Should Women Preach?

After God created man, He said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an HELP meet (suitable) for him" (Gen. 2:18). Since none of the animals fitted this need, God created woman out of a rib of man. The very purpose of woman's creation was to provide a HELP for the man. But on the first occasion when man had a severe trial and needed HELP, the woman was NOT A HELP. Genesis 3:1-16 shows that the woman allowed the serpent (Satan) to DECEIVE her into disobeying her Creator. Not only that, but she then tempted her husband into DISOBEYING God also. He cut himself off from God's blessings by FOLLOWING his wife. The woman had taken the INITIATIVE. She had tried to LEAD the man. Yet we notice in the Bible that blessings were given from father to son (Gen. 49). Geneologies were also given from father to son. The priesthood was male (Ex. 29:9). The political leaders of the nation were all kings -- never a queen. The overwhelming majority of heroes of the Bible were men. What then does the Bible teach about a woman's role? Should women preach?

1. "Let a woman learn in SILENCE with all SUBMISSION. And I DO NOT PERMIT A WOMAN TO TEACH or to HAVE AUTHORITY OVER A MAN, but to be in SILENCE" (1 Tim. 2:11-12).

2. "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, THE HEAD OF WOMAN IS MAN, and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor. 11:3).

3. "For God is not the author of CONFUSION but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. Let your WOMEN KEEP SILENT in the churches, for they are NOT permitted to SPEAK; but they are to be SUBMISSIVE, as the law also says. ("thy desire shall be [subject to] thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" -- Gen. 3:16, etc.). And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home (or another man or woman if they're not married); for IT IS SHAMEFUL FOR WOMEN TO SPEAK IN CHURCH. What, Came the Word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only? If anyone thinks he is a PROPHET or SPIRITUAL, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the LORD'S COMMANDMENT. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized" (1 Cor. 14:33-38).

4. Why? Because some women CONTRADICT men, ORDER men around, DEMAND ANSWERS from men or have a DEMANDING TONE, INTERRUPT men and TALK AT THE SAME TIME AS men, try to TEACH men, take the LEAD, etcetera. Today women in general ORDER men around by saying, "Come here," or "Tell me this." Paul said this is SHAMEFUL and CONFUSION. Was Paul merely giving his own human opinion? No. "For I [Paul] would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is NOT ACCORDING TO MAN. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:11). Peter states that Paul's writings are "SCRIPTURE" (2 Pet. 3:15-16). Solomon agreed with Paul: Proverbs 21:9 "It is better to live in a corner of a roof Than in a house shared with a CONTENTIOUS woman" (Pr. 21:9; 25:24). "A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a CONTENTIOUS woman are alike" (Pr. 27:15).

5. Women did pray and prophesy somewhere -- most likely in a private setting informally (1 Cor. 11:5). Nothing is said about in a church. They did sing (Ex. 15:20-21), and say "Amen" (Neh. 8:6) in gatherings or services. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary told the disciples Jesus was alive. The angel ORDERED both women to tell the disciples (Mark 16:9-11; Matt. 28:9). Thus we know it is okay for women to speak to men about spiritual matters. But they were not 1.) in a church service 2.) over men in authority or 3.) arguing with men, etc.

6. There were no women preachers in the Bible. They weren't allowed to lead or dominate men. In Romans 16:1-2 we read that Phoebe was a "diakonos" which has several possible meanings: "to run on errands." "an attendant," "a waiter (at table or in other menial duties)" "spec. a Chr. teacher and pastor," "minister, servant." Since Paul eliminated the pastor-teacher option in 1 Cor. 14:33-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11-12, Phoebe was probably a waitress or attendant of some kind. Romans 16:6 does not contain the phrase "teaching among you" in any good translation. William J. Morford's "translation" is an interpretation. Romans 16:7 says, "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me." Was Junia a female apostle? No. The phrase translated "of note among the apostles" (KJV) can be read two ways, as illustrated by the two readings in the NIV; "outstanding among" (NIV main text) or "esteemed by" (NIV footnote). Furthermore, when the New Testament was composed, Greek was normally written without accents. If written with an acute accent on the penultimate syllable (?ουν?αν), the name is "Junia" (a woman's name); if with a circumflex accent on the final syllable (?ουνι?ν), it is "Junias" (a man's name). No conclusion can be drawn from the masculine gender of the associated words in the same verse, since they apply also to the male Andronicus. Accordingly, even if Junia(s) is a woman, the rules of Greek grammar put those words in the masculine form. The overwhelming choice of the male form (?ουνι?ν), when in the 9th century accents were added in manuscripts, may have been influenced by the grammatical gender of these words. The earliest copies of the Greek texts for Romans 16:7 are majuscules (capital letters). There are no accent marks in them. The importance of this is that the gender of the name depends on the accentuation.

