Posted by: minnow | February 27, 2009

Where Are Women in the NT Church

Before we begin to examine the various roles of women in the early Church we need to realize that the Church did not look then like it looks today. The early Church was not split into multiple denominations. In fact, any hint of following anyone other than Christ met with harsh admonishment by Paul. Check out I Corinthians 1:11-13. They did not have the fancy buildings. Most often they met in the homes of believers or the temple courts. And, they did not have paid clergy and staff. The money and goods that were gathered up were distributed to the entire Body, including the leaders, as there was need. But those issues are perhaps a topic for a different post.

For now let us do some digging into how the Church functioned and who were some of its leaders. In the first account of the gathering of the believers in Acts 2:42-47 we find out that they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection), to one another, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. In addition the apostles performed signs and wonders. “And, the Lord added to their number daily.” In Acts 6 we see the Apostles lay hands on seven believers who were “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.” The purpose was so the Apostles could focus on prayer and preaching the word while the seven were primarily responsible for taking care of the widows. This marked the first official division of responsibilities. At the same time, it is quickly noted (as in the same chapter) that Stephen, one of the seven, also preached and performed signs and wonders . When a persecution broke out against the Church the believers, except for the Apostles, scattered. Later Philip, another one of the seven, preached and performed miracles in Samaria and Caesarea and others to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. In Acts 13 we find out that the Church at Antioch had prophets and teachers but we are not told who those people are or what authority they had . Slowly as the Church grew additional teachers, prophets, and caregivers were needed. In Acts 14:23 we are told, “Paul and Barnabas appoint elders for them in each church and with prayer and fasting committed them to the Lord in whom they had put their trust.” This marks the first official use of the term presbyteros, or elder, with regard Church government. We should also note that this noun form is non-gender specific even though there are gender specific options for the same noun. Beyond these vague indications Acts does little to reveal how the early Church government was set up.

For a better understanding of how the believers were expected to function we need to turn to the letters Paul, Peter, James, and Jude wrote. In Paul’s first letters to the Church, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, we learn how Paul and those with him supported themselves so they would not be a burden. His instruction was for them to be self-controlled, an encouragement to one another, and respectful of “those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord, and who admonish you.” He further tells them to be joyful, pray continuously, give thanks, not treat prophecies with contempt, test everything, and avoid idleness. At just about the same time Paul writes the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s statement is our first written indication that the status of Greeks, slaves, and women had drastically changed.

I would like to continue to explore what the early Church looked like and will in a later post. But, since I said last time that I would give some other examples of women in leadership roles in the Church I need to follow through with my promise. Given the cultural prohibitions and lack of education available to women at the time we should not be surprised that their numbers are few, never the less women do emerge as significant figures in the early Church. In Romans 16:7 Junias, a woman, is referred to as outstanding among the apostles. In other words, Paul is calling her an apostle. Also in Romans 16 Pricilla, Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, and Julia are all singled out as women worth of special mention by Paul–sisters, fellow workers, and servants for the Lord. Luke 2:36 speaks of the prophetess, Anna. In Acts 21:9 we are told Philip, the evangelist (one of the seven) had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. And, Paul’s instruction in I Corinthians 11 acknowledges women prophets within the Church setting. In Acts 18 we learn that Pricilla and her husband Aquila taught Apollos and in I Corinthians 16:19 we learn that an entire church met in their home. Churches gather in the homes of other women as well, Nympha in Colossians 4:15, Mary in Acts 12:12 and Lydia in Acts 16:40. As you can see, Paul repeatedly calls attention to the service of women.

Culturally, at a time when women are generally regarded as property, these inclusions by Paul are huge. If these women were not making significant contributions to the spreading of the gospel I believe Paul would not have risked the reputation of the Church by blatantly acting crosswise to cultural mores. The fact that Paul brags about the importance of their ministry illustrates God’s heart toward this previously marginalized group.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for your post. Also it’s significant that women were the first to find the empty tomb, as their testimony was (back then) worthless.

    Something I struggle with is how some people refuse to let women be deacons/elders/leaders in a church, quoting 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Timothy 3:2, yet these same people seem to be quite happy for there to be women missionaries.

    When I asked a particular person about this, she replied, “yes, a woman can be a missionary, but as soon as there is a man who can take over the teaching, she must step aside.” Am I the only one who finds this contradictory?

    Blessings

  2. You seem to be working from the assumption that women were a “marginalized group.” I do not want to argue to the contrary, but I want to know where do you get this idea? You wrote that women were regarded as property. Did you learn this from the scriptures, or from somewhere else? Philippa responded that women’s testimony was worthless. What verse is that found in?

    I’m concerned that you might have an agenda that is causing you to work from certain assumptions when you interpret the word of God.

    If God asked you to be particularly obedient to the verses in his word concerning women in the church, how would you behave concerning these matters?

  3. Philppa and Ben– Thanks for stopping by. I always like hearing from new voices (at least new to me). To answer some of your questions, Ben. My study although incomplete of the culture at the time of Christ is what causes me to say what I have said regarding how women were treated and valued. Some of those statements are also indicated in scripture. The woman caught in the act of adultry. The law states that both the woman and the man were to be stoned but where is the man? He was for whatever reason allowed to escape. That men and women were separated in the synagogue and women were not allowed to speak, could not own property, and could be so easily divorced also causes me to state they were marginalized. God calls us all to be obedient to His word and my resopnse is first to try and understand the word and then to try and be obedient.
    Philippa I have heard other missionaries report the same expectation. It is disturbing to me as well.

