Part 4 - A 'black and white' issue?? (to be continued in part 5 also)


I want to start with a quote from Dr. Susan Stubbs Hyatt's booklet '10 Things Jesus Taught about Women'.  (It opens with Matthew 9:20-22.  This passage tells the story of Jesus healing the woman with the issue of blood.)  'It is important to recognize that this story is not just about Jesus healing someone, it is about Jesus healing a WOMAN.  It is about the circumstances in which He healed her.  It is about Jesus' confrontation with the religious leaders, and how He offended them personally by breaking their sacred laws - to help a WOMAN!  In all of this, He showed that one woman is more valuable than sacred rules and religious rituals.  Beyond this, however, we can learn from what Jesus did NOT do when He healed this 'unclean' woman.  He didn't attempt to diagnose the cause of her haemorrhage.  He didn't tell her she was sick because of some personal sin.  He didn't connect the cause of her sickness to authority issues by telling her to submit to her husband or to a religious leader.  In fact, Jesus didn't probe the cause of the sickness!  He just healed her!  And He did so with the same compassion and simplicity with which He healed men, such as blind Bartimaeus.  We learn more about Jesus' attitude through a couple of things He did that were socially unacceptable in this situation.

1.  By speaking to this woman in public, Jesus risked rejection or worse, because that gesture was socially unacceptable.

2.  By allowing this 'unclean' woman to touch Him, Jesus was allowing something that made him ritually unclean, according to Leviticus 15:19, 25-27.  (This woman should not even have been in public in her condition under the law.  She broke every rule to get to Him.) (my comment added in italics)

Jesus did not heal this woman based on religious rules or for personal gain.  He did it for HER.  He disregarded laws and shattered opinions to help HER. In so doing, He demonstrated God's values and priorities - and He showed that in God's Heart, a woman is far more important than religion.  How much are WE like Jesus?' 


(Dr. Susan Stubbs Hyatt, together with her husband are founders of Hyatt International Ministries, whose mission is to teach, train and equip God's people for End-Time Revival.  Susan is a seasoned Minister and professional educator.  With advanced degrees in Church history, theology, Bible, and Ministry, she is eminently qualified to present the facts and insights found in her teachings and books.)


Another quote from Dr. Susan Stubbs Hyatt 'How refreshing it was to study revival people and movements.  They were often persecuted by the institution as heretical, but, clearly, they were divine efforts to reinstate Biblical Christianity...... In these movements, the activity of the Holy Spirit consistently elevated women, reflecting the egalitarian perspectives of Jesus.  It has always been the activity of the Holy Spirit to instigate Biblical equality.'


Graham Cooke said "When women are treated less than who they are created to be, civilization suffers as a result. When women are treated in a poor way, our communities suffer, our cities crumble, our culture crumbles, civilization crumbles, there is anarchy and crime and you can trace it all back to that whole issue 'How men treat women, how husbands treat their wives'.  The bible says 'Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church'."  The last figures I could find show that out of all the people in jail in the U.K. only between 7 and 11 percent are women.


Let me start this 2 part teaching with 1 Corinthians 11 'Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. 

In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.'


We are going to look at the passages that many people have tried to use to restrict the role of women in church life, especially in the area of church leadership and teaching. It goes without saying that the passages above are not often preached on.  I want to begin by saying that there are many evangelical Christians who will have strong opposing views. I am not going to be glib about this to solve the problems regarding women, as if it was that easy there wouldn't be any problems.  It is a very big issue.  I want to deal with the passage honestly - 1 Corinthians 14 passage, and in the next part (Part 5) I will deal with the difficult passages from Timothy and Ephesians.  I want to interpret them in the light of the  WHOLE OF SCRIPTURE and in a way that gives sufficient force to at least strike a hammer blow and to challenge those who place limits on women in the Christian community that are not warranted or supported by Scripture.


It would at least start the thinking process in some to help get a clearer picture on this issue.  I believe that even serious Bible teachers have never even thought about the issues I am about to expound upon.  There is massive discrimination against women in the body of Christ that needs to be ABOLISHED, as slavery was ABOLISHED!!!  I am hoping that this teaching will at least help us to have a more Biblical understanding of the role of women in church, in the Kingdom and as God really wants it to be. I ask you to be loving, humble and open to the Holy Spirit for Him to guide us into all truth.  


