In studying this topic, I was so moved by the controversy that surrounds women’s role in ministry, and I was moved by my study of Church history and watching the exclusion and the shutting down of women’s avenues to serve and minister throughout Church history. That battle is still raging as is evidenced by the multitude of books in Christian bookstores that address this topic. I believe that both chauvinism and feminism are wrong. I believe that God has in mind a beautiful balance for the Church with both men and women fulfilling their callings to minister to God’s people in their own unique ways.
My prayer is that this teaching will unleash ministries among women who hear it, women who have not felt that they have a right to lead or teach or serve in other areas, women who somewhere along the line or along their pathways of life have been discouraged from really serving in the Church in a way that they feel that God has called them. This is my prayer for you. God bless you and enjoy the teaching.
As I have prepared for this over the last several months, I have been profoundly moved by how women throughout history, and even currently, have been cut off and shut down, discouraged in their ministries by well-meaning people—by harmful people. I think it is time to expound boldly the truth of God’s Word; I decry and defy the men, pastors, teachers, and women who in the past and who currently are standing up in pulpits and every other form under the sun and saying that this should not be. I pray that by the end of this teaching you will be convicted and convinced that scripturally you can boldly stand before anyone, and say “I have a right to serve. I have a right to minister. I have a right to bring forth that which the Lord has stirred in my heart and to bring it forth unleashed and unabashed.”
I want to give credit in this work to the men and women who have written accurately about this topic. At the end of your handout, I have cited three books that have meant very much to me in preparing for this work. These books are readily available through www.ChristianBook.com and through Christian bookstores. One of the books is 10 Lies The Church Tells Women. This is a very refreshing easy to read practical approach to the difficult scripture of 1Timothy 2:11-15. It is delightful; I highly recommend it. Another work that has been very important to me is by Richard-Clark Kroeger and Catherine-Clark Kroeger. This is a much more scholarly endeavor. Again, addressing in detail the rethinking of 1 Timothy 2:11-15, and it is titled I Suffer Not a Women. I thank God for their work. It is very solid and apparently, as far as I can tell, very accurate.
Probably the most precious one though for me is a little book called God’s Word to Women, written by Katherine Bushnell. It is not a flashy book and it is not particularly easy to read. When you open the book, you cannot see a lot of white space. The first dated manuscript of this book is 1923. However, it is suspected that earlier versions existed. In history—she is right at the core of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and I can only begin to imagine the criticism and the ostracism that she would have incurred upon herself by daring to write this book. It is full of tenderness, and it is full of compassion. I am so thankful for women like Katherine Bushnell who took the time and worked hard to declare the truth that she declared in her book. It is very precious.
This work that you have in your handout is simply a putting together of the studies that I have done—lexicons, concordances, the usual study tools and then books by wonderful authors like this. This was the most inspiring and yet the most frustrating study that I have ever approached in God’s Word because every time I thought of something, I thought, “Oh my gosh, that is four more months.” It was just the hunger to know and to be able to expound every aspect of this topic of the Role of Women in the Church that kept me going. The handout that you have makes a stab at summarizing the works of these books and then some other things from concordance studies and what not.
I am going to give you an overview of this handout. First, I will start with examples of women who served spiritually. Second, I want to talk about the absence of gender specific roles in the Church. Third, I want to talk about how it came to pass that women came to be so excluded in ministry. The core of that exclusion rests on 1 Timothy 2:11-15. That is the truly difficult section of Scripture about which has been argued and argued. Go to a Christian bookstore and find your way to the isle that contains books about women and family or women in the Church and just take a step back and scan it. A war is taking place on those shelves. This is a huge topic in the Church, and the books run the gamut from “women belong in the home” to “feminist backlash” to “chauvinist stuff” to this kind of work. I picked up another book by a group of pastors called “Women in the Church—A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15.” They are very committed to the fact that a woman should absolutely not teach. I will speak more about this book in a minute.
We are going to spend quite a bit of time on 1 Timothy Chapter two and expounding those verses so that you understand them clearly. The fourth point that I will discuss will be the willful watering down of Scripture or the changing of translations because the context applies to a woman. Fifth, I want to talk about the confusion between a married woman and her role in marriage and a woman’s role in the Church, and that point alone has caused no end of confusion, and defeat in the Church, and you will see it.