  4. I hate to hi jack the topic, but Ben are you a King James Onlyist? Just curious.

    I will respond to this post later tonight.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  5. Forgive me if I am wrong but it seems that one could boil down the thrust of your argument into the following:

    The only reason woman did not have authority in the Church is not because Scripture forbids it but because the culture forbid it. Since, our culture allows for woman to be in leadership over men; this overflows into the Church.

    Also, I’d like to set the record straight. I am opposed to woman in Church positions of authority over men. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 I am not opposed to woman in ministry. I believe Scripture testifies that woman have a different role in ministry. Titus 2:2-4

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  6. Ben: I do not have scripture for you showing women were marginalized. Thankfully God and Christ equalized women whereas many, many cultures did not. There are some verses that point to that, like minnow says. I would throw in there that the Christians of that day were told to look after widows and orphans, indicating they were abandoned groups.

    Where I got my information was from reliable historians/commentators who have done the research to learn what culture was like back in Israel as a Roman-occupied country.

  7. What exactly are you suggesting by your comment about widows and orphans? I’m confused by this.

    Sola Fide,
    Reformedsteve

  8. steve: Scripture says in James that religion that is considered pure and faultless is to look after the widows and orphans. Likewise, in Acts the widows were fed by the daily distribution of food by the disciples. This would indicate to me that these were marginalized groups, with no one looking out for their interests. But they were to be looked after, showing that God cares about a society group that no one else does.

  9. I guess I’m having a hard time seeing the connection between woman in positions of authority within the Church and this talk about orphans and widows.

  10. It was kind of a sidetrack in response to Ben Maulis’ comment above, who asked for scriptural proof of the marginalization of women.

  11. Even so not all woman are widows. And not all children are orphans.

  12. I like the general tone of your post.

    I think however it is becoming one of those “Disect until death” issues.

    Women are people, people are what count.

  13. Steve–Philippa was responding to Ben’s question re: proof for women as a marginalized group.
    And, no the jist of what I am saying is not that culture determines. I am pointing out examples of women who held authority within the early church. The fact that there aren’t more is due inpart because they had some catching up to do not having been as well educated. they also were still restricted by some of the current laws and customs. I am also pointing out how translators of scripture chose word options based on their preconceived bias not the context of Paul’s original writing. You on the other hand have not refuted any of the examples I have provided nor argued against the point that to have any examples of women in ministry authority so early in Church history is shocking given the culture and law governing what women could and could not do/have/be.

  14. I am also pointing out how translators of scripture chose word options based on their preconceived bias not the context of Paul’s original writing.

    What translations are guilty of this? And what translation do you personally use to teach from?

    You on the other hand have not refuted any of the examples I have provided nor argued against the point that to have any examples of women in ministry authority so early in Church history is shocking given the culture and law governing what women could and could not do/have/be.

    I’m just unable to make an argument against such a broad scope. That is to say, I’m still trying to grasp what exactly you are trying to affirm. Are you are affirming woman in the Church. Or are you affirming woman in the Church as having authority?

    Women are people, people are what count.

    Women are people. Men are people. People were created by God. God is what counts.

    Sola Fide,
    Reformedsteve

  15. I am using the NIV at the moment. And the point is by chosing certain words (when others fit the context) translators change or influence meaning. The original text is the same no matter what the translation.

  16. steve, how do you count people like Priscilla, who along with Aquila took in Apollos and taught him for a while? Or Pheobe, who was an apostle?

  17. steve, how do you count people like Priscilla, who along with Aquila took in Apollos and taught him for a while? Or Pheobe, who was an apostle?

    I count people like Priscilla and Phoebe as godly christian woman who served the Church. Again, I am not saying that Scripture forbids a woman from service. I am saying that Scripture clearly states that woman are not to hold any office of authority within the Church (mainly pastor).

    I was only able to find Phoebe mentioned one time in Scripture. In Romans 16:1-3 Paul boast of Phoebe as a servant of the church. The Greek used for servant is diakonos. The word carries the meaning of someone who serves.
    Apostolos is the Greek for apostle and is never used to describe Phoebe.

    As with the translation criticisms that minnowspeaks spoke of. I look through about four English Bibles and only one had a different rendering for the word used by Paul to describe Phoebe. That was the Message,which is a paraphrase. It used the word representative instead of servant. The other three (NIV, KJV, ESV) used the word servant.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  18. diakonos also means deacon. The commentaries I’ve read generally believe Phoebe was more than just a servant, but a leader somehow.

    Personally, I have no problem with women being in positions of authority, but not the top authority. Without that we have problems with women missionaries (not allowed to teach men), no Sunday School or Youth Pastors as women (not possible). I think we can have women deacons, but I don’t agree with a woman senior pastor.

  19. I will add that this is a huge issue in a lot of churches, and I could be totally wrong in my interpretation and reading. A lot of my info I got from my senior pastor, who has made a study of women in the church, spending hundreds and hundreds of hours researching.

  20. Deacons were never meant to have authority. The church of Acts certainly did not understand deacons as more then servants. I do however understand that this has changed. I know in my particular denomination (Southern Baptist) we have invented something called the deacon board, which does go outside the scope which Scripture established.

