Theses on Women in the Church – Part Three

Arnold J. Voigt


 ▬ Women “In Authority” in the Old Testament  ▬

Genesis 21:12: But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the lad and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your descendants be named.”

Genesis 25:23: And God said to her [Rebekah], “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples, born of you, shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.”  Genesis 27:6-10: Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me game, and prepare for me savory food, that I may eat it, and bless you before I die …'”

Exodus 1:20: So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and grew very strong.

Exodus 15:20: Then Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand … and Miriam sang to them …

Exodus 38:8: … the ministering women who ministered at the door of the tent of meeting.

Numbers 12:1-2: Miriam and Aaron … said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses?  Has he not spoken through us also?

Judges 4:4-6: Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.  She used to sit under the palm of Deborah … and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.  She sent and summoned Barak … and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you …”

Judges 4:9, 17-22, 5:24-27: … for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman … Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite …

Judges 13:23-24: And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering … or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.”

1 Samuel 2:1-10: Hannah prays aloud in the public worship of the ancient people of God and publicly proclaims God’s salvation.

2 Samuel 20:14-22: … the woman went to all the people in her wisdom …

Psalm 68:11: … great is the host of the maidens who bring glad tidings.

Nehemiah 6:14: Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets …

Esther  8:5-8, 9:29-32: Esther instructs the king as to what should be done with regard to the Jews, and acts in the name of the king.

Isaiah 8:3: And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son.

Joel 2:28: … your sons and your daughters shall prophesy …

Micah 6:4: For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

Matthew 1:20: Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus …

Luke 1:59-60: And they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so! He shall be called John.”


◆ “2. In private and public worship in the Old Testament the participation of women went beyond the hearing and obeying of the law.  They were free to approach God in prayer just as the men (Hannah, 1 Sam.1:10; Rebekah, Gen. 25:22; Rachel, Gen. 30:6, 22).  God responded to their prayers (Gen. 25:23; 30:6, 22) and appeared to them (Gen. 16:7-14; Judges 13:3).  They were also expected to take an independent part in bringing sacrifices and gifts before God (Lev. 12:6; 15:29).  Women appear to have had certain circumscribed roles in the public worship, too.  For instance, Hannah approached the sanctuary (1 Samuel 1).  Women ministered at the door to the tent of meeting (Ex.38:8), and while it is not clear what form this service took, it did play some part in the worship.  Women also participated in the great choirs and processionals of the temple (Ps. 65:25; 1 Chron. 25:5-7; Neh. 7:67).  Although they were not permitted to serve as priests, this is never interpreted to mean that they were less than full members of the worshiping community” (CTCR-WIC, 6).

Thesis 21: In the Scriptures we find examples of God’s approval and utilization of woman who made use of “authority” to instruct and lead men and the worshiping community; their office and work is no less prophetic and/or authoritative than if they had been male:

(A) God orders Abraham to listen to Sarah and do what she says in the matter of the divine plan.

(B) Rebekah carries out the will of the Lord which her husband threatens to undermine.

(C) The insubordination of the midwives to Pharaoh was pleasing to God.

(D) Miriam leads the Old Testament community of faith in the worship of God.

(E) Women had cultic functions in the tent of meeting.

(F) Deborah is one through whom God spoke, and she is seen as on a par with Moses and Aaron.

(G) Deborah outlines the will of God to Barak and Israel; she “has authority” over all the                  people of Israel; there is no indication Yahweh has any reservations about her role;

(H) God uses Jael to deliver his people.

(I)  Manoah’s wife instructs her husband in the will of the Lord

(cf. “Let women ask husbands at home” [1 Corinthians 14:35]).

(J) Hannah publicly proclaims God’s salvation in the Tabernacle.

(K) God uses an unnamed wise woman to deliver her city from siege.

(L) Women are messengers of God’s good tidings (a fact the RSV translation obscures).

(M) Noadiah is listed as a woman prophet.

(N) Esther, as queen, is in position of authority regarding the Jews.

(O) Isaiah’s wife is termed a prophetess.

(P) Joel does not hesitate to use the technical verb “prophesy” in referring to women.

(Q) Miriam in Micah 6:4 is listed equally with two men as leaders of the people.

(R) Joseph is instructed by the angel to agree with instructions already given to his wife.

(S) Elizabeth assumed authority over men and tradition by naming John.

(T) Two Old Testament books (Ruth and Esther) are named after women.

2 Kings 22:14- 20 (cf. 2 Chronicles 34:22-28): So Hilkiah the priest … went to Huldah the prophetess .. . and they talked with her.  And she said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the Lord …'”  And they brought back word to the King.

◆ “… but technically a prophet is one through whom God speaks … They sought out Huldah who was well-known for her commitment to God and for her ability to speak for God.  She told Josiah very clearly and specifically God’s message” (CTCR-WIC, 5-6).

Thesis 22: God uses women as fully as men to be bearers of his authoritative Word.

(A) Huldah is appointed by God.

(B) Huldah is submissive to her Lord, to whom she listens, and for whom she speaks.

(C) Huldah teaches: clarifies, imparts knowledge, points the direction.

(D) Huldah publicly instructs and teaches the men even when male prophets such as Isaiah were available.

(E) The text does not indicate that God forbids or frowns on males listening to a woman interpret the Word of God.

(F) The text does not indicate that seeking divine revelation from and through a woman was forbidden or unusual or strange.

(G) Huldah is not “silent” and in a submissive posture to men.

(H)  Huldah is the first person in biblical history to authenticate and declare a written portion of Scripture holy.

(I) The text does not censor or condemn Huldah for not submitting to an order of creation hierarchy or exercising spiritual authority over men.

(J) This verse clearly speaks to the interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-12: it is much “clearer” than the 1 Timothy passage, which uses a hapex legomena (αυθεντειν), about which there are diverse interpretations.  The Huldah passage is an unambiguous example which helps understand the “dark” passage of 1 Timothy.

◆ “They sought out Huldah who was well-known for her commitment to God and for her ability to speak for God.  She told Josiah very clearly and specifically God’s message” (CTCR-WIC, 6).

Thesis 23: The sacred record includes these glimpses of God choosing women and directing them to act in ways contrary to any role of “keeping silent” or “acting in a subordinate manner” to a prior divine mandate.

(A) The cultural milieu of God’s ancient people was patriarchal, which meant that men ruled, dominated, treated women as objects (Genesis 29:18-20, Ruth 4:5, 10), employed a double standard (Numbers 5:11-31), permitted women to degrade themselves and their own sex (Genesis 16:1-6), and eventually institutionalized this in temple (the court of the women was many steps lower than the court of the men) and synagogue (a woman was not counted as a member of the synagogue congregation).  The Old Testament history and life style bears out the sinfulness of humanity.

(B) Out of this there emerged in Judaism an open scorn of women (“Happy is he whose children are males, and woe to him whose children are females”) and restrictive rules about public appearances and family life.

(C) The grace is that though this was the cultural prison in which women found themselves, God was not bound by this prison; he called women forth into faithful service; though women were “bound” in terms of culture, God did not “bind” them in terms of religious devotion and participation (Deuteronomy 21:10-14; 22:13; 22:28).

(D) There is no inference that these women are just exceptions to a general rule, used where men are unavailable or irresponsible.

(E) These examples provide important data which form a basis for and help clarify the “darker passages” of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, 14:33-36, and 1 Timothy 2:11-15, regarding God’s intended purpose for the use of individuals regardless of gender.

(F) The CTCR does not draw out clear conclusions from its own statements, such as the statement about Hulda.

◆ “To be sure, this spiritual equality does not preclude a distinction in identities between man and woman … Men and women are equal in having the same relationship to God and to nature” (CTCR-WIC, 20).

(G) Is it “spiritual equality” or is it “equal in having the same relationship to God and to nature [emphasis added]”?  Or is it both?  The Old Testament does not limit parity to “spiritual equality,” parity only before God; but in the examples of Miriam and Deborah and others there is parity also in the created and civic arenas.

(H) It seems strangely inconsistent that God would establish an “order of creation” in which women are to be submissive and subordinate and yet he himself calls forth women into leadership roles.

(I) God is not bound by human understanding of “orders” or gender roles.

(J) God is free to choose through whom he will address his people.

Thesis 24: The fact that there are no female priests in the Old Testament is an example of God condescending to the human condition.

(A) Women in the Old Testament were judges (Judges 4:4), queens (2 Kings 11:3), wise women who had influence over males (Judges 5:28-30, 2 Samuel 14:2ff, and 20:16ff) and were in charge of businesses and households (Proverbs 31).

(B) The one function disallowed women was the performance of sacrificial acts.  Why?

(C) The Old Testament never specifically forbids women’s participation in the performance of sacrificial rituals.

(D) The surrounding cults emphasized goddess worship which included fertility and prostitution rituals.  In order to keep Israel distinct and set apart (“holy”), the sexual motif was removed deliberately from the ritual worship of the people of Yahweh.

(E) Also, according to Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:10-17, life “was in the blood.”  A woman menstruating was considered unclean; she could therefore not represent the people to God (cf. IDB, 4: 866).


▬  Jesus and Women  ▬

Thesis 25:  Jesus is more than a culturally conditioned first century Jew.  He is God-incarnate.  As such he reveals his Father’s purposes not just in sayings, teachings, and preaching; his Father’s purposes are also revealed in Jesus’ life style and actions and deeds.

Thesis 26: Jesus repeatedly demonstrates in the face of Jewish customs and Laws, which “bound people” into roles and structures, that the Gospel does have social implications: the Gospel, the love and mercy of Christ for sinners, changes people who change even social interactions and relationships and structures this side of eternity.  Jesus refused to acquiesce to cultural norms which kept dispossessed women in subordinate roles.  God’s ordering, reflected in Jesus’ ministry, contradicts our human constructions.  Note the following:

(A)  “But if you are not satisfied with her, you shall let her go free and not sell her for money” (Deuteronomy 21:14).

✠  Matthew 5:28: Jesus allows for no double standard.

(B)  “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days … all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness … Whoever touches these things shall be unclean and shall wash his clothes, and bathe with water, and be unclean until the evening … and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf before the Lord for her unclean discharge” (Leviticus 15:25-30).

✠ Matthew 9:20-21, Mark 5:25ff, Luke 8:40-48: Jesus allows a ritually unclean woman to touch him, thus rendering him ritually unclean, yet without condemnation, and neither does Jesus tell the woman to go to the priest.

(C) Talmud, Gittin 9:10: Rabbi Akiba said a man could divorce his wife if he found a woman more beautiful than she.  The school of Hillel said a man can divorce if his wife spoils his cooking.

✠ Matthew 5:32, 23-28, Mark 10: Jesus redefines adultery, marriage, and the dignity of women.

(D)  Jesus’ following of women was “an unprecedented happening in the history of that time … Jesus knowingly overthrew custom when he allowed women to follow him …” (Jeremias, 376).

✠ Mark 15:40-41, Luke 8:1-3: There were women disciples around Jesus: Peter, James, and John left fishing boats to follow Jesus, and Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Susanna and “many others” left assigned roles and tasks in the home to travel about as disciples with Jesus.

(E) Talmud, Sotah 3:4: Rabbi Eliezar expresses the opinion that “whoever teaches his daughter Torah teaches her lasciviousness.”

✠ Luke 10:38-42: While Martha does the “feminine” task, Mary behaves as a disciple, listening to the Word, sitting at the Lord’s feet (cf. Acts 22:3: Paul “at the feet of Gamaliel”) and is the one receiving Jesus’ affirmation as having chosen the better part.

(F) “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” (Luke 11:27).

✠ Luke 11:28: Jesus challenges the common assumption that bearing children (the womb as the unique gift of the woman) was the sign of fulfillment and blessedness in a woman’s life.  “New creation by the Word, not procreation by the womb, is the fulfillment of female personhood” (Morrison, 12).

