Women in the Church – Part 1

This is the most powerful teaching I’ve ever heard, much less tried to regurgitate. No doubt it will stretch some believers, and maybe scare or offend some, but I couldn’t recommend another study, to anyone, over this one. There are some denominations that think its okay for women to speak and there are some that don’t think it’s okay for women to speak. Sadly, the only side I’ve ever heard speak on the topic, are the churches that would stifle women. Even after growing up around women who were speaking, and leading at the age of 13, I had some verses in the back of my mind that I couldn’t help but wonder about. I’m sure most women have them in the back of their head too. Let’s bring it to the front and see what the Bible really says about women’s roles in the church.


First, let’s talk about the woman’s curse and some language barriers in the New Testament:

Gen. 3:16 – Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.

This verse doesn’t say men are to rule over women, but that husband would rule over the wife (and even that was not God’s will, but the natural punishment of our trespassing boundaries).

language studyIn the Hebrew language there are separate words for man, woman, wife, and husband. In the Greek language there are not separate words for man/husband, or woman/wife. Let’s look at a couple scriptures in the new testament where having separate words could change the way we read them:

1 Cor. 11:3 – But I want you to realize that the head of every man (husband?) is Christ, and the head of the woman (wife?) is man.

If we read this verse with the translation man and woman, then we now have more of a curse on us than we did in the Old Testament curse. If we read this verse using the translation husband and wife, instead of adding a heavier curse on women, the verse is simply repeating the old testament verse – that the husband will rule over the wife.

Gal. 3:13 – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.

Q: If Christ redeemed us, then is the husband still ruling over the wife? No.

Eph. 5:24-25 – … wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Eph. 5:33 – each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

1 Cor. 7:4 – … the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

A: Culturally men used to own women, as they would a house, but now Paul invites a culture where women have ownership of their husbands too. Now it is an equal thing. Paul used to be, Saul, a Pharisee. If a Pharisee had heard Paul give women this authority, they would’ve had a stroke. See, between the last book of the Old Testament, and the first book of the New Testament, was 400 years. During that time we see the rise of the religion termed Judaism, with Pharisees and Sadducees. These terms weren’t mentioned in the Old Testament under the Mosaic Law. If fact there were only 252 laws given under Moses. Yet, in Judaism there were 613 laws, 100 of which were written against women. Pharisees hated women. Jewish women at the time were kin to slaves with no rights. They received no respect, and had no voice. They were the property of men. They could not own land. They were not allowed a formal education. They were required to veil their face in public, and if they didn’t, there was grounds for divorce. If there was a male visitor to the house, the woman would have to eat in another room. They were subject to arranged marriages, and sometimes polygamy. Women couldn’t vote or even be a witness in a court trial (more on this in the next section). They weren’t allowed to read the Torah. One teacher during that time even said: ‘I would rather burn the Torah than have a woman read it.’ They couldn’t even pray at meals.

So, having a former Pharisee say something like, ‘the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife’, would have been amazingly controversial. As we know, Jesus often had the same effect when He was teaching. So, should it surprise us that His disciples are still fighting against these added laws, and denominations, which hold no truth?

Back to the ruling vs. equality thing – Women now are asked to submit and respect their husbands, and husbands to give themselves up for their wives. Husbands no longer rule, or force, their wives, but instead become equal servants. This is the reverse of the curse. If you are a woman and don’t honor God’s word, to respect and submit to your husband, then the natural response of your husband might end up being: that he gets angry, there is a lot of discord in the home because there are dueling authorities, and eventually these footholds may turn into a stronghold, and he might start beating you; which is not God’s will. Husbands should love their wives. Remember the love chapter? Love is not self-seeking. Remember how Jesus died for the church? Men should not rule over their wives, but love and give themselves over to the woman. This way there is equality.

Of course some countries are still living under the curse because there is only freedom from the curse where the Spirit of the Lord is. All those who love God have His Spirit and that Spirit guides them into Truth if they will follow.

