Priscilla, Aquila: Women in Ministry
Turn in your Bibles to Romans, chapter 16. Tonight we’re going to get into an interesting topic we touched on some last time. A lot of people get to a passage like this where Paul basically is giving shout-outs to a lot of people that he knew from different places in the Roman Empire and people he knew from his travels and so many people think there’s not a whole lot here.
It reminds me of something that happened last Saturday at the picnic. When you walk around anywhere in rural Texas you will see here and there, if you’re looking, these small little disturbed areas of the ground that indicate a fire ant bed. If it’s rained recently they’ll try to get above the water and they’ll build up the mound a little bit. A lot of time you just don’t really see it until you kick it and step in it and suddenly thousands of ants come boiling out of the nest and up on to your legs stinging you. It’s really not a pleasant experience.
There are some passages in Scripture that are like that. They don’t seem to have a whole lot on the surface but you kick them around a little bit and all of a sudden you find there’s a lot of discussion and use of debate in these passages. This debate goes on in several verses in the beginning of chapter 16. It has to do with gender role which is a timely topic if you’re living in Houston, Texas.
Tonight we’re going to look at Aquila and Priscilla and women in ministry. To introduce this we’re going to look at a chart I developed that illustrates what goes on with evangelical Christians today. On the left side it has to do with unbelievers, individuals who are just totally influenced by the pagan culture around them. It starts at the bottom which is the foundation. At the top we see behavior, how a person behaves, what they think about law, what they think about politics, how they would implement or shape policy. That top level is the area where we usually engage in conversation with people when we are debating.
Tonight I was handed an editorial that was written by Scott Wall who is the pastor of Magnolia Bible Church. Scott Wall is the son of Joe Wall who used to be the pastor of Spring Branch Community Church near here. I’ve known Joe most of my life and I’ve known Scott since he was in diapers, just about. He wrote an excellent editorial here entitled “To Mayor Annise Parker: You are wrong.”
What happens is that just looking at that we see a discussion on policy, law, and politics. How you approach this as a believer is going to differ but it flows from what takes place at the bottom story, your foundational beliefs. These are your view of ultimate reality, which philosophers call metaphysics, what goes beyond the physical. It’s frequently called ontology. It means the same thing and it has to do with the essence of something from the Greek word ONTOS.
Ontology is probably not a word you throw around too much. Probably most of you learned that word or were exposed to it in about 7th grade biology when you were erroneously taught that ontology recapitulates phylogeny. How many of you remember that? One or two people. That was a Darwinian doctrine that the form of the fetus goes through the same processes and morphology as evolution so when the fetus grows it looks kind of like a little tadpole and then a guppy and on and on like that. That was the little catch phrase that impressed everyone that ontology recapitulates phylogeny. Ontology has to do with being. It’s the same word as the word for metaphysics. We’re going to get into this a little later on because it’s important to understand ontology when you talk about gender roles.
So we start with our ultimate view of reality, which is metaphysics. This also relates to those of you who have heard of the ontological view for God. I’m not going to go there tonight. I wrote a master’s thesis on it. I’m sick of the subject, twenty-five years later. So we start off with metaphysics which tells us what we think about ultimate reality. What we build on that then, if we’re consistent, is our understanding of where we get knowledge, how we get knowledge, and what the ultimate authority for truth or knowledge is in the world. Once we ascertain the nature of knowledge and truth we ask: is truth absolute or is truth relative or is truth somewhere in between? Out of that come our values.
What do we value? What are our priorities? What do we value in terms of the structure of society that affects our norms and our ethics? What do we think about marriage? I read a statistic this last week that the number of marriages has declined to its lowest level in the U.S. ever. That’s because people just aren’t getting married anymore. That’s not important to a lot of people. They just want to shack up and that’s it.
So we have values and norms and standards and ethics. Out of that comes behavior. Out of that comes our understanding of law, what should be encapsulated in law, what shouldn’t be encapsulated in law. It relates to politics and policy as well. That’s the structure.