Now for the first point, look at the list of women on your handout. This is by no means meant to be exhaustive or conclusive, but these spoke to me as I was studying and reading. Some are young. Some are old. Some are single. Some are married. Some are widowed. I guess my vision would be for each of our names to be added to this list.
I want to go to 2 Samuel 20:14. About half way down the first page of your handout (number 8), you see the words “the wise woman.” This woman is not even named. She had courage. She had fire and she had a heart for Israel and an understanding of her God.
2 Samuel 20:14 and 15
(14) Sheba [He was the the son of Bicri who was standing at odds against David’s army. He was a scoundrel.] passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maacahand through the entire region of the Berites, who gathered together and followed him.
(15) All the troops with Joab [By the way, Joab was the commander of David’s army, which was never defeated.] —came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maacah.
So Sheba was hiding in this city, and Joab is besieging it. I don’t know if you have ever seen pictures in ancient history of what a siege looked like, but they built these huge ramps, and then moved equipment, battering rams and this sort of thing, so that they could bash the gates. They surrounded the city to cut it off from water, from commerce, and from food. A siege was not a pretty thing, and he besieged this city.
2 Samuel 20:15b-22
(15b) They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down,
(16) a wise woman called from the city, [She is on top of the wall, “Hey, what ya’ doin’ to my city.”] “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” [She knew who he was. She knew who David was. She knew the armies.] (17) He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?” “I am,” he answered. She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.” “I’m listening,” he said.
(18) She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,” and that settled it.
(19) We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the LORD’s inheritance?” [This is a woman talking to David’s general, an undefeated warrior who is laying a siege to this city.] (20) “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy!
(21) That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bicri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.” The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.” [ She was no chicken. Can you just picture the steel in this woman.] (22) Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.
What a wonderful story. She is not even named. We do not know anything about her life other than the fact that she was wise and add to that list courageous, bold, fearless, competent, you could go on and on. Moving along in the handout. Many of these women are familiar to you, and I have given you the references because my hope is that you will spend some time with this and just bask in the beauty of these women and what they have accomplished.
Now, let us go to Romans 16. This contains quite an amazing list. At the end of Romans in Chapter 16, the Apostle Paul writes a series of greetings and salutations and specifically names people who have been precious to him in his ministry. Several of these people are women.
Romans 16:1 and 2
(1) I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea.
(2) I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.
This verse demonstrated one of the most disturbing things to me. That is the seemingly willful watering down of words in Scripture. Look at the word “servant” used in this verse. The word “servant” is “deaconess” and a deaconess held office. She was a powerful leader in the Church. She was not a servant. Yes, deacons are servants, but you can see the point of the watering down. She was a deaconess. A contention exists that she was an apostle. It goes on to say, “I ask you to receive her in the Lord.” Now look at the last phrase, “for she has been a great help to many people.” “Great help” which is elsewhere translated “ruler” or “protector.” I believe the thinking went along these lines, “It is a woman, so we do not want to give her too much of a look of authority here. We are just going to call her a “great help!”
Romans 16:3 and 4
(3) Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.
(4) They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
You remember Priscilla from the book of Acts in 18:2, 18, and 26. She is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians. Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos about the baptism of holy spirit when he had been teaching water baptism. She was extremely bold, and evidence is there that she and Aquila traveled widely in the First Century Church. They did not stay in one place. They followed; they mustered; they opened Churches, and so forth. They literally risked their necks in a time of persecution. Men and women alike were martyred. In Acts 22, Paul stood and talked about how he had persecuted men and women—hauling them out of their homes to be punished before the magistrate and martyred, so Priscilla and Aquila were great and courageous ministers and teachers.
Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
The word there that is translated “worked very hard” has a sense of “toil” to the point of being extremely weary. She worked very hard. She gave a lot.
Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me.
The peculiar thing here is that Junias is a male form of a female name. Her name was Junia. In Scripture, or Greek and Roman literature, no such name as Junias exists, but I believe was invented because “we cannot have a woman as powerful as Junias.”
They are outstanding among the apostles.
Now, some argument is going to be here. Some theologians are out there that would jump all over that statement. A controversial translation exists between “she’s noted among the apostles” or “she was an apostle.” Some question arises here about the implication of the text. She was imprisoned one way or another, so she was obviously a formidable leader and a threat to the Adversary.
Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa those women who work hard in the Lord.
That is that same word as applied to Mary above—toil to the point of weariness. This was not a casual bake a cookie here and there. The implication is that these women poured their lives out for the Lord.
Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
God bless these women, and how thankful we are that Paul wrote this. He was obviously not ashamed to call a woman a fellow laborer, a fellow prisoner, and a fellow apostle. Have fun with the handout, and I encourage you to read it carefully and go to the scriptures on it.
Our second point is the absence of enumeration of gender specific tasks. One day, as I was studying for this, I just sort of laid my Bible out and just kind of sat back in my chair and I thought, “Alright where does God lay out men can do this and women can do this? I thought and thought; I could not come up with anything. I think part of honest research and study is that you have to be open to look at every side of the coin. That is why I have cited in here Titus 4 and Timothy—I will explain those in a minute. Look at Romans 12. I love this section of scripture that starts in verse three.
(3) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
(4) Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
(5) so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
(6) We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.
One of the things you have to do in studying this is to be very careful about the translation of man and woman. Man is translated as the general human populous over and over and over again. You need to check those things out and read carefully.
Romans 12:7 and 8
(7) If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;
(8) if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
I do not believe that this section of Scripture is intended to be any kind of exhaustive list or a definition of service. I think that it is a suggestion. Lots of possibilities are out there. When you think about 1 Corinthians 12 and the beautiful analogy of the human body, how can we know all the functions of different nerves and chemicals and all the stuff that makes us so alive. What are your jobs, your functions, your careers, and your responsibilities? Who could put into a formula that women should only teach here? Women should only have access here? When you think about the First Century Church, it is very hard to formulate the many specific tasks, much less in one gender or another.
I put in the handout Timothy and Titus. I encourage you to read them. I put down Titus 4 because it is one of the few specific places that I could think of where it was written, “Women should teach this.” This is not by any means conclusive. Next, I put Timothy because it came to mind about a husband having one wife, and I was troubled by that. I thought, “Ooh, I do not want to miss it here on this gender thing.” The more I thought about it, and the more I read, I realized that the phrase, “the husband of one wife” sits in the context of behaviors. You know, he must be of good behavior, above reproach, temperate, and self-controlled, and stuck in the middle of that is “the husband of one wife.” If we take that literally, the Apostle Paul goes out the door. He wrote that book by revelation, of course, and he was not married, remember that, so some of these things you have to read with a tremendous open heart and a depth of understanding. The idea was that man should not be polygamous. As we go through this teaching you will understand why in Timothy something like that would come up.
We have this great testimony of Scripture; all these women that had great avenues of service and served with tremendous boldness. We have in the Church Epistles and Pastoral Epistles an evident absence of gender specific roles, so from where does the idea come that women should not teach? Three areas I think specifically need to be addressed, but there are probably more. First the difficult scriptures like I mentioned 1 Timothy Chapter two, and second, the willful use of mistranslations—I have given you a list of them, and I will highlight a couple of them, and third and final, the confusion of and the generalizing of the role of a woman in marriage over the role of a woman in church service. So let’s go to 1 Timothy 2:15. This is the tough one.
1 Timothy 2:11-15
(11) A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.
(12) I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over man; she must be silent.
(13) For Adam was first formed then Eve.
(14) And Adam was not the one deceived; it is the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
(15) But women will be saved through childbearing— if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Right off the bat when you are reading this section alarms go off, and you say, “What? I thought that I was saved per Romans 10:9-10. I did not know that I had to bear children in order to be saved.” And what is this all of a sudden out of the clear blue sky in a Pastoral Epistle that we have to hear Adam was formed first. What on earth! You know it is a huge signal. It is a lighthouse going, “Look, look, something else is in here!” Something is there underneath the surface, and hours and hours of study went into the capsulization of this. I encourage you to dig into Kroeger’s work, especially if you have a heart to get into a little bit of Greek and Hebrew and kind of wade through some of the grammatical details.
1 Timothy 2:11
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.
Basically, a woman should learn in “quietness and full submission” in the KJV is “silence.” This is one of those words that else where is translated as “peacefulness” or “tranquility” as in not being disruptive. This is really an invitation for women who were culturally excluded from education in the Hebrew culture, the Roman culture, and the Greek culture to learn. Paul was inviting, “come learn the Scripture, and you are to learn it as we expect every man to learn it, in peacefulness and quietness.” All the schools in those three cultures were of such a format that the students were very quiet and the masters talked. That is all that he was saying. It was an invitation to be included to learn and serve.