✠ Cf. also Matthew 13:33; Luke 7:11-17; 7:36-50; 8:1-3; 10:38-42; 13:10-17; 15:8-10; 18:1-8; 23:55-56; 24:1-11; Mark 5:25-34; 14:3-9; 15:40-41; John 4:7ff.

(G) Talmud, Beracloth 24a: Rabbinic tradition taught that a woman’s vice was sexual enticement, so men avoided speaking with and to women in public.

✠ John 4: Against all custom, Jewish, patriarchal, moral, Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman. “His conversation … shows his willingness to dismiss conventions of men which stand in opposition to his purposes” (CTCR-WIC, 7).

(H) “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10).

✠ John 8:1ff: When men betrayed their prejudices by laying hold only of the woman, Jesus confronted them with their sin also.

(I) Talmud, Kiddushin, 1:11: “A man should not teach his son a trade which brings him into association with women.”

✠ John 12:1-8: Martha serves the table at which the guest, Jesus, sits, a task that custom reserves only for males, whether slave or free.

(J) Talmud, Shabbath, 152a states that a woman is “light-minded” (unreliable) and describes woman as being a “pitcher of filth with its mouth full of blood,” and women therefore were not acceptable as witnesses in a court of law.

✠ Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-11, John 20:1-2, 11-18: Women were the original witnesses to the angel’s message at the open tomb.

(K) Following its Lord, should not, then, the Body of Christ display that reality which is the “new creation” of God?

◆ ”However, the Lord’s conversation with this woman shows how He disregards these conventions of society in order to communicate about Himself and the Kingdom” (CTCR-WIC, 7).

(L) Should not the Body of Christ, then, also “disregard those conventions of society” which infect the church and subordinate women?


Thesis 27: The inspired authors of the Gospel also demonstrate in unique ways the parity of females and males in Jesus’ mind and that Jesus in his ministry touched and empowered women as fully as men.  Note how St. Luke pairs accounts of Jesus’ interaction with and ministry to males and females:

(A) An angel speaks to Zechariah (1:5-20) and to Mary (1:26-38).

(B) Mary sings a song (1:46-55) and so does Zechariah (1:68-79).

(C) Simeon and Anna receive Jesus in the temple (2:25-38).

(D) The woman of Zarephath and Naaman the leper are set forth as examples of faith (4:24-27).

(E) The parable of the mending of the garment (from the life experience of women) is balanced with the parable of making wine (from the experience of men) (5:36-39).

(F) The raising of the dead: one young man (7:11-17) and one young woman (8:49-56).

(G) Two texts demonstrate Jesus’ concern for sinners in the face of the harsh rejection of the self-righteous.  The first is the account of the women in the house of Simon (7:36-50).  The second is the parable of the publican and the Pharisee (18:9-14).  In one case the rejected person is a woman and in the other case it is a man.

(H) The band of disciples includes men and women (8:1-3).  They all have names.

(I) Two people are told, “Your faith has saved you.”  These are the woman with the flow of blood (8:43-48) and the blind man (18:35-42).

(J) The gospel records two clear cases where Jesus becomes defiled with midras (contact) uncleanness: he allows the woman with the issue of blood to touch him (8:43-48) and he enters the house and spends the night with a tax collector (19:1-10).

(K) Martha (10:41-42) and the ruler (18:22) each lack one thing.

(L) Two parables on assurance of answer to prayer (the friend at midnight [11:5-8] and the unjust judge and the widow [18:1-8]).  The main character in the first is a man, and in the second a woman takes center stage.

(M) The poem on the men of Ninevah and the queen of the South (11:29-32).

(N) A concern for justice for men servants and women servants (12:45-46) in the interpretation of the parable of the master who comes home from the marriage feast.

(O) Divisions in one house include divisions between men and divisions between women (12:51-53).

(P) Two healings on the Sabbath occur in the center of the travel narrative.  One is of a woman (13:10-16) and the other of a man (14:1-6).  The example of the ox and the ass occurs in each.

(Q) The “daughter of Abraham” (13:16) and the “son of Abraham” (19:9).

(R) Two brief parables appear in 13:18-21.  One is from the life experience of men (the planting of a mustard seed) and the other from the world of women (the leaven in the meal).

(S) Disciples of Jesus must demonstrate loyalty to him above loyalty to male and female members of the family (14:26-27).

(T) The double parables of the lost sheep (15:4-7) and the lost coin (15:8-10).

(U) The day of the Son of Man: two men in one bed (17:34) and two women grinding (17:35).

(V) In debate with the Sadducees Jesus affirms equality between men and women in the resurrection (20:27-36).

(W) A poor woman is made the hero of Jesus’ observations of gifts given to the treasury.  The grammar allows the conclusion that the rich mentioned are men and women.  However the Middle Eastern cultural assumption is that they were men (21:1-4).

(X) Strangers who offer aid and support at the cross include Simon of Cyrene (23:26) and the women of Jerusalem (23:27).

(Y) His acquaintances, men and women, who followed him from Galilee, stand at a distance watching the crucifixion.  The women are specifically mentioned (23:49).

(Z) Those present at his burial include Joseph of Arimathea and the women (23:50-56).

(AA) The empty tomb stories and the resurrection appearances are focused on the women and the disciples.  The initial witness is from the women to the men (24:1-49).

(The material above is from Bailey, 97-99)

◆ “None of them [the women], however, is included among the number of the Apostles; they were parallel to the disciples as traveling companions, but they were not included among the twelve” (CTCR-WIC, 9).

Thesis 28: Jesus does not set a principle as to who can be included in the public ministry of the Church when he chose twelve male Jewish disciples.

(A) Neither are Gentiles, Blacks, Asians, or slaves included among the twelve apostles.  If we draw theological and ecclesiastical practice from the fact that no women were among the apostles, what conclusions do we draw from the fact that Jesus chose no Blacks or Asians or slaves?  Does this mean that only Jewish males can be Missouri Synod pastors?  The CTCR’s logic is patently weak.

(B In the cultural context of the first-century Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds it only makes sense to choose male apostles.  Does not this factor indicate the issue of male disciples is partially time-bound?  Or, should we infer, then, that the choice of male disciples is one that is an immutable law, always to be made?

(C) The Scriptures do not create a theological mandate out of Jesus’ choice of disciples; the choice of twelve is meant to replicate the twelve tribes of Old Israel (Jesus and the Twelve as the foundation of the New Israel), not construct a gender issue point.

(D) The Apostles did not appoint any successors; their ministry now belongs to the whole church.

(E) See the notes at 1 Timothy 2:5-6.

(F) The Gospels themselves point beyond an all-male ministerium:

(1) Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-11: Christ first appeared after his resurrection to women, and he commissioned them to tell his brothers.  Women provide the initial witness to the central event of the Christian faith (which is a criterion for apostleship, Acts 1:22).

(2) John 4:1-42: “[vs 39]… many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony …”

(3)  Josephus writes, “But let not a single witness be credited; but three, or two at the best, and those such whose testimony is confirmed by their good lives.  But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex, nor let servants be admitted to give testimony on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment” (Antiquities, IV, viii, 15).  In light of this feeling, it is surprising that women are chosen as witnesses of the resurrected Christ.

(4) Since, culturally, women may have been ineffective as apostles, the fact that women were first at the tomb “balances this out.”

◆ “His revolution had to do with the nature of true righteousness and of the spiritual relationship of men and women alike before God, not with the obliteration of the differentiation between men and women” (CTCR-WIC, 9, footnote 8).

Thesis 29: The biblical argument contends not for the obliteration of created differentiations, but for the obliteration of divisions which sinful pride creates from the differentiations.

(A) The biblical record indicates recognition of equity within (or in spite of) the differences.

(B) God seeks the renewal of these relationships between and within the differences.

(C) Cf. Ephesians 5:21: “Submit yourselves one to another …”

(D) The CTCR-WIC statement creates false distinctions by breaking God’s reality into spiritual and secular and implying the “spiritual” has nothing to do with what happens “between men and women” (the “secular”).


◆ “Jesus never gives the impression that only men were ‘full Israelites.’  He regards women as One whose message and concern is for the whole people of Israel.  Women stand alongside men as recipients of the universal invitation to the Kingdom through Christ” (CTCR-WIC, 9).


Thesis 30: Faith is active in concrete deeds of love.

(A) Throughout the CTCR-WIC document, there is a stance which refuses to admit the practical social and relational implications of spirituality.  Yes, it is very true that Jesus’ relationships (and his revolution) “had to do with the nature of true righteousness.”  Yet, at the same time, it is also true that the vertical relationship of Christ to a person (“true righteousness”) has horizontal implications for human relationships.  Jesus was not just concerned with a “naked spirituality;” he does not divorce the spiritual from the physical.  Note his compassion in healing the sick and feeding the hungry and comforting the mourning (cf. Matthew 9:1-8).

◆ “This equality is a spiritual equality of man and woman before God” (CTCR-WIC, 19).

(B) It is a new Gnosticism to suggest or teach that spiritual realities, such as the “new creation,” occur only in a “spiritual realm,” separate and apart, as if they have nothing to do with  created reality and history and relationships within which humanity exists.  That is like saying that the dominical injunction to “Love your neighbor” means only “in a spiritual sense.”  James’ comment in his epistle, 2:14-17, confronts this logic of CTCR-WIC.

◆ “Women stand alongside men as recipients of the universal invitation to the Kingdom through Christ. (Matt.12:50)” (CTCR-WIC, 9).  “… 1) the positive and glad affirmation of woman as a person completely equal to man in the enjoyment of God’s unmerited grace in Jesus Christ and as a member of His Body, the church; and 2) the inclusion of woman (as well as man) in a divinely mandated order which is to be reflected in the work and worship life of the church” (CTCR-WIC, 4).

(C) We claim God relates without distinction to male and female, and there is no distinction in what each receives from his or her Creator.  That’s the “Yes!”  In the CTCR-WIC document the “but” always follows: “but” their oneness in relation to God has nothing to do with how they live out their relationship to each other.  Do not the righteous of God have eyes to see God at work in the other regardless of race or gender?

(D) It seems that much of Jesus’ teaching is concerned with the fact that many do not connect their relation with God to their everyday relationships (cf. Matthew 23).

(E) (Note: slaves in pre-Civil War times were invited to sit in the church balconies because some thought their “souls” needed the Pauline instruction of “Slaves, obey your masters” [Ephesians 6:5] and/or saving, but masters happily ignored or misinterpreted the implications found in Philemon for the bodies of the slaves and for the institution of slavery.)

(F) (Note also in Acts, passim, that the Jewish-Gentile controversy was not relegated to a “spiritual” realm alone; rather Paul pushes to include fully both Jew and Gentile as they work out their interactions and relationship in the early church.)

▬ Mark 10:42-45 ▬

[42] And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  [43]  But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [44] and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  [45]  For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.


Thesis 31: The biblical understanding of authority contrasts markedly with the world’s.

(A) The biblical understanding of leadership and authority is that of empowerment of others for service rather than one’s own exercise of power over others (Matthew 20:25-28, Matthew 23:6-12; John 13:13-17; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 5:2-3).

(B) And such leadership is done “for the sake of the Gospel” — not for the sake of “orders of creation” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 11:11; 1 Peter 2:13-3:6).

(C) Responsibilities or roles are opportunities to God’s people for faithful service rather than occasions for an insistence on an individual’s rights.

(D) If we have been called to “wash feet” (John 13), why do we worry about who is to have power and authority?

(E) The biblical understanding of authority and leadership contrasts with that of the world’s understanding:


The World                                                                    The Kingdom

(1) Focuses on function                          —          Relationship (sees a person)

(2) Rights (privilege and status)              —          Responsibility (1 Peter 5:2-3)

(3) Authority (controlling)                     —              Empowering others (Phil. 2:7)

(4) Competitive                                       —          Obedient (John 17:4)

(5) “Success” oriented                             —         Service oriented (Mark 10:45)

(6) Self-sufficient (Luke 18:11-12)        —          God-confident (2 Cor. 3:4-5)

(7) By “divine” right                               —       Conferred as privilege (Mk 10:35f.)