Most of the time when we get involved in political arguments with people it’s always on the top layer. Sometimes we might dip down a little deeper and that’s as far as it goes. The real issue takes place down in the foundation. For believers as I pointed out last time, we have to go back to our ultimate authority which has to do with God. Knowledge of truth comes from God. If you don’t have a Biblical God, if you have a pantheistic or a polytheistic concept of god then that’s going to dictate a different understanding of knowledge and truth. If you have no god whatsoever, as an atheist, or you’re just not sure, you’re confused, and you’re agnostic, then that’s going to change things as well. So if you fiddle with that bottom layer, the foundation, it’s going to change everything built on top of it.
When it comes to knowledge or truth, if there’s no Biblical view of God, and by that I mean a Judeo-Christian view of a personal, infinite God, then knowledge and truth become relative. This affects your norms and your standards, things of that nature. So when we come along and talk about marriage, if marriage is no longer something instituted by God who created not only the physical world but the norms and standards that should govern the world, and decides what is righteousness, then that leads to a view of absolute truth and absolute knowledge and therefore our values should be in conformity to God’s character.
From a Biblical viewpoint, starting with a strong view of God we have a strong view of truth and absolute knowledge as certain. When you do not have this foundation, then knowledge and truth become relative to the creature, not the Creator. The creature determines what is true. The creature determines what the absolutes are and that can change from culture to culture.
As we’ve seen in its most recent iteration in what is called multi-culturalism, this means that every culture’s values are equally significant and equally valuable. So whether you are a headhunting cannibal down in the rainforest or whether you are an elite graduate of Harvard, no matter what your values are, they’re really equal. So no one should ever condemn someone else’s values, they believe. They’re all good. So if you are a perverted homosexual transvestite that enjoys young children, then your values are equal to the person who is the most ethical, moral person in terms of all of his sexual mores. You can’t distinguish between those in their view.
If that’s your concept of truth and that’s your concept of right and wrong and that shapes your values, how is that going to shape your political theory? Political theory, essentially, always goes back to a religious position so that even secular atheism and humanism, as it was declared by the United States Supreme Court in 1973, is in effect a religion. So everything grows out of religion because everything grows out of your view of ultimate reality and that’s not something you can prove in a science laboratory but you have to assume it and believe it because it’s all based upon faith.
No one has ever taught this to our mayor or she refuses to acknowledge it. When it comes to this issue we’re facing in Houston which has to do with gender confusion, the underlying issue is those who are promoting it want to have equal access to restrooms, based on what sex they think they are. As I pointed out last time, these decisions, which are social policy, have economic consequences. If this gets puts into effect, then that means that every building, every business, every McDonald’s, every church, although they say it doesn’t apply to churches, are going to have to have a bathroom for the trannies, and maybe two. The men that think they’re women aren’t really welcomed by normal men in a male restroom. The women don’t want them in their restroom. So the men who think they’re women aren’t made to feel comfortable and welcome by either men or women. So you have to have one restroom for the men who think they’re women.
The women who think they’re really men aren’t welcome either so then you have to have another restroom. If you follow this out logically, it just leads to mass confusion and silliness and this relates to an extremely small minority. A recent study that I saw indicated that no more than 3% of the population has a gender-identification problem. That includes male homosexuals, female lesbians, and the transgender types that are really confused. The transgenders are about a half of one percent. So two and half percent just have problems with one form of homosexuality or another. So half of one percent are really the end hairs on a dog’s tail that are wagging the rest of the dog. This has enormous economic consequences but it boils down to the fact that we don’t have a belief in a Creator-God who can speak to absolutes and say that “Yes, there are these absolutes. A male is a male and a female is a female. The reason you have gender confusion is because of sin.”
It’s always interesting that when issues like this come up it’s always the Christians who become the bad guys. I’ve read that Orthodox Jews have very successful ministries to help homosexuals straighten out their gender confusion. You never hear about them. It’s not politically correct so the press is never going to tell you where you can find out about this. There are a number of Christian ministries. There was one in Connecticut that I became aware of right before we moved back down here. The man had grown up in a homosexual culture and was very involved in all the perversions. He became a believer. Eventually he got straightened out as a result of his Christian growth and married, has a couple of kids, and developed a tremendous ministry helping homosexuals come out of that lifestyle. If you don’t believe there are absolutes then you just believe something that is horrible.