Are Prophetesses Like Deborah An Exception?

1. "And SHE (Deborah) sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. And Barak said unto HER, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And SHE said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a WOMAN. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh (Judges 4:6-9). Notice that Deborah DIDN'T ORDER Barak. She ASKED A QUESTION. She DIDN'T LEAD him, she went with him.

Joel foretold that women would prophesy(Joel 2:28, 29), and Peter said the Lord would "pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…Even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18). Acts 21:8-9 says that Philip the evangelist "had four unmarried daughters who prophesied."

2. Prophetesses like Deborah are NOT AN EXCEPTION to Paul's advice. "What, Came the Word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only? If anyone thinks he is a PROPHET or SPIRITUAL, let him recognize that the things which I write to you (women silent and submissive in church) are the LORD'S COMMANDMENT. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is NOT RECOGNIZED" (1 Cor. 14:36-38).

3. In 1 Cor. 11:5 we read that "every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her HEAD UNCOVERED dishonoreth her head, for that is even all one as if she were shaved. For if the woman be NOT COVERED, let her also be shorn; but if it be a shame for a woman to be shaved or shorn, let her be COVERED." Therefore, Deborah and Anna probably wore a prayer shawl when they PROPHESIED. If women want to pray and prophesy, should they wear a SHAWL on their head? Paul had "no such custom" for the churches as a whole (1 Cor. 11:16). There is no command in the Old Testment and we are not to "add to or subract from" the Scriptures(Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Matt. 5:17; John 5:30; John 7:16). This problem was unique to Corinth. Single women left their hair uncovered to attract a husband. It is her glory and flirtatious before marriage. It was covered in public after marriage with a hood. No veil over face. Unlike the Jewish men who covered their heads with a kippah and tallit when praying, Paul said "we have no such custom" (1 Cor. 11:16).

Should Older Women Teach Younger Women And Children?

"The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, TEACHERS of good things— that they admonish the YOUNG WOMEN to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, OBEDIENT TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS, that the word of God may not be blasphemed" (Titus 2:3-5).

Can Women Teach Men Who Ask For, or Want, Their Instruction?

Women can teach men if men voluntarily choose to be taught by them. "This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When AQUILA AND PRISCILLA heard him, THEY took him aside and EXPLAINED to him the way of God more accurately" (Acts 18:25-26).

Huldah the prophetess "answered them, THUS SAITH THE LORD God of Israel, Tell ye the man (King Josiah) that sent you to me, THUS SAITH THE LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place" (2 Chr. 34:22-24). Huldah is not giving an order to men, she is telling men what God said.

Why Shouldn't Women Teach Men?

1. "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For ADAM WAS FIRST FORMED, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but THE WOMAN BEING DECEIVED WAS IN THE TRANSGRESSION". (1 Tim. 2:11-14). Is Paul implying here that women are more gullible?

2. "Wives, likewise, be SUBMISSIVE to your own husbands... as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the WEAKER VESSEL, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Pet. 3:6-7).

3. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and THE HEAD OF THE WOMAN IS THE MAN; and the head of Christ is God.... For the man is not of the woman: but THE WOMAN OF THE MAN. Neither was the man created for the woman; but THE WOMAN FOR THE MAN" (1 Cor. 11:3-9).

4."Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [to rule implied by Gen. 4:7] shall be (SUBJECT -- Wycliffe, Geneva) to thy husband, and HE SHALL RULE OVER THEE" (Gen. 3:16).

5. "Neither male nor female in Christ" (Gal. 3:28) is in context of salvation, not gender roles; and "In the first century women were not as educated as today" may be true, but is nowhere given as the reason for the prohibitions.

Should Women Obey Men?

To the extent men obey God and teach the Bible correctly, women should obey men (husbands, fathers, ministers). No more, no less.

Were Women Allowed to Speak in Other Public Forums?

