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What are the Roles of Men and Women in the Church?
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Posted by: Jerry Lindsey on Thu, Dec 24, 2009
The Roles Men and Women in the Church!
I Timothy 2:8-15
The Role of men in leading prayer when the church gathers; I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
That the men pray everywhere: This has the idea of “In every church,” and not of “In every place.” Paul’s focus is on what the church does when it comes together for meetings.
The idea that we should pray constantly and that prayer should be a normal part of our live wherever we go is good and valid; but it is not what Paul means here.
Everywhere: “The directions are to apply to every Church without exception; no allowance is to be made for the conditions peculiar to any locality.”
. That the men: Makes it clear Paul assumed men would take the lead at meetings of the congregation. Since the lifting up of hands was a common posture of prayer in ancient cultures, this text speaks of men leading public prayer - men representing the congregation before God’s throne.
“The ministers of public prayer must be the men of the congregation, not the women.”
Lifting up holy hands: Hands that are lifted up must be holy - hands that are set apart unto God, and not given over to evil.
Without wrath and doubting: Such prayers must be without wrath (praying “angry” prayers) and without doubting (praying without faith). When we pray angry, or pray without faith, we can do more bad than good – especially when the prayer is public.
“Having no vindictive feeling against any person; harboring no unforgiving spirit, while they are imploring pardon for their own offences.”
Women should emphasize spiritual preparation and beauty more than physical preparation and beauty.
In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.
In like manner also: The word also refers back to the statement that the men pray everywhere in 1 Timothy 2:8. Paul thought the principle of (I Timothy 2:8) should apply in various congregations, and so should the principle in (1 Timothy 2:9.)
That the women adorn themselves in modest apparel: This is how Christian women are supposed to dress, especially at their Christian meetings. The words propriety and moderation help explain what modest apparel is.
Propriety asks, “Is it appropriate for the occasion? Is it over-dressed or under-dressed? Is it going to call inappropriate attention to myself?” Moderation asks, “Is it moderate? Is it just too much – or far too little?” Moderation looks for a middle ground.
The braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing Paul mentions were adornments that went against the principles of propriety and moderation in that culture.
How you dress reflects your heart. If a man dresses in a casual manner, it says something about his attitude. Likewise, if a woman dresses in an immodest manner, it says something about her heart.
“Woman has been invidiously defined: An animal fond of dress. How long will they permit themselves to be thus degraded?” (Clarke)
. But . . . with good works: The most important adornment is good works. If a woman is dressed in propriety and moderation, with good works, she is perfectly dressed. Good works make a woman more beautiful than good jewelry.
Women are to show submission, and yield to the authority of the men God has appointed to lead in the church.
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
Let a woman learn in silence: This unfortunate translation has led some to believe that it is forbidden for women to even speak in church meetings. Paul uses the same word translated silence in I Timothy 2:2, and it is translated peaceable there. The idea is without contention instead of total silence.
In other places in the New Testament, even in the writings of Paul, women are specifically mentioned as praying and speaking in the church (1 Corinthians 11:5). To learn in silence has the idea of women receiving the teaching of the men God has chosen to lead in the church, with submission instead of contention.
Submission is the principle; to learn in silence describes the application of the principle.
Some have said the reason for this is because in these ancient cultures (as well as some present-day cultures), men and women sat in separate sections. The thought is that women interrupted the church service by shouting questions and comments to their husbands during the service. Clarke expresses this idea: “It was lawful for men in public assemblies to ask questions, or even interrupt the speaker when there was any matter in his speech which they did not understand; but this liberty was not granted to women.”
With all submission: The word for submission here literally means, “To be under in rank.” It has to do with respecting an acknowledged order of authority. It certainly does not mean that men are more spiritual than women or that women are inferior to men.
“Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows that ‘rank’ has to do with order and authority, not with value or ability. . . . Just as an army would be in confusion if there were no levels of authority, so society would be in chaos without submission.”