All of this starts off with your view of God and your view of creation, that God created human beings in the likeness and image of God and they are distinct from the animals. You can’t draw analogies from the animals to man because this thing called the image of God is different. It not only affects the gender confusion in terms of sexual identity but it also affects role and how we understand the role of men and the role of women and the family and marriage and society and the church.
God created men and women equally as image bearers. In Genesis 1:26-27. God said, “Let us create man in our image, male and female.” So both men and women are equally, fully in the image of God. That means that ontologically [see, I knew I needed to prepare for this], ontologically men and women are equal in their being. They’re both equally and fully in the image of God. But God created men to be men and women to be women.
And He created souls that are different. Male souls and female souls are designed for different roles just as female bodies and male bodies are created for different functions. This is a very inconvenient truth for evolutionists and for those who want to have role reversal and role interchangeability. These ideas started getting promoted in the late 19th century as western civilization shifted from a theistic foundation and a Judeo-Christian heritage into an evolutionary foundation. By the early part of the 20th century these things were already being talked about among those who were deeply involved in the progressive agenda. It was way behind the scenes but there were people in the intellectual elites of the early 20th century who were already engaging in this as an agenda.
This did not really come to fruition in terms of popular culture until you got into the 1960s and the development of the Equal Rights amendment in the 70s and the development of the radical feminist movement in the 60s. All had these different things as part of their agenda. This was when you had the rise of the gay rights movements. All of these things were related together. They’re all part of pagan thought.
There is behavior in terms of gender confusion. Behavior in terms of role reversal and role identification between men and women all impacted laws. Those who supported this became very activistic in terms of trying to get Congress to pass laws. It affected politics. It affected policy. It affected what was taught in the college classroom and how literature was developed.
I was talking to a young man from my congregation this last week who ended up dropping an English class because he had made some references to God in an English paper he had turned in. The professor just scribbled all over his paper, “There is no God. This is all nonsense.” He just vented all over his paper from his hostile atheism and this is what’s normative today in most college classrooms, especially in liberal arts. Liberal arts are much more dangerous than the science classes. History, sociology, psychology, and especially English classes are dangerous. I had a double major in college, a history/English major and I saw this many years ago when I was in college. It was just horrendous what was coming across from most of the teachers in the liberal arts departments.
The reason I’m getting into this is because this is the area where this fire ant bed focuses on these issues. There are three verses here that talk about women in ministry. This has become a hotbed issue in evangelicalism over the last thirty years. Christians seem to always reflect the trends of the culture. I remember in 1975 I was involved with a couple of other young men who were going to go to Dallas Seminary. We met every week or so with the pastor over at Spring Branch Community Church. He talked about a lot of different issues we would be facing when we went to seminary. One of the first ones he mentioned was this whole issue of whether or not women should be admitted into the seminary and what kind of ministry they should have in the local church.
This was particularly important from the financial angle. See, social policy always affects finances. I keep repeating that because there’s this movement that has been around for at least twenty years in the Republican Party who say they’re conservative economically but not conservative socially. This is also a libertarian line. They think they can forget about when life begins, about homosexual or gay marriage, and they want to just forget about all these other social issues. That’s not relevant so let’s just talk about money.
In the mid-70s schools who wanted to allow guys on G.I. bills to attend were being pressured by the government that they would lose their federal aid if they didn’t change their policies and allow women. Money talks. It wasn’t long before Dallas Seminary came up with a new program. The only program they had had before 1975 was a Masters of Theology program. They introduced a Master of Arts of Biblical Studies which was a two year master’s degree. It was just in summer school and over a period of three or four years you could get your MA degree. That was open to women.
By the time I was in my second year of seminary, women were now coming to take their MA classes. Some of those classes were the same as the ThM classes. You see this gradualism that creeps in. Then by the early 80s when Dallas Seminary had engaged in a huge capital expenditure program after building a lot of new buildings, the number of students that applied for the ThM program were fewer than the slots available. Back in the 70s they would get six or eight times as many applicants for each slot that was open. Now you had 220 applicants for 230 slots. What happens to your quality control? All of a sudden you need more students because you have to pay off your debt. “Maybe we ought to open up the ThM program to women, “some said. That was a factor. It wasn’t the only factor but it was a factor. Money talks. Things like this happen.