2 Cor. 3:17 – where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.


Tidbit:

Luke 8:1-3 – Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

Jesus didn’t follow the cultural tendency to keep women in ignorance. He had women following him, just like the disciples, getting their education.


Let’s look at this one verse through this next segment:

1 Cor. 14:34-35 – Women (wives?) should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman (wife?) to speak in the church.

Q: Is this verse saying women should be silent in church and submit to men, or that wives should not speak out of turn to their husbands, or what?
A: Well, that’s a multi part answer. We’ll cover it in 4 points:

1. First, if Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, and the original curse was submission to husbands, why would we now be submitted to all men? Wasn’t the point of redemption, from the law, to make the curse less intense instead of strengthening the curse? Let’s look further:

2. The context of this segment of 1 Corinthians 14 is talking about order in church service, not about women’s rights. Other verses in the same chapter empower women:

1 Cor. 14:34-35 – Women (wives?) should remain silent in the churches

1 Cor. 14:39 – my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy.

1 Cor. 14:5 – I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.

1 Cor. 14:26 – What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.

Why would God ask women to be eager to prophesy if they weren’t supposed to use the gift to speak in church, where 1 Cor. 14:4 says, ‘the one who prophesies edifies the church’? How can a woman edify the church if she can’t speak in church? Seems like our ideas are not God’s ideas. God says its okay for women to speak in church; I say I’m following Him. I want the whole truth, not a pet scripture out of context, that cuts off half the body.

Since this verse says, in fact, that women are allowed to speak in the church, then what is the other verse for again?

1 Cor. 14:34-35 – Women (wives?) should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

1 Cor. 14:29-33 – Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

This verse says, women shouldn’t interrupt a service with questions, or speak at an inappropriate time that causes confusion. The one who speaks over someone else is not being loving, whether they are a man or a woman. If anyone has a question they should ask after the appointed time of listening. So why were women singled out?

3. The old testament says this to both men and women:

Eccl. 5:1-2 (HCSB) – Guard your steps when you go to the house of God… Do not be hasty to speak.

Eccl. 5:1 (NIV) – when you go to the house of GodGo near to listen.

Sounds like no one should be interrupting service. So why were the women singled out again?

4Paul wrote his letters to specific locations, churches, and even people in those churches. The few restrictive verses on women that he gave were all specific messages to Greek cities that had a goddess as the head of the city.

Corinth worshipped Aphrodite
Ephesus worshipped Artemis
Crete worshipped Kynthia

Let’s get to know this Greek culture so we can understand the context of the verse and future ones:
– The Greeks loved women and gave them more authority than men. Their reason being, mens sex drives are stronger and women decide what they do with their own bodies, holding the power over the man.
– The most honored people in these 3 greek cities were women priestess, at the temple of the goddess of the city. Meaning the converted christian men in these cities would be used to having women speak at religious events, and the converted christian women would be used to speaking at them. Women already talk too much. Can you imagine how much more they would talk while being enabled to speak over a man? I can’t imagine that an empowered Grecian woman would be much different than an American one – can’t get a word in edgewise. Maybe if the men had been faced with such an urgency to talk, that they disrupted service, they would’ve been singled out too.
Greek women were also allowed to have an education; so these newly converted men didn’t know any more than the women did. It wasn’t like the pharisees who knew more scripture because they suppressed their women and kept them from having an education. What good would it have been to go home and ask a husband of equal knowledge? So when it says women can’t speak, it must be talking about the timing and disruptive nature of the speaking. Let’s face it, the few denominations that hold this verse over their women, still let them speak in church; just not preach. They are adding context to the verse too. Otherwise they would be silent when they enter, and wouldn’t sing.
Paul also told these cities it was better to not marry, so there were plenty of singles who couldn’t go home to ask questions later anyway. They would’ve had to ask during a part of the church service that was designated for questions. Americans typically do this after service.
– And finally, and maybe most importantly, in these early churches, men and women sat on opposite sides of the room. For a woman to ask a question, in church, to her husband, meant she would have to scream across the room to him, interrupting the ordered time of listening. Disruptive much?! No wonder they were singled out to be quiet.