    The source is not always a willed attempt to do evil but the neglect of understanding Biblical doctrine.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  21. How is it that we are seeming to go in and out of scripture as long as it seems to make out point? I mean Steve has brought up scripture that has said woman aren’t even allowed to talk in church. Now I think that Steve believes that woman can talk just not be a leader. I think that Philippa is saying that woman can be an authority just not the top authority.

    Now I happen to agree with Minnow on this topic (at least all that minnow has said so far).

    I totally agree with trying to fallow what the bible says and getting wisdom from it. But you need to use some logic along with. The question I ask is what examples can you bring up now adays that makes you guys think (sub minnow) that woman aren’t able to hold top authority roles? What mistakes have women made that Men haven’t also made as a top authority in leadership? Or what mistakes are more likely to be made by woman then by men?

    I know personally that woman have made a lot of big impacts in my life as a top authority.

    Striker

  22. Steve–Where do you get your understanding that deacons had no authority? Certainly scripture does not say this. And, what about apostles? Did they have authority? Paul certainly seems to. Striker–I think you will probably hear the “logic” that goes something like this–“God says women must not____. He has His reasons.” I agree with you that some very wonderful women are impacting our world for God. Sadly, most will say–“But they don’t have “authority” in the “Church”” forgetting that we, not the buildings or organizations we attend, are the Chruch.

  23. Diakonos does not mean servant – it means ‘one who serves’. There is a semantic, but important difference between these. If you wish to read status into the name then you also need to consider Paul, who adopts the term ‘doulos’ for himself. It means slave. Is Paul considered to be unfit to teach or lead or have authority because of his lowly status?
    Oh, and on the subject of Paul, read Colossians 1:23 where Paul says he is a minister. What’s the word he uses for minister. Surprise! It’s ‘diakonos’.
    Diakonos is variously translated as servant or minister. It does not carry any implications of lack of authority.

  24. Diakonos does not mean servant – it means ‘one who serves’. There is a semantic, but important difference between these.

    Diakonos is variously translated as servant or minister. It does not carry any implications of lack of authority.

    Which is it?

    Paul, who adopts the term ‘doulos’ for himself. It means slave. Is Paul considered to be unfit to teach or lead or have authority because of his lowly status?

    Slaves in the time of Paul were not the same as what we think of them now. They were indebted men that were paying off what they owed with labor. When Paul uses that term he is using it to create a word picture of his relationship to the LORD. In this case his labor is the teaching and building up of the Church.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  25. Diakonos does not mean servant – it means ‘one who serves’. There is a semantic, but important difference between these.

    Diakonos is variously translated as servant or minister. It does not carry any implications of lack of authority.

    Which is it?

    I don’t understand your question Steve. In the NT you will find it used for both ‘servant’, i.e. one who serves and ‘minister’. There is no contradiction here. It is not an either or. As with many Greek words they encompass a concept as much as a description. The English translation is, ultimately, inadequate to enfold all that the word means.
    My point, in case you missed it, is that Paul also refers to himself as ‘diakonos’. To suggest, therefore, that anyone else with the same ‘title’ is somehow lesser or has no authority is bogus.

    Slaves in the time of Paul were not the same as what we think of them now. They were indebted men that were paying off what they owed with labor. When Paul uses that term he is using it to create a word picture of his relationship to the LORD. In this case his labor is the teaching and building up of the Church.

    Actually what you say about slaves is only partly true. Some slaves were in this position but many, indeed most, were not. The life of a slave was a pretty pitiful one regardless of which category they were in. The point of the word picture is not some romanticised, lowly humility. It is a picture of a man who was held beneath contempt by many, was considered fair game to be beaten and stoned and who was not to be tolerated.
    The issue, therefore, is that Paul did not seek status or authority but recognised its true origin and was happy to acknowledge its presence in both men and women, something unheard of in that culture.

  26. I don’t understand your question Steve. In the NT you will find it used for both ’servant’, i.e. one who serves and ‘minister’. There is no contradiction here.

    The contradiction is not from Scripture but from you. You say in the first block quote that the word does not mean servant. And in the next block quote you say it is translated as servant or minister. The either or is not the meaning of the word the translators chose to use but if you think servant is a faithful translation of the Greek.

    Actually what you say about slaves is only partly true. Some slaves were in this position but many, indeed most, were not. The life of a slave was a pretty pitiful one regardless of which category they were in. The point of the word picture is not some romanticised, lowly humility. It is a picture of a man who was held beneath contempt by many, was considered fair game to be beaten and stoned and who was not to be tolerated.
    The issue, therefore, is that Paul did not seek status or authority but recognised its true origin and was happy to acknowledge its presence in both men and women, something unheard of in that culture.

    I agree with you on this. But to say Paul’s letters carry no authority is to say something totally different.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  27. Steve,
    ‘Servant’ and ‘minister’ are not incompatible co-translations nor are they mutually exclusive. You seem to take ‘servant’ to mean ‘one who has no authority’ and it is this understanding of the word servant that I am taking issue with. You cannot read this understanding into the word diakonos and I have given you an example of another way of using the same word which does, unarguably, have authority.

    Here’s a question for you – if we replaced all the instances of the word ‘servant’ with ‘minister’, as we would be justified in doing where ‘diakonos’ is used, where does your argument about women stand then?

    I did not say Paul’s letters had no authority. My question arose from what happens when we take a ‘label’ too literally as you are doing with ‘servant’.