(8) Hierarchy focus                                —          Service orientation


(F) Even the pastoral office is an office of service for the Gospel and to others.  One’s authority, Biblically speaking, is exercised not by demanding control and insisting on superordination of one and subordination of another, as well as “rights,” but by self-giving service, as is Christ’s (Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:5-8).  Compare John 13:13-17, Galatians 5:13, and 1 Peter 5:2-3.

(G) “Masters are not directed in the Bible to have slaves submissive to them; men are not directed to have wives submissive to them.  The directive is always toward the person under authority, that they should bear it without concern.  Therefore, it is humility that is being called for on the part of both men and women” (Dentinger).


▬ Luke 2:36-38 ▬

[36] And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, [37] and as a widow till she was eighty-four.  She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.  [38] And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Thesis 32: When the Messiah comes, all, regardless of gender, are set free to proclaim Jesus in the Temple — the center and heart of Jewish worship — and in the city.

▬ Luke 15:8-9 ▬

[8] Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? [9] And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost”

Thesis 33: As one lay person put it, “This is a joyous illustration of what goes on in Heaven when just one soul is saved, but just as importantly, it shows that God is comfortable having a woman represent Him.”

▬ John 4:7-30 ▬

[28] So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, [29] “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.  Can this be the Christ? … [39] Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony …

◆ Jesus willingly “dismiss[es] conventions of men which stand in opposition to His purposes” (CTCR-WIC, 7).

Thesis 34: Jesus chooses women through whom his purposes and will is communicated to all, including males (John 4:7-30), regardless of cultural expectations.



▬ Acts 1:14 ▬

[14] All of these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Thesis 35: Mary and the other women shared in the community life with the original disciples and ministered to each other in prayer.

▬ Acts 1:15-26  ▬

Thesis 36: Specific references biblically to election of church officers do not exclude women from serving or voting.

▬ Acts 2:1-21 ▬

[17] And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; [18] yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy … [21] And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

◆”Men and women have the same Bible, the same God, the same sinfulness, the same Savior, the same hymns, the same Sacraments, the same Church, the same heaven.  But God did not give them the same roles — not in the home, not in the Church.  The women may serve God in a thousand ways — outside the ministry.  God honored them by making one of them the mother of his Son.  Then, what a privilege to be able to bear the bodies and to shape the souls of immortal beings, children!  This is the proper sphere of women, 1 Timothy 2:15.  Why should they yearn for what is denied them by God?” (Christian News, 23 February 1976).

Thesis 37: The Spirit does not limit his empowering of persons for full ministry to only one gender.

(A) “[vs 17] .. your sons and your daughters shall prophesy …”: women are recognized as having the gift of prophecy and the privilege of prophesying.

(B)  Both male and female are gifted by the Spirit for the sake of the Gospel so that those who hear and “call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

 ▬ Acts 12:12 ▬

[12] When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.

Thesis 38: Mary was one of the leaders of the early Christian community and opened her dwelling to house a church.

▬ Acts 15:22 ▬

[22] Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and  Barnabas.  They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men …

Thesis 39: Women participated in the decision making process of the early church.

(A) “[22] … the whole church …”: The church includes women.

(B) This would include women, who then participated in the process of choosing whom to send.

▬ Acts 16:13 ▬

[13] And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.  [14]  One who heard us was a woman named Lydia …

Thesis 40: The conversion of women was an important feature of Paul’s ministry.

(A) That Paul addresses a group of women with none of their men present reflects his attitude, an attitude like Christ’s (cf. John 4:1-41).

(B) Although the Jews would not let women form a synagogue, or even count them in the number required for the formation of such, or give them access to the systematic teaching offered therein, Paul draws on this group of women to form the nucleus of the Philippian congregation.

(C) Lydia housed the congregation in her home.

 ▬ Acts 17:4, 12, 34 ▬

[4] And some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas; as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women … [12] Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men…. [34] But some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Thesis 41: Luke considers the women among the converts on a parity with the male converts.

(A) He makes no distinctions.

(B) Note the pairing: “… not a few Greek women … as well as men” and “among them Dionysius … and … Damaris…”


▬  Acts 18:26 ▬

[26] He [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately.

◆ “The responsibility for oversight (supervision) in the church is given to the pastor/bishop.  All teaching of the Word is subject to his oversight.  Even if there are women who teach in the church (as did Priscilla) or Sunday School teachers  and/or others, the substance of the teaching is under the supervision of the pastoral office” (Dr. George Wollenburg, Synodical Vice President, as quoted in the Christian News, 2 April 1990).

Thesis 42: Important teachers of theology in New Testament ministry included women.

(A) Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned six times in the New Testament.

(B) Priscilla is mentioned first four of these times, an indication of the order of importance (Note “Barnabas and Paul” [Acts 11:25, 12:25, 13:2,7] becomes “Paul and Barnabas” [Acts 13:13, 13:34, etc.]).  “This precedence of Prisca cannot be accidental.  It is taken to mean that she possessed decidedly greater ability than her husband and, all in proper sphere and manner, made it count for the work of the Gospel; an example appears in Acts 18:24, etc.” (Lenski, 903).

(C) “Prisca…is named first.  This is most unusual, and the only possible explanation is that she was more important than her husband.  In what sense? … If by secular standards, this would mean that she outranked Aquila in terms of social status or independent wealth; if by Christian criteria, this would mean she had been converted first or was more prominent in the life of the Church.  The choice is not easy, but the balance of probability favors the second alternative.  The fact that she worked manually with her husband (Acts 18:3) suggests that she neither outranked him in social status nor had independent wealth.  A woman of noble birth would not know how to do the heavy needle-and-palm work of tentmakers, nor would her hands be adapted to it, and a woman of independent means would not need to work.  Hence the standard of judgment is Christian.  The public acknowledgment of Prisca’s prominent role in the Church, implicit in the reversal of the secular form of naming the husband before his wife, underlines how radically egalitarian the Pauline communities were” (Murphy-O’Connor, 40-41).

(D) Romans 16:3: “…all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks …”: Would the churches have known her well if she had remained silent and been submissive in the traditional women’s role?

(E) Romans 16:3: Priscilla is called a “fellow worker”, συνεργος, a term used also for Titus (2 Corinthians 8:23) and Timothy (Romans 16:21), both pastors and teachers.  A “fellow worker” in this sense would hardly have been silent, submissive, and subordinate.  “By using these terms Paul raises a theological claim for himself and his helpers.  Their assistance in proclaiming the Gospel means that they share with the apostle the burden of the ministry of reconciliation” (Bertram, TDNT, VII, 875).

(F)  Acts 18:26: Priscilla is involved in the instruction and teaching of males in the Ephesian church, the recipient of Paul’s first letter to Timothy (“let the women keep silent”).   She exercised her Christian freedom to nurture her own particular spiritual gifts for the growth and blessing of the church.

(G) Priscilla is involved in teaching Apollos, a public proclaimer of the Gospel,  on behalf of the church.

(H) The verb “expounded” [εκτιθημι] is the same verb which describes Peter’s public teaching when he defends his eating with the Gentiles against the criticism by the “circumcised believers” (Acts 11:4) and is the verb used to describe Paul’s public teaching of “the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23).

(I) There is no indication in this passage of Priscilla being “under the supervision of the pastoral office.”


▬ Acts 21:9 ▬

[9] And he (Philip) had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

◆ “Acts 21:9 and 1 Corinthians 11:5 specifically indicate that women functioned as prophets in the early church” (CTCR-WIC, 10).

Thesis 43: Women filled the role of public teachers (prophets) in New Testament times.

(A) Compare 1 Corinthians 11:5.

(B) Compare Ephesians 2:20.

 (C) “The church is built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles.”




▬ Romans 5:12, 15 ▬

[12] Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned …. [15] But the free gift is not like the trespass.  For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

Thesis 44: The soteriological constructs and meaning in Scripture have their source not in Jesus’ maleness, but in his humanity.  

(A) English translations (here the RSV) add confusion to the picture by not distinguishing between ανερ and ανθρωποζ.

(1) [12] Therefore as sin came into the world through one man [ενο ανθρωπου] and death through sin, and so death spread to all men [παντασ ανθρωπου] because all men [The Greek does not have “men” here, but simply παντεσ — “all”] sinned …. [15] But the free gift is not like the trespass.  For if many died through one man’s [Again, the Greek does not have “man’s”, but του ενοσ – “the one’s”] trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man [ανθρωπου] Jesus Christ abounded for many.

(2) In both places where “male” [ανερ] could have been an appropriate Greek word choice, the inspired author emphasizes the humanity of the sinner and the humanity of the Savior.

(a) “[12] Therefore as sin came into the world through one man [ανϕρωπου, i.e., human]…”: that is our first parent, Adam, was a human being (yes, and a male).

(b) “[15] … the free gift in the grace of that one man [ενοσ ανϕρωπου]: our Savior, in his incarnation, took on the human form..

 (B) Compare John 1:14: “The Word became flesh [σαρξ]…”: Again, the soteriological emphasis is on the humanity of Jesus.

 (C) Sin inhabits human nature, not just maleness.  The Savior comes (yes, as a male) to take on our humanity.

 ▬ Romans 12:3-8 ▬

[3] For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.  [4] For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, [5] so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  [6] Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; [7] if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; [8] he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Thesis 45: Paul nowhere puts limitations or restrictions by gender on the use of spiritual gifts

(A) “[vs 6] … if prophecy, in proportion to our faith he who teaches, in his teaching …“:

(B) Paul is addressing “all the saints” (Romans 1:7).

(C) Male and female may engage the use of Spirit-supplied gifts.

(D) To limit the use and employment of Spirit given gifts based on gender considerations is to oppose the work of the Holy Spirit.


▬ Romans 16:1-2 ▬

[1] I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, [2] that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well.

◆ “They want to do for Phoebe what she has done for the apostle and others — assist them in their material requirements.  Phoebe’s ministry, then, like that of Steffanas and his household, was to assist the saints” (CTCR-WIC, 11).

 Thesis 46: A woman holds a specific office, that of deacon; this is more than simply assisting in the material support of the apostles.

(A)  “[vs 1]…our sister Phoebe, a deaconess …”:

(1) Διακονος is the usual New Testament word for ministers of the Word: compare Romans 15:8, 1 Corinthians 3:5, 2 Corinthians 3:6, 6:4, 11:23; Galatians 2:17; Ephesians 3:7; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:7, 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 3:2, and 1 Timothy 4:6.

(2) There are seven references in the New Testament which link διακονος to an individual’s name: Phoebe (Romans 16:1), Paul and Apollos (1 Corinthians 3:5), Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7), Epaphras (Colossians 1:7), Paul (Colossians 1:23), and Timothy (1 Timothy 4:6).

(3) Paul speaks of his apostolic work as a διακονια (Romans 11:13, 1 Corinthians 3:5, 2 Corinthians 3:6, Ephesians 3:7, 1 Thessalonians 3:2).

(4) The Revised Standard Version translates all of these in (1) and (2) as “minister” except Phoebe (here in Romans 16:1, “deaconess”) and Paul and Apollos when named together (1 Corinthians 3:5).  The King James Version, using “ministry” elsewhere to translate διακονος, here uses the English word “servant.”  There is no contextual basis for these elective translations.

(5) The Revised Standard Version (quoted above) translates διακονος as “deaconess” even thought the inspired writer uses the masculine gender.

(6) By calling Phoebe a διακονος Paul does not distinguish this office or position relative to the gender of the person involved.  Paul uses the same term used of males.  He does  not use the feminine form that becomes our “deaconess.”  Had he wanted to make a distinction, he could have chosen to use other terms such as δουλος or οικετης.