No long explanation was needed. Hellenistic culture just happened to be consistent with God’s teaching at this point. First, in Jewish synagogues women were NOT ALLOWED to speak publicly, and many of the early believers came from such a background. Second, the Greek biographer, Plutarch, wrote that the voice of modest women ought to be KEPT FROM the public, and that they should feel as much shame over being heard as over being stripped (Fritz Reinecker, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, 438). Third, throughout the pagan world, women were generally regarded as INFERIOR to men (Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology, 774). Fourth, it is a fact that women were NOT ALLOWED to speak at all in the gatherings of the secular Greek city-state ekklesia (Piper and Gruden, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 153). This accounts for why no lengthy explanations were necessary to support these instructions. This was not a new practice.

Given this historical context, if Paul had actually intended for women to be allowed to speak in church, he probably would have had to write extensively to convince his readers of such an ABNORMAL practice. However, no such argument can be found in the New Testament. Instead, there is the command for silence; a command not based on the culture of Paul’s day, but upon the universal practice of all the churches, upon the general tenor of the Hebrew Scriptures (the “Law,” v 34), and upon the “Lord’s command” (14:37). Contrary to his culture, Paul certainly did assert an equality of the sexes (Ga 3:28), but he still maintained the God-ordained subordination of wives to their husbands (1 Corinthians 11, 1 Corinthians 14, Ep 5:22, Col 3:18, 1 Ti 2:11-13). This family order is to be upheld with the realm of the church meeting also. It is a matter of function and order, not equality.

Silence is an act of submission. “They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission” (14:34). For a woman to teach, judge a prophecy or dispute with a teacher would clearly not be speaking from a position of submission. Indeed, such is expressly prohibited in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. However, the inspired text goes even further in 1 Corinthians 14, and associates any public speaking by a woman in a church meeting as an non-submissive activity. Head coverings, in 1 Corinthians 11, are said to be a mere “SIGN” of submission to authority. Silence, in 1 Corinthians 14, is said to be an ACT of submission.

Female Submission in the Old Testament

Submission, not silence, is an Old Testament principle. An appeal is made for the women to be submissive “as the Law says” (14:34). The word “Law” can refer specifically to Mosaic legislation. It can also refer to the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures. It may be used either way here. The silence of women is not specifically taught by the Law. However, as is clear from the tenor of the Hebrew Scriptures, starting with creation, women are to be submissive to their husbands. MEN were the leaders in both Hebrew society and religion (e.g., ONLY MEN could be priests, the vast majority of the prophets were MALE, all the writing prophets were MEN, in the few historical examples where women did prophesy to men they did so in a more private setting, the political leaders were ALL MEN, families were PATRIARCHAL, vows made by a wife could be revoked by her HUSBAND, Deborah rebuked Barak for wanting a woman to help him lead, etc.). Thus, the submission of the women, as expressed in 1 Corinthians 14 by their silence, is consistent with God’s truth revealed throughout the Old Testament.

In 1 Corinthians 14:35, what if the woman is not married or has an unbelieving husband? First, it must be noted that there is no Greek word for “husband.” “Husband” (in 1 Corinthians 14:35) translates andras, and fundamentally just means “man.” Here it most probably does refer to a woman’s husband. However, it could also refer to whatever man was in her life (brother, father, husband, uncle, or an elder). Either way, married or not, a woman is to remain silent in 1 Corinthians 14 gatherings.

The Forbidden Fruit

The forbidden fruit was a test of obedience. All that Adam and Eve knew was good. But once they ate from the forbidden fruit, they entered into the knowledge of evil also – the knowledge of non-submission to God’s revealed will. Mankind fell into sin, spiritual blindness, and death, because a woman TALKED to a serpent in the midst of the garden while a man remained SILENT and DEFERRED to the woman. SHE LED, he followed. Women are natural talkers. On the whole, studies have shown that women are more articulate than men, and women say twice as many words as men. What better way to test women’s submission to God in the "garden of God" – which is the gathered assembly, the inner sanctuary – than to place in the midst of this "garden" the tree of speaking and non-speaking, and to say, 'Women shall NOT SPEAK, but shall learn in SILENCE, deferring to their men; for it is shameful for women to speak in the gathered assembly.' But then along comes the subtle suggestion, "Yea hath God said, 'Women shall not speak in the midst of the garden, but they shall learn in silence and submission, lest they be brought to shame?' They shall not be brought to shame, for in the day the women speak, their mouths shall be opened and they shall be as men, not being deprived of their right to speak the Word of God -- and lead men. If anyone is a prophet or spiritual, then let him acknowledge that women’s silence is not the commandment of the Lord, but is only a short-term accommodation to the shameful, female-oppressed, male-dominated culture of ancient times."

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