  28. Here’s a question for you – if we replaced all the instances of the word ’servant’ with ‘minister’, as we would be justified in doing where ‘diakonos’ is used, where does your argument about women stand then?

    It doesn’t change anything because minsters are servants. I am at work now so I am unable to research my next question. But what is the Greek used for teacher and what is the Greek for elder. And more importantly what did those words mean to Paul? Again, I have no way at the moment to look them up.

  29. There is a lot of striving here. I think we will do better if we can agree that the scriptures are true. (For Steve, I use the Authorized Version because I understand English better than other languages.)

    I make it a point not to argue against the authority of the scriptures (in any language).

    A woman is not marginalized or persecuted when she obeys the commandments of God.

    A great deal of evidence has been shown here that women are honored in the scriptures. Both the explicit command of God’s word and the example of both godly men and Christ himself from the beginning was to honor women. This was not only true of the early church, but also of the patriarchs, of Moses, of David, and the prophets. They transgressed God’s commandments whenever they dishonored the woman. There was no such transgression that was excused.

    Who is it that wars with the woman? Who is wroth with her? With whom is there enmity between they and the woman?

    But if we do not hear the scriptures, and listen instead to persecution propaganda, we will be persuaded otherwise. This persuasion comes not from God.

    If we take our truth from an incomplete study of culture that is not from God’s word, we will be seduced into adultery. This is that Jezebel which seduces. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?”

  30. steve et al, I found this site: http://www.bible.com/bibleanswers_result.php?id=141, and it certainly sounds reasonable to me. Have a read and let me know what you think.

  31. Well said Ben.

  32. I think that the core of the argument is not what the author means by the text but what our culture says about the text.

    This blog is starting to get circular.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  33. Women are people. Men are people. People were created by God. God is what counts.

    Not a clue how you do that highlight thing but anyway.

    God is what counts – then why the discussion?

    Sure God counts but people are what count to God and to try push any people to the back is to push away those who count to God and, as a side issue – to argue over words, well, refer to 2 Timothy 2: 14!

  34. Steve–I finally addressed two of the texts you refered to in your first comment on the previous post.
    Thank you all for keeping this discussion civil.

  35. Sure God counts but people are what count to God and to try push any people to the back is to push away those who count to God

    Interesting and revealing. So, you think that by saying Scripture forbids a female pastor we are holding a woman back? That is very interesting. And very 21st century of you.

    to argue over words, well, refer to 2 Timothy 2: 14!

    You forgot the next verse 2 Timothy 2:15. Which reads, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

    We are having this debate because we all want to do good in the eyes of the Lord. Or at least this should be our reason.

  36. Steve not allowing Woman to be a leader or an authority in church is holding a woman back. I don’t know how you could argue the contrary. I guess the question is, should woman be held back from leadership and authority in the church? I think not.

    “The question I ask is what examples can you bring up now adays that makes you guys think (sub minnow) that woman aren’t able to hold top authority roles? What mistakes have women made that Men haven’t also made as a top authority in leadership? Or what mistakes are more likely to be made by woman then by men?”

    You still haven’t answered my questions from above.

    I would like to know how what churchindapub said was “very 21st century”?

  37. Nope Steve, not 21st century at all. Just plain biblical.

    It is wrong to impose what God has asked a group of people to do/not to do, in a specific situation, geographical etc. on anyone else.

    It may not meet with your or my interpretation of scripture but that is irrelevant. The important thing is “Are you doing what God wants of you in your situation?”

    If, God has raised up a women in a place to do certain things that we would interpret as being pastoral – surely then God is to be respected in His decision and leading?

    Unfortunately what happens is that people who do follow God’s leading like this, invariably try and impose it on others as one of those “Here’s the best thing to do to get God to respond” books, courses, dvd’s etc. and that is when the wheels come off.

    And no, I did not forget the next verse – it is, in my opinion, irrelevant to the discussion here.

  38. “The question I ask is what examples can you bring up now adays that makes you guys think (sub minnow) that woman aren’t able to hold top authority roles? What mistakes have women made that Men haven’t also made as a top authority in leadership? Or what mistakes are more likely to be made by woman then by men?”

    You still haven’t answered my questions from above.

    I did not answer it because it is irreverent. We are talking about what Scripture has to say and not what experience says. Scripture carries more weight then experience.

    I would like to know how what churchindapub said was “very 21st century”?

    Because historically the Church has never embraced female pastors. It is a very new “issue” within the Church.

  39. It is wrong to impose what God has asked a group of people to do/not to do, in a specific situation, geographical etc. on anyone else.

    That is why we need to embrace Sola Scriptura.

    It may not meet with your or my interpretation of scripture but that is irrelevant. The important thing is “Are you doing what God wants of you in your situation?”

    But will God ever do something opposite of what is written in his Word? The answer is no.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  40. Steve if you aren’t really willing to even think that Minnow might be right then why are you commenting?

    You really need to be willing to see God just as much now as you do in the scriptures. He isn’t a dead God or a God that has left it all up to us. God is very much around even now and to not take what he does now with any value is really limiting God. No where in the bible does it say that the scriptures are completely true without flaw. Humans make mistakes and it was HUMANS that put the bible together.

  41. No where in the bible does it say that the scriptures are completely true without flaw. Humans make mistakes and it was HUMANS that put the bible together.

    Luke 6:46-49 I can no longer debate this with you. I hope the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ finds you.