1 Timothy 2:12
I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over man; she must be silent.
Silent is this same word. She must be peaceable. She must be tranquil. “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over man.” It is a very, very difficult section of scripture because it involves some words that can be translated in a variety of ways. It also involves a word authentein. This word authentein is used only once in Scripture, and it is here, so the section is ripe for argument. The word “teach” is pretty clear; it is the Greek word didaskein. It simply means to teach, but authentein is the tough one. It can mean “to begin or author, to usurp, to rule or dominate, or to claim authorship of.” These are the different usages that are found in Greek literature, so how do you know which one to plug in here?
I believe that context is the principle in which we need to pay attention. Sometimes when you study, it is beneficial to take a step back and take a deep breath and think about the big picture, as I did with the question about gender roles; thus, I read all of Timothy 1 and 2, back and forth, back and forth. I counted over 22 specific references to false doctrine, and I thought, “Wow, that is really what the focus is here.” A bunch of false doctrines were occurring. 1 and 2 Timothy are written to Timothy who was in Ephesus. Paul created a huge stir in Ephesus (Acts 18-20). He cut to the core of their economic well-being by declaring a god other than Diana. That is where the metal worker got all upset with Paul. It was a horribly life threatening situation for Paul. I have just cited a few of these here for you. 1 and 2 Timothy are full of language about myths, endless genealogy, foolish talking which engenders strife. Over and over and over and over these phrases appear. It talks about people who turn from the truth and follow after myths and lies, people being deceived by the Adversary and following after the Adversary, and chasing myths and lies.
What was prevalent in Ephesus at the time that Paul wrote 1 and 2 Timothy was a group of sects called Gnostics. Gnostics are about as divergent in their teaching and in what they propounded as any group that you could put under one umbrella and call them Gnostics. In 1945, the discovery in Egypt of Gnostic writings revealed that they spoke in gibberish; this was not speaking in tongues believe me. They spoke in gibberish, and this was something that was done in their rituals and so forth. Gibberish was emitted frequently. I imagine this was a direct affront to tongues with interpretation and prophecy. Busybodies to which is referred to in 1 Timothy 5:13 is relating to the women who go from house to house, the younger women and so on. That word “busybodies” is elsewhere translated “workers of magic.” This kind of language flows all through 1 and 2 Timothy. Some of the Gnostics taught that women could produce offspring without a man, and because of that, they were fascinated by genealogy. Kind of a paradox, is it not? They were preoccupied with origins and hence the references in Timothy about the “endless genealogies.”
I think it is safe to proclaim that the overriding purpose of 1 and 2 Timothy is to warn Timothy to protect the Church from the infiltration of myths and false doctrines. As we go on, you will hear how extreme and how damaging these false doctrines were, and we will also address cultural issues that were threatening to pollute the purity of the Christian fellowship in the Church at Ephesus. Some theologians would just have a “hay day” with that. These guys here claim that there is no way at all that Paul could have been pointing to any kind of a cultural issue. They are absolutely adamant that it is very literal—women should not teach or usurp authority. I believe it is a cultural issue. I believe that Paul was writing directly to Timothy to warn him to teach the correct truth and the knowledge of the truth in contrast to these horrible myths that were creeping into the truth.
I am claiming that by context the fourth definition of authentein“to claim authorship or origination” is the correct definition. That will become clearer as we proceed. Paul’s meaning here is to teach or claim authorship of man, not to usurp the authority over man—I do not permit a woman to teach or claim authorship. That was the very core of one of the Gnostic myths. The word “or” is the Greek word oude. The word “or” in our language can be disjunctive or it can be conjunctive. It can make two ideas sound separate, or it can make two ideas run together; as in “do not run or jump in the hall.” You get the feeling that if you skipped that would be wrong too. The idea is if I were to say horsing around, I am also saying run or jump—it is conjunctive. The same usage is present here; it is conjunctive. I do not allow a woman to teach or claim authorship of man. It will make more sense in a minute.
1 Timothy 2:13 and 14a
(13) For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
(14) And Adam was not the one deceived…
Another alarm should go off. Does that make any logical sense at all? A woman cannot teach because Adam was first formed? Well, then maybe she should not drive? Maybe she should not use a stove? Something has to be wrong here! One of the Gnostic myths presented Satan as a beneficent god. Satan is beneficent and God evil, and God was deceiving Eve by keeping her in the dark. Satan, the beneficent god, approached her and gave her gnosis, Greek for knowledge. She then became the fount of wisdom and mediation for all mankind. That was just one of the Gnostic myths. Others are listed on the handout. One of which states Eve pre-existing Adam. And so Paul writes, “Adam was formed first, then Eve.”