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man: Paul’s meaning seems clear. Women are not to have the role of teaching authority in the church. To be under authority is the principle; not teaching is the application.
Paul is saying that the church should not recognize women as those having authority in the church regarding matters of doctrine and Scriptural interpretation.
. Not all speaking or teaching by a woman is necessarily a violation of God’s order of authority in the church. Whatever speaking or teaching is done by a woman must be done in submission to the men God has appointed to lead the church.
1 Corinthians 11:1-12 emphasizes the same principle. Women are to always act under authority in the congregation, demonstrated in Corinthian culture by the wearing of a head covering. Therefore a woman in the Corinthian church could only pray or prophesy if she demonstrated that she was under the leadership of the church, and she demonstrated this by wearing a head covering and by acting consistently with that principle.
I do not permit: The strength of Paul’s wording here makes it challenging to obey this command in today’s society. Since the 1970’s, our culture has rejected the idea that there may be different roles for men and women in the home, in the professional world, or in the church. In this text (among others), the Holy Spirit clearly says there is a difference in roles.
But the cultural challenge must be seen in its true context - not just a struggle between men and women, but as a struggle with the issue of authority in general. Since the 1960’s, there has been a massive change in the way we see and accept authority.
· Citizens do not have the same respect for government’s authority.
· Students do not have the same respect for teacher’s authority.
· Women do not have the same respect for men’s authority.
· Children do not have the same respect for parental authority.
· Employees do not have the same respect for their employer’s authority.
· People do not have the same respect for the police’s authority.
· Christians no longer have the same respect for church authority.
There are not many who would say that these changes have been good. Generally, people do not feel safer and there is less confidence in the culture. Television and other entertainment get worse and worse. In fact, our society is presently in, and rushing towards, complete anarchy - the state where no authority is accepted, and the only thing that matters is what one wants to do.
It is fair to describe our present moral state as one of anarchy. There is no moral authority in our culture. When it comes to morality, the only thing that matters is what one wants to do. And in a civil sense, many neighborhoods in our nation are given over to anarchy. The government’s authority is not accepted in gang-infested portions of our cities. The only thing that matters is what one wants to do.
We must see the broader attack on authority as a direct satanic strategy to destroy our society and millions of individual lives. He is accomplishing this with two main attacks. First, the corruption of authority; second, the rejection of authority.
. This idea of authority and submission to authority are so important to God that they are part of His very being. The First Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Father; the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Son. Inherent in those titles is a relationship of authority and submission to authority. The Father Exercises authority over the Son and the Son submits to the Father’s authority - and this is in the very nature and being of God. Our failure to exercise Biblical authority, and our failure to submit to Biblical authority, isn’t just wrong and sad - it sins against the very nature of God. 1 Samuel 15:23 speaks to this same principle: For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man: Paul’s focus here is the public worship of the church. God has established a clear chain of authority in both the home and in the church, and in those spheres; God has ordained that men are the “head” - that is, that they have the place of authority and responsibility.
Our culture, having rejected the idea in a difference in role between men and women, now rejects the idea of anydifference between men and women. The driving trends in our culture point towards men who are more like women, and women who are more like men. Styles, clothes, perfumes, and all the rest promote this thought.
The Bible is just as specific that there is no general submission of women unto men commanded in society; only in the spheres of the home and in the church. God has not commanded in His word that men have exclusive authority in the areas of politics, business, education, and so on.
It also does not mean that every woman in the church is under the authority of every man in the church. Instead it means that those who lead the church - pastors and ruling elders - must be men, and the women (and others) must respect their authority.
The failure of men to lead in the home and in the church, and to lead in the way Jesus would lead, has been a chief cause of the rejection of male authority - and is inexcusable.