I think bullet 2 speaks the loudest, seeing the context of the chapter, but hopefully you’re catching the drift here. It’s okay for women to speak in church. Paul was addressing a very specific instance, in a very specific location, about being disruptive.


Next, let’s talk about women in the bible that dared to speak in church.

Instance #1

John 12:3-4, 7-8 – 3Then Mary took a pound of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair… Judas Iscariot… objected, 5“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?… 7Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

‘Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said’ (Luke 10:39), had a clear understanding that Christ would die, and she was leading the pack with that knowledge. The 12 disciples hadn’t gotten the picture; Peter even got rebuked for denying that Christ would die. They not only didn’t get it sometimes, but they didn’t do anything to serve or prepare Jesus for it. A great leader is a servant, which puts Mary leading the pack in service and understanding. We see that Jesus is fighting on her side, and the men are against Mary’s leadership; not just Judas, but all the disciples.

Matt. 26:8 – When the disciples saw this, they were indignant.

Luke 7:39-43 – When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” 40Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,”…  44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Once again we see a man opposing this leading woman, even calling her actions sinful, and Christ rebukes him. The funny thing is, this one was a Pharisee who obviously lived by the added laws we talked about earlier. The disciples, however, were not learned men. They had been brainwashed by their culture, even while trying to follow Christ.

Instance #2

Did you notice in the previous instance that Mary had one pound of perfume for Christ’s burial? One pound was the typical amount needed for a Jewish burial. Nicodemus brought and used 100 pounds of this expensive embalming material; that was enough for use in a hundred or more common Jewish burials.

John 19:38‑40 (NKJV) – Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus… Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night, came too, bringing a hundred pounds of embalming ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Together they wrapped Jesus’ body in a long linen cloth saturated with the spices, as is the Jewish custom of burial.

Matt. 28:1 – After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

The Marys went to LOOK at the tomb. Could it be that Mary, the one who sat at Jesus feet, was again the only one who got Jesus? The only one who understood that He would rise again, and the only one with enough faith to go early in the morning to look at the tomb to see if He had risen? The men weren’t there.

When she got there, she noticed the rock had been moved and Jesus wasn’t in the tomb. She rushed to tell the men. But of the 11 disciples that were left, only two went to the tomb. Remember earlier when we mentioned that women were not allowed as a witness in court? It might be important to note that Mary was told to go tell the disciples. She had divine authority to be the first witness of the risen Christ. Were the men too self-righteous in their worldly traditions to see what God was doing? Were they so unwilling to hear a woman that they missed the Resurrection of Jesus?

John 20:6-9 – Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

The two men left, but Mary stayed and waited on the Lords presence and was richly rewarded.

Mark 16:9 – When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene

Mark 16:1 – When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus‘ body.

Why was Mary carrying more spices when she went to look at the tomb? Did she really intend to add to the 100 pounds of oil that were already on Christs body in the tomb? How did she expect to get in this tomb? It had a giant boulder and guards blocking it. Remember how Mary had anointed Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair in instance 1? Mary was the only one who not only understood that Christ was about to die, but also prepared him for it. I don’t think she came to the tomb looking to rewrap Christs body with linens she didn’t bring, or add more oils to the 100 pounds. I think she came looking because she also understood He was going to rise. And she wanted to be there to prepare and anoint the risen King of Israel. There were no men looking or waiting for Him, but Mary was once again with Jesus, anointing His head with oil, and wiping his feet with her hair and tears of joy.

Matt. 28:5-9 – The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.

Isn’t this the good news? That Jesus has conquered death and the grave, and risen into His Kingship? Funny how the first carriers, witnesses, proclaimers, preachers of the good news were women bent on seeing the face of Christ and expecting Him to fulfill His promises.

Mark 16:9‑11 – Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

We found out where the men were after all. Mourning and weeping! They didn’t understand His promise and, if they did, they didn’t have faith when they heard the good news. They certainly weren’t going to listen to the preaching of a woman. Their loss then; their loss now.

