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Return to Woman and Ministry

Lesson #01

  • Introduction:
    • Periodically in the history of the Christian church, the theme of women in leadership, women in the ministry and a woman’s role surges to the surface to be discussed again with much heat, emotion, and passion. Sometimes scriptures are used to prove a point and at times the discussion is devoid of scripture totally.
    • It is interesting that when a woman expounds on the theme and favors women’s freedom to do any and all of the things men do, her opinion is usually disregarded as biased. When a man expounds on the theme and disfavors women’s freedom to minister or to be in leadership, his opinion is often considered bigoted.
    • Personally even though I am a woman, I am going to try to be equally balanced by presenting a Biblical view of this ancient argument. With that said, I know some will disregard the basic points made here because their mind is already firmly convinced. Therefore, this discourse is for those who have not made up their mind completely and want to gain a Biblical perspective.
    • We are going to see this theme from the perspective of both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
  • Women and God’s Miraculous Creation:
    • In the book of Genesis we find Adam alone in the Garden of Eden.
    • Then Gen 2:18 says, “ And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
      • God said that man alone was incomplete.
      • God created Eve from Adam’s rib. (Gen 2:21, 23) He did not create her from a bone out of Adam’s head or out of his foot. Therefore, God did not intend woman to be superior or inferior to man but equal.
      • Eve was created to be equal with Adam. They were to be equal partners before God.
      • Therefore, God’s plan from the beginning was equality between men and women.(Gen 1:26-27)
  • What happened to that equality when Adam and Eve sinned?
    • The Bible tells us that Eve was deceived while the sin is attributed to Adam as He was responsible before God as the head of the family. (1Tim 2:14)
      • While Eve was the first to fall into sin, hers was a matter of deception by the enemy.
      • Adam was not deceived but knew what he was doing. He chose Eve over God.
    • Therefore, the first sin is called Adam’s sin and not Eve’s sin. (1Cor 15:22)
      • There are some who say that women should suffer a subordinate position in the church because the first sin was Eve’s.
      • We have just seen in 1Cor 15:22 where scripture attributes the first sin to Adam and not to Eve.
    • The consequences of the first sin:
      • Gen 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
        • “…enmity between thee and the woman…”
          • Hatred between Satan and the woman:
          • Satan would oppose women because a woman (Mary) would one day give birth to the Redeemer (Jesus) that would one day purchase all of our freedom from sin on the cross.
        • “…between thy seed and her seed…”
          • Hatred between the Antichrist and the Jews. (Rev 12)
          • The conflict between women and Satan progresses through time until it reaches its zenith in the tribulation period before Christ returns a second time.
        • “…it shall bruise thy head,…”
          • Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, will bruise the head (the authority) of Satan on the cross.
          • The dominion over this earth and all the animals that God gave to Adam was lost with Adam’s sin.
        • “…thou shalt bruise his heel.”
          • Satan would bruise the heel of Jesus Christ on the cross.
          • Satan would think he had won the ultimate battle with the crucifixion of Christ, but Jesus Christ gained the victory and ultimate authority for all time over Satan when He rose from the dead.
      • Gen 3:16 “ Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
        • “… I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception,…”
          • Women would have pain in childbirth.
          • Women would have sorrow in raising children that now possess a sin nature.
        • “…and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
          • Women will desire to rule over men, but men will rule over women.
          • This is the conflict of the battle of the sexes that result from Adam’s fall. The equality that God began between Adam and Eve was lost with the first sin.

Neither side of this equation is good. Both sides of the equation are controlled by Satan…male domination and women’s attempt to gain domination.

Christian men are not supposed to dominate Christian women. Christian women are not supposed to desire to dominate Christian men. However, this condition is currently present in the fallen world of unbelievers.