We must first understand some vital principles on how to interpret Scripture, which won't just help you on these passages, but will help you on all passages.  As Christians we must learn how to interpret all passages of scripture. The Theological term for that is 'hermeneutics'.  Biblical hermeneutics - rules of interpretation.   I am going to begin by outlining those rules, which will be a lengthy introduction, but without that introduction, if we go straight to that text, which is what people often do, we will end up with a wrong understanding.  Martin Scott who works with a pioneer stream of churches has a book called 'For Such a Time As This' - a very good book, and in it, he mentions 6 things which we need to remember when it comes to interpreting scripture, which are:


1.  Recognise the inadequacy in what is called 'The Flat Book Approach' That is where people quote a verse of the Bible without any attempt to understand its' context or its' wider use in scripture, e.g. Someone might come out with 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth', the Bible DOES say that, but that is the 'flat-book' approach, where you just take a verse out of context.  In doing so, you can use the scripture to 'beat someone up or execute your revenge'.  The Bible does say that, but it also says A LOT MORE.  It is the 'flat-book' approach which just lifts a verse off the 'flat book', speaks it out and foolishly says 'God said it, so that is enough for me'!  Well, it CANNOT be enough for you, because it is not enough for GOD.  Lauren Cunningham (founder of Y.W.A.M.) says this 'mindless repetition of scripture is no sign of true knowledge' and that is true.  Although the Bible is the inspired Word of God - inspired in the ORIGINAL HEBREW, GREEK and one or two parts of Aramaic, if we WRONGLY interpret the Inspired Word of God, we end up with something that is not inspired AT ALL.  VERY IMPORTANT.  That is why the Bible talks about 'rightly dividing the Word of Truth'.  Using the 'flat-book' approach, we end up with something that is NOT God's Word at all!  Cults often quote from the Bible which is the Word of God, but what they teach or interpret is NOT the Word of God.  You can know the Bible from cover to cover (I have friends like this) and still be lost.  The Bible can only be understood through revelation. 'we now know in part....' (1 Corinthians 13:9) so therefore (hopefully) all of us have a growing developing knowledge and understanding of what the Bible really does teach.  So therefore, when we approach it, we cannot just look at a phrase e.g. 'women keep silent in the church', and say 'God says it and that is enough for me'  - as that is the 'flat-book' approach, that is lifting up a few words from a sacred page, and missing all the other words of the sacred pages which make that verse look a LOT different.


2. Recognise that historical and cultural settings are important. This is so hard for some people to grasp, so read this very carefully. All the Bible is God's Word, but not everything in the Bible is God's Word FOR ALL TIME.  Please read this so carefully.  If we do not bear this in mind, we can end up taking Bible verses and making them into a doctrine today which is not true.  Some commandments clearly ARE God's Word for all time, some clearly are not.  Some of the things in the Bible are 'trans-cultural' some are just 'cultural' e.g. The Bible says in Genesis 17:10 'Every male among you shall be circumcised'.  The Bible says that!  I cannot ever remember hearing a sermon on how to have a successful circumcision!  and then at the end of the sermon, invite people to come forward! (laughs). So then it is not a message for today, even though it is the Word of God. (relief to all the men!)  So then, there is a lot more the Word of God speaks in order for that to not be necessary for today, taking into account the whole (or 'preponderance') of scripture.  This is such an important principle.  Leviticus 19:32 'Rise in the presence of the aged'  I know when I was growing up I always did that it was a custom in the U.K.  Do we practice that?  Deuteronomy 22:9 says 'Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard'  Leviticus 19:19 'Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material'  (I already made reference to this in Part 2.)  I would make a guess that all who are reading this are wearing more than two kinds of material! So we don't think that we are in contradiction with the Word of God do we? even though that is in the Word of God. Leviticus 25:36 'Do not take interest of any kind from your countrymen'  If you have a bank account and get interest, then you are in breach of that. 1 Corinthians 7:27 'Are you unmarried - do not look for a wife'!!!!!!!! 1 Corinthians 16:20 'Greet one another with a holy kiss'  (Can you imagine if you had a large church!)  We tend to greet one another here in the U.K. with a handshake, so now we understand something of culture.  The Bible contains absolute truths and relative truths.  It contains Kingdom values which are eternal, and cultural values which are temporal.  Our challenge all the time is to make sure we do the right thing with either e.g. if Christians try to make relative truthabsolute truth, we end up with legalism.   When Christians try to take absolute truth and make it relative truth we end up with  liberalism.  So we have to be really, really careful. We also need to recognise that historical and cultural settings are important.  F.F. Bruce (Professor of Biblical criticism at Manchester University, author of over 40 books, great Greek scholar was asked one day 'How do you interpret 1 Timothy 2:9-15 which suggests that women are not to teach' and this was his total recorded reply 'IT IS MERELY A STATEMENT OF PRACTICE AT A PARTICULAR TIME' and that was it, he swiped the whole thing off.  That is all it was about, it was something never to be applied to ALL women in ALL places at ALL times.


