Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 5 May 2017
Page 6

Women Preachers and Elders?

Clarence Lavender

There is no doubt that some women in the Lord’s church could serve and do a much better job in the eldership and pulpit than some of the men now occupying those positions! However, it is not a question of talent and ability; it is a question of authority. We have in our midst today some feminists who have been caught up with movements in denominationalism, thinking that leadership roles in the church of Christ are for them. They seemingly have overlooked the central question concerning their desires. Does the Bible teach that women can serve as elders and preachers in the New Testament church? The answer is no it does not (1 Timothy 2:11-12). Those who reject Bible teaching on this or any other scriptural matter hold to a doctrine of doubt, a creed of compromise and brotherhood politics! It is indeed sad when some preachers and elders among us today are afraid to teach the truth on this pressing issue for the fear of raising the scorn of a few feminists in the church (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

In 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul discussed the question of women’s teaching. He said, “But I suffer [permit] not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Over the man modifies both infinitives, to teach and to usurp. She cannot teach over the man; she cannot usurp authority over the man. Let me illustrate the point this way. A policeman is placed at a bridge needing repair. He informs a motorist, “I do not allow you to drive or to tow a car over this bridge.” Would the motorist assume that he could not drive the car anywhere? Of course not. He would readily understand that over the bridge modifies his driving.

The question often arises, “Does the Bible forbid a woman to teach period.” No, but she is forbidden to teach in any situation when she exercises authority over men. We know that the apostle Paul did not forbid women’s teaching in every capacity, for they did teach. Philip “had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy” (Acts 21:9). The daughters of Philip were teachers of the Word of God. Yet, the Bible forbids women to usurp authority over men. That does not mean they cannot teach a man, for Priscilla helped her husband teach Apollos, a mighty man in the Scriptures (Acts 18:26).

Any interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 must be consistent with these other scriptural examples. What, then, did Paul by inspiration prohibit in this passage? The key to understanding the verse correctly is to recognize that Paul here was concerned with the subordinate position of women to men. Thus, the subject of context is not so much teaching as subordination! Paul prohibited a woman from engaging in any activity that would put her in a dominant role over the man. She is forbidden to teach under any condition that would put her in a dominant role over the man. This would be sinful, for it would repudiate the principle of subjection (Genesis 3:16).

In many situations (1 Corinthians 11:5; Titus 2:3-4; Acts 18:26; 21:9), then, a woman may teach, but in no situation where she will “have authority over” man by her teaching. She must always remain in subjection to man.

Paul concluded his instruction on women’s limitations in 1 Timothy 2 by showing that the woman’s position of submissiveness is bound by God for two fundamental reasons. (1) “Adam was formed first, then Eve” (Genesis 2:13). The very chronological order of creation proves that the man was to be over the woman. (2) Paul’s second reason was the fall. “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (Genesis 2:14). This should be clear to everyone that the subordinate position of the woman cannot be considered as a simple Jewish custom, as some elders and preachers in the church are teaching, but rather that it is rooted in the very nature of the sexes and was put there by God Himself.

A final word needs to be said concerning the fact that both men and women must remember that the Bible teaching on the difference in roles in no way implies a difference in worth, value or ability. Galatians 3:28 (“neither male nor female”), 1 Timothy 2:15 (“she shall be saved”) and 1 Peter 3:7 (“heirs together of the grace of life”) all show that males and females are equals as far as their person and salvation status is concerned. Women are not inferior to men any more than Christ is inferior to God, citizens are inferior to the President or church members are inferior to elders. The differentiation is purely a matter of function, assigned tasks and sphere of responsibility. The question for us is, “How willing are we to fit ourselves into God’s arrangement?”

To sum up, the New Testament passages limiting women’s participation in teaching leads us to the following conclusions. 1. Except to obey the specific commands to sing and to confess faith in Christ, a woman is forbidden to speak in the formal assemblies of the whole church (1 Corinthians 14:34). 2. In no situation is a woman to speak or act in such a way as to be in a place of authority over a man [religiously or in the home] (1 Timothy 2:12). 3. A woman, however, may teach (1 Corinthians 11:5). 4. She may teach other women and children (Titus 2:3-4). 5. She may teach a man in a situation where she does not have authority over him (Acts 18:26; 1 Timothy 2:12). 6. She may teach publicly (but not as to exercise authority over man) as did Philip’s four virgin daughters and the Corinthian women who prophesied (Acts 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5). 7. The principle of woman’s subjection to man has applied since [creation and] the fall, and it is part of God’s eternal law (Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:13-14). 8. A woman is not to preach so as to have authority over man (1 Timothy 2:13-14), but a preacher is commanded to speak “with all authority” (Titus 2:15); therefore, a woman cannot be a preacher [to men].

[Editor’s Note: Bible teaching about the differing roles of men and women in the church or religiously and in the home are clearly understandable. The only uncertainty is whether Christian men and women will comply with divine instruction. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]

Heaven Is Better by Far!

Mark N. Posey

Mark N. PoseyThe word “better” means, “stronger, nobler and best.” Paul said, “…having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better…” (Philippians 1:23). Though it will take more than desire to get to Heaven, a desire is certainly the starting point. Let’s gain more and more knowledge of what Heaven will be like, increasing our desire to go there. As our desire for Heaven grows, we will see it as did the writer of Hebrews—“a better country” (Hebrews 11:16). Let’s see why Heaven is “better” by far.

In Heaven, there will be a better multitude (Revelation 7:9-10). Richard Baxter said, “My knowledge of that life is small, the eye of faith is dim, but it’s enough that Christ knows all, and I shall be with him.” Heaven will contain a wonderful multitude (Hebrews 12:22-24).

In Heaven, there will be a better mansion (John 14:1-3). If I find in myself a desire that no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. This world is not our home. Paul said, “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Solomon said, “Man goeth to his long home” (Ecclesiastes 12:5).

In Heaven, there will be a better mortality (1 Corinthians 15:53-58). One day our mortal will put on immortality and corruptible will put on incorruption. You’ve heard the old adage that says, “All good things must come to an end.” Well, Heaven will be the exception to that; it will have no end.

In Heaven, there will be better music (Revelation 5:9). The New Song begins, “You are worthy.” In John’s day, Roman Emperors were celebrated upon their arrival with the Latin expression vere dignus, which is translated, “You are worthy.” In Revelation 5:9-10, the True Ruler is honored and worthy!

In heaven, there will be a better mentality (Colossians 3:2; Matthew 6:19-21). The Christian’s whole disposition should orient itself toward Heaven where Christ is, just as a compass needle orients itself toward the north. This is the proper order—upward focus, saying, ‘‘Yes, Lord’’ and then ‘‘No” to the world, the flesh and the devil. It’s the world behind me and the cross before me!

In conclusion, the reason that some have little desire to go to Heaven is because they’ve not studied the Scriptures sufficiently to gain an appreciation of that spiritual abode. Study your Bible, and then, Heaven will become “better” by far!

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