(7) In Romans 16:1 Paul approves of Phoebe’s work in the church at Cenchreae and designates her with the term for minister of the Word.  The commendation of Phoebe to the Romans in verse 1 suggests she was the bearer of the letter to the Romans.

(8) “As a ‘deaconess,’ she had also an official function in the congregation at Cenchreae” (Black, 178).

(9) “Both the participle and the genitive indicate that Phoebe occupied an official position by appointment of the church which was similar to that of the seven deacons who were appointed in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-6)” (Lenski, 899).

(10) In New Testament Greek, the title of διακονος is not primarily servant or deacon, but herald or official messenger.  Did Phoebe teach theology and preach? (Bruce)

(11) Yet the conclusion drawn by CTCR-WIC is that in Phoebe’s case this applies only to material support.  Might not the exegetical sword swing in the other direction?  It is just as valid to draw the conclusion that διακονος in reference to Phoebe includes apostolic or ministerial functions like Paul’s.

(12) In the Didache, διακονοι were those who assisted with the Eucharist.

(13) By calling Phoebe a διακονος Paul implies she has the same position as that of the church leaders in 1 Timothy 3:8-10.

 (B) “[vs 2]… for she has been a helper …”

(1) The Greek word used here for “helper” (προστατις) appears only here in the New Testament.  Only Phoebe is called “helper.”

(2) The word literally means “one standing before.”

(3) The word is used of office-bearers in a heathen religious association (Moulton-Milligan, 551).

(4) In Jewish communities προστατις means “the legal representative or wealthy patron” (Sanday and Headlam, 417).

(5) προστατις represents the noun form of the verb translated “rule” in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 (“… and over you in the Lord”) and 1 Timothy 5:17 (“…let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor …”).  One in this position has greater authority.

(6) The word “helper” opens up the possibility of much more than just one who assists “them in their material requirements,” but someone with ecclesiastical authority.

(C) Paul requests that Phoebe be given the same reception as his other colleagues enjoy, such at Titus and the other apostles (2 Corinthians 8:24) and Timothy (1 Corinthians 16:10).

◆”Phoebe’s ministry, then, like that of Stephanas and his household, was to assist the saints.  This servanthood function was assumed by many men and women in the apostolic church” (CTCR-WIC, 11).

(D) [1] … our sister Phoebe …”

(1) Paul praises Stephanas and his household for their ministry to the saints (1 Corinthians 16:15-18).

(2) CTCR-WIC equates Stephanas’ ministry with Phoebe’s.

(3) Paul tells his readers to subject themselves [υποτασσησϕε] to such people (1 Corinthians 16:16).

(4) Paul, then, logically, would have no theological issue with urging males to be submissive to females in the church.


▬ Romans 16:3-4 ▬.

[3] Greet Prisca and Aquilla …  [4] … greet also the church in their house …

Thesis 47: Women are full leaders in early Christianity’s house churches.  The house church is led by Priscilla (Prisca) and Aquilla, both given “equal billing” by Paul.

(A) “[3] Greet Prisca and Aquilla ..”: the first mentioned is usually the one with the lead role.  Compare Acts where “Barnabas and Saul” change into “Paul and Barnabas” (Acts 11:25-26; 13:2, 7, 9, 13, 42).

(B) Paul terms Prisca and Aquilla συνεργους μου.

(C) In 1 Corinthians 16:16 Paul asks his readers “to submit themselves to such as these and παντι τω συνεργουντι …”

(D) Συνεργος in the dative implies “helper,” but in the genitive case it means “a person of the same trade” (Liddell and Scott, pages 1711-12).  Paul uses the genitive case (cf. Romans 16:3, 16:21; 1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 4:2-3; Philemon 1, 24).  “The word w. gen. could mean …‘fellow workers w. God’ or ‘fellow workers in God’s service.’  The context indicates that Paul is speaking of the equal relation of God’s workers with one another” (Key, 394).

(E) We can conclude, therefore, that Paul is saying that at times men and women in the church need to place themselves under the authority of women leadership.


▬ Romans 16:7 ▬

[7] Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.

Thesis 48: In the Scriptures, women are named among the apostles.

(A) Ιουνιαν is the accusative form of the noun; if it is accented on the ultima it is masculine (as Nestle does), but if accented on the penultima it is a feminine accusative (Cranfield, 789).

(B)  “[vs 7]… men of note ..”  the Greek does not contain the word “men.”

(C) “… Apart from the present verse no evidence of its [Ιουνιαν] having existed [as a masculine name] has so far come to light” [Cranfield, 789].

(D) “… Junias …”: this is a feminine noun and a common Roman feminine name derived from the Roman goddess Juno, queen of the gods (and Jupiter’s sister and wife). .

 (E)  Chrysostom (d. 407) writes, “And indeed to be apostles at all is a great thing … Oh, how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should be even counted worthy of the appellation of apostle!”

(F)  Origen (d. 254), Jerome (d. 419), Theophylact (d. 1108), and Peter Abelard (d. 1142) all saw Junias as a woman.

(G)  “Ancient commentators took Andr. and Junia as a married couple” (BAG, 381).

(H) The male name Junias does not appear until the middle ages (Note: It was Pope Gregory VII [1073-1085] who took decisive action against the marriage of priests) .

 (I)  The first to consider the name as masculine was Aegidus of Rome (d. 1316).

 (J) The NEB recognizes “Julia” or “Junia” as legitimate translations (cf. footnote).

 (K) In Paul’s writings, “apostles” include more than just the original twelve.

 (L) 1 Corinthians 9:5 suggests there were husband-and-wife teams.  Given the cultural context, that would make sense.

 (M) Poor translations cover up the biblical Word.


▬ Romans 16:12 ▬

[12] Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa.  Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord.

Thesis 49: Women are prominent and active in the ministry of the Word in the early church.

(A) Paul notes that Tryphaena and Tryphosa (women) are τας κοπιωσας εν κυριω (“those who labor in the Lord.”).

(B) “Here Paul uses a term that commonly refers to the toil of proclaiming the Gospel (cf. 1 Cor.4:12; 15:10; Gal. 4:11; Phil. 2:16; Col.1;29; 1 Tim. 4:10)” (CTCR-WIC, 12).

(C) These verses, listed even by the CTCR, indicate that women spread the Gospel and not just provided physical support for Pauline work.

(D) In 1 Corinthians 16:16 Paul urges his readers “to be subject [υποτασσησθε] to such and to every fellow worker and laborer [κοπιωντι].”

(E) Therefore, Paul at times urges Christians to submit themselves to women leadership.

(F) CTCR-WIC, page 12: “They attended worship, participated vocally, were instructed [italics added], learned of the faith, and shared it with others.”  The biblical Word indicates women not only “were instructed” but also did instructing as well.  Note Prisca.

 ▬ 1 Corinthians 1:11 ▬

[11] For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren.

Thesis 50: Paul recognizes women’s leadership levels and status.

(A) “[vs 11] … by Chloe’s people…”: Paul identifies a group within the Corinthian church by the name of a woman, who is evidently the head of the group.

(B) Paul recognizes not only the importance of women’s labors, but also their status at the leadership levels.  He does this without criticism or correction.

 ▬ 1 Corinthians 7 ▬

Thesis 51: The Scriptures themselves distinguish between divinely inspired pastoral application of the Gospel and a universally binding “word from the Lord.”

(A) “[vs 12]…To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if …”: Paul himself distinguishes between his advice and the Lord’s command.

 (B) “[vs 6] … I do not give this as a binding rule.  I state it as what is allowable” (translation by Lightfoot given in Key, 405).

(C) We also see this in verse 17: “This is my rule in all the churches.”

(D) “[vs 25]: …I have no command from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy…”

 (E) In this chapter, Paul seeks to work out the relationship between male and female on the basis of parity in Christ.  Paul, in giving advice, applies the Gospel pastorally to concrete ministry situations;  yet he distinguishes between the Lord’s command and “my advice” so that he does not inappropriately bind Christian consciences with his advice.

 (F) Inspired Scripture includes examples of pastoral practice and advice, not to bind us to cultural norms of another age, but to provide us instruction in how to apply Law and Gospel in various circumstances and conditions.

 (G) We need to take seriously in our exegesis that some passages may be just this kind of example, instruction for a particular time and place and a certain group of people, and not a principle which binds for all times.

  ▬  1 Corinthians 11:3 ▬

[3] But I want you to understand that the head [κεφαλη] of every man is Christ, the head [κεφαλη] of a woman is her husband, and the head [κεφαλη] of Christ is God. [RSV]

Thesis 52: “[vs 3] … the head of every man …the head of a woman …the head of Christ …”:  In this context is κεφαλη to be understood as boss, head, “headship,” chief executive, or can it be origin or source?   The term κεφαλη (here translated “head”) legitimately may be understood not in a hierarchical, authoritarian sense (a built-in external structure), but in a dynamic sense as “source” and “self-giving nurturing.”

(A)  Biblically, the heart, not the head, is the source of decision making.

(1) “The word ‘head’ in the Bible is never connected with the intelligence.  The ancient Hebrews were unaware of the function of the brain and, indeed, had no name for it; the intellectual powers were believed to be situated in the heart” (Dentan, IDB 2:541).

(2)  “From the idea that the heart is the center of intellectual life it is a natural step to the thought that it is the center of the will and hence of the moral life. … the heart, as the innermost spring of the human personality, is directly open to God and subject to his influence” (Dentan, IDB 2:550).

(3)  “We, of course, assume that we know very well the meaning of ‘head.’  Anybody knows that the head makes the decisions for the body, so the passage has been interpreted to mean that Christ makes the decisions for man, man makes the decisions for woman, and God makes the decisions for Christ.  But in biblical times, it was not known that the head makes the decisions and gives orders to the nervous system.  Decision-making was located in the heart, which is why we are told that our belief in Christ is to take place in our hearts and that thoughts issue from the heart (Romans 10:9; Matthew 15:19; Hebrews 4:12; and so forth).  So the passage cannot be a discussion of the head as the decision-maker [emphasis added].  We are then forced to study the context in order to understand the meaning of ‘headship’ here; and the context makes clear that Paul is speaking of the head as the source or origin, as we speak of the head of a stream [emphasis added]… the confusion over the meaning of head is a good example of the confusion which results when we heedlessly ‘read in’ modern meanings for ancient word usages” ( Mollenkott, 111-112).


(B) Old Testament translations support the idea that κεφαλη does not equal “chief” or “rule” here.

(1) The Septuagint does not use κεφαλη when the Hebrew word for “head” (var) is used to indicate a ruler (Groothius, 151).

(2)  “Can one be certain that arche and kephale were so different…Could kephale not sometimes mean ‘boss’ or ‘ruler’?…note how these two words are used in the Septuagint…if arche and kephale were more or less synonymous and could be used interchangeably, then when the seventy scholars who wrote the Septuagint came to the Hebrew word rosh, they could have used either Greek word they wished…However, they were very careful to note how the word rosh was used, whether it meant ‘physical head,’ or ‘ruler of a group.’  Whenever rosh mean ‘physical head,’ they translated it kephale; or whenever rosh referred to the first soldier leading others into battle with him, they also translated it kephale.  But when rosh meant ‘chief’ or ‘ruler,’ they translated it arche or some form of that word.  Every time, this distinction was carefully preserved” (Bristow, 37).

(C)  “Modern research has shown that during the first century κεφαλη was rarely, if ever, used to indicate authority.  Instead, writers such as Paul used the words exousia (‘authority’; see Rom. 13:1-2) and archon (‘ruler’; see Rom. 13:3) to indicate those who held authority or power” (Parales, 80).

(1) “Therefore, if Paul had believed as Aristotle taught, that husbands should command their wives and rule over them, then Paul … could have written that the husband is the arche (head) of the wife…However, Paul did not choose to use the word arche when he wrote of how the husband is the head of his wife…Instead, Paul used the word kephale…” (Bristow, 36).