There was a lot of social pressure taking place as well. All of a sudden you had people going back and revising their exegesis of Scripture. A lot of controversy took place during this particular time. Dallas generally kept a pretty strong line although they did open up the ThM program and later the DMin program to women students. They still kept a strong line that women were not to be pastors or teach men. They continued to publish articles written by Wayne House. If you want to investigate some of this look at Wayne’s book, “The Role of Women in Ministry.” There are other books published by Dallas grads dealing with this particular issue. This is foundational.
Remember I talked about the fire ant bed which doesn’t look very significant until you kick it? That’s what happened here. Last week we looked at Romans 16:1-2 talking about Phoebe who is a servant of the church. I said this is the word DIAKONOS in the feminine form. There are those who have sold out to what is known as evangelicalism feminism who come to Romans 16:1 and say this shows they had deaconesses in the early church. This is a misuse of both history as well as language. The idea of a deacon having an official church leadership position in the sense that we have today was unheard of in the early church. It was a servant position, not a position of authority or teaching or leadership.
Romans 16:1-2 was part of what I pointed out last time and then another aspect of this is the noun that used in Romans 16:2 that Phoebe should be taken care of and helped out because she had been a helper of many and of Paul also. There have been numerous scholarly articles arguing back and forth on this word in the second verse, PROSTATIS. This is in the feminine form, a nominative feminine singular, and in the feminine form it has the idea of a patron or a benefactor. The related noun PROSTATES is the masculine form which means ruler or leader. There has been a huge amount of ink spilled on this particular issue. So you kick this little dirt hill on the ground and all of a sudden you see all these fire ants bubbling up out of the ground just as all the theologians start arguing about this.
Then we come to the next set of verses in Romans 16:3-5 talking about Priscilla and Aquila. Now this is important because they’re always mentioned together. Priscilla’s name is almost always mentioned first. Of the six times that they’re mentioned, she’s mentioned first four of those six times. Some have tried to say this shows she was more the leader and a lot of stuff is read into this. It’s probably either one of two things. Either she was more involved in terms of helping Paul or she probably came from a higher social status than her husband did so she would have been listed first.
Their names always come up when you hear a discussion related to the role of women in ministry because here’s Priscilla mentioned a number of times. The fact that Paul mentions her and has such a strong relationship with them indicates that the liberal position you often hear that Paul was a misogynist is just not true. He mentions a number of women in this particular list, alone. In fact, if you look at this whole chapter we see that there are twenty-four people who are named and two people who are not named. Of the twenty-six total who are mentioned, nine of them are women. Paul is commending nine women here. That’s approximately a third of them. Paul had a very high view of women.
What he says about women doesn’t come out of a cultural background. It isn’t influenced by his Pharisaic background and it wasn’t influenced by the Greek culture. It’s influenced by God’s inspiration and by God’s order of creation in Genesis, chapter one. Priscilla and Aquila are indicated here as his fellow workers in Christ Jesus. In this section we have several places where “in Christ” is mentioned and “in the Lord” is mentioned. For example in verse 8, “Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.” In verse 11, “Greet those of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.” Also, in verse 13 and verse 22 you have this phrase “in the Lord.” It seems that it is used interchangeably with the phrase “in Christ”. What Paul is saying is that they are carrying out their ministry to Christ together. They were partners in ministry.
In verse 4 Paul goes on to praise Priscilla and Aquila because they had risked their lives for Paul. He singles them out, indicating how much he appreciates their ministry back in Rome at this particular time. He expressed his gratitude to them for how they had worked with him. Also he mentions the church that is in their house.
In 1 Corinthians he also mentions them. It seemed they traveled a lot and they always had a group of believers that met in their house as a church. What we know about them from Scripture is that they were married; they were believers who were originally from Rome although Aquila is originally from Pontus in Asia Minor which is modern Turkey. Somewhere they met and they married. They’re from a Jewish background so they had become believers at some point or at the point of Paul’s ministry. Sometimes she’s mentioned as Prisca which is actually the more formal term for the name and diminutive was Priscilla. Luke usually calls her Priscilla but Paul usually refers to her as Prisca.