3. We must recognise that 'unclear' text should be interpreted in the light of 'clear' text.  You will all know that there are verses in the bible that are clear, yet other verses that are not so clear. Reading verses in say Daniel or Revelation may leave you wondering, but other verses are simple.  Some verses are extremely clear and others not so clear. So then, our starting point isCRITICAL.  Behind every question of faith and practice is a 'pre-supposition' or a 'premise'.  So if we start our belief system with an incorrect premise or pre-supposition, we may have a logical argument from that base, but we end up with an incorrect conclusion, e.g. there was an ancient belief that our world was flat, so that was the belief system.  People argued from that, that if you sailed too far, you would go over the edge - a logical argument, so people did not sail too far, in case they met the edge. So then, a logical  argument based on a premise that ended up with a wrong conclusionbecause basically the original premise was incorrect, as the world is not flat, so if the world is not flat (premise) your argument is wrong, so then your conclusion is also wrong. In scripture that happens too, if we start with the wrong premise, even though the arguments are logical, we end up with thewrong conclusion.

Richard Kroger in a book published in 1997 wrote this 'There are 100 passages in the Bible thatAFFIRM women's roles in leadership, and fewer than half a dozen that APPEAR to be in opposition. What people do, is they start with the few that appear to be in opposition (the less than half a dozen) and ignore the hundred than ENDORSE women's roles in church and Kingdom. Over the last 3 Parts I have brought expositions from scripture to show how God HAS used women in both Old Testament and New Testament AND in history, how Jesus treated women and also how in the beginning God created women, so that you do not enter a verse from a BIAS and a PREJUDICE that is NOT THERE in the basis of scripture.

(Remember, we have to look at scripture and understand it from the 'preponderance' - surpassing influence of scripture, before we interpret any part of that scripture.)


4. We must recognise that we do not make scripture say more than it does (e.g. many people use that word 'woman was a 'helper' for man' and that little word 'helper' has been made to be 'inferior'.  I showed in the last part from the Hebrew that it could not be read into it at all, in fact the opposite is true from the Hebrew 'strength' or 'stronger'.)  We have to again make sure that we do not make the Bible say more than it actually says.  e.g. a lot of people say that because Eve was deceived, she was the cause of all sin in the world, but the Bible does not actually say that.  So do not read in what is not there.  In Timothy, Paul says that women should not teach because Eve was deceived, (we will look at this in the next Part) people have actually said that there is a weakness in the female, that she is prone to deception more than the male.  This is NOT SO!!!!  If you look at the cults, most of them were started by men, Jehovah's Witnesses - Charles T. Russell, Mormons - Joseph Smith, The Moonies (Mass suicide in Guyana) - Jim Jones, so the notion that women are more prone to deception than men is not warranted from the Bible at all.  So let us not read in more than what is there. Also we have to admit that there are times we just do not know what a verse in the Bible really means. You will always get lots and lots of opinions, but very few biblical insights!  It is better to say 'I don't know', than to try to make something fit your theory. 


5. Teaching text must take precedence over both descriptive and corrective text (e.g. passages in Ephesians and Romans that lay out in verse after verse doctrinal systematic theology, clear teaching, justification by faith, imputed righteousness, propitiation, the Cross, resurrection passages, things like that.  There are 3 types, teaching (which is doctrine), descriptive (which is outlining the practices of New Testament church life) and corrective (where specific LOCAL difficulties are being addressed).  This book - 1 Corinthians - was a letter written to address problems, a 'corrective' letter mainly.  Please bear in mind that when Paul wrote these letters he was not in his mind writing a doctrinal treatise of how Christians should live in our day, he was writing letters.  God obviously was inspiring them, but were letters to specific individuals or specific churches about specific situations in specific cultures of that day.  Remember this also, Paul knew the other side of what he was replying to.  We often don't know the other side unless we try to study to find out what the other side was, unless we do that, we will end up imposing rules on ourselves that God never intended.  