(2)  “…the word kephale…does mean ‘head,’ the part of one’s body.  It was also used to mean ‘foremost’ in terms of position (as a capstone over a door, or a cornerstone in a foundation).  It was never used to mean ‘leader’ or ‘boss’ or ‘chief’ or ‘ruler.’  Kephale is also a military term.  It means ‘one who leads,’ but not in the sense of ‘director.’  Kephale did not denote ‘general,’ or ‘captain,’ or someone who orders the troops from a safe distance; quite the opposite, a kephale was one who went before the troops, the leader in the sense of being in the lead, the first one into battle” (Bristow, 36-37).

(3)  “The word Paul used in this passage for head is kephale, and not arche. … arche means ‘beginning,’ ‘boss,’ or chief,’ while kephale means ‘physical head,’ or, figuratively, ‘one who proceeds another into battle.’  Although Paul did describe Christ as arche of the Church in Col. 1:18, in this passage whenever ‘head’ appears, it is a translation of kephale” (Bristow, 84).

(4) “In Greek usage the word, when metaphorical, may apply to the outstanding and determining part of a whole, but also to origin (e.g., in the plural, to the source of a river) … Paul does not say man is the κυριος of the woman; he says that he is the origin of her being.  In this he is directly dependent on Gen. ii. 18-23, where it is stated (a) that woman was created in order to provide a helper suited to him, and (b) by the removal of a rib from Adam’s body” (Barrett, 248).

(5)  [vs 8] … For man was not made from woman, but woman from man …. [12] … for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman.  And all things are from God” (1 Corinthians 11:8,12):  “In verses 8 and 12, Paul speaks of the man as being the source or point of origin for woman.  This reinforces an understanding of ‘head’ or ‘source’ in verse 3; clearly, this concept is not alien to the passage, but serves as an important line of Paul’s argument” (Groothius, 159).

(D) “[vs. 3]: … the head of Christ is God …”:  κεφαλη here cannot refer to a chain of command, or else Christ is not equal to the Father (see John 10:30; 14:7; Hebrews 1:3).  To hold that God is “in authority over” Christ denies the equality of the persons of the Trinity.

(E)  Note the context of “head” in these New Testament texts suggesting “nourishing rather than “bossing” or “ruling”:

(1)  “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

(2)  “… and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19).

(F) A person’s head (κεφαλη) was thought of as the source of physical life.

Thesis 53:  The arrangement in 1 Corinthians 11:3 is not hierarchical, but (a) chronological and (b) unitary through the dynamic of self-giving:

(A)  “the head (source) of every man is Christ

(1)  John 1:3: Christ was God’s agent in creation; Christ participated in the creation of Adam.

(2)  Colossians 1:16: “… for in him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him.”

 (B)  “the head (source) of every woman is man

(1) Genesis 2:21-23: God takes the rib, or side, from the earth-being and fashions a female.

(2) 1 Corinthians 11:8 and 12 both say woman originated from the man.

(3)  See notes under 1 Corinthians 11:7-16; Paul challenges the understanding of “head” as “authoritative, controlling” with an evangelical “in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman.”

(C) “ the head (source) of Christ is God

(1) Luke 1:32, John 1:14; 5:26, 2 Cor. 1:3:  God is the source of Christ when Christ was incarnated in human form through the woman Mary.

(2) Luke 1:35: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you..”

(3) 1 Corinthians 11:12 says all things originate from God.

(4) “If God is the source of Christ, and Christ is the source of man, and man is the source for woman, and through a woman God is the source of Christ, then God is the ultimate source of all things” (Parales, 82).

(D) God is the source of all, and each gives to the other, empowering, seeking not to be served, but to serve and nurture and nourish the other.  Each contributes.

(E) The next verses (1 Corinthians 11:4-16), then, demonstrate the reciprocity, the returning to God what is his, the honor, the praise, through specific acts that are culturally non-offensive, that strive to maintain God-given cohesion and unity and return to God his rightful due.  Paul’s line of argument is that reciprocity follows reciprocity.


▬  1 Corinthians 11:3 ▬

[3] But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband [emphasis added], and the head of Christ is God. [RSV]

[3] Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man [emphasis added], and the head of Christ is God. [NIV]

Thesis 54: In 1 Corinthians 11, the context is husband/wife relationships; the context does not address “all men and all women” or “headship” of men over women in general.  (For the exegetical basis of this thesis, see the notes under 1 Corinthians 14:26-36.

Thesis 55:  The concept of κεφαλη is not applied to the Apostolic ministry, or to any of the offices within the early Christian community.  See also the notes on Ephesians 5:21.

(A) “It was pointed out that a logical corollary to the ‘Kephale argument’ [when κεφαλη is understood in the sense of “holding authority over”] is that the church should then today crusade for the subordination of women in society generally, not merely in the church, since this subordination to man, the head, comes from creation’s structure and seemingly should apply to all of society.  Our Christian duty would be to repeal the 19th Amendment” (Reumann).

(B) For understanding the difference between “subordination” and “submission,” see the notes after Galatians 3:28-29.

▬ 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 ▬

[4] Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, [5] but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head — it is the same   as if her head were shaven.

Thesis 56: The Scriptures permit women to assume leadership in liturgical and worship contexts.

(A) “[vs 4] … any woman who prays or prophesies… “: 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 clearly affirms the Apostle’s recognition of the right of women to pray and preach in public worship services (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:18, 14:26).  He does not forbid this act of worship participation prompted by the Spirit.

(B)  The passage contains no prohibition against worship leadership.

(C) The only explicit prohibition is against improper dress (her head unveiled) on the part of women.

◆ The CTCR-WIC document, in working with 1 Corinthians 11:4-5, attempts to distinguish between preaching and prophecy, saying that “preaching is a form of teaching, but the distinctive characteristic of prophecy is that it results from God having put His very words into the mouth of the one speaking (2 Peter 1:21-22)” (CTCR-WIC, 10).

Thesis 57: The Scriptures indicate that God chooses to speak to the community of faith through women as well as men.

(A) “[vs 5] … any woman who prays or prophesies …”: The context is the gathered faith community.

(B)  Is the CTCR-WIC statement [given above] a valid interpretation of 2 Peter 1:21?

(1) If prophecy is a higher form of communication — implied by the document when its says “results from God having put His very words into the mouth of the one speaking” — then this question must be raised: If women are permitted to practice this form of communication within public worship, why then not the “lesser type” (1 Corinthians 12:28) of preaching?

(2) “After all, Paul was fully supportive of women who prayed and prophesied in churches, and the authority of the prophet was second only to that of the apostle in the church (12:28)” (Perales, 85).

(3) It follows that if women prophesy in worship (1 Corinthians 11:5), and if God is putting “His very words into the mouth of the one speaking,” then God is certainly choosing to gift women for roles of speaking and leading in public worship.

(4) “The prophet’s task is mediating divine knowledge, bringing to bear on the lives of Christians the revelation of the will and word of God” (TDNT, VI:854).

(5) Note also Hulda (2 Kings 22); note also Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1) in which God has spoken to and taught the Church for centuries through the voice of a woman.

(6) Teaching and prophecy should be evaluated, as it was in the New Testament (Acts 17:11), on the basis of Scripture and not on the basis of gender (cf. Groothius, 199-200).

(C) “[vs 4]… any woman who prays or prophesies …”:

(1) Taken at surface value, 1 Corinthians 11:5 is clearly inconsistent with what Paul writes later in 1 Corinthians 14:34: ” … the women should keep silence in the churches.”

(2) Is it not inconsistent to forbid women to hold congregational roles such as president, vice president and elder, based on 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Corinthians 14, and 1 Timothy 2, and yet not insist on hats (head coverings) in worship?

(3) How then is 1 Corinthians 14 to be understood, given God’s gifting and employment of women in leadership and superordinate roles in the Old and New Testaments?

(D) Thus we may understand 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 as follows:

Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered (unacceptable according to Greek cultural understanding) dishonors his source (i.e, his God, the one he represents), and any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled (something that culturally was considered an intimate act and acceptable behavior only in the home), dishonors her source (the man, the one from whose rib she was created).



▬ 1 Corinthians 11:7-16 ▬

[7] For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. [8] (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  [9] Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.)  [10] That is why a woman ought to have a veil [εξουσιαν] on her head, because of the angels.  [11] (Nevertheless, in the Lord, woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; [12] for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman.  And all things are from God.)  [13] Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?  [14] Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, [15] but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride?  For her hair is given to her for a covering.  [16] If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.

Thesis 58: The Scriptures allow Christian freedom in addressing cultural issues.

(A) The question asked of Paul by the Corinthians which is here addressed is: “Is it fitting for a woman to pray or prophesy with head uncovered?”

(B) Paul has “no word from the Lord” in this situation as he does in other situations (7:6, 12, 17, 25, 40; 11:23).

(C) So, pastorally, he shares his wisdom and preference:

(1) from “nature” (the nature of things, i.e., cultural expectations and social customs of respectability): verses 5-6 and 14: “… nature teaches…”;

(2) from his rabbinic understanding: verses 7 and 8: “… man was not made from woman, but woman from man …”;

(3) from his insights into the Gospel and God’s kingdom (“… in our life in the Lord …”):  verse 4 (man prays and proclaims) and verse 5 (woman prays and proclaims) and verse 11 (woman is not independent, man is not independent) and verse 12 (the church recognizes that God brings male and female into a new relationship in Christ).

(D) “[vs 11] … in the Lord …”: In the Church, mutual respect for the sensitivities and situation and roles of the others is the motive for the choices of Christian freedom..

(E) “[vs 13] “Judge for yourselves…”:

(1) Paul finally leaves it up to Christian freedom.  Paul does not bind the people’s consciences on non-doctrinal points.

(2) Note the NEB translation of 1 Corinthians 11:16: “However, if you insist on arguing, let me tell you, there is no such custom among us, or in any of the congregations of God’s people.”

(3) It is not a theological “word from the Lord” that dictates the answer to the questions here.

 (F) “… is it proper …”:

(1) For Paul the concern is that the Gospel not be hindered but “have free course and be preached for the joy and edifying of God’s holy people.”  Paul addresses cultural issues which impact the “free course” of the gospel, and so here he asks, “Is it fitting for a woman to pray or prophesy with head uncovered?”  He is asking, “Does the failure to observe the cultural expectation of women’s headdress block the gospel?”

(2) We today need to be asking the same question about what blocks the “free course” of the gospel.  The question we need to be asking is the same: Does limiting women’s activities in the church, against today’s cultural expectations of “full use,” block the “free course” of the gospel?  Especially when the “proof passage” texts are filled with exegetical difficulties and offer no clear trumpet sound to prohibit this involvement?

(3)  Are we not giving offense and blocking giving the gospel a hearing when we refuse to employ women fully in the church (“… some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?” [1 Corinthians 14:23]).

(4) The CTCR pulls up short by not including in its logic verses 11 and 12, Paul’s infusion of a Gospel motive into the whole argument about order of creation.

 Thesis 59:  So the translation of 1 Corinthians 11:7ff has this sense:

[The basic principle of Christian freedom is “Do not cause anyone to stumble” (11:32); therefore] [7] a man ought not [ignore culture and thus] to cover his head, since he is [created in] the image [of God] and [reflects the] glory of God [else culturally he is shaming the one he represents],  but woman [also created in the image of God] [and culturally] is the glory of man, [8] for [historically] neither was man created [with] for woman, but woman [to be a companion] for man. [Christian freedom says, “Don’t deliberately offend!” Sometimes self-subjection is necessary for the Gospel to be heard!]

Thesis 60: The Scriptures center church practice in the Gospel, and not in a Law-oriented “order of creation.”

◆  “The apostle argues for male ‘headship’ on the basis of Gen. 2:18-25, which teaches that the man did not come from the woman but the woman from the man and that the woman was created for the sake of the man [emphasis added]” (CTCR-WIC, 22).