Some feel this recognition and submission to authority is an unbearable burden. They feel that it means, “I have to say that I am inferior, that I am nothing, and I have to recognize this other person as being superior.” Yet inferiority or superiority has nothing to do with this. We remember the relationship between God the Father and God the Son - they are completely equal in their being, but have different roles when it comes to authority.
Some may say that the church cannot work (or cannot work well) unless we go along with the times and put women into positions of spiritual and doctrinal authority in the church. From the standpoint of what works in our culture, they may be right. Yet from the standpoint of pleasing God by doing what He says in His word, they are wrong.
Reasons for God’s recognition of male authority in the Church; (Verses 13-14)
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
For Adam was formed first: The first reason for male authority in the church is order of creation. Adam (man) was created first, and given original authority on earth.
The first command God gave to the human race is found in Genesis 2:16-17: Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. This command was not given to woman at all. At the time that command was given, Eve was not yet created from Adam.
Therefore, Adam received his command and his authority from God, and Eve received her command and authority from Adam.
The woman being deceived: The second reason is the difference in the sin of Adam and Eve, as connected to their difference in authority.
Both Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, and Eve clearly sinned first. Yet, the Bible never blames Eve for the fall of the human race, but always blames Adam (through one man sin entered the world, Romans 5:12). Adam is responsible because of there was a difference of authority. Adam had an authority Eve did not have; therefore he also had a responsibility Eve did not have. Adam failed in his responsibility in a far more significant way than Eve did.
As well, Eve was deceived, and Adam was not deceived. Eve was tricked; but Adam sinned knew exactly what he was doing when he rebelled. This means that though Adam’s sin was worse, Eve’s ability to be more readily deceived made her more dangerous in a place of authority. “Eve’s reasoning faculty was at once overcome by the allegation of jealousy felt by God, an allegation plausible to a nature swayed by emotion rather than by reflection.”
Generally speaking, it may be observed that women seem to be more spiritually sensitive than men - but this can be true for good or evil.
Adam . . . the woman: “St. Paul says woman rather than Eve, emphasizing the sex rather than the individual, because he desires to give the incident its general application, especially in view of what follows.”
Significantly, these reasons are not dependent upon culture. Those who say “Paul was a sexist man in a sexist culture,” and discount these words, are simply not reading what the Holy Spirit says in the sacred Scriptures here.
Being a Christian woman in light of Eve’s curse. (Verse 15) Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing: Many people regard this as one of the most difficult passages in the whole Bible. On the surface, it could be taken to mean that if a woman continues in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control, that God will bless her with survival in childbirth – which was no small promise in the ancient world.
Yet this interpretation leaves many difficult questions. Is this an absolute promise? What about godly women who have died in childbirth? What about sinful women who have survived childbirth? Doesn’t this seem like just a reward for good works, and not according to God’s grace and mercy?
Saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self control: Some approach this passage saying saved refers to gaining eternal life. Yet this interpretation is even more difficult. Are women saved eternally by giving birth to children - but only if they continue with godly virtues? What about women who can’t have children? Are they denied salvation?
She will be saved in childbearing: Some say that Paul “Has mostly in mind that child-bearing, not public teaching, is the peculiar function of woman, with a glory and dignity all its own.” The idea is that one should let the men teach in church and let the women have the babies.
She will be saved in childbearing: A better way to approach this passage is based on the grammar in the original Greek language. In the original, it says she will be saved in the childbirth. This has the sense, “Even though women were deceived, and fell into transgression starting with Eve, women can be saved by the Messiah - whom a woman brought into the world.”
Probably, the idea here is that even though the “woman race” did something bad in the garden by being deceived and falling into transgression, the “woman race” also did something far greater, in being used by God to bring the saving Messiah into the world.
The summary is this: Don’t blame women for the fall of the human race; the Bible doesn’t. Instead, thank women for bringing the Messiah to us.
Faith, love, and holiness, with self-control: Most of all, we should note these positives. They are all qualities God wants to be evident in women, and that women have effectively nurtured in their children through generations.
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