Part 5 - 'A Black and White Issue'?? (continued from Part 4)


I want to open up this Part with a link to the wonderful song 'Amazing Grace'.

'Amazing Grace' was written by John Newton - a clergyman - after his realization that his participation in the slave trade was his wretchedness.  Published in 1779.  It is my desire to see the same freedom for women in the church.


Before we get into the main topic, I would like to quote Smith Wigglesworth.  "As we receive the Word of Life, it quickens, it opens, it fills us, it moves us, it changes us, and it brings us into a place where we dare to say 'amen' to all that God has said.  There is a lot in an 'amen'.  You never get any place until you have the 'amen' inside of you.  That was the difference between Zacharias and Mary.  When the Word came to Zacharias, he was filled with unbelief until the angel said 'You will be mute....because you did NOT believe my words" (Luke 1:20).  MARY said, 'Let it be to me according to your word' (Verse 38).  The Lord was pleased that she believed and there would be a performance of what He had spoken.  When we believe what God has said, there will be a performance".

My point here being it was a woman first who 'believed'.  The man was full of 'unbelief'. So it was a woman who was the first to have 'faith'.


1 Timothy 2:8 - 1 Timothy 3:1.   'I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. Here is a trustworthy saying 'If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task'.'


This letter was from Paul to Timothy who was pastoring at Ephesus.

Let us firstly look at the cultural background here. As I have said before, to merely quote a few words from the Bible without any reference to it's context is a sure way to end up in error.  Remember letters were letters, these were NOT Bible college lectures, they were personal letters. Timothy was a pastor, so Paul is writing to his young friend. Paul was Timothy's mentor and father in the faith. Remember both writer and receiver knew what was being talked about - so when we only get one side of a letter, we have to investigate to fully understand what is being said.  


In the second letter Paul wrote to Timothy - Paul told Timothy that he must learn to 'correctly handle the Word of God'. If you don't correctly handle the Word of Truth, you end up with a word of error, so it is actually very important to correctly understand scripture.  The passage above is the only explicit prohibition in the whole of the Bible against women teaching, and it was penned by a man who actually had a woman teacher on his team - Priscilla, and she was also part of the ministry team at the church at Ephesus to which Timothy is now pastoring and being written to.  So we have to understand what is actually being said here, Paul said women shouldn't teach, and yet he has a woman teacher as part of his team.  So let us understand a little background:


Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire, it lay on the Western Coast of what we now call Turkey, in fact, you can go there today on a package tour.  The culture of Ephesus was predominantly Greek, so Greek influence pervaded the whole society and it also had a large Jewish community as well.  Just like we saw in Part 4, Corinth was a centre of cult worship, Ephesus was also a centre of cult worship.  It was 'Aphrodite' in Corinth, but in Ephesus it was 'Artemis', who was also known as 'Diana' to the Romans. In fact you can be introduced to 'Artemis' (this false god) in Acts 19 where you will find a record of Paul's ministry there and much ado about how strong this goddess was in that community.  The temple of 'Artemis' was the greatest of the Seven Wonders of the World, a huge great temple dedicated to this goddess.  If you approached it from the sea you could see this huge temple which took 120 years to build.  It was approached through 100 five-storey high marbled columns, and as you approached it the shiny glistening gold of this huge idol was seen from everywhere in the city.  'Artemis' was the great fertility goddess with 24 bare breasts, and was served by male eunuchs and three grades of priestesses.  She was the most worshipped of all gods. In fact in Acts 19, where Paul goes to minister there it says in verse 27 (Demetrius the silversmith made idols of her) she is worshipped throughout Asia and the world.  So the worship of this goddess was very powerful, it is hard to imagine anything like it today.  Everywhere there was respect and honour for this goddess. That is the centre of Ephesus, and it is in that place where Paul goes to minister - a church is founded, in fact, he was there 3 years and had a tough time there, and when he left (in Acts 20) there was a meeting where he meets with the elders and they weep. He says that he hasn't ceased to warn the people every day with tears - he had a battle there in Ephesus.