They had an important relationship with Paul. Aquila, which is the Latin word for eagle, was a tentmaker, just as Paul was. They had settled in Rome but then they were forced to leave when there were riots in Rome, according to Acts 18:2 that were stated to be by Claudius because the Christians were debating this person called Prestus, which is probably a misspelling for Christ. All of the Jews were expelled from Rome under Emperor Claudius.
That brought them to Corinth which is where they met Paul. They came together, developed a friendship, worked together, and had their tent making business together. Then they continued to follow him. They followed him to Ephesus. When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 16:9 he mentioned that they had a church meeting in their house in Corinth. They come up because of this particular verse mentioned in Acts 18:6, “So he [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue…” Apollos was a Greek Jew who was speaking out in the synagogue but he didn’t understand the gospel clearly. Aquila and Priscilla heard him in the synagogue and they took him aside and “explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
One of the arguments you hear from the feminist evangelical side is that this means Priscilla is teaching him the Bible. Let’s look at the terminology here. It says they explained to him the way of God. This is the word EKTITHOMI which means to explain something or to expose something. It is not a synonym for the word DIDASKOLOS which means to formally teach or to instruct someone. DIDASKO is usually used to refer to a group instructional situation where you have a recognized teacher giving instruction to other.
What you see with Aquila and Priscilla is that they’re sitting around the coffee table at home having a cup of coffee or tea or whatever they drank at that time and they’re having a dialogue with Apollos saying they really enjoyed his message but asking him if he’s thought about certain things. Generally through dialogue and questions and answers they led him through to an understanding of the Messiahship of Jesus. Priscilla isn’t sitting there taking out her Bible and saying, “Now we’re going to have Bible class and I’m going to teach you about Christ.” It’s not a lecture. That’s a different type of scenario so it’s not legitimate to go to Acts 18 to try to pull out of this an example of a woman teaching a man.
The key passage for understanding this comes from 1 Timothy 2:8-13 so let’s turn there and take a look. This is a very important passage because it teaches that there are different roles in the church just as there are different roles in the home. What happens here is that Paul is having to deal with some problems in the congregation in Ephesus. Timothy is the pastor there so Paul is encouraging Timothy to deal with various problems in the church brought about by those who are getting involved in teaching false doctrine. Back in 1 Timothy 1:3 Paul writes, “I urged you when I went into Macedonia, remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine nor give heed to fables or endless genealogies which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.” So Paul has to straighten things out. In 1 Timothy 1:6 he says, “There are those who have strayed and turned aside to idle talk desiring to be teachers of the Law.” There’s a use of our word DIDASKOLOS and that indicates a formal teaching position as it does all through the pastorals. It’s not just sitting around the coffee table and having a discussion about what the Scripture means. It’s a formal teaching position.
Paul needs to give Timothy some instruction on some priorities when it comes to the congregation. In 1 Timothy 2 he says, “Therefore I exhort first of all that all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” So we have a little section there dealing with the importance of prayer. Then he says in 1 Timothy 2:8, “Therefore I want the men…” This flows directly out of his discussion of prayer. “Men” is the Greek word ANER, not ANTHROPOS, where we get our word anthropology, the study of man kind. ANTHROPOS is the broad word, not just males, but refers to mankind or humanity, the human race. It can refer to just men but usually it has a broader sense including both male and female. The Greek word ANER means male as opposed to female. The word for female is GUNE which can refer to a woman or a wife. So he says here, “I want the males in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without wrath and dissension.” Does that mean he doesn’t want the women to pray? No. He’s not addressing that. He’s talking about the orderly way of worship, when the body of believers come together. He wants the men to be in this leadership position and they’re the ones to lead in terms of prayer.
Lifting up holy hands is not the charismatic view that you lift up your hands and somehow that makes you a little more holy and your prayers will get a little higher toward heaven. The word there indicates sanctification. It means you’re in fellowship. Okay? That’s the idea there. They’re not unholy hands, they’re sanctified. Without wrath and dissension. The positive there is that you’re in fellowship. You’re in right relationship to God in terms of experiential sanctification. The negative is that there are not mental attitude sins in the thought life of the leaders of the church.