Luke 24:10‑11 – It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.

Seems to me like Jesus is okay with women teaching men. Seems to me that he orchestrated that whole thing to show us something. Not just to show us that women can teach men, but to warn men to heed the teaching.

Eph. 4:1-7,11-16 – Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift… 11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Jesus is calling forth the women. He has been calling since the beginning, and He still is.

We, the body of Christ, cannot reach maturity until we have built the body up in love. The love of God, which is not boasting/exalting of men, proud of men, or dishonoring to women. We, the body, cannot reach maturity until we become unified in this kind of love. Right now, the body has been cut in half. Only half are operating in the the 5-fold ministry to serve and build up the church. We’ve allowed our culture, and our willingness to follow manmade rules and doctrine instead of Christ, to lead us into a lack of knowledge of who Christ really is. Satan is scared stiff of Eve. He knows that when she comes to the realization of what he has taken from her – hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

If we want Jesus to return for us, we have to become the mature, intact, loving body, and bride of Christ that He has called us to be. The men who disagreed, and dishonored what God had honored, missed the first Resurrection. Men, are you missing out on something from God because your ways aren’t lined up with God’s ways? Women, I ask that you start searching out the full measure of Christ, and step into your God given place in the works of service Christ has called you to. The body needs our help, our love, our knowledge, our gifts, and our callings. Women carried the very first gospel message, and whether people listen or not, we aren’t going to stop proclaiming, “He is Risen!”


Last tidbit for today, then we’ll finish this discussion in Part 2.

Directly after Christ was announced the Son of God, Satan began to tempt him. Satan will continue to tempt us in the same ways.

Matt. 4:5-10 – Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ”7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ”

John 8:44 – the devil… was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Through this verse we know that Satan is the father of lies, and there is NO truth in him. So how can there be no truth in him if he knows and recites, the truth, the word of God, to Jesus?

Satan has taken the scripture out of context and stripped it of its truth and power. He will tempt us all, the same way he tempted Jesus: 1.with what we need/want, 2.with taking all the glory for our God given calling/doing things in the wrong timing/doing things that don’t line up with scripture, 3.with scripture. We have to know Jesus, the Word of God, better than Satan. We have to know it and keep it intact! When Satan brings up a verse, we need to search out the rest of the Bible and make sure it aligns with the big picture! We need to make sure it aligns to Christ and His truth, and that it isn’t an unaligned lie from Satan. Teachers are good, but we can’t let any teacher, or denomination, become our golden calf that we hold up, and worshipped, above Jesus. Sometimes, there are leaders that have quit looking for Christ’s full measure, and have settled on worldly ways. We need to remember that we are all works in progress, and we are all tempted; even our leaders and forefathers.

Ex.32:2-4 – Aaron said to them, “Take the objects of gold from the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took the gold objects from their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the gold from their hands, worked on it with a sharp tool, and by melting it, made it into a calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”

Aaron led the people of Israel. He stripped the women of their adornments and said, ‘this is the God you follow.’ Are you on your guard to see if your leader is causing you to worship false gods? Women, are you allowing your leader to strip you of the gold adornments God has given you when He led you out of your powerless slavery? Do you see God as the God who frees the oppressed and gives them power, or are you allowing someone to make you worship a god that is powerless and makes you powerless?  You judge for yourself what sounds like the full gospel of Christ and what sounds like a scripture that’s been idolized to deceive.

Ex. 15:19-21 – When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. 20Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

Ex. 15:1 – Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.

A woman, in the Old Testament, working in the 5-fold ministry as a prophet, sang a new song to God, and led the nation of Israel in worship.


If you want to know more you can: Fashioned to Reign
1. Listen to the podcasts in the below links:
http://podcasts.ibethel.org/en/podcasts/the-theology-of-empowering-women-part-1

http://podcasts.ibethel.org/en/podcasts/the-theology-of-empowering-women-part-2

2. Get this book: Fashioned to Reign by Kris Valloton
3. Or wait for Part 2 of this blog post

About 80% of this post came from the podcast

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