The businesses of the silversmiths were hit, because people were getting saved, and it caused a riot in the place, and now Paul is in prison and is writing to the pastor (Timothy) of this church in this cult-centred city and the church is now 10 years old, when he gets this letter.  More than 20% of both letters to Timothy are focussed around false teaching and heresy.  The best way to understand any text in the Bible is to not just read the chapter but read the letter through once or twice which will give you a whole different picture to the particular text you want to look at.  


So that is some cultural background which is very, very important to bear in mind as we come to a passage like this.  I want to ask you to ALLOW YOUR VIEW OR OPINION TO BE CHALLENGED. Some people get so rigid and obstinate and think 'well I have believed this all my life, I am not going to change now!'.  If you have believed something all of your life which is wrong, it is far better to change as soon as you can.  Tony Campolo, who I have quoted a couple of times in previous Parts, changed his position, and this is what he said. "This passage once posed a serious problem to me, however, recent Biblical Scholarship has shown me that my former reading of this passage was limited by a failure to understand what was going on in the church in the first century".  (So let us learn not to use the 'flat-book approach' which I detailed in Part 4.)   So in this Part we are going to look at 9 things about women in this passage, going through it verse by verse, bearing in mind the context, bearing in mind the culture and we are going to see 9 things that Paul says about women.


1.  We will look at women and dress.  Verse 9 'I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.'  So have you ever heard a sermon preached anywhere on 'Thou Shalt Not Wear Pearls'?  I doubt it, and yet in this passage, that is what Paul says he wants. Have you ever heard a sermon saying you should NOT wear expensive clothes? We ignore this whilst the men endorse the next verse that the 'women should learn in quietness and full submission'!  So then the verse before it doesn't really matter?  Can we pick and choose like that, whilst still believing the whole Bible is the Word of God?  Isn't it strange that they will interpret one verse culturally, yet the next verse they will make it an ABSOLUTE FOR ALL TIME!   This is a very bad misuse of scripture and a massive inconsistency.  The point of verse 9 is also linked with verse 8 where Paul says that this is what he wants about the men - when they pray stop having anger, stop disputing, so there must have been some problem with the men going on, then also with the women who he assumes are praying as well - he's got a problem there too. Some women were flaunting themselves.  Pearls to the Romans were the greatest of all jewels and so culturally the wearing of pearls was considered to be a massive display of vanity. So, of course, if people are flaunting themselves in this way, and promoting themselves and displaying themselves and trying to show how wealthy they are, and how attractive they are and how appealing to men that they are - and it also has a sexual connotation in the Greek (and the issue in this passage is intentionality and motive) - if that is the case, then Paul knows that doing that would actually hinder the gospel (as we discussed in Part 4).  So he is addressing the 'heart' of the issue.  When Paul talks about the 'good deeds', he is saying that if you are professing to worship God then do it modestly. Other parts of the Bible have a similar issue. The whole thing here is that nothing must happen that would hinder the Gospel - and we don't want a few wealthy people in the church making a big name for themselves and looking really, really 'up for the grabs', when perhaps there are other people there who will be poor and have nothing and it is hindering the presentation of the Gospel.  So the issue here is not about clothes or jewels but ATTITUDES, and so often what people do is make a doctrine out of this.

So when it comes to clothes at church, the only thing that is important is that YOU HAVE SOME ON! Simple as that!

I have been in churches where they won't allow men to wear jeans, or women to wear trousers, I have even been in churches that have asked me to remove my make up!!!!. I have had friends who used to perm their hair, and they were told that it was a 'sin'!  You wear what you want as long as you are covered up!


2. Women and learning.  Paul goes on to say 'A woman should LEARN in quietness and submission'  That was revolutionary as women were largely disadvantaged and this was a whole new concept to Jews and Greeks, a major paradigm shift of thinking.  The assumption here is that women should be taught (the word 'should' in the Greek is stronger as it says 'Women MUST' learn, or be taught the Word of God).  The 'quietness and submission' is not a muzzling, but a learning attitude.   So people make an issue of the submission part but not of the learning part of the verse.  So Paul is saying that women MUST be taught and must learn with a proper attitude.  The Greek word there is 'esuchia' which means a peaceful or a listening quiet attitude with studious attention.  So then 'full submission' in this context is the exact opposite of being self-centred or grasping. Remember women were not used to being in a learning environment as they were not previously taught, so it is obvious they needed some instructions on how to learn, some protocol or methodology on how they should learn.  Can you imagine somebody going into a place like Afghanistan, where women were treated badly by the Taliban, and suddenly trying to teach those women without actually showing them how they learn.  It is a whole different culture that we don't understand. Remember it was a culture where women were not taught, where they were disadvantaged, where they were stereo-typed, where they never had to go through any kind of a learning situation.  Paul now says that women MUST learn, and they MUST learn in a proper spirit and in a humble attitude and in a learning environment.  If you read it carefully, you will see that how Paul asked women to learn would be the same way that ANYBODY should learn, this would also apply to a man. It is hard to teach someone who keeps butting in, so that was addressed here.  So what Paul is doing is giving a POSITIVE affirmation of a woman's right to learn and also that she must learn in the right way. 