    Solus Chirsto,
    Reformedsteve

  42. Steve–
    You have not shown yourself to be Sola Scriptura. You have shown yourself to be Sola “my interpretation” of Scriptura since I have repeatedly pointed out where SCRIPTURE allows in the original language, which by the way is not English, both examples of women in leadership position and instruction for them as leaders. Striker has ask with good reason for you to try and explain away God’s obvious hand of approval on ministries that are currently lead by women. You have ignored his sincere request as well as mine. How do you dare to warp the word of God you claim to love so that you can hang on to the traditions of men?

  43. Hey I liked the verse you brought up Steve. I full heartedly agree :).

  44. Minnowspeaks,

    Striker doesn’t believe the Scriptures to be inerrant, which is heresy. Female leadership is the least of striker’s concern. I know this will not go over well, but I rather Striker see the grievous error she/he has done and repent then to be told “I never knew you” by the Lord Jesus Christ. And yes I continually judge myself; seldom do I find things that I like.

    Minnow please understand that I disagree with you because Scripture does. You have shown me nothing that even suggests what you affirm. You have on the other hand suggested that Scripture is mistranslated. However, the translation that you use (NIV) uses the words that you are against using.

    Now if you wish to be a leader. Then you will be a leader and you will skew the Word to fit your ends. But please do not be naive that other godly men and woman do not share in your distorted theology.

    In closing we will all answer to him that Judges all. I am prepared to give an account. I pray that you are too.

    May the grace of Jesus Christ be with you all,
    Reformedsteve

  45. After dealing with a vicious and lingering virus on my computer for 3 days, I’m back and I’m clean!

    Striker, I can’t agree with you that the bible is flawed. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says all scripture is God-breathed. IMHO God wouldn’t have inspired the bible and then left it all up to humans to mess up for the ages. Yes, there are typos in various editions, but the bible has too many scholars examining the originals to let a bad translation last for long. Look what happened to the first Living Bible.

    I humbly say I’ve changed my original position on women being allowed to be in ministry, just not the top dog. I now feel they can and should be in every part of ministry and leadership.

    Taking the 2 Timothy quote:

    When Paul wrote to Timothy, he gave him a similar directive. [as in Corinthians “do not allow a woman to speak”] It is important to understand the context in which the letter was written. In I Timothy, a careful reader becomes aware that many severe heresies and false teachings that were being dealt with. We can draw a conclusion here that many of the proponents and victims of the false teachings were women. Timothy pastored in Ephesus, and it has been suggested that goddess worship might have played a large part in Paul dealing so severely with the women. Ephesus was a primary center of the worship of Diana or Artemis. The heresies being taught might have suggested that women were authoritative over men and had higher access to spiritual knowledge than men did.

    In 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 Paul was not addressing women in ministry, but women in the congregation who were out of order.

    Ephesians 4:11-13 says “people”, not “men”. The original word is the same word as used in Genesis 5:2. “He called them [Adam and Eve] man.”

    The most clear example I know of in the bible of a woman leader is the judge, Deborah. God would not have raised her up to be the judge of the whole of Israel if He didn’t believe women couldn’t have that position. And look at 2 John – the elect lady who was in a pastoral capacity was probably Lydia.

    Look at all the incredible women we have writing and teaching: Corrie Ten Boom, Catherine Booth, Joni Eareckson Tada, and many, many, many more. If God did not bless their ministry, how do we explain their success and growth?

    Plus, look at Acts 2:17-21. It mentions daughters and handmaidens both prophesying and having His Spirit poured out on them.

    Finally, no one has yet addressed the odd situation of Sunday School teachers and women missionaries being women. If we stuck to Steve’s thinking, the only one teaching, ever, could only be men.

    Sorry for the rant. Shows you what 3 days without blogging does to a person! Maybe the 11th commandment should be, “Thou shalt not have blogitis.”

  46. Philippa,

    Yes, there are typos in various editions, but the bible has too many scholars examining the originals to let a bad translation last for long.

    I hate to be pedantic, but in this I have to be. We don’t have the originals! Most translated versions are based on the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (for the OT) which dates from about the 9th century or a bit earlier. The NT is of a similar vintage but has the advantage of access to some older manuscripts, but even then they are almost impossible to date with certainty.

    Also, you cannot use 2Timothy3:16-17 as support for inerrancy of scripture. The bulk of the NT scriptures, as we have them, didn’t even exist at the time of writing of this letter.

    Furthermore, ‘most’ denominations only agree with inerrancy of scripture in its original form – something we don’t have.

    Steve,
    Inerrancy is absolutely not a vital Christian doctrine – never has been and therefore it has nothing to do with heresy. What’s more, your verses are absolutely nothing to do with inerrancy (or otherwise) of scripture. But, in the spirit of your reference, show me Jesus’ words (which is what the verses refer to) which forbid women in positions of authority.

  47. JohnO – I guess the trouble I have with not believing God has protected the bible all these years is that it then is up to us to decide what’s real and what’s made up. That opens a huge can of worms.

    You mention stuff from the 9th century. What about the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus? They’re from the 3rd or 4th century, aren’t they? My understanding is also that the gospels and letters were absolutely treasured, and scrupulously copied for distribution. The early Christians, when copying, would copy one letter at a time, count the number of letters per line against the original, and then count the number of letters per page against the original. It was an exacting process to avoid mistakes.