Then he addresses the women in like manner. He’s not taking on everything the men and women should do but he’s taking on these topics because apparently there was some confusion or some areas of disobedience in these particular areas. In 1 Timothy 2:9, “Likewise I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing.” So for women it was a matter of how they dressed when they came together for worship. They needed to dress modestly and they needed to not dress in a way that would provoke men in terms of mental attitude sins, creating lust or anything of that nature. Probably it was not so much that as that the more affluent in the congregation should not dress in a way that would over-emphasize their affluence and prosperity as opposed to those who were poor. Some who would come might even be slaves so they should not make an issue out of their status in life. They should dress modestly and discreetly.
I remember when I first went to seminary I went to a couple of churches in North Dallas and I was just amazed at the style show. It was a very affluent part of Dallas. I’d never really noticed how the men and women dressed in my background. It was like a fashion show every Sunday morning in Dallas. Instead Paul said the women were to focus on good works, that is, walking by the Spirit in the production of Divine good in their life “as befits a woman who is making a claim to godliness.”
As I’ve pointed out before the word “godliness” is the Greek word THEOSEBEIA which indicates a spiritual life. Godliness is an English verb that emphasizes God-likeness. It emphasizes character. Romans 8:28-29 says we’re being conformed to the image of Christ-likeness or God-likeness. So that’s what that word means. It’s not really piety. That’s one of those funny little religious words that people focus on. It has to do with your spiritual growth and spiritual maturity.
In 1 Timothy 2:11 Paul gives a command, “Let a woman quietly receive instruction.” It’s a present active imperative so this is to be a standard operating procedure. This is the normative expression of the role of women in the local church. They are to receive instruction. Now the word here is MONTHANO which is related to the Greek noun for disciple, someone who is a learner, someone who is a student. So women are to do this in a way that is quiet. Paul says that women are to keep silent in the church. That’s not an absolute command because he talks about women praying, how they should pray in the local assembly, and under what conditions they could pray and engage in some other vocal activities but it wasn’t teaching the Word.
He’s laying this out that when it comes to the time of instruction from the Word the women were not to be involved in that. They were to instead be “learning with submissiveness”. They are to be listening with the view of applying the Word in their life. Then he goes on to explain this. Why does he say this? 1 Timothy 2:12, “Now I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man but to remain quiet.” That word quiet is the same word for “quietly receiving instruction.” He repeats that. 1 Corinthians 14 talks about the fact that women are not to speak in the church and it’s that sense of being quiet as opposed to interrupting, as opposed to expressing their opinions. Not that men should be doing that either but he’s focusing this on women because this had apparently become an issue in the Ephesians congregation so he’s reminding them of what the standard protocol is at all times and at all places. So he used these two words, “to teach or to exercise authority”.
Now what is that word between those two infinitives? It’s the little word “or”. That’s an important word. One of the first times I really recognized that and it stands out in my mind is that when I was a student at Dallas Seminary this, of course, was a hot topic along with Calvinism, pre-trib Rapture and a few other things. In my senior year the first woman was invited to speak at the chapel at Dallas Seminary. Her name was Elizabeth Elliott. Her husband, Jim Elliott, was one of the five men who were martyred down on that sandbar in Ecuador by the Auca Indians. She had written their stories in three different books, the main one of which is called “Through Gates of Splendor”. It’s a tremendous book and I recommend it. It happened in the late 50s. This gave her a measure of celebrity status in the evangelical world. She also wrote books on women’s ministry.
She got up in the pulpit at Dallas Seminary and said, “I understand that I’m the first woman to address the seminary up here. I just want you to understand that I recognize the proper Scriptural role of women and I’m up here under the authority of these men because the Scripture says a “woman is not to teach and exercise authority over men.” Tommy Ice was sitting next to me and he put an elbow in my ribs and whispered, “It’s OR exercise authority, not AND.” It doesn’t say you can’t teach and exercise authority. You can’t do either one. That was a misplaced quote of the Scripture at Dallas Seminary.