3. Women and teaching. Verse 12 is the BIG verse. 'I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.'  Now that in the English seems very, very clear indeed, but it is not so clear in the GREEK, which the New Testament was written in. In fact, the understanding of this whole verse, hinges on one verb ('authentia' Greek for the word 'authority') that is only used here and nowhere else in the whole of the NT, and neither is it used much outside in ancient literature either.   First of all, before we get to that verb, let us understand the absurdity at what we looked at in the last part 'the flat book approach'.  If we take this verse on the surface as it is, it would mean that a woman could never teach ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, it would also mean that it would be a sin for a man to ever listen and learn from a woman anywhere, and that women should not talk AT ALL - if you took it on the surface.  If you take it as it is, it would be a sin for anyone to go and listen to a woman lecturer, teacher, Sunday school teacher, etc.  So if you take it literally, it would mean a woman is never to teach.  You cannot even apply it to just church, as that is not what Paul said. People interpret this verse to suit themselves, as we saw in the previous verse.  So then, we must interpret this verse in the light of the passage and the WHOLE of other scripture, and not according to our own bigotry or prejudice or bias. Paul in these letters actually reminds Timothy of the teaching he had received himself from two Godly women and doesn't try to correct that, so there is nothing wrong with the principle of women teaching.  The issue here is FALSE teaching. We saw in Part 4 how women in Corinth were prophesying with Paul's encouragement.  Priscilla taught with Paul's blessing and she was a great Bible Teacher.  The Word 'prophesying' in 1 Cor 14:26 is described as a Word of Instruction.  So women were giving words of instruction in the church in Corinth and Paul is talking about it as if it is no problem. So we have to get to understand that what Paul is saying here is not that women cannot speak in church, does not mean women cannot teach, what we have got is a particular situation.  (If you turn over the page to 2 Timothy 2:2 - 'the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others' - that word 'men' in that verse is the Greek word 'anthrōpous' which means 'gender inclusive - male and female or 'people', so if Paul wanted only males to teach others, he could easily have used the Greek word for males 'andros'.  He did not.  It is the same gender-inclusive Greek word for the passage in 1 Timothy 2:4 'who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.'  Yet in 1 Timothy 2:8 'I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.'  In this verse the word 'men' is the Greek word 'andros' - meaning 'males'.)

Back to verse 12 'I do not permit a woman to teach' . The tense used here is the 'present tense' so what it reads is 'I do not permit a woman to teach NOW', and not absolute for all time. In the Ephesian culture, what was influencing the church was particularly a problem with women, it was an issue of women doing false teaching that was all linked to what we call 'agnostic -type heresy'. In fact, because the pronouns change from plural to singular, it could also be that there was a particular woman in the church who was being a bad teacher and a bad influence (some commentators and translators suggest this).  It is interesting that in this letter Paul talks a lot about widows, young widows and about old wives tales, which is inbred into the culture.  So false teaching was a major problem to the church, and it seems it was coming mainly from a woman or some women.  If you look back at 1 Timothy 1:3, he even commands certain men not to teach as well, as there was a real problem with falsehood going through the community and affecting the life of the church.  F.F. Bruce (Professor at Manchester University in Biblical Studies) says "this was a particular instruction for a LOCAL problem".  The fact of Paul talking about women learning is the clue here.  Learning precedes teaching, if you teach without learning you would end up teaching the wrong stuff.  So women should not be teaching until they have been learning, and here the command is 'don't teach at the moment, I don't want that woman, or women teaching until they have learned'.  He then goes on to the biggie 'or to have authority over a man'. This brings us to point 4, and the verb 'authentia' is used only once in the Greek here for the word 'authority'.


