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THE SPECIFIC TEACHINGS OF PAUL

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WOMEN: A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
Lesson #02
THE SPECIFIC TEACHINGS OF PAUL

    • Paul’s attitude toward women:
      • Often today Paul is wrongly maligned for his attitude toward women. However, in reality Paul dealt more equitably with women than did Old Testament Judaism.
      • We have seen in the above examples in the early church, Paul accepted, validated, and encouraged women to use their gifts, their money, and their positions to promote the gospel.
      • Paul gives special commendation to some women in service to God at the end of some of his books. He mentions women along with men who are serving God, giving equal recognition and respect:
        • In the book of Romans Paul gives special mention to nine women in chapter 16. Some are:
          • Phoebe (Rom 16:1-2) a woman with authority serving as deaconess in the church.
          • Priscilla and Aquila (Rom 16:3-4) fellow teachers and writers that laid down their lives for Paul.
          • Mary (Rom 16:6)
          • Junias (Rom 16:7) “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”

Paul calls her a kinsman, fellow prisoner, and an apostle.

Yes some say this person was a man, Junian, the male equivalent of the name Junias.

The title apostle is unclear as to whether it refers to a formal office or an informal title, but an informal title is used nowhere else in scripture.

          • Tryphaena and Tryphosa and Persis (Rom 16:12) Women who labor in the Lord.
        • In the book of 1Corinthians:
          • Aquila and Priscilla (1Cor 16:19) The church was in their house.
        • In the book of 2Timothy:
          • Priscilla and Aquila (2Tim 4:19)
          • Claudia (2Tim 4:21)
      • In the society of Paul’s time period, three groups of people were unequally privileged. Paul spoke about all three groups:
        • Jew and Gentile
        • Slave and Free
        • Male and Female
      • However, Christ offers all of the three groups equality of privilege without partiality. (Gal 3:28)
  • Spiritual gifts given to believers without partiality:
    • 1Tim 5:21
      • “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.”
      • Paul’s counsel to Timothy, a young pastor, was that he do nothing by partiality, without preferring one person over another.
      • Because as Paul wrote all believers are equal in Jesus Christ (Gal 3:28), partiality should not be extended to either men or to women.
    • When Paul lists the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to believers in 1Cor 12, he does not say these gifts are only for men. (1Cor 12:4-12)
      • “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1Cor 12:7)
      • “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (1Cor 12:11)
      • The word “man” in these two verses is used in the generic sense of the word “mankind”.
    • When Paul lists the gifts that God the Father gives to individuals in the body of Christ in Rom 12:4-8, he does not distinguish between male and female recipients of those gifts. In other words, Paul does not say that all with the gift of teaching will be men.
      • “or he that teacheth, on teaching;  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”(Rom 12:7-8)
      • The word “he” in these verses does not limit these gifts to men. Instead, the word “he” is used in a generic sense to mean “mankind in general.”
    • When Paul lists the gifts that Jesus Christ gives to the body of Christ, the church in Eph 4:11-12, he does not say they are gifts only for men.
      • “ And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Eph 4:11-12)
  • Specific New Testament Scriptures that deal with women, their roles and limitations:
    • 1Cor 11:2-16
      • “ But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1Cor 11:3)
      • When Paul wrote this passage everyone knew what Paul meant by “head (kephale)” and “covering”.
      • In this book of Corinthians Paul was writing to a church out of order and plagued with problems, in many areas of worship, doctrine, and practical Christian living.
        • Something to notice:
        • Praying and prophesying by both men and women was a commonly accepted practice.
          • Paul did not give a correction for this practice. In other words for women to speak prophecies in the church was acceptable.
          • Paul corrects the behavior of women in public practice of these activities but he did not correct their involvement in those activities.
      • What did Paul mean by a “head covering”?
        • In Paul’s day women that engaged in prostitution were distinguishable by their clothing and manner of dress.
        • To make a distinction, Christian women wore a covering of some type on their heads.
          • It was a cultural standard of that day.
          • It was an outward expression of an attitude of humility and submission to Christ.
          • To appear in public without a head covering expressed an attitude of rebellion and/or a morally loose woman.
          • If we are going to put what Paul tells us in this passage into practice today, women should dress modestly in public so as not to appear to be morally corrupted by worldly standards.
      • What did Paul mean by “the head of the woman is the man”?
        • Because women were coming to church culturally rebellious by not wearing a head covering, they were out of order.
        • Because women were coming to church spiritually in rebellion by appearing like prostitutes, they were out of order.
        • Paul’s argument is the phrase in question, “the head of the woman is the man”.
          • The word “head” (kephole) means = to hold a position of authority (it was a military term in the ranking of authority.) (Eph 1:22-23)
          • In the hierarchy of roles of authority, a man has the position of authority over a woman. That does not mean all men have all authority over all women. The qualifying phrase is “in the hierarchy of roles of authority”. A man in a position of authority such as a pastor or a husband has authority over the woman who comes under his specific authority. We will see this more clearly later in this discourse.
      • “ For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.” (1Cor 11:8)
      •  Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1Cor 11:11)
        • Eve was created out of Adam. (1Cor 11:8)
        • However, Adam was not complete without Eve. Neither was Eve complete without Adam. (1Cor 11:11)
        • Because men and women are “in the Lord” in verse 11, there is a veiled encouragement to continue praying and prophesying in public meetings of the church whether the person is male or female as long as it is done in order and with the accepted cultural dress of that time period denoting attitudes of submission and humility.
          • Many theologians see prophesying as equal with preaching except when it comes to women preaching.
          • To be true to scripture you can’t have it both ways! Either prophecy is equal to preaching whether done by a man or a woman or it is not. If it is equal, then Paul encourages women to prophesy /preach in public.