“The word which Paul uses to describe this order – subordination – (The Greek word for subordination is hypotage, which is formed from the word tasso – to appoint, to order, to arrange, and hypo – under.) – does not carry with it any notion of inferior value or oppression. This term is used by Paul simply to refer to order in the relationship of man and woman to one another.  St. Paul teaches in 1 Cor. 11:7-9, “For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.)” (CTCR-WIC, 23).

(A) The CTCR-WIC statement (23) interprets 1 Corinthians 11:7-9 to mean that Paul subordinates woman because of the order of creation: “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”   However, had the CTCR document continued in chapter 11 and quoted verses 11 and 12, the document would have shown Paul enlarging his readers’ understanding by showing that “in the Lord,” in the community of Christ, relationships are changed and that any “built-in order” does not control the relationship: “[11] (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; [12] for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.)”  By stopping the Biblical quotation at the end of 11:9, the CTCR exegetes clearly “load” the argument in the favor of subordination (in the English sense) and/or simply confuse the issue.

(B) “[vs 8] … man was not made from woman, but woman from man…”: Paul uses these words to explain verse 7, in which he indicates culturally that man should not cover his head, but woman should cover hers.

(C) “[vss 11-12]… nevertheless…”: A verse later Paul enlarges his argument so that his listeners will not continue to use a Genesis derivation-from-the-male “orders of creation” argument  to support subordination; his Christian insight is that “in the Lord … all things are from God.”

(D) “[11] (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of  woman; [12] for as  woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.)“: Here (in verse 11) Paul rebukes his own Jewish rabbinic interpretation (vss 7-9) as determinative, using the following arguments:

(1) “[vs 11] … in the Lord …”: Paul chooses instead an interpretation and practice centered in the Gospel (“… in the Lord..”);

(2) This, for Paul, leads to mutual interdependence (“…woman is not independent of man nor man of woman …“) as opposed to domination – subordination (“…Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man …”).  The Christian insight overrides Jewish custom and midrash teaching.

(3) Paul uses the created order to highlight a reversal of the priority of male over female (“so man is now born of woman”);

(4) “All things are from God“: God’s creation intention, not custom or religious restriction, obtains.

(E) “[vs 9] … neither was man created for woman, but woman for man …”

(1) Genesis helps us interpret this “dark” and ambiguous passage.  Compare the notes under Genesis 1:26-28 and Genesis 2:18-24.

(2) “[vs 9] … created for woman, but woman for man …”: The Greek δια with the accusative means “on account of” [with the genitive it would mean “through”]; because of man’s aloneness and inability to find companionship and intimacy with the animals, God created woman.

(3) Adam rejoiced in his equal: “This, at last, is bone of my bones ..”

(4) Paul talks of mutual interdependence; yes, woman follows man in creation history, but man needs woman.  There is no chain of command, no establishing a hierarchy, but Paul balances the ideas and comes to an equity-with-differences conclusion.

(5) This text, as well as Genesis, says nothing about “authority” or “headship.”

 (F) “[vs 12] … And all things are from God” is a restatement of verse 3.

(G) Another perspective: “It would seem that in this one passage we have a chart of Paul’s mind.  Trained by one of the best of the rabbinic scholars and a product of his culture just as much as we are products of ours, Paul instinctively (“naturally”) thinks women should be subordinate.  When he reads Genesis 2, he thinks that the story of Adam’s rib indicates that Eve is created subordinate to Adam, because this is what the rabbinical tradition teaches about Genesis 2.  But there is nothing in the text of Genesis 2 which implies subordination, and even the rabbinic tradition admits that women and men are interdependent and both dependent upon the divine spirit.  Paul has elsewhere written that in Christ there is neither male nor female.  So his conscience makes him uneasy as he uses the argument of woman-from-man, and he stops to admit that ‘everything comes from God.’ and that woman is no more a product of man than man is a product of woman.  When he returns to his opinion that women should wear long hair as a covering, he no longer uses the rabbinical theology but switches to an honest and overt appeal to custom” (Mollenkott, 99-100).

 ▬ 1 Corinthians 11: 7-12 ▬

[7] A man ought not to cover his head, since he is in the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.  [8] For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; [9] neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. [10] For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority [RSV: “veil”] on her head.  [11] In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. [12] For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman.  But everything comes from God. [NIV]

◆  “They were asserting their ‘freedom’ by praying and prophesying with uncovered heads like the men (11:4)” (CTCR-WIC, 28).

◆  “In other words, the laying aside of the head-covering is regarded by the apostle as a repudiation of the relationship between man and woman established in creation” (CTCR-WIC, 29).

Thesis 61: The Scriptures, which consistently work to correct abuses in relationships, in 1 Corinthians 11:7-12 offer a divinely inspired example of pastoral application of the Gospel to an individual situation and not an apostolic laying down of an eternal principle.

(A) “[vs 10] … a veil …”:  The Greek in verse 10 is not “veil” or “head covering,” but “authority” (the same Greek word [εξουσια] as in Matthew 28:18) (Note in Concordia Self-Study Bible, 1760).

(B) The Greek text does not say males or anyone have authority over women.

(C) The text does not say women are under male authority.

(D) The “only reference to authority in the entire passage speaks of the woman’s own authority (vs.10), and not of any authority her husband has over her” (Groothius, page 160).

(E) The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2) would rule out the male as functioning as the intermediary between women and God.

(F) All Christians are priests and are given gifts regardless of gender “as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

 (G) The εξουσια in Paul’s pastoral opinion ought to be there “because of the angels.”

(1) Angels are messengers of God, extensions of God’s power, who do God’s will and live in his presence..

(2) Angels cover their faces in God’s presence out of respect (Isaiah 6).

(3) Worshipers at Qumran believed angels attended their worship.

(4) Angels are interested in the salvation of God’s people (1 Peter 1:12) and their community life (1 Timothy 5:21).

(H) “[vs 4] … with his head covered with her head unveiled …”: “Paul’s concern centered in the fact that Christian women should remain distinct from pagan women in their worship practices.

(1) Disheveled, unbound hair and wildly tossing heads characterized the worship Isis, Cybele, and Dionysus” (Gritz, 85).

(2)  In the Corinthian community (indeed in both Greek and Jewish social thought), “a woman’s hair was considered a sexual enticement and should be kept bound up and under veils” (Perales, 86).  To keep hair bound up was to that culture a wholesome practice and in light of Dyonisian worship, a positive witness (Gritz).

(I) “But the veil may also have been simply a symbol of womanly dignity, esp. befitting a Christian woman” (Arndt, Gingrich, 278).

(J)  The use of the veil can be interpreted fairly to mean that Paul is correcting a social imbalance — women are considered inferior — with a sign.

(1) The Greek here is not “head covering” but “authority” [verse 10] denoting their partnership or equality with males in the church.

(2) Women, denied equality in the Roman and Greek worlds but granted a partnership with males “in the Lord,” should wear their “authority” (head-covering) as a sign of equal parity with men in the church.

(K) “Paul uses the phrase eichen exousian (‘to have power’) in this verse, and this phrase always refers to one’s personal ability to exercise power (see 1 Cor. 7:37; 8:9; 9:4,5,6,12,18; 15:24; 2 Cor 10:8; 13:10)”  ( Parles, 88).

(1) “By arranging or covering her head, the woman exercised her own authority to pray and prophesy, just as a queen would wear a crown to display her authority” (Perales, 86).

(2) Ezekiel 13:17-23: The sign of a prophetess is the veil instead of the prophet’s mantle  (Reumann, 16).

(3) Εξουσια comes from God, his gift to his children, his gift “to all who receive him, who believed in his name” (John 1:12).  It is the gift of the office of the keys (Matthew 16), the authority to forgive and retain sins; it is the power and authority of children of God in whom Christ dwells to “renounce all the forces of evil, the devil, and all his empty promises.”

(4) There are no biblical passages which limit or link εξουσια to any one gender.

◆ “The headcovering was a custom (v. 15) subservient to a principle (‘the head of the woman is the man,’ v. 3).  The custom of headcovering functioned as woman’s acknowledgment of the principle of headship”  (CTCR-WIC, 29).

(L) No, it is just the opposite; it is a pastoral application by Paul of the Gospel to affirm the εξουσια that comes from God to all his children, female as well as male, joined to Christ in baptismal faith.   Paul is saying that when a woman prays or prophesies she “ought to wear” this sign that she, too, even as a woman, has received this εξουσια.

(M) Or following Kaiser: “Since the days of the gnostic heretic Valentius (d. A.D.160), the church has incorrectly agreed with him on insisting that the ‘power’ or ‘[active] authority’ placed on the head of a woman by our Lord be revised to read a ‘veil,’ substituting the Coptic ouershoun, ‘veil,’ for the proper word ouershishi, ‘power, authority.’  Almost every modern translation perpetuates this gnostic myth in verse 11, saying, ‘a veil which is the sign of authority.’  However, God has given a unique sphere of authority to women; not a veil nor even a sign!  This is straightforward exposition; all else is oral tradition” (12-I).

(N) Or following Scroggs:

(1) Gnostics believed the physical had no value.

(2) Therefore, they believed physical distinctions should be ignored.

(3) Therefore, a woman who wore a veil or kept her hair long was affirming distinctions, a theology the Gnostics denied.

(4) Paul wanted to keep creation reality in focus and admit the distinctions.

(5) And distinctions don’t translate into inferiority/superiority or rank.  God pronounced all creation as “good.”

(6) “He [Paul] just will not suffer any value judgment to be drawn on the basis of the distinctions” (285).

(7) This is theological statement by practice.

(O) This passages raises the question: What in Paul’s writings is time- and culture-bound and what is a permanent “word from the Lord”?  Women wearing hats, common in the 1930s and 1940s, is not regarded as normative today.

  ▬  1 Corinthians 12:7 ▬

[7] To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

◆”When someone says ‘no one has the right to limit my use of gifts in ministry,’ the pastoral office is seen as simply another form of a self-chosen effort to do good.  In order to do the self-chosen good for others, authority is needed.  Otherwise, one remains powerless to perform ‘ministry'” (George Wollenburg, former LCMS Vice President, as quoted in Christian News, 2 April 1990).

Thesis 62: God gifts as he wills.

(A) The argument in Chapter 12 is against the exclusion of certain people by some because they feel the others’ gifts are less important or significant.

(B) The Spirit is the one who chooses who shall serve, which gender will serve, and how each will serve (vs 11: “All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills“).

(C) In Greek, “each one” (εκαστω) is neuter, which implies the gifts are not limited or bound to one gender.

(D) In Chapter 12 there are no gender designations given when Paul talks of the Spirit who gifts all as he wills, even in the area of pastoring, preaching, prophesying.

(E) If a person of either gender has any gift, who are we to deny the use of that Spirit-given charisma or exclude from office those who bear the gift?

(F) “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you'” (1 Corinthians 12:21).

(G) Compare the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30).  Jesus points to the sin of burying one’s talents.  It is spiritually unhealthy for an individual to be restricted in the use of Spirit endowed gifts and abilities merely on the basis of gender.  The Scriptures do not make this limitation.

(H) In many parts of the world (for example, India), a man may not approach a woman without endangering her and himself (Personal correspondence).  God’s gift of life needs to be proclaimed through women.

 ▬ 1 Corinthians 12:28 ▬

[28] And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers …

◆ “If it is admitted that the charge which constitutes this office is based on the mandatum Christi, then we are faced with this pressing question: Is not the fact that God, according to the apostolic witness, has in His ekklesia appointed only men to be ‘apostles, prophets and teachers’ part of the divinely established contingency of the Office of the Means of Grace which we may not call into question?”  (Brunner, 26).

◆ “Distinctive identities for man and woman in their relation to each other were assigned by God at creation.  These identities are not nullified by Christ’s redemption, and they should not be reflected in the church” (CTCR-WIC, 26).

Thesis 63: Prime Biblical passages which speak of God appointing persons to offices in the apostolic church do not speak of these offices as being based on gender.