  48. Yes there are earlier manuscripts, but few of our current translations have used them. That will change in due course as these older translations are made more readily accessible to the academic community and their findings filter out into the translator community.
    btw – It’s worth noting the number of ‘errors and omissions’ that are ‘corrected’ in the margins of the Codex Sinaiticus.

    I’m not saying the Bible hasn’t been ‘protected’ or treasured, just pointing out that to say we have the originals to work from is factually incorrect.

    Then there’s the issue of, say, the Qumran scrolls. There are some fairly major differences in some of the texts, so which are correct?

    However, I think the work of the Spirit plays a pretty major part in our understanding of scripture. How else would we be able to use inadequate translations instead of having to learn the original language?

    But then you have an entirely different can of worms to open up. If we ‘rely’ on the Spirit, what need is there for scripture? I believe Steve brought up a similar point. The answer, as always, is that we must hold these things in tension. Too much Spirit and we could read any old literature for inspiration; too much scriptural authority and we have bibliolatry.

  49. So JohnO, since you are not totally absent–What is your doctorate in, may I ask??
    JohnO and Philippa–Thank you both for your contributions to this discussion. One of the things I enjoy the most about blogging is how much I get to learn from people I would otherwise never have met.

  50. Me too! And I usually learn something.

  51. Well Steve I really would like to see the scripture to back your heresy accusation up.

    I have faith in Scripture and the people who have put it together. BUT I DON’T consider those people to be flawless. The only flawless person I know of is Jesus. It is funny the New Testament is written mostly by Paul and not nearly as much from the Apostles, especially after Jesus death. It might be the fact that the Apostles were Jews and the Jews were being persecuted by the “Christians” when the bible was being put together. The Bible wasn’t just put together in perfect order and with no conflict.

    When the bible seems to be contradicting itself then I think we need to look more into it and try to see what God is doing now, along with the scripture days and do as Minnow has been doing and go to the original meaning of the words.

    God speaks just as much now as He did in the Scriptures. Steve, you must be willing to see that.

    Keep in mind I do put MUCH faith in the Bible and I rely on it in many situations.

  52. Steve,
    Inerrancy is absolutely not a vital Christian doctrine – never has been and therefore it has nothing to do with heresy.

    1.) Scripture is the very Words of God. True or False
    2.) Scripture is inerrant. True or False

    If we answer True to the first question and false to the second question then we have a lying God. This is heresy. God does not lie. And need you be reminded that the Book of Hebrews deals with this in particular. Furthermore, you call Christ a liar when he says he will send the Holy Spirit to teach. And so when the Apostle’s pen the NT it was the promised Holy Spirit that breathed into existence those Scriptures. If the scriptures are the inventions of men then they have no value, but since we have the Holy Spirit to testify to their authorship they are valuable. The way in which someone views Scripture is in direct relation to how they view God’s character.

    Philippa, although we disagree on what Scripture means we do agree that what it says is inerrant and that it is Truth. Please understand that meaning is tied to the author. Ask what did Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit mean by this? Over what is the significance of this verse to me?

    God speaks just as much now as He did in the Scriptures. Steve, you must be willing to see that.

    How does God speak to you outside of Scripture?

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  53. The early Christians, when copying, would copy one letter at a time, count the number of letters per line against the original, and then count the number of letters per page against the original. It was an exacting process to avoid mistakes.

    I think you have early Christians confused with the Masoretes.

  54. The Bible NEVER says that it is completely flawless. At least the Apostles did not say that because the bible wasn’t put together at the time. Not until all of them died did we have the bible put together. So when ever it talks about the scriptures being the absolute word of God it is only talking about the old testament at best.

    Ok you have FAITH in the bible being “inerrant”. But don’t give me a hard time for having FAITH that God speaks to us out side the bible as much as he does inside.

    God speaks to me from movies I have watched and he speaks to me through friends that I have. God gives me compassion and tells me to use it. I hear God in worship and during prayer. God is constantly moving in me and guiding me on my path towards Him.

  55. The Bible NEVER says that it is completely flawless. At least the Apostles did not say that because the bible wasn’t put together at the time. Not until all of them died did we have the bible put together. So when ever it talks about the scriptures being the absolute word of God it is only talking about the old testament at best.

    Ok you have FAITH in the bible being “inerrant”. But don’t give me a hard time for having FAITH that God speaks to us out side the bible as much as he does inside.

    God speaks to me from movies I have watched and he speaks to me through friends that I have. God gives me compassion and tells me how to use it. I hear God in worship and during prayer. God is constantly moving in me and guiding me on my path towards Him.

  56. oops sorry for posting that twice minnow. I was having trouble

  57. God speaks to me from movies I have watched and he speaks to me through friends that I have. God gives me compassion and tells me to use it. I hear God in worship and during prayer. God is constantly moving in me and guiding me on my path towards Him.

    This scares me. Turn to the Scriptures. They are the very Words of God.

  58. Steve–I respectfully request that you do not use this blog to preach your version of salvation. Self-righteous hyperbole is inappropriate and if it continues I will discontinue comments.
    Nothing Striker said in the comment you quote is frightening. In fact many of the concepts are presented in scripture–good and Godly council, doing for the least of these, loving one another, hearing God in worship and prayer, abiding in the vine, and being use of God. Even being able to see Godly principles as they are presented in film would not contradict scripture. The Bible is not the fourth strand of the trinity and we are wise not to make any book, even the Bible, into an idol.