4. Women and authority. This verse or part of this verse has been taken by so many to build a fundamental church practice, when in actual fact, it is a letter which deals with a particular church problem only.  Many have assumed that women cannot be a leader in a church.  That is a big mistake for two reasons: 1. because the issue is not about leadership and 2. because church leadership in the way that Christ taught it and the way it is taught in the NT is not about ANYBODY having authority over ANYBODY.  Very big point. We need to understand authority -true authority. The Bible is very clear that no-one is to have authority over anyone else, be it male over female or vice-versa.  The Greek verb authority here 'authentia' is only used here and nowhere else, the other word Paul often uses for authority is 'exousia'.  It is precarious to deny anything to women on the basis of the uncertain meaning of a verb that occurs nowhere else in the Bible.  It is even more precarious to assume the meaning is to have authority.  If Paul had wanted to speak of the ordinary exercise of authority he could have picked any number of words, the most common one being 'exousia'.  Since he did not, we must ask why?  there must be something about the term 'authentia' that particularly fits the Ephesian situation.  This word 'authority' only used here describes the worst possible form of domination and manipulation That is what it is about   This is very important, the cult of 'Artemis' the goddess, the false fertility goddess taught that women were superior to men, it practiced and taught DOMINANCE OF WOMEN OVER MEN.  From that false teaching there was that stream of Gnostic heresy that was magnifying the role of women - building Eve up (which I will expound on later) above Adam, and trying to put men down, and that stream of teaching was creeping into the church, and so Paul COUNTERACTS that false teaching.  By the way, that kind of domineering or manipulating or control would also be condemned by the Bible also to men practicing the same kind of control!


5. Women and creation. (verse 13) 'For Adam was formed first, then Eve'.  Again, many people have used that little phrase to teach superiority of men over women.  In my first Part - Part 1 - we went back to the garden, and we saw that there was no such thing in Eden.  Nowhere was there anything in Eden before the Fall that showed in any way that man was inferior to the woman, or the woman was inferior to man.  In fact, nowhere in the NT does the word 'first' ever mean 'superior', it is ALWAYS in relation to 'sequence', e.g. 1 Timothy:5 'the dead in Christ shall rise first' - that does not mean they are any better, it is just about sequence. The fact that John the Baptist came firstbefore Jesus, does not make Jesus inferior to John the Baptist - so it is a sequence.  Paul is simply quoting a Biblical fact.  So over the last 4 Parts we saw how there was no hierarchy before the Fall, any hierarchy of men over women came as God said it would, as a result of sin. The Cross is to reverse all this, and this is what the NT teaches.  If women are 50% of the image of God and men are 50% the image of God, why should one half feel inferior and the other half feel superior?  It makes no sense, but men have used it in society and church to somehow put men 'up there' as superior, and put women 'down there' as inferior or subordinate.  So when Paul goes on to say that Adam was formed first, then Eve, it was to COUNTERACT the heresy the Gnostics were teaching that EVE was the ORIGINATOR of life, and the source of Adam's life. They were also teaching that the serpent was a greater deity than God. They also taught that Eve was Adam's instructor.  In fact, in the previous Chapter 1 Timothy 1:4, he talks about people who are 'devoting themselves to myths and endless genealogies'  so this was part of the problem of the day. A lot of error and false doctrine, revolving around the positioning of men and women.  So Paul is hitting and counteracting false doctrine, by saying Eve WAS NOT MADE first, he was NOT trying to make a law against all women for all time.