6. We must recognise that we need to use scripture consistently. It is inconsistent to try to prevent women from fulfilling certain ministries on the basis of one or two verses, and yet totally ignore other verses that relate to women completely.  e.g. lots of churches say that women should be silent, not teach, be under authority of men, they cannot lead, etc.  in other words they are saying that they are inferior to men and need to be in submission and subordination to men, yet in the same churches they let women have braided hair, wear fine clothes and gold jewellery, but in 1 Peter 3, it says that they shouldn't! So in a lot of churches today, the men will swank in with their women, looking good, wearing gold, nice hair do's and they think that it is fantastic as long as they are seen and not heard.  So in other words, they take one scripture and say 'that applies to my wife'  and another 'that one doesn't apply to my wife'.  That is NUTS and totally inconsistent.


Before I move to the text, just a little more background, the church in Corinth was founded by Paul in around 50 - 51 A.D. Corinth was the largest city in Greece, about 100,000 people were living there. It was a thriving sea port and was infamous for it's sex trade.  It was a city dedicated to a goddess called 'Aphrodite' who the Romans knew as 'Venus'.  This great temple was famed around the then-known world for it's prostitution.  There were a 1,000 'sacred' prostitutes whose services were used in their 'sacred' worship.  There were thousands and thousands of other women prostitutes in Corinth as their economy depended on such immorality. A modern phrase for Corinth was 'hedonistic', totally.  Flesh-indulgent, drunkenness and immorality were normal life.  There were many religious cults also that joined their religion alongside with their immorality.  The church took 2 years to get going, and Paul was helped by Priscilla and Aquilla the husband and wife team, and also Timothy and Silas.  The congregation came from all backgrounds (see 1 Cor. Chapter 6 where Paul talks about a whole list of sinful activities, and says 'and such were some of you' as they came from a very pagan, hedonistic background.  There were Roman, Greek and Jewish converts, men and women, slaves and free, Gentiles.  The whole congregation was a mixed bag.) 


The church, because of that, and from its' influence from the city of Corinth, had a lot of things going on that Paul didn't know how to deal with.  There was even incest & partisanship in the church (I am following this leader, I am following that leader), there was also questions about eating meats offered to idols that were being sold in the markets there.  All these things were addressed in this letter. Also, some of the Christians were still having sexual relationships with prostitutes - that is addressed in Chapter 6 too.  A lot of issues were being addressed, and Paul spent more time on gender in this letter than in any of his other letters.  What is interesting is that the only place where the word 'authority' occurs in the New Testament in respect of husband and wife is Chapter 7, and this is what it says 'the husband has authority over the wife's body, and the wife has authority over her husband's body'  so it is mutual authority and has to do with authority over each other's body.


(1 Cor 11).  Remember that there are no chapter divisions in the Greek, the only reason translators have put them there is to make it easier for us to find the texts.  So let us note how the previous chapter closes in verse 31 'whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God, do not cause anyone to stumble, I am not seeking my own good but the good of many so that they may be saved - follow my example'  If you look at the previous chapter in verses 23/24 again that is the key 'everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial'  Chapter 10:24 'Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others'  So Paul was saying that in all we do, we must be careful. It is not just being free to do things, it is how we do things as we do not want to hinder the Gospel. That is the gist of how he brings this passage.  Even in verses 13,14 & 15 of Chapter 11, we have phrases like 'customary,' 'proper' & 'virtuous'.  This passage is NOT about men having authority over women it is about how men and women conduct themselves in worship, as in the worship of that world it was normal for Greek men and Greek women to pray bare-headed, but Roman men and women and Jewish men and women prayed with their heads covered, so even there you had some cultural diversity.  It is not surprising that some directive from Paul is required as regards cultural sensitivity.  In that day there were strong assumptions on dress codes, very strong assumptions, and people were easily offended on what a person looked like, how they behaved in public and what they wore.  There was a very strong code for what they wore.  I have talked to you before on how a person could get a divorce if somebody touched his wife in any way or spoke to her in public.