Is this beginning to flow? Are you thinking, “Okay, now I understand that Paul did not check out here!” It really makes more sense. A couple of other things I want to point out here, and this is truly tragic. In addition to these Gnostic myths, widespread teaching and writing existed about women being the origin of man’s sin. The first-known written proclamation of women being the source of all the ills of mankind was the myth of Pandora’s Box about 800BC. She was the silly woman who was curious and opened the box and all the human ills and ills of the world poured out of the box never to be gathered up and stuffed back in. That was the first.
The Talmudic writings had very, very cruel things to say about women, and an example of this is actually from an Apocryphal book around 200-250 BC. It states, “From women a beginning of sin and because of her all die.” The Babylonian Talmud cites ten curses of Eve and lists a hideous list of things such as: “she must be bound up, she is convicted to be in servitude and that man has no accountability to treat her well.” It is just a hideous list. Here’s one that’s very scary, and this was picked up by the Church Father Tertullian in the second century. I am just hitting the high points here, but I can tell you this stuff is not rare. It is not rare in the commentaries. It is not rare among the writings of the Church Fathers. It is plain old plentiful out there.
Tertullian 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.”
Imagine being under this man’s tutelage. Imagine being married to a man or the daughter of a man under this man’s tutelage, and he was not alone. He was not uncommon. The Church Fathers have also snatched up this idea that men should dominate women and so forth. I want you to think about some of the scriptures that preach salvation, that preach justification by faith, and that preach the amazing grace of Jesus Christ. I want you to search your mind. Have you ever felt excluded from those? Are there any indications in those verses that they do not apply to you?
1 Timothy 2:12-14
(12) I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority [claim authorship] over [of] a man; she must be silent.
(13) For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
(14) And Adam was not the one deceived; it is the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. [in the transgression – KJV].
The Greek is in the transgression; she was not the transgressor. She was in the transgression. The teaching that this verse in Timothy makes her responsible for the sin of mankind is a blatant contradiction of Romans 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 that lay clearly at the feet of Adam the sin of mankind. And then the final phrase…
1 Timothy 2:15
But women will be saved through childbearing…
Again, “I thought Romans 10:9-10 saved us! Now, I have to have a kid!” Here is another quote from one of the Church Fathers, John Chrysostom.
“The woman taught once and ruined everything. On account of this let her not teach. The whole female race transgressed; let her not however grieve. God has given her no small cancellation that of childbearing.”
Where would a barren woman fit into this? What about a woman whose desire is to be flexible and free to serve so she chooses simply not to marry. Where does this leave that person? It is so cruel. It is so incredibly divisive and devilish. What is it really talking about “women shall be saved through childbearing”? The Gnostics taught that anything of the flesh was to be despised and disdained, even the physical body, the human body, and they also taught that resident in the human body was a little piece of the soul of God—a little spark of the Divine thing. In childbirth, that spark was further dispersed, and the goal was to get it all back together and get it back to God. Thus, every time a woman had a child, she was deterring the way of God. In some of the extreme Gnostic sects, they would not marry but held the women in common. If a woman was found pregnant, she was forcibly aborted. When Paul writes in Timothy:
1 Timothy 2:15
But women will be saved [made whole – KJV] through childbearing…
Put yourselves in the shoes of a young woman in Ephesus. Perhaps a woman upon whose door these doctrines are knocking. Maybe through her husband, maybe through a sister, maybe through a minister, and you know these myths, and you teach about your dreams and your visions of perhaps motherhood, of Christian service, and you think this might be your outcome to be forcibly aborted and sometimes ritualistically so. Imagine the comfort that this phrase brought to that church. Imagine! I am convinced that these doctrines were infiltrating the Church and threatening the purity of the knowledge of the truth. Read the whole thing again, just as a summary.
1 Timothy 2:11-13
(11) A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.
(12) I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent.
(13) For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
In contrast to the Gnostic myth, that teaches otherwise.