6. Women and deception. Verse 14 'and Adam was not the one deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner' so if you look at that, it seems Adam was the good boy and Eve was the bad girl, and she is a sinner and not him.  What Paul was doing, was simply declaring Bible truth against local error.  Agnostics taught that Eve bore no blame in the fall whatsoever, so he was counteracting that false teaching. In fact the Agnostics said that it was a great step forward for humanity as Eve plunged humanity into a leap forward to grab knowledge.  Paul draws an analogy here, between the woman deceived in the garden and the woman or the women being deceived in Ephesus.  It is exactly the same thing that Paul wrote in Corinthians.  2 Cor 11:3 Paul says 'I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray'.  To the Corinthians he was talking to both MEN and WOMEN!  So a different church, a different picture, a different culture, he is now talking about how Eve was deceived, so women are being deceived right now.  People have built WILDLY on this verse a doctrine that is totally FALLACIOUS, that somehow women are more easily deceived, and also that what caused the Fall was role-reversal.  In other words, a lot of people are taught in a LOT of churches today that what caused the Fall was the fact that WOMAN stepped out of line, when she should not have stepped out of line, she should have stayed under her husband's 'wing' or 'headship', but what they forget is that nowhere before the Fall was there ANY 'headship' of man over woman.  As I taught in Part 1 - they BOTH had dominion, they BOTH had rule, it was a SHARED PARTNERSHIP with God in ruling the world. So there was NO role-reversal or hierarchy.  So then back to the context, the issue here is about teaching deception. If Eve's teaching was defective - guess who taught her?  Adam had the revelation from God about what tree to touch and what not to touch, before Eve was made. She had the knowledge from Adam, guess who taught her? guess who stood alongside her when the tempter came? guess who never said a word? guess who took a bite without saying one word of difficulty when the wife gave it to him, and guess whose name was on the lips of God when He came looking?  It was the man ADAM.  So if the woman was deceived, the man was disobedient.  When the woman was challenged by God 'What have you done?'  she said 'The serpent deceived me'  When the man was challenged by God 'What have you done'?  he said 'The woman YOU gave'.  So do not try to make the woman the sinner and not the man. Paul elsewhere makes it VERY CLEAR that it was Adam's sin and not Eve's sin that brought sin, death and condemnation into our world!  So the Fall did not come about because of role-reversal, but because of deception and disobedience.  Elsewhere in the NT it is very, very clear, that Adam was the one who took the MAIN responsibility for that.  

So Paul is simply declaring here to the false teachers who denied this, the big 'little' word is this 'Eve WAS deceived', the Gnostics said she bore no guilt, Paul said 'Yes she was deceived'.  It is a disgraceful use of this verse that has shackled many gifted women - somehow people say that women shouldn't teach the Bible as they are 'gullible' and they have not got the capacity.  This is an entrenched thinking in the church today!!  Many in-depth studies done on the subject of deception show, in actual fact, that deception has got nothing to do with gender.  A quote from one of the studies

"deception is related to age, experience, intelligence, education and personality - NOT GENDER". We have seen that the majority of the cults are founded by men.  So once women are taught, they can TEACH.  Remember in the first chapter of Timothy, who is expelled from the church for false teaching?  NOT WOMEN, but MEN!   Women were not able to teach in that culture as they did not have the knowledge and they were not being taught, or the teaching they had received was bad doctrine, so Paul had to 'restrain' them.  He basically was saying to Timothy that he wasn't having this in the church, it had to stop. 

In the 19th Century, black people were denied education.  Clarissa C. Lawrence - a black vice-president of the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society, said this in 1838 in a Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Convention "Faith and Prayer will do wonders in the Anti-Slavery cause, place yourselves dear friends in our stead, we are blamed for not filling useful places in Society, but give us light, give us learning, and see then what places we can occupy".  The same applies to women, and this is the same cry from women from all around the world - 'UNSHACKLE US, AND SEE WHAT WE CAN DO'.


7. Women and childbirth. Verse 15 'but women will be saved through childbearing'  This verse has CONFUSED MANY PEOPLE.  The main views and opinions of scholars are these: 1. A woman would be saved through child-bearing by ultimately bringing the Messiah into the world - being the seed of the woman. 2. She would be saved by accepting a subordination role and be domesticated at home. 3.She would be saved from death during labour, which would mean that NO CHRISTIAN WOMAN WOULD EVER DIE HAVING A BABY (which has NOT been the case).  So what is the REAL meaning?  It is SIMPLE.  Artemis was the god of fertility, it was believed that if you were pregnant, and you brought an offering to her temple she would protect you in childbirth.  Think of the culture, if you were pregnant in Ephesus, at the time when Paul wrote this, you had a 50/50 chance of dying during childbirth.  One out of 2 women died in childbirth in that day.  Giving birth was a dangerous thing, and this great centre of cultish religious worship said 'bring an offering to Artemis and she will save you.'  So Paul was saying 'by the way you will be saved in childbirth, but not through Artemis'!  In other words, put your trust in God, follow God, be committed to God.  Paul doesn't mention or defame Artemis, and there was great wisdom in that.  In Acts, Paul had a history in Ephesus, even when people were getting saved, people were saying that Paul was robbing them of their trade, even the city said that they had not blasphemed their goddess, so Paul was very wise.   So women will be saved, but not through Artemis.