  59. Minnow,
    You are trying to create a strawman. I never said nor did I ever give the impression that the Bible is the fourth person of the Godhead. I did however stress that Scripture is the only instruction that we have from the Lord. In other words, I can only say something is the Lord’s will if it lines up with Scripture. The scary thing about what Striker said is that since Scripture is untrustworthy because it contains flaws, she/he has no way of telling if what she/he sees in a movie is really God’s will.
    It is not enough to believe in a Jesus. We have to believe in the Jesus. And the Jesus is found only in Scripture. The implications are there if you like them or not.

    I do agree that it is time for me to stop commenting. We have too many disagreements to have any sort of fellowship. It seems I am too much a fundamentalist for most of your tastes. All that I have to say has been said anyway.

    May the peace and grace that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ find you,

    Reformedsteve

  60. I believe that Jesus died and rose again for my sins. Based on your scriptures rules that is all I need to believe to be saved Steve.

    I just wrote something in argument of you again, LOL. But hey that ain’t going to help anything. I hope you have a good time with the scriptures and hope they truly do show you who God is (if they haven’t already).

    Thank you very much Minnow for the blog and the dialogue. I am quite busy most of the time but these things are GREAT when I have a chance to read and discuss. Nice talking with the rest of you as well (even you Steve). It all helped me dig deeper into what I truly believed in and push me with my faith.

    God Bless
    Striker

  61. I mean “believe in” at the end there “not believed in”. LOL dyslexia :).

  62. Minnow,
    I am far from studying for a doctorate. I am, as yet a humble undergraduate. That said, I will be staying on to do a Masters degree after this year. My dissertation is the final part of my Honours degree and is about eschatology, in particular, resurrection. That will also be the subject of my research Masters. In the UK we don’t ‘major’ in particular areas on a degree course, but my own areas of interest are systematic theology and Biblical interpretation. The two are remarkably interconnected, particularly in the light of Steve’s questions regarding authorship and authority of scripture.

  63. JohnO–
    Ahh–The word disertation threw me. I guess I should have known you hailed from across the pond but was not remembering. Good studying!
    Steve–
    This:
    “The way in which someone views Scripture is in direct relation to how they view God’s character.”
    This:
    “Striker doesn’t believe the Scriptures to be inerrant, which is heresy…but I rather Striker see the grievous error she/he has done and repent then to be told “I never knew you” by the Lord Jesus Christ.”
    Your unwillingness to part from your English translation of scripture as the only true WORD of God (having been shown equally plausible options from the Greek that do not show up in popular English translations and so are reject by you out of hand),
    and your seeming denial that God speaks through any other means than the Bible leaves me with the impression that you have placed your English translation of scripture on an equal par with the trinity.
    This:
    “Scripture is the only instruction that we have from the Lord.”
    and this:
    “I can only say something is the Lord’s will if it lines up with Scripture.”
    do not, for me, say the same thing.
    But for the sake of the argument I agree with your last statement. However, since we have no original documents and since we have found differences, however slight, between the transcriptions of the documents we do have, and since we know there is often more that one choice for a given word when translating and since it has been shown that some words have been added to the original Greek when translating the scripture into English it is fair to say error exists in the detail. This does not diminish the power of scripture (even in its various English translations) to instruct, encourage, admonish, or reveal truth. It also, for me, means that we should hold fast to the core and walk softly with the rest.
    I have more to say but it must wait for a later hour of the morning.

  64. JOhnO once commented that when I said Scripture I really meant the original manuscripts. He was correct and I thought this was assumed. If I were guilty of placing the English translations above the Greek then why would I bother posting links to a Greek Lexicon?

    JohnO:
    I too am studying in those two areas as well. I wish you the best of luck, I know how intense those studies can be. What seminary are you enrolled at? Do they have a website (I am after all an Atari baby)?

  65. Steve,
    The Church of Scotland doesn’t use seminary education, preferring the broader approach of a university education. I am currently studying at New College, part of Edinburgh University.
    Best wishes with your own studies.

  66. Southern Baptist Seminary at Louisville Ky, myself. I’m sure all of you are going “oh, well that explains alot”. I know I can come off like a raging fundamentalist; it’s the calvinist in me, 🙂

    Grace and peace,
    Reformedsteve

  67. Steve–I would not know the differences among Southern Baptist Seminary, Asbury Seminary, and Dallas Theological so so do not count on me writing you off based on where you have gotten or are getting your education.

    I give up. If the original Greek is your guide what is your argument? Why don’t the options I propose work as well as the options chosen by others.

  68. Because you don’t cite anything. You leave me/us taking your word for it. If you have a passion for teaching please cite your work, unless I/we assume what you say are your ideas. Just some advice please don’t take it as me being disrespectful.

    In Christ,
    Reformedsteve

  69. Steve,
    With all due respect, there have been plenty of examples. You have chosen to dismiss them because they don’t meet some personal criteria you seem to have set.
    For example, we have shown you that the word ‘diakonos’ is used by Paul to refer to ministers of the Gospel as well as deacons, for both men and women. Yet you have persistently refused to deal with this. The examples have been both scriptural and academic, so they are not merely personal opinion.
    Your ‘cite something I’m prepared to listen to’ argument is wearing thin and I suspect that your mind is closed to any opinion other than your own. You come across as legalistic and, quite frankly, sound like a Pharisee. There is little grace in your replies, especially when you label people as unsaved and needing to find the ‘truth’. Sorry to be so blunt, but I feel it needs to be said.