(A) When God appoints persons to these positions in the apostolic church, the witness of this verse includes no gender distinctions.

(B) Priscilla was a teacher in the church; the daughters of Philip were prophetesses; and women led worship in the Corinthian congregation.

(C) If the order of sequence is significant, then we need to recognize that ones who prophesy, even women, are of greater rank than teachers, workers of miracles, healers, helpers, etc. (1 Corinthians 12:28-29).

(D) Note the comments under 1 Timothy 2:5.

▬  1 Corinthians 14:26 ▬

[26] What then, brethren?  When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.  Let all things be done for edification.  [27]  If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at the most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret.  [28]  But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silence in church and speak to himself and to God.

Thesis 64: Paul’s concern is, again, not gender, but worship order.

(A) “[vs 26] …. each one … “

(B) In these worship instructions, everyone present is included; there are neither instructions to exclude anyone nor restrictions established based on gender.

(C) “[vs 31] … you can all prophesy …”

 ▬1 Corinthians 14:26-36 ▬

[26] What then, brethren?  When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.  Let all things be done for edification.  [27] If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret.  [28] But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silence in church and speak to himself and to God.  [29] Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.  [30] If a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent.  [31] For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged;  [32] and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.  [33] For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.  As in all the churches of the saints, [34] the women should keep silent in the churches.  For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says.  [35] If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home.  For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.  [36] What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached?

◆ “Simply stated, this assignment has arisen because the Synod has previously taken the position that the Scriptures themselves qualify or limit the eligibility of women for service in the church.  The Scriptures do so in those passages which require that only men are permitted to serve in the office of pastor and carry out the functions which God has assigned to it (1 Corinthians 14; 1 Timothy 2)” (CTCR, “The Service of Women…16 November 1994”).

◆ “The opening phrase of verse 34 suggests that the practice in all of the Christian congregations of Paul’s day is that the women are to keep silent in church assemblies.  The context of this passage makes clear that the ekklesiai referred to are the assemblies of Christians gathered for congregational worship” (Maier, 35).

Thesis 65: Paul, here in 1 Corinthians 14:26-36, is not discussing the office of the public ministry, nor ecclesiastical authority, nor qualifications as to whether or not women can participate in such an office.  He is discussing rubrics for conduct during worship and how wives relate to husbands during worship.

(A) In the preceding and following chapters and verses, Paul is addressing an apparent problem of behavior in public worship in Corinth:

(1) There is confusion in the public worship: with factions and divisions being evident (1 Corinthians 11:18-19), with regard to the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20-29), confusion on how women relate to men in worship (1 Corinthians 11:3ff),  a confusion centered in “speaking in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:6-19), and misunderstandings due to everyone trying to speak at once (1 Corinthians 14:26-40).

(2) Confusion will be offensive to unbelievers and hinder the Gospel witness.

(3) In Chapter 14, Paul uses the term “edify” seven times, laying down a basic, common sense outcome so that chaos is stemmed and order and growth take place.  Verse 26: “Let all things be done for edification …”

(4)  In 14:26 Paul suggests a “liturgy” that might bring about order and edification in the assembly (“each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue … let all things be done for edification …”).

(5) In 14:28 instruction is given to ensure order when the gifts of tongues is present: “… each in turn…”

(6) Then in verse 29 he instructs “the prophets” (which would include women,1 Corinthians 11:5) to proceed “one by one” (verse 31).

(7) Verse 33: Paul concludes “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”

(8) Verse 40: “… but all things should be done decently and in order.”

 (B) We can conclude:

(1) Paul is addressing the issue of rubrics for worship, not eligibility for public preaching of the Word.

(2) The universal principle Paul is laying down (vs 37: ” …what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord …”) is not directed to the question of whether or not women can lead worship and preach, but that those who are prophets and spiritual (vs 37) should demonstrate this by showing godly love and respect toward each other within the worship setting.

(3) The context is behavior in worship, not eligibility for pastoral office.

(4) See notes and comments under 1 Corinthians 14:37-40.

Excursus: Does the phrase in verse 33b, “as in all the churches of the saints, …” belong with verse 33a or with verse 34?

(1) Is the silence to be held in all the churches (local parenesis, connecting to verse 34) or is God the God of peace for and in all the churches (the theme underlying the chapter, connecting to verse 33)?

(2) Verses 34 and 35 are placed by the Western Text after verse 40, indicating that the ancients did not think that this phrase in 33b belonged as a part of verse 34.

(3) Lenski (page 613) notes that most of the ancients, as well as Luther, connect the phrase “as in all the churches” with the preceding verse, verse 33a..

(4) Harrisville (243) notes in the “publication of the American Standard Version in 1900, the original division was altered, and the new sentence begun at v. 33b.  Since then, all English versions of the New Testament have followed suit (the RSV, the NEB, the Jerusalem Bible; but cf. The Living New Testament).  Curiously enough, Nestle’s Greek text of the New Testament, first published in 1898, and in its subsequent editions used by the majority in Europe and America, contained the same verse division as appeared in English versions until 1900, while the Greek text of Westcott-Hort, first published in 1881, and in subsequent editions used by English scholars, evaluated the old division as on a par with the new.  To what extent aversion to female occupancy of the pulpit contributed to the alteration can only be surmised.”

(5) Given the “disordering” style of worship in pagan cultic practice, Paul’s “rubrics” in verses 26 to 36 apply to all within the universal church.

(6) The interpretive significance: “Peace in the society is a mark of the presence and work of God.  This is true (ideally) not only in Corinth, but universally …there are Christian assemblies elsewhere from whose example the Corinthians might learn a lesson …” (Barrett, 329-330).

◆ “If women are to remain silent in the assembly, how can they engage in the deliberation without audible participation? (1 Cor. 14:34)” [an argument against women suffrage] (Pittsburgh Convention Workbook, 1992, 199).

Thesis 66: In 1 Corinthians 14:26-36 Paul is addressing not male/female roles, but relationships as publicly evidenced between husband and wife.

(A) “[vs 34]…the woman…[vs 35]…a woman…”:

(1) The word translated  as “woman” in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, and 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is a form of the word γυνη, which can mean (1) any adult female, (2) a wife, or (3) bride (Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich, 167).

(2)  In his letter, 1 Corinthians, Paul uses forms of γυνη 39 times. The context in other chapters in 1 Corinthians calls for γυνη to be translated “wife.”

(3) The internal context here (“[vs 35] … let them ask their husbands at home…”) calls for γυνη to be translated “wife.”

(4) Lexicon studies support the translation of γυνη as wife: “… besides the use of aner and gyne in lists (where the terms are generally found in the plural) there are no examples where aner and gyne bear the meanings ‘man’ and ‘woman’ when the terms are found in close proximity” (Hugenberger, 354).

 (B) Is it not strange, then, that here all the major English translators choose “woman” or women”?

(C) Paul is not speaking here of women in general, or of women in society, or of women to  men in general, or of women in relationship to some public ministerial office; he is speaking specifically to wives in the Corinthian congregation.

(1) Paul is addressing the issue of husband-wife relationships when both are together in a worship context.

(2) The reason for Paul’s restrictions on “wives” is tied up with customs of that day which reflected a wife’s submission to her husband.

(3) Debating publicly with her spouse, and thus flouting a social practice accepted even in the church of that time showed disrespect.  Sometimes even speaking publicly in front of a husband was looked upon as showing disrespect to the husband.

(4) “1 Cor. 14:34-5 represents the application, in a particular cultural context, of an order of the present creation concerning the conduct of a wife vis-a-vis her husband.  It reflects a situation in which the husband is participating in the prophetic ministries of a Christian meeting.  In this context the co-participation of his wife, which may involve her publicly “testing” (διθακρινειν, 14:29) her husband’s message, is considered to be a disgraceful (αισχρον) disregard of him, of accepted priorities, and of her own wifely role.  For these reasons it is prohibited” (Ellis, 218).


 ◆ “It should be noted in this connection that Paul uses the Greek word laleo for ‘speak’ in 1 Cor. 14:34, which frequently means to ‘preach’ in the New Testament (See Mark 2:2; Luke 9:11; Acts 4:1; 8:25; 1 Cor. 2:7; 2 Cor 12:19; Phil. 1:4; et al.), and not lego, which is the more general term … Thus, Paul is not here demanding that women should be silent at all times or that they cannot express their sentiments and opinions at church assemblies.  The command that women keep silent is a command that they not take charge of the public worship service, specifically the teaching-learning aspects of the service” (CTCR-WIC, 33).

◆ “I Cor. 14:34f., too, is designed to prohibit the woman from proclaiming God’s Word in the worship service of the church.  Any other interpretation appears to be extremely artificial and improbable.  The whole chapter deals with participation in the worship service.  All the decisive words used in this connection (“be silent”, “speak”, “church”) Paul used immediately preceding in the same chapter (vs. 27-30), and it is quite clear that we are dealing here with the right publicly to participate in the worship service and there to speak of God’s ways.  For this reason alone the claim that the word in v. 34 (lalein) has a different meaning and refers only to disturbing chatter, is extremely improbable” (Giertz, Springfielder, March 1970, 14-15).


Thesis 67: The verb σιγαω means “hushed silence” and is never used as a reference indicating “no public preaching.”

(A) “[vs 34] … the women should keep silent …”: What does the verb σιγαω mean?

(1) Can this mean “totally silent”?  No, compare 1 Corinthians 11:5.

(2) Can this mean she cannot pray or preach?  No, compare 1 Corinthians 11:5.

(B) How is the verb used here?

(1) There are 10 uses of σιγαω in the New Testament.

(2) The Greek word suggests a voluntary, as opposed to a commanded, silence.  “This is the type of silence that is called for in the midst of disorder and clamor” (Bristow, 63).  “Each one of these, in context refers to ‘keeping the mouth shut’ — in actual silence, so as not to be a disturbance, not to refrain from public preaching of the Word” (Dinda, 4).

(3) The verb σιγαω (“to be silent”) is used three times in 1 Corinthians, all in chapter 14:

vs 28: “if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent

vs 30: “if a revelation is made … let the first be silent

vs 31: “… one by one ..[vs 34] … women should keep silent

(4) Verse 28 means “say nothing, keep silent.”  The second, verse 30, means to “stop speaking, become silent so to let the revelation be heard.”  If these two passages refers to literal silence (to stop disruptive speaking), it seems reasonable that the verb sense would remain the same for the third one.

(5) The context in verse 35 has Paul forbidding women even from “asking questions”; this would indicate that behavior, not a doctrinal question, is still the subject.  Clearly  he is using the verb in verse 34 the same way that he does in verses 28 and 30, and that the sense has not changed significantly for verse 34.  The instruction “to be silent” is directed against chattering confusion and disruption.  “Instead of causing chattering confusion in the assembly, please do the chattering at home” (vs 35).

(6) In both 1 Corinthians 14:28 and 14:30, the one told to “keep silent” is masculine in gender.  Even if this is gender “inclusive,” it still means men are being asked to keep silent.  Paul has not singled out women alone.

(7) Σιγαω ” — here [in verse 34] a present or durative infinitive — to keep on talking or chattering in church.  Note: no direct object” (Dinda, 8).

(8) Compare 1 Corinthians 12:7-11: No gender designations are given.  Women receive the gifts of the Spirit, wisdom, knowledge, tongues, interpretation – gifts which would hardly be shared unless women could use them and speak.

(9) If Paul gives permission to everyone, including women, in verses 26-32 of responding to the Spirit’s prompting (“[26] … each one has a hymn … [29] let two or three prophets speak [which includes women; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:5] … [vs 31] for you can all prophesy one by one…the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets …”), he is not going to turn around and take it away in the next verse [34].  Would Paul contradict himself thus?

(10) Paul is concerned about women interrupting teaching, not women engaged in teaching.


