introduced women into this same office as the men? The scriptures do not support that women were ever admitted to the office of Deacon. The biblical evidence indicates that Acts 6:3 was meant by God to be binding on the church for all time. The book of Acts was recorded in the early AD30's. 1st Timothy was recorded sometime between AD64 and AD67. If God had introduced women into the ordained Diaconate sometime after the events in Acts 6 were recorded, then we would expect such a change to be reflected in Paul’s detailed instructions regarding Deacons in 1st Timothy 3. However, we find the opposite. 1ST Timothy 3:11 can be interpreted in one of three ways with the word for woman (gune) in Greek referring to women or wives: 

1) It refers to woman as Deacons of the same office as men.

2) It refers to an order of women different than the male Deacons.

3) It collectively refers to the wives of both Bishops and Deacons which Paul here, then, is inserting a parenthesis remark to the wives of both Bishops and male Deacons.

The first interpretation cannot be correct. 1st Timothy cannot refer to women deacons who serve in the same office as male Deacons because of the syntax (The arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences; And, a set of rules for analysis of this.) This indicates three separate classes of servants: Overseers must be......Deacons likewise....... Women likewise.....This is viewed then as three separate offices, the women being a group by themselves of the order of widows described in 1st Timothy 5:9.

If the syntax indicates three classes of servants, or three separate categories then it is exegetically impossible to regard “woman” in 1st Timothy 3:11 as women Deacons of the same office as men Deacons. Therefore, the second interpretation is possible. The third interpretation is also possible as the word “wives” does not just refer to the wives of Deacons but connects BOTH Bishops and Deacons in this chapter. Therefore, weather you use the word “woman” or “wife” in verse 11, it does not change the fact that interpretation 1 is incorrect. Therefore, either the second or third interpretation can be correct. Ironically, 1st Timothy 3:11 is an excellent proof text against having women Deacons in the same office as men Deacons. Again the “woman” is referring to the servant-widow class that assist the male Deacons by ministering to the needs of women, or is talking about the conduct of the wives of both Bishops and Deacons. Just as in the early church, and even more so today these Deaconesses are needed. With the disintegration of families and single mothers. Women need this kind of support.

 

Conclusion:

We see that all the scriptures used are in harmony with this teaching.

Galatians 5:1 - “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

 

Written by:

Rick Rapanos

International School Of Biblical Research 


 

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