  70. JohnO,
    Why do I have to deal with something I agree with? I never said diakonos could not be translated as deacon or minister. I disagreed with the definition of these words (deacon and minister). A minister serves. A deacon serves. I am not trying to say that females can not serve in the church. I am however saying that Scripture never affirms woman in the role of apostle and/or elder. These two offices are the only offices that deal with authority. I understand that in English the word minister carries the sense of authority, however it is plainly clear that the Greek does not.

    As far as how I come off. I am sorry if you see Pharisaical behavior in me this is not my intent, but your feelings toward me are not what is important and they don’t change the facts. On a personal level I could say many things that would be hurtful, but it wouldn’t fill in any of the gaps that we seek to fill in on this issue.

    I am also sorry if my argument of citing work is getting old. I would challenge you to not cite your work for a finals paper and see if your instructor cares for your feelings of not citing work. The same rules apply. If you don’t or can’t cite your work how can I be certain of what you saying is true? Especially when dealing with a language that none of us know.

    As far as my comments regarding Striker. If Striker is a Christian as he/she claims then she/he should understand the reality of Hell and Judgment. The fact that a stranger cared enough to warn her/him should be flattering.
    I did not damn anyone, because I am not a Pharisee. I simply reminded Striker that Scripture is the very words of God; not the feel good movie of the year.

    I apologize Striker that I talked about you like you weren’t here in this post.

    I also could have sworn I said I was going to stop commenting, but it seems I can not help but get sucked back in.

    Peace and grace,
    Reformedsteve

  71. I also could have sworn I said I was going to stop commenting, but it seems I can not help but get sucked back in.

    Now there’s something I can agree with you on. 🙂

    Peace.

  72. Romans 16:7 Junias–outstanding among the apostles. Junias is a woman. Paul calls her an apostle.
    For sites that discuss the duties of a deacon check out:
    http://www.sundayschoolcourses.com/women/index.htm#_Toc500842185 and: http://www.catholic.com/library/Bishop_Priest_and_Deacon.asp

    Prove this: “Deacons were never meant to have authority. The church of Acts certainly did not understand deacons as more then servants.” Better yet define servant because you obviously reject my definition of servant even though I can back it up as well as the concept that deacons taught and had authority within the Church with the following site references:

    http://abandonimage.blogspot.com/2008/07/phoebe-deacon-of-early-church.html

    http://abandonimage.blogspot.com/2008/07/what-about-women-elders-and-deacons.html

    As far as what I said about I Timothy and I Corinthians passages here are some references.

    http://abandonimage.blogspot.com/2008/05/mistranslation-of-1-timothy-211-12.html

    http://abandonimage.blogspot.com/2008/05/forbidding-women-teachers-or-false.html

    http://abandonimage.blogspot.com/2008/05/forbidding-women-teachers-or-false.html

    As I said in the post in which I dealt with the I Corinthians passage here is a more thorough argument regarding a different interpretation and the problems within this passage: Walter C. Kaiser’s Correcting Caricatures: The Biblical Teaching on Women, or you can read the article by Dennis J. Preato at God’s Word To Women.

    I appologize for the disjointedness of this comment. I am weary of being accused of not providing evidence, and not caring about or being true to scripture when in truth it is the myopic interpretations of scripture I find offensive and choose not to support. But, before my rant turns ugly I will simply say I have posted all I plan to post in these comments. I will be writing other pieces and you are welcome to comment on those or continue your discussion here without me.

  73. I want to keep going and talk some more…… but ……. I will hold myself back……. GOD BLESS EVERYONE. 🙂

  74. So, since you are not going to comment anymore do you want me to respond? Or should I just shut up? I can almost sense JohnO saying, “please do”. lol, just kidding

  75. Steve, you said:

    1. It is wrong to impose what God has asked a group of people to do/not to do, in a specific situation, geographical etc. on anyone else.

    That is why we need to embrace Sola Scriptura.

    I do not see the relevance to my statement here.
    Many people through the ages have done things that are not in scripture. Substantiation for what they did can be found, but more specific instruction (EG. Salvation Army, Southern Baptists, Home Church, Tent Crusades) are not to be found in scripture.

    So, where did the people who started these things get inspiration from?
    So, yes, one can get guidance outside of the scripture.

    In fact , if you are truly Sola Scriptura – why are you studying at a seminary? Where is the scripture for such an institution in the first place, let alone your instruction to study?

    And then of course there is the race issue which Southern Baptists are/were notorious for? (and I may be wrong here as I am from South Africa and not 100% certain of this)

    2. But will God ever do something opposite of what is written in his Word? The answer is no.

    Are you serious? Jeremiah, Paul, Hosea….?

  76. Hi everyone. My last post on this topic, especially since the author has left!

    May I humbly suggest that we leave this one alone? We know there are different denominations and different interpretations of what scripture says. There are also different degrees of knowledge and study, and different ages of maturity in Christians.

    May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6

    In the spirit of unity, let’s realize what we do agree on. We agree that God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, and that through him we are reconciled to Him through God’s grace alone. Our mission in life is to love God and love others. We cannot know what’s in another’s heart, and God alone will be the judge of our attitudes, behaviours and works.

    Poking at each other in this post is getting a little old.

    And finally, from the Tongue In Cheek file:

    But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Titus 3:9

    Blessings

    P.S. minnow, can’t wait for your next topic! 🙂


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