      • Gen 3:17-19 “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
        • Adam now must work hard to provide for his family. Previously God provided for man. Because man chose not to continue in his close relationship with God, he is on his own working for his own provision.
        • Both spiritual death and physical death entered into the world with the first sin.
          • Adam and Eve died spiritually that same day. Spiritual death is eternal separation from God.
          • Adam and Eve began to die (to age) physically that same day.
  • In the Old Testament God used women in leadership positions and places of influence for the glory of God:
    • Through the Old Testament God treated women equally with men even though the culture of the time denigrated women to a lower class status.
    • In reality Judaism treated women on a higher level than the other cultures around her, comparatively speaking.
    • We find women in leadership roles marvelously used and blessed by God.
      • Deborah, a strong leader of an army and a government.
      • Esther, a queen with great authority and influence to save the Jews from total destruction.
    • We find women contributing greatly to the extension of the Kingdom and specifically listed in the blood-line of Christ:
      • Rahab (Mat 1:5) (Jos 2, 6)
      • Tamar (Mat 1:3) (Gen 38)
      • Ruth (Mat 1:5) (Ruth, the book)
      • God looked at their faith and counted them worthy to be listed in the genealogies of Christ in Mat 1 even though they were sinners and not perfect.
    • God granted the inheritance of land to the daughters of Zelophehad in Num 36:2.
    • God granted the inheritance of land to the daughters of Manasseh in Jos 17:6.
  • Women in relationship to Christ:
    • Many women followed Jesus from one place to another and were a substantial support for His ministry.
    • He treated women with great respect, spoke to them about deep spiritual matters, and revealed His resurrection first to women.
      • He spoke to Mary and Martha about resurrection. (Joh 11:23-25)
      • He appeared first to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection. (Mar 16:9)
  • Women after redemption by Christ:
    • When Jesus Christ came to redeem humans by shedding His blood on the cross, it was God’s plan to reverse the devastation of the first sin committed by Adam and Eve. That is the reason God gave the first prophecy of the coming of the Messiah in Gen 3:15. Redemption by the blood of Christ was the hope of both male and female.
    • Gal 3:28
      • “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
        • All born again believers are equally children of God by new birth experience. (Joh 3)
        • The esteem by which God holds both men and women is indicated in His utilization and blessing of both men and women in many different roles and using a vast variety of spiritual gifts.
          • Women pray (1Sam 1:10 1Tim 5:5)
          • Women prophesy (2Tim 22:14 Act 21:9)
          • Women give themselves completely to God (Num 6:2 1Cor 7:34)
          • Wives stand on equal status with the husband before the children (Exo 20:12 Eph 6:2)
          • There is no scripture that indicates men stand in sequential priority before God in the reception of spiritual gifts or spiritual blessings.
      • Those who say women are not equal with men say that Gal 3:28 does not refer to relationships but to entrance into salvation according to the context of the book of Galatians. However, if men and women start out equal in the kingdom of God, where does it say that women end up unequal?
    • Scriptures demonstrate a consistent pattern of relationships that indicate an interesting mixture of servant-leadership and participative-following relationships that promote spiritual unity of purpose and service to God.
      • When these relationships function in a secular, worldly fashion they stress the demand for personal rights by women and/or dictatorial authority by men of which neither is pleasing to God.
      • Godly relationships, however, do not stress equality or inequality, leadership or service. Instead they stress the types of service that one freely gives to the other. The Holy Trinity is our example.
        • There are different roles within the Godhead but a consistent flow of unity.
        • There is no inequality. There is no demand for submission. There is no demand of personal rights. There is no competition.
        • Instead in the Godhead there is respect one for the other. There is unity, and as a result there is power that flows from God to accomplish a unified will and purpose.
      • Judging the fruit of ministry:
        • In the New Testament Paul gives us guidance for judging ministry. We are to determine the fruit of the ministry as to whether it is true or false/good or bad, promotes God and His Kingdom or not.
        • Paul never says we are to determine the fruit of ministry by whether it is a ministry by men or by women. (Col 1:10)
        • Jesus told us that a ministry should always be judged by what it produces (Mat 7:15-20). He did not say it should be judged by whether it was brought to us by a man or by a woman.
  • Women in the early church:
    • From the very beginning of Christianity, women have played a big role in the promotion and extension of the Christian church through history. This ministry by women begins in the early church.
      • In the early church all churches met in homes. This was the domain of women. Christian hospitality began with women in the early church. Christian hospitality was spoken of as very important in the early church for building relationships in the body of Christ and for providing security and meeting needs among Christians in times of persecution. (Rom 12:13 1Tim 3:2 Tit1:8 1Pet 4:9)
      • In the book of Acts we find women were also used to carry the gospel to distant places and to speak and teach God’s truth.
        • Lydia (Act 16:14-15)
          • She was a travelling business woman that took the gospel to other places preaching the word of God.
          • Paul did not tell her she could not preach the gospel.
        • Four daughters that prophesied (Act 21:8-9)
          • Paul stayed in the house of Philip the evangelist. This man had 4 unmarried daughters that prophesied.
          • Paul did not rebuke them telling them to be quiet neither did he tell their father to rebuke his daughters for speaking publically. Paul recognized and valued their gifts of ministry.
        • Aquila and Priscilla, teachers of the Word of God with a church in their house:
          • There is a principle in the Word of God that says when a series of names is mentioned, the name in authority, of most fame, or of most importance is mentioned first.
          • We first find this couple first mentioned in Act 18:2. Aquila is mentioned before Priscilla.
          • In Act 18:18 Priscilla is mentioned first before her husband.
          • In Act 18:26 Aquila is mentioned first.
          • In Rom 16:3 Priscilla is mentioned first.
          • In 1Cor 16:19 Aquila is mentioned first.
          • In 2Tim 4:19 Priscilla is mentioned first.
          • From this sequence we can determine that both Aquila and Priscilla had equally strong teaching ministries.
          • Paul did not reprimand Priscilla for speaking or teaching publically even when the couple confronted Apollos in Act 18:24-26.

Acts 18:26

“And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.”

Paul did not say that Aquila alone should teach Apollos the truth. The scripture says they both took him to teach him the truth.

          • In reality Paul spent more time in Ephesus than in any other church he planted. (Act 19:10) Priscilla was a strong supporter and helped to develop of the church in Ephesus. Paul worked closely with Priscilla in that city.
  • Application:
    • What was God’s initial plan for the relationship between men and women?
    • What did sin do to God’s plan that we see currently in the world of non-believers as a result of Adam’s sin?
    • How was Christ’s redemption supposed to change the curse of Adam’s sin?
    • What evidence do we see in male/female relationships in the Early Church that demonstrates Christ’s redemption from the curse of Gen 3?
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