Earl Radmacher said:

“It is safe to conclude that “prophecy” and ‘preaching” are really synonymous…In most cases, prophesying simply represents the activity of receiving God’s message and passing it on. Before the time the written revelation was complete, the prophet received his message directly from God. Once the writers had inscripurated God’s message, however, the preacher as God’s spokesman, took it from the printed page and heralded it far and wide” (Earl Radmacher, “The Pre-Eminence of Preaching” Western Communicator, Fall 1982, p.2.)

    • 1Cor 14:33-35
      •  “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
      • Paul prefaces his remarks with the problem in the Corinthian church…”confusion” in contrast to “peace”.
        • This is another cultural problem well understood by the people of Paul’s day.
        • Men and women sat on opposite sides of the church with women yelling across the church to their husbands.
        • Paul tells women to maintain “silence” in the church in this specific situation so as to promote peace and to avoid confusion.
          • How do we know this command for silence only pertains to disrupting the worship service and not to teaching, preaching, or prophesying in the church?
          • The same author, Paul, in the same book of 1Corinthians did not rebuke women for praying and prophesying publically in chapter 12.
        • Women are commanded to be “under obedience”.
          • Obedience to whom?

Obedience God, to their husbands, and/or obedience to the pastor. A woman’s husband and/or her pastor are the ones in authority over her in a church setting.

All believers are commanded to be in obedience to one authority or another in the New Testament. (Rom 13:1)

All believers are to be in obedience to governmental authorities. (Rom 13:1)

All believers are told to submit one to another. (Eph 5:21)

Younger people are told to submit to older people. (1Pet 5:5)

And of course, we are all told to obey God.

          • Obedience is an outward action of an inward attitude of humility and love one for another. (1Pet 5:5)
      • “…saith the law…” (1Cor 14:34)
        • It is unclear to which specific law Paul refers to in the Old Testament.
          • There is no discernible, specific law that indicates women should be silent in public meetings.
          • There is no discernible, specific law that indicates women should have no leadership roles where men are present.
        • The general consensus seems to be that Paul is speaking about the general flow of scripture where a woman is not to usurp authority over a man.
          • Walter Liefield says, “Miriam and Aaron complained against Moses, and Miriam (but not Aaron) became a leper. Miriam was a prophetess (like Deborah, Judges 4:4, and Huddah, 2Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22), but when she countered the authority of Moses, she transgressed. She was a leader (Mic 6:4) but should not have “judged” the prophet Moses (Deu 18:15)”
          • Walter Liefield, Women, Submission and Ministry in 1Corinthians; Women Authority and the Bible, InterVarsity Press, 1986, p. 149-150
      • “…it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (1Cor 14:35)
        • It should be an embarrassment for a woman to cause confusion and disruption of a worship service.
        • That should be equally true of men, though Paul is speaking to women because that was the specific situation in the Corinthian church. Because women were the culprits in the Corinthian church, Paul does not mention men.
    • 1Tim 2:9-15
      • The context of this passage in 1Tim is Paul speaking to a young pastor to give instructions as to how people should behave in the church in light of the false doctrines of the Judaizers and the Gnostics that became prevalent in the early church period. (1Tim 1:18-20; 4:1-8 ; 5:16; 6:3-10)
      • “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.  Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
        • “…learn in silence with all subjection…” (1Tim 2:11)
          • As in 1Corinthians order, peace, and unity in the church are of utmost importance for the well being of the congregation.
          • Disruption of a worship service by either a man or a woman is out of order.
          • We have already discussed that the correct attitude of a woman must be an attitude of humility and submission to those in authority over her.
          • The word “silence” means = peaceable and not intrusive.
        • “…not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man…” (1Tim 2:12)
          • The importance of the overall context of the passage that is frequently disregarded in the discussion of the theme of women teaching:

The flow of the context of the passage begins by describing women’s dress.

She must not dress like a prostitute. The specific things Paul mentions were all marks of a prostitute in Paul’s day.

Some make rules outlawing jewelry but say nothing about braided hair.

In other words, the basic principle, therefore, is that a woman should dress with modesty and with an attitude of humility that conforms to good taste in the culture in which she lives.

          • “…nor to usurp authority over the man…” (1Tim 2:12)

The word “authority” (authentein) is an unusual and obscure Greek word. It can mean to dominate in a bossy way or it can mean to usurp authority.

The word “usurp” means = to seize by force and hold a position, office, or power without legal right.

In other words, Paul is telling women not to take control over a position or an office when a man holds that position of authority.

The conjunction “nor” (oude) seems to link teaching with the action of usurping authority. The words following “nor” intensify or qualify the prohibition to teach in the Greek.

Often in the discussion of women teaching, the phrase “…nor to usurp authority over the man…” is eliminated from the equation. They only say a woman should not teach.

We must consider the whole context to be true to what Paul wrote.

Because Paul wrote that a woman should not teach if she seizes authority unlawfully given, his prohibition is consistent with all other New Testament scriptures written by Paul and by others…a lack of an attitude of humility and submission.

…the man…” (1Tim 2:12)

Paul does not say that if a woman teaches men in general she is out of order as some claim.

Paul uses the article “the” instead of “a”.

The man that is in authority over a specific woman is the only man that has the legitimate right to restrict a woman’s actions.

In the home, the man over the woman is her father.

In marriage, the man over the woman is her husband.

In the church, the man over the woman is the pastor (and the elders delegated).

In the sense of the negative flow of this passage, Paul says he does not permit a woman to teach.

Along with the qualifying elements of the context of that prohibition, Paul would prohibit a woman from teaching if she did not dress appropriately within her cultural standards of modesty and/or if she did not have the proper inner attitude of humility and submission.

But the same thing would hold true for a man as well. If a man seizes authority over another man who is the legitimate authority, he is also out of order. (Eph 5:21)

Paul just does not give us the other side of this gender coin unfortunately because he was dealing with a specific problem at the time that had to do uniquely with women.

        • “ …she shall be saved in childbearing…” (1Tim 2:15)
          • Eve was the first to sin. However, she was deceived by Satan. Adam was not deceived. He knew exactly what he was doing.

Women can be easily deceived because they are more interested in the spiritual things. The role of authority was given to men to protect women from deception.

Adam failed to do that for Eve.

          • Because of the curse in Gen 3, every time a woman gives birth to a child she brings into this world a human with a sin nature.
          • It was not a man that brought our Redeemer into the world, it was a woman. It was through the childbearing of Mary that brings salvation to all of us, male and female.

It is because of Mary that we have a Redeemer, Jesus Christ, that elevated the role and position of women above the curse of Gen 3.16.

Jesus Christ purchased our freedom on the cross from the worldly gender battle that rages around us. He lifted women to a position of power by teaching us an attitude of submission as a means of demonstrating an internal love.

  • Application:
    • What was Paul’s attitude toward women?
    • When it comes to giving spiritual gifts, does God make a difference between gifts given to men and gifts given to women? How do you know?
    • In 1Cor 11:2-16, what limitations do women have in the church?
    • 1Cor 14:33-35, what is Paul’s major concern in the church?
    • 1Tim 2:9-15, considering the context, what did Paul mean when he said a woman should not teach?
    • Then what does God consider as limitations on women in this New Testament age?
  • Much of the material above regarding the 3 disputed scriptures by Paul concerning women was done by Pastor Jim Larson, Evangelical Free Pastor, Women in Ministry: Churches in the Crossroads; Nov 1990.
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