The first thing that Paul says is that a woman is not to teach. The word there is DIDASKO which means to teach publicly, to give instruction to several people but it’s not used in a one-on-one situation. In fact, Ann Bowman, who was one of the first PhD women students to graduate from Dallas Seminary back in the early 90s, wrote a very, well-done article in Bibliotheca Sacra, the Dallas Seminary Theological journal called “Women in Ministry.” She gives an excellent description of all these words. She says the word DIDASKO and all its cognates are the most common words for teaching in the New Testament. The word refers almost exclusively to public instruction or teaching of groups. It’s a formal concept. It’s not an informal one-on-one having discussions around a cup of coffee.
Her article states, “In the New Testament a teacher is one who systematically expounds the Word of God and gives instruction in the Old Testament and Apostolic teaching.” That’s an excellent definition of the term. It is a more formal, structured form of instruction. Paul says I don’t allow women to teach, to give this kind of instruction. Secondly he says, “Or to exercise authority over a man.” This is talking about grown-up men.
We have a policy about prep school, as best as we can. We draw the line that once a male child reaches puberty, he’s going to have male teachers in prep school and not women teachers. Under that age, women teachers are fine and great. But after that women are not to have authority over a man or teach a man. The word for exercising authority is an unusual word in Greek. It’s AUTHENTEO and it means to exercise or to have authority over someone else. That definition fits all six uses of the word in the New Testament.
Again, Paul says that they should remain quiet. Why does Paul say that? Some people today say that he’s not giving a universal principle to the church but is just addressing a specific problem in Ephesus so it only applied to that situation. There’s no evidence of that whatsoever. Others say he’s just influenced by his culture. These are usually people who don’t believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. They say he came out of a Pharisaical background like Orthodox Jewry later on. Men sat on one side of the synagogue. Women sat on the other side and the women were basically given a second-class status.
Now that’s a problem. As I pointed out, if men and women are equally created in the mage of God, then it’s a phony application to relegate women to a second-class status. Paul doesn’t do that. Paul’s argument for that doesn’t come from the culture. He doesn’t say that this is the way the Greeks do it or this is the way the Jews do it. It comes from God’s order to creation. He introduces this with that word “for”, the Greek word GAR which indicates an explanation. “For it was Adam who was first created and then Eve.”
He’s summarizing Genesis 2. What happens there? God first created man and then told the man to name all the animals. That was his first mission. So all the animals come trotting by Adam. He looks at them and sees there are a male and a female for each one of them. They all have a match but he didn’t have a match. What’s going on? When Adam recognizes that something is missing, God says, “It’s not good for a man, a male, to be alone.” So he created a what? He created a helper, an ASER.
Only two people in the Old Testament are identified as ASERS and that’s women and God. Feminists come along and say that being a helper is sort of a second-class role. Not when the only other classification of ASER is God. That elevates that role quite high. That’s a significant statement. Women have a role like God has. A helper. This isn’t a second-class position. Adam’s created first and Eve is created to be his helper in carrying out the mission God gave him as the vice gerent over all the creation. Together they both had this role as image bearers.
Then we had a little problem in Genesis 3. The woman is deceived by Satan. There’s a role reversal here. Satan goes after the woman in order to get her to functioning as the leader. He figures out she’s the weak spot so he goes after her. Paul says that it wasn’t Adam who was deceived but the woman, being quite deceived, fell into transgression. What’s important is that throughout Scripture it’s not Eve’s sin that God makes the issue out of. It’s Adam’s sin. Adam was the one who was ultimately responsible. Romans 5:12 says that it’s in Adam that all die, not in Eve. It’s Adam that’s the responsible one.
When God showed up in the Garden that afternoon and started to ask where they were, He doesn’t address the woman to explain what happened. He addresses the responsible party in the couple, the leader in the home. God asked Adam what happened. He said it was Adam’s responsibility. He was the representative head of the human race. Adam was not deceived. The woman was deceived so this has something to do with why women have a different role than men do.