1 Timothy 2:14 and 15
(14) And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
(15) But women will be saved [made whole— not threatened, not deterring the Lord] Through childbearing— if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
What a tremendously comforting and compassionate section of scripture and how devastating and ugly to turn it around and say, “A woman should not teach!” A lot of practical problems arise if we want to be literal about it. Let us say that a woman should not teach. How are you going to bring that to pass? If you look through the history of the Church, they have not done it either. They have been quite opportunistic about the fact that women cannot stand in the pulpit, but we could let her teach Sunday School because we need Sunday School teachers, so we will open that door. And we will let her do a woman’s Bible study.
One hears stories like Billy Graham’s daughter, Ann Graham Lot, who of his five children is well reputed to have the gift of ministry and fiery teaching. When she spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention in 1988, men turned their chairs around. Their own denomination, I mean there is Billy Graham’s daughter. The Ten Lies book gives a funny story about a woman on a mission field with a very powerful record of what she had done and the church was excited and wanted to hear it, and they all assembled in the sanctuary. Someone stood up in the back and said, “She cannot stand there and share,” so they have to go and have this caucus—very embarrassing situation. A big argument of the elders occurred with them saying, “we really want to hear this, but, you know suffer not a woman to teach and all that stuff.” Well, let us go down to the Sunday School room, so they all cram downstairs in this itty-bitty room in this church to hear this woman speak about the power of God. My hat goes off to her for having the grace to do it.
Is that not silly when you find yourself in a position where ministers and pastors, grown men and smart women, are making absurdly ridiculous decisions. The men who wrote this book and were as adamant as they were on the fact that a woman could not teach, could not come to an agreement on the fact that some said, “Okay Sunday School,” others said, “Okay, women’s ministry,” and another said, “Not at all, anywhere.” It is ridiculous! I have cited for you some of the problems behind the questions that are asked, and the Ten Lies book just goes through these beautifully and the contradiction of Scripture that arises.
I want to talk about the translations, the willful mistranslations. We have already seen a couple. The “silent” thing in 1 Timothy and many others are there. I think that probably hundreds can be found—that would be a great topic for continued study to find them all, but you can read these. I want to point out a couple that I thought particularly interesting. The translation of hagnos which is in Titus 2:5. Hagnos is clearly holy; it is translated that way consistently throughout Scripture, except here. But it was translated “chaste” (KJV), which waters it down. In Titus 2:3 the women presbutis —a presbutis was an officer, a minister, an elder, but it was translated “aged” or “older” woman.
My favorite one is the last one on the list, the Hebrew word cha-yil. Listen to this cluster of nouns and adjectives for the translation: army, war, host, forces, wealth, substance, goods, riches, valor, strength, and on and on and on. 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 Septuagint dudimus—dynamite. “Who can find a dynamite woman?”
Lastly, let us look at confusing the role of women in the church and marriage and family. This is so important, and I think this is the big mistake of some of the Church Fathers. They have misinterpreted Genesis 3 from being a consequence of sin to being God’s will. Read carefully Genesis 1 and 2, and you will not find that implication of your husband shall rule over you. This has been snatched as the will of God when it is not at all. It is a curse, and it applies to a marriage relationship, yet it has been applied throughout history on all womankind. I made some notes here about challenging our ideas about the picture of women painted in Old Testament Law and Old Testament Cultures and you can read through those. I think one very important thing under the Old Testament Cultures is were women really restricted socially and spiritually? I want you to note that women in the Bible heard from God directly, often in spite of their husbands. They were free to obey. Angels visited women. This whole idea that a man stands as the mediators spiritually between a woman and God whether she is a wife, a daughter, a neighbor, or whatever, is just plain unscriptural.
I do want to make one comment and this is really important. Under Genesis 3:16 the headship of man in the family is represented. No question about that being a fact. It is scriptural, and it is founded within the context of a marriage, a woman’s service should unfold in that context. Please, do not go home and run off to be apostles if you are married. If you are single, God bless you. You are free to serve in any unrestricted capacity and any dream that comes into your heart. If you are a married woman, you do have a head in your husband. Now, the sad side is that in Church history and all this kind of writing the husband has never been held accountable to “love his wife as Christ loved the Church” (Eph. 5:25). Think of that as being the context in which your service is supposed to unfold. So much more could be said about that. I would like you to go to Colossians 3, and this is where we will close.
Colossians 3:16 and 17
(16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. [This is my prayer to you.] As you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
(17) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:23 and 24
(23) Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
(24) since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.