8. Women and eldership. 1 Timothy 3:1 (remember there were no Chapter divisions in the original text) ''If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task'.' Please notice that that is 'gender-inclusive' as the 'he' is not male but is gender-inclusive. Although in the scriptures there are no women mentioned by name as elders, there are only 2 men mentioned by name.  The only deacon mentioned by name is a woman. So not many are mentioned by name.  We have previously seen women deacons, women apostles, women teachers, women prophets - there is no reason at all why women should not be elders.  Nowhere does Paul ever try to restrict gifted Godly women from leadership roles in the New Testament.  Within the qualification list of elders there is only one that is masculine, and that is 'the elder must be the husband of one wife' .  Basically, that is teaching marriage faithfulness, otherwise single people could NOT be elders.  Also, because the scripture also states that they have to have their children 'believe', people without children could NOT be elders either according to the face value of this scripture, and that excludes people like Paul, probably Barnabus, probably Timothy and definitely Jesus. Martin Scott says this "Although it is true that given the culture most elders were male, the text itself does not rule out the possibility of women elders, unless women are specifically restricted, we should seek to include them".  The historical evidence shows that women were elders up until the Synod of Laodicea in the fourth century. There are even statues still standing from centuries ago of women called 'bishops', and many people have changed the female names on these statues to make them look male as it was such a problem to people.



9. Women and submission. Ephesians 5:22. 'Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church'. I have seen this quoted often, it is funny that people start with this verse and ignore the preceding verse 21 ' Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.' That chapter heading 'Wives and Husbands' in our Bibles is not there in the original.  In fact, from verse 15-23 is one sentence in the Greek.  


People often ignore mutual submission but use the submission that suits their ends.

There are 328 Greek words here that contain 8 direct commands, 5 of the commands are addressed to MEN, 2 are addressed to CHILDREN, 1 to SLAVES,  and NONE TO WOMEN.  There are 40 words that address the wife's role, 150 words that address the husband's role, 35 to children, 59 to slaves and 28 to masters.  In this passage that is so often used to put women in their place, who is actually getting the most teaching?   It is MEN!  (Almost four times as many words as addressed to women.)  In the Ancient world, there was what was known as 'The Household Code'. (Husband/Wife, Father/Child, Master/Slave) so the big boss was the MAN.  When Paul wrote these words from prison, he was calling for something that people had never thought ever before, it was totally RADICAL to the man! Radical to the Father and Master!!!!  'Fathers, DO NOT exasperate your children'  and suddenly these words were brought in, to watch how the Fathers were to their children. He is calling for something that shocked these people.  Respect and submission (mutual) is a two-way street, it doesn't just work one way. He tells the Ephesians in these letters that they are ALL heirs, male, female, bond, free, Jew, Gentile.  It talks about the man being the 'head' of the wife.  Again, it is how we use the word 'head'. This is what Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian says in his book 'Beyond Sex Roles''. "The use of 'head' within the context where it is found in 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians forces on us the conclusion that the concept of  'headship' in the NT refers to the function of Christ as the fountainhead of life and growth, and to his servant role as provider and sustainer".  The NT contains NO TEXT where Christ's headship to the Church connotes a relationship of authority, likewise the NT contains NO TEXT where a husband's headship to his wife connotes a relationship of authority.  The word actually means 'source, sustainer, nourisher'.  Remember the Gospel sowed seeds of Social change that would radically affect what once permeated the whole society in which it was being preached. The same thing applies to the whole slave/master issue.  What Paul was doing was challenging the behaviour of all.  The summary of that verse 22 bit is at the end in verse 33. 'Each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband'. When you love someone sacrificially, you are submitted to them, think about it, if you really love someone. So when Paul said to love your wife as you love yourself (to the men) that was totally RADICAL. 'You love your wife as Christ loves the Church' was totally RADICAL.  That is RAISING THE STATUS OF WOMEN, NOT PUTTING THEM DOWN. When you really love your wife like that you are submitted to her and vice versa.  Christ was submitted to us. The head submitted to us, He loves us that much, He went to the Cross. This whole idea that the man is the head with the wife being in submission to him is wrong.  Tony Campolo tells the story of a pastor who had a woman come to him who was being beaten by her husband, the pastor told her to go home and be in submission to her husband who is the head of her house. She went home and the husband killed her.  The family challenged the pastor, "why on earth did you send our loved one back to that monster?"  The pastor said he was just doing what the Bible tells him to do!!!!!!  NONSENSE!  Nowhere does it teach that a woman has to be in submission to a monster like that! NOWHERE!  The idea of anybody lauding it over anybody in home or in church is ABSENT from the scripture.  Any authority is a 'servant-authority'.  