There were VERY strong codes of practice, and many times Paul, in his letters,  urges Christians to live with the thought about others.  The first thing we notice in 1 Cor 11 is this.  It is not about exclusion,verses 4 & 5 talk about participation. 'Every man who prays or prophesies'  and 'every woman who prays or prophesies' so both are involved in public worship equally.  Prophesying meaning bringing the anointed and inspired Word of God.  This issue here is about honouring or dishonouring 'heads', and that is what we will look at - what is meant by 'head'?   On the surface it may appear that Paul is bringing some kind of teaching of a hierarchical order, but a closer look shows that it is not the case. When we read the word 'head' we often think it means 'over' or 'boss' or 'top dog'.  Here the way the word is used and understood in its' culture is the key to understanding the passage.  Language is a living thing, it evolves and it changes. e.g. what 'gay' means today, is entirely different from what it meant to our grandparents.  The word 'head' in the Greek is 'Kephale'.  It is used in many ways in ancient literature, and if Paul was going to use it to mean authority or hierarchical structure, he would NOT have used it in the context for which it was used in that day.  In ancient literature 'kephale' was often used in describing 'source' or 'origin'. So if this was meant as a hierarchical structure 'the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God,'  you would end up with God at the bottom of the hierarchical structure.  What Paul is actually teaching is order by chronology or by source, 'so then the source of every man is Christ, in Him we live and move and have our being.'  (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word brought all things into being, so the head or the source of woman is the man and the source of Christ is God through the incarnation.)  If you look in the Greek lexicon, the word 'kephale' is used 48 times, and not once does it ever translate as 'authority', so it is hard to support it being used in this one passage as 'authority'.  Also in ancient thinking of the day, they believed that 'semen' was produced in the brain in the male head, so it was the 'source' of life.  We know differently, but that is how they looked upon it.  We use that phrase in English 'headwaters' being the source of a river or the origin.  The context of this passage would support that as the word 'submission' is never used in this passage. The only time 'authority' is used in this passage is the woman's own authority and that is in verse 10.  So in other words Paul is saying God the creator 'sourced' Adam, and Adam 'sourced' Eve, and finally as Paul outlines in 1 Cor 15 came the last Adam, Christ to undo the curse brought about through the Fall of man through the failure in the Garden of the first humanity Adam and Eve. Another reason the word 'head' is translated as 'source' is because without that it would distort the unity of the Trinity because Christ is NOT under authority of God.  The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is equal with God.  Many early Church Fathers concur with the translation of 'source' and not 'head' or boss/authority.  


The issue here is not authority, but protocol.  Man dishonours his 'source' if he has his head covered. The Jewish Men wore a prayer shawl, and they covered themselves as they felt inadequate to approach God in such a way of openness.  In Corinthians, it teaches that the veil is done away, and that we have boldness to come to the throne of Grace, he was saying that the men did not need to have anything on their heads, as there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. To tell a Jew not to pray without his head covered was going against what they had been doing for ages and ages by their own traditions.  So Paul states that they dishonour their 'source' as their 'source' has set them free.

For the woman:  Your 'source' is the man, but you dishonour that source right now if you flaunt social conventions and you project images that bring shame on your source (both cultural issues regarding the head coverings that Paul was addressing in this church).  Jewish prostitutes in that day wore their hair long and flowing.  Greek prostitutes had their hair shawn, so there was a cultural convention here and people could read into that society from your appearance things about you that actually could harm your relationships, family, reputation etc.  


So what seems to have been happening in Corinth was this:  Christian women were revelling in their new found freedom in Christ, and showing no thought for entrenched customs and cultural expectancies.  So in verse 6 where Paul says that if a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off, and IF it is a disgrace she should cover her head.  (It was a disgrace there and then, in that culture, but it is NOT a disgrace now.)  So, Paul was saying if it is not a disgrace it is nota problem. It was only a disgrace because of the culture. The real issue here is cultural convention.  In verses 7 & 8 , it talks about 'a man ought not to cover his head for he is the image and glory of God but the woman is the glory of man'.  We have already seen in Genesis 1 that BOTH man and woman are the image and glory of God.  Paul cannot contradict what the Bible already says.  Psalm Chapter 8 says 'God crowned man (both male and female) with glory and honour'  so both man and woman were the image and glory of God, so Paul cannot be undercutting or denying that. What he is actually saying here is this:  He is actually raising the stakes of women - that not only is woman the image and glory of God, she is ALSO the image and glory of MAN, she is the better looking.  So in fact, she is all that man is in creation, and more, she is more beautiful! In verses 11 & 12 he confirms that 'In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman' for as woman came from man, so also is man born of woman for everything comes from God' - in other words, there is inter-dependency.  Verse 10 'For this reason, because of the angels, a woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head'  The word 'a sign of' is not in the original Greek, it was put there by translators who were trying to make some sense of that verse.  So it SHOULD read 'For this reason, a woman ought to have her own authority on her head'  Remember this is not a marriage passage, it is saying the woman has her own authority to have what she wants on her head. We are talking only about cultural convention.  In verses 13&14 Paul says 'Judge for yourselves, is it 'proper' for a woman to pray'  That 'properness' again is cultural, in that day it was causing some kind of cultural blunder.  The summary is this:  Both men and women must be sensitive to cultural convention = Both are able to participate, but culture must be changed through permeation not by rude confrontation.   So it is all about communicating Christ to people and not causing offence.  So reaching people for Christ is more important than us being free to do what we want to do.  That is the gist of this passage.