Next we get into 1 Timothy 2:15. This is a difficult verse that challenges a lot of people. “Women shall be preserved through the bearing of children.” What in the world is going on here? We have to understand a couple of different words here. The word for preserve is the word for saved. But this isn’t using SOZO from a salvation perspective. It can relate to justification. It can relate to sanctification and to glorification. If this were talking about justification we would have a real problem. Almost like Mormons who say you ladies can’t go to heaven unless you have babies. I don’t think that quite passes the smell test. Is it talking about phase 2 that women will be sanctified through childbearing? Not really because the issue in phase 2 sanctification is what you have at the end of the verse, “Continuing in faith and love and sanctity with self restraint.”
Maybe this verse has something to do with the fact that the verb is a future tense. This is talking about glorification and is related to rewards. Women are created to be the bearers of children within the Divine viewpoint or Divine institution family. They’re the ones who are given that position, that role, and that responsibility. That takes things to the next level in training. She has a responsibility there. That ultimately can relate to her rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is a long-term outlook, not a short-term outlook. Is that “they” talking about “they, the children” or “they, the women”? It could be either one but I think it’s primarily talking about the women. Part of their sanctification is fulfilling part of their role as being a mother and bearing children. Does that mean if a woman doesn’t have a child or is incapable of having a child, then she can’t realize that? We know that’s in God’s hands, not in our hands. This is just one of the ways a woman realizes her fulfillment in life. It doesn’t mean that if you don’t have children, then you don’t realize that. All through this we’re seeing that Paul is arguing that men have one role and women have another role.
If you’ve never heard this before or you’re coming at this from an understanding of the culture, then your training has come out of a “no God” orientation. When you get up to what you believe about the nature of men and women, it’s going to be radically different under paganism than it is under Biblical thought. You’re going to get out in the workplace and there’s going to be some kind of conflict. You’re going to have to decide if you’re going to live your life and function under Biblical truth or not. That’s going to impact how you relate to employers, co-workers, and others in terms of same-sex marriage and gender confusion. It’s going to impact how you view the role of men and women. This is hard in a pagan society because the pressure is on you to conform to the world and not to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
This is what happens to growing believers who have an incomplete thought transformation. When pressure comes, they’re going to go toward the position of pragmatism. They’re going to go toward something that works rather than something’s that right. This is what leads to the destruction of your spiritual life. I want to close with a story that I may have told you last time but I want to draw a little different application. A man at church was telling me that if you work for the federal government and someone comes in and tells you they’re transgender and you refer to them by the wrong sex they say they are, then you may lose your job. In other words if a man tells you he’s a woman, you must refer to him as a “she”. This works across the board in terms of many different government agencies.
What is happening is that the government is basically using vocabulary to change your thinking and to change your values. After a while, if you keep referring to this biological male who dresses like a woman as a “she” you begin to think there’s nothing wrong with this. After all “she’s” a nice person. I don’t want to be too judgmental. This really isn’t too bad. What’s happened is government policy is forcing a breakdown in your thought life and your norms and standards and you have just lost that battle in spiritual warfare and caved into the world. Rather than being transformed by the renewing of your mind, you’re being forced and conformed into the world.
This is just beginning, folks. Actually, it’s just becoming very obvious. It’s been going on for twenty or thirty years in a lot more subtle ways. Now it’s becoming much more overt. We’re going to see churches and institutions attacked more and more from the left because they can’t abide for people to think so radically different about men and women and the essence of families and society. So we’re going to see this coming along in a lot of different ways.
In fact, I gave Alan a letter we received from an organization that is at the root of a lot of these attacks on the church. It states that they just want to warn the “kind church leaders” that there are a lot of things about politics which you can’t say from the pulpit. Make sure you don’t say these things or you will cause great harm to come to your organization. Just a little letter of intimidation. This is the kind of thing we’re going to see more and more of, not to mention the kind of things the mayor is doing.
We have to make a decision. Are you really willing to stay the course? That’s what discipleship is all about. All the things Jesus teaches in Matthew about discipleship about whether you’re willing to count the cost. Are you willing to make the sacrifice? Are you willing to give up everything in your life because when it comes right down to it, the only thing that matters is your relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ? If that’s all that matters, then everything else we have may go away. It may go away in our lifetime in a decade. The only thing that’s going to give us the strength to handle those battles is the Word of God in our souls.