Just as a by-the-way here, just because a man is told to love his wife, doesn't exclude the wife from loving her husband, and just as the wife is told to submit to her husband, doesn't exclude the husband from submitting to his wife.  SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER OUT OF REVERENCE FOR CHRIST.  

This is what Lawrence Richardson, the Word Bible Handbook says "like many other Bible terms, the concept of 'headship' has been warped by importing secular notions. To call someone head of a corporation or project, identifies him as a person with control over others, but the NT term is not used in this sense.  Instead, the Biblical emphasis of 'head' is 'source or origin', thus Jesus as 'head' over everything for the church is seen as 'source and sustainer of life of His body'. 'Headship' does not speak of power but of serving.  

(The translators from verse 22 regarding 'wives submit to your husbands' put it like this:  An aspect of the MUTUAL submission taught in Verse 21. The word 'obey' does not appear in Scripture with respect to wives, through it does with respect to children and slaves (Eph 6:1 & 6:5). The analogy between the relationship of Christ to the church and that of the husband to the wife is basic to the entire passage. Verse 25 'Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her' Paul now shows that this is not a one-sided submission, but a reciprocal relationship. It is an expression of how the husband ought to devote himself to his wife's good.  To give oneself up to death for the beloved is a more extreme expression of devotion than the wife is called on to make')


If you read Chapter 6, talking about slaves obeying their masters.  Professor Craig S. Keener from Duke University says this "Modern writers who argue that Paul's charge to wives is to submit to their husbands as to Christ and is binding in all cultures, must come to grips with the fact that Paul more plainly tells slaves to obey their masters as they would Christ.  If ONE is binding in all cultures so is the other!  We have abolished slavery thankfully, even though the scripture says slaves obey your masters'.  So why was Paul saying that? He was saying that this thing would not get changed overnight, we have to let the power of the Gospel work through the changes, in the meantime, let us just live in ways that will compliment the Gospel.  The same thing applies to the whole subjection issue.  


Martin Luther King jr. spoke to some clergy in a letter from Birmingham Jail "The contemporary Church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound, it is so often the arch supporter of the status-quo. Far from being disturbed from the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are."  THE CHURCH HAS FAILED WOMEN.  Christ has been SCREAMING at the Church for the last 2,000 years to set women free.  To let them loose to do what God has called, created and wired them up to do, but the church has been deaf.   


To end, I would like to quote from Dr. Susan Stubbs Hyatt's book 'In the Spirit we're Equal'. Commenting on the account of Ananias and Saphira  in Acts 5:1-11 'Early in Acts, the Holy Spirit introduced another important precedent.  He held women directly, personally and equally responsible with men to God.  Numbers 30 had given fathers and husbands control over women, but God clearly set a new standard - an egalitarian standard - when He dealt with Ananias and Saphira.  He holds Ananias, the husband responsible for his actions, and He holds Saphira individually and personally responsible for her behaviour.  Ananias was not held responsible for his wife, and Saphira was directly accountable to God.   She could not excuse herself with the claim that she was submitted to her husband and so shift responsibility to him.'


In the final part (Part 6) we shall cover the topic 'Discriminate or liberate? (what the world is really waiting for)'