1 Corinthians14: 34 'Women should remain silent in the church, as they are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says, if they want to enquire about anything they should ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church'  Men have had a field day with this scripture in churches. Again remember, this is a corrective passage, Paul cannot be contradicting something he wrote 3 chapters earlier.  Earlier he talks about women praying and prophesying in the church, so he cannot now be saying they cannot do it as he has already said they can do it! So this 'silence' here cannot be what it seems on the surface.  We have already seen that women were apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers and prophets in the New Testament.  In verse 31 it says 'You may ALL prophesy'  - that is gender-inclusive.  In verse 26 it says 'everyone has a hymn'  - that is gender-inclusive.  So women are involved in public worship, so that is not an issue, and he cannot deny that issue. If you read it carefully WITHOUT ANY PREJUDICE, it is obvious by the context that Paul is addressing one particular local problem, where meetings were being disrupted, not just by women but by men as well.  The word 'silent' here is also used twice elsewhere.  In verses 28 & 29 'If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet' exactly the same Greek word. Verse 29 'Two or three prophets should speak and the others should weigh carefully what is said and if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop'. The word 'stop' 'quiet' 'silent'  in these passages are exactly the same Greek word.  Yet the translators have made the word 'silent' stronger in relation to women than they did to tongue-speakers or prophets. The word in the Greek means to hush up or a voluntary silence, as God is not a God of disorder.   This is not a gagging order, otherwise it would mean that women couldn't even laugh at a joke in church, or cough or make any kind of sound.  It is not that kind of silence.  When Paul says 'they should be in submission as the law says', out of 38 places in the NT where this verb occurs, there is only one place where the object of who you should submit to is not clearly stated and that is here. But again people read into it wrongly.  Nowhere in the OT does the law say that a woman should submit to her husband. Nowhere in the teaching of Christ does it say that a woman should submit to her husband.  So what is the law? Remember this is not about marriage, this is about ministry.  People jump to conclusions and invent the law, we do not know what law Paul is referring to! It is uncertain, but the Greek word is that they should yield as the law says, maybe it was a spiritual law, maybe it is the royal law of love which is to love your neighbour as yourself, maybe it is the law that says it is not me-centred, I must yield and think of others too, but we do not know, as there is no law that a woman should submit to a man in ministry anywhere.

What may have been happening, is that women may have been ministering to others without consideration, disrupting services and trying to learn, as women were not educated and they were suddenly brought into Christian worship into a brand new life often from paganism, and this is new to them, they were kept at a distance before, now they were brought in, so they couldn't understand things and they would be asking their husbands questions and it was disrupting other people, and Paul said that this cannot go on.  Notice the whole thing is linked to 'if they want to enquire, let them ask at home'.  This is very important, as Paul is affirming women's rights to learn.  Before women were not allowed to learn and here he is affirming their rights to learn. He actually breaks customs by commanding husbands to teach their wives at home, they have been disadvantaged in the Old, but they must not be disadvantaged in the New community.  The disgrace that he refers to here, is not the women disfunctioning, the disgrace is disruption in public worship, so it is not the women that are taboo, it is the CHAOS that he is addressing here.


This is how the 'Message' Bible puts it:

'Wives must not disrupt worship, talking when they should be listening, asking questions that could more appropriately be asked of their husbands at home. God's Book of the law guides our manners and customs here. Wives have no license to use the time of worship for unwarranted speaking. Do you—both women and men—imagine that you're a sacred oracle determining what's right and wrong? Do you think everything revolves around you? If any one of you thinks God has something for you to say or has inspired you to do something, pay close attention to what I have written. This is the way the Master wants it. If you won't play by these rules, God can't use you. Sorry.'

So there has to be order in church life, this was not about silencing women as a doctrine for the church.  The church should be a community of redeemed people, where there is no class distinction, gender distinction or racial distinction.


So I will close by saying that we need to be building a New Testament church, where there is total equality in Christ, with no prejudice or bigotry.  I believe that women need to be released into their proper place with mutual respect. A church where there are KINGDOM values.  This teaching will be continued in Part 5.