◆ “The command that women keep silent is a command that they not take charge of the public worship service, specifically the teaching-learning aspects of the service” (CTCR-WIC, 33).

◆ “The main application of these passages in the contemporary church is that women are not to exercise those functions in the local congregation which would involve them in the exercise of authority inherent in the authoritative public teaching office (i.e., the office of pastor)” (CTCR-WIC, 38).

◆ “Secondly, it must be underscored that Paul’s prohibition that women remain silent and not speak is uttered with reference to the worship service of the congregation (1 Cor. 14:26-33)” (CTCR-WIC, 33).

(11) Can anyone show from any Greek lexicon that the word σιγαω ever means “should not take charge” or “should not preach” as the CTCR-WIC suggests?  Does this happen to be a unique use of that word in the Scripture?  “We cannot just arbitrarily give meanings to inspired words, otherwise we can make the Bible say anything we wish it to say.  What if we allowed the words of institution of the Lord’s Supper to be defined arbitrarily?” (Concord).

(12) To say, as does CTCR-WIC, that “women are not to exercise those functions in the local congregation which would involve them in the exercise of authority inherent in the authoritative public teaching office” is to load σιγαω with freight it nowhere else bears and to read into 1 Corinthians a subject that is not even addressed in this passage.

(13) So, we conclude that “keep silent” is directed toward a confusion at this point; Paul is not addressing a question of abuse of a teaching, preaching, or pastoral office; rather, he instructs about worship which is being disrupted by some extraneous conversation, or by speaking in tongues, or by questions raised spontaneously, or by loud talk regarding revelations given by the Spirit in the congregation (verses 13-19), just as he instructs all others to be silent in verse 30.  “The apostle is simply preventing women from taking the initiative in speaking, but allows exceptions where there is genuine pneumatic endowment” (TDNT, I, 787).

(14) Paul’s call for women “to be silent” was a particular silence while their husbands’ prophecies are being tested.  This call does not ask for “total silence,” as verses 28 and 30 do not, nor is it a law forbidding worship leadership participation and teaching.

(15) “The juxtaposition of the two chapters [1 Corinthians 11 and 14] demonstrates at the least that this command to silence is not an order for every situation and for all times, for it is limited even in the same letter by adjacent material in ch. 11” (Reumann, 19).

(16) How does this text help interpret the phrase “women should keep silent”?  Jesus certainly was pleased with and approved that women should be bearers of the sacred Word.  John 4 does not support the contention that women should not preach or teach.

◆ “It should be noted in this connection that Paul uses the Greek word laleo for ‘speak’ in 1 Cor. 14:34, which frequently means to ‘preach’ in the New Testament (See Mark 2:2, Luke 9:11, Acts 4:1; 8:25; 1 Cor 2:7; 2 Cor 12:19; Phil. 1:4; et al.), and not lego, which is the more general term.  The claim that Paul has a different meaning in mind and that he uses it here to prohibit disturbing chatter is extremely improbable.).  When laleo has a meaning other than religious speech and preaching in the New Testament, this is usually made clear by an object or an adverb … ” (CTCR-WIC, 33).

◆ “The contrast in the Greek sentence marked by the ou gar … alla sets in opposition lalein and hypotassesthosan, speaking and being subordinate.  A speaking is involved which is the opposite of being subordinate, a speaking with authority, teaching, preaching with the implicit demand for obedience” (Hamann, 5).

Thesis 68: “[vs 34]… for they are not permitted to speak …” is a reference not to eligibility for pastoral office, but “to prattle.”

(A) What does the verb here, λαλειν, mean?  Does it necessarily pertain to public preaching as the CTCR-WIC suggests? Or to a “speaking with authority” as Hamann suggests?

(B) The basic sense of the word does not mean official speaking or preaching: “laleo and related words like the Lat. lallus (the ‘nurse’s crooning’), lallare (‘to lull to sleep’), the Germ. lallen and the Eng. ‘lull’ imitate the babbling of small children.  Hence to use the word of speech of adults is a sign of either intimacy or scorn: ‘to prattle'” (TDNT, IV, 76).

(C) In this sense, Paul uses λαλειν when referring to speaking in tongues (e.g. 1 Corinthians 13:1, 14:4), “because such speaking to people without interpretation is child’s prattling and babbling” (Dinda, 7).

(D) In the New Testament λαλειν is used many different ways other than preaching:

(1) Mark 7:35: “and he spoke plainly…”

(2) Mark 1:34: speaking in contrast to silence

(3) 1 Corinthians 3:1: simple conversation

(4) Matthew 10:20: a more official authoritative kind of speaking

(E) When λαλειν is used to mean preaching, the verb has a direct object, usually “the Word,” behind it (Dinda, 6 and 7); compare the passages the CTCR-WIC document (33) cites:

(1) Mark 2:2: “he was preaching the Word to them …”

(2) Luke 9:11: “and spoke to them of the kingdom of God

(3) Acts 4:1-2: “speaking to the people .. teaching the people and proclaiming …          Jesus...”

(4) Acts 8:25: “and spoke the Word of the Lord …”

(5) 1 Corinthians 2:7: “but we impart [speak] a … hidden wisdom of God..”

(6) 2 Corinthians 12:19: “we have been speaking in Christ…”

(F) 1 Corinthians 14:34 does not include a direct object after λαλειν.  If it did include a direct object after the verb, for example, “it is disgraceful for a woman to speak the Word in church,”  a strong case could be made for no woman functioning in a pastoral office and for λαλειv be an equivalent to “preaching.”  But there is no direct object and nothing else in this context to indicate pastoral roles. The CTCR’s argument, 33, does not hold.

(G) If the Apostle intended to prohibit preaching and teaching, two other words were available to him, either one of which would have put the matter beyond question: κηρυσσω and ευαγγελιζω.

◆ “The command that women keep silent is a command that they not take charge of the public worship service, specifically the teaching-learning aspects of the service” (CTCR-WIC, 33).

(H) Verses 39 and 40, in which the apostle sums up this chapter, do not contain a statement about women’s participation in worship leadership, only a word about behavior and unseemly words and acts, that is, worship etiquette.

(I)  There is here no express word that indicates this text speaks to eligibility for church office.  Paul here never uses the word for pastor or any New Testament synonyms for it. The context indicates Paul uses the word λαλειν in a wider, more general sense, and not as “preaching.”

◆ “Why are they told to ask their men (andras) at home if they are free to take an active part in the discussions of the assembly? (1 Cor. 14:35)” [argument against women suffrage] (Pittsburgh Convention Workbook, 1992, 199).

(J) Paul seems to be telling the disruptive women, “If you can’t speak in a manner that edifies others in this community of faith, then keep silent until you get home.”

(K) Another view: “In light of the discussion of pagan prophecy above, it is very believable that these women assumed that Christian prophets or prophetesses functioned much like the oracle at Delphi, who only prophesied in response to questions, including questions about purely personal matters … Those asking questions were not yet educated enough in the school of Christ to know what was and was not appropriate in Christian worship.  Paul affirms their right to learn, but suggests another context.  In any case, Paul is correcting an abuse of privilege, not taking back a woman’s right to speak in the assembly, which he has already granted in ch. 11.  The adversative particle e (‘or’) in v. 36 does not imply that Paul is rejecting a statement that he has quoted in vv. 34 f. — it is his own statement.  He is, rather, anticipating opposition to his ruling and forestalling it in v. 36″ (Witherington, 287).

 (L) Another perspective: “Again one is reminded of the Megillah’s concern for disgracing the dignity of the congregation should a woman be permitted to read Torah aloud” (Mollenkott, 100).

(M) Another perspective: If the congregation were following the Synagogue pattern of women sitting separately from men, calling to the husbands or men across the gathering would be highly disruptive.  So, Paul’s advice, “Talk at home.”

▬ 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 ▬

[34] … the women should keep silence in the churches.  For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. [35] If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home.  For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

Thesis 69: The context suggests that “[vs 34] … be subordinate …”  is the mutual voluntary submission which characterizes the wife-husband relationship.

(A) The tense is middle passive, the sense of which is that the woman is asked to “subordinate herself.”

(1) The text does not say “women should be subordinated by men.”

(2) The text does not say “Men, subordinate (or dominate) your women.”

(3) The text does not say, “Church, keep and require women to be subordinate.”

(B) The word in this context does suggest self-control and inner self-discipline (compare Galatians 5:23).  This stems from faith and demonstrates a desire not to dominate or exploit or embarrass the spouse.

(C) The word does not suggest a church rule imposed from the outside upon the woman. The context indicates that she simply should not add to the confusion in worship.

(D) See notes on Ephesians 5:21 and the Excursus on υποτασσω located just before the notes on Ephesians 5:21.

◆ “Paul cites the Law (very likely Genesis 2 in this particular context) as the basis for the subordination of woman” (CTCR-WIC, 22).

◆ “In addition to the moral and vocational qualifications required of those divinely placed into this high office in the church (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 3:5-9), the Scriptures teach that the incumbent of the pastoral office must be a man.  On the basis of Old Testament Scripture, St. Paul taught that ‘the women should keep silence in the churches.  For they are not permitted to speak; but should be subordinate, as even the law says’ (1 Cor. 14:34).  Understood within its context, this passage means that women ought not lead the public worship service, specifically carry out the teaching-preaching aspects of the service” (CTCR, “The Service of Women …, 16 November 1994”).

◆ “With the clause kathos kai ho nomos legei, Paul indicates that the regulation and practice of women maintaining silence in the assemblies of the saints, and thus subjecting themselves to the men, has its ultimate source in the Law, which is here the Old Testament” (Maier, Springfielder, 35).

Thesis 70: There is no clear exegetical evidence to understand specifically to what “Law” Paul is referring.

(A) “[vs. 34] … even as the Law says…”: The canonical Old Testament Scriptures nowhere say women should be silent in a worship context.

(B) A possible interpretation is that “the Law” which Paul cites is Jewish midrash or synagogue custom; the midrash does contain the following injunctions:

(1) Talmud, Kethuboth 59b, teaches a woman is to serve her husband no matter how many slaves her dowry enables her to purchase.

(2) Kethuboth 59b requires a wife to wash her husband’s face, hands, and feet, make his bed, and pour his wine.

(3) Kethuboth 6b, 78a, and 48b indicate that income earned from the wife’s own handicraft or from her pre-marriage assets become the property of her husband.

(4) Megillah 23a says that women are not permitted to read from the Torah in the synagogue because of the “dignity of the congregation.”

(5) One scholar suggests this refers to the Midrash on Numbers 12, which details Miriam’s disrespect for Moses.

(C) If so, Paul is then arguing not from Scripture, but from his rabbinic stance and knowledge.  “The Old Testament clearly assumed female submission but contained no law to command it, whereas rabbinic Judaism was full of traditional laws and customs which required the subservience of women” (Mollenkott, 96).

(D) Note an example of such a tradition from the Mishnah: “All are qualified to be among the seven [who read the Torah in the synagogue on sabbath morning], even a minor and a woman.  But a woman should not be allowed to come forward to read [the Torah] in public” (T. Meg. iv. II, 226, as quoted in Jeremias, 374).

(E) Or, not finding such a law in the Old Testament, Martin (page 76) renders νομος as “the ruling,” based on the sense of the word as norm, principle (Romans 3:27, Galatians 6:2).

(F) Is not the Old Testament ceremonial law superseded in Christ (Matthew 27:51; Colossians 2:16-17, 20)?  For those “in the Lord,” Jewish law no longer binds consciences, even Jewish midrash which ordains segregating women from worship participation and leadership.

(G) Our notes on Genesis 2 suggest there is no “law” either explicit or inferred directing superordination or subordination; what is suggested is partnership, companionship, parity.

(H) Or, another view: “The public cultic activity of women was familiar to Hellenism, and Paul shows himself extremely free to change position on these externalities in themselves.  Passages such as 11:2 ff. and 14:33b ff. are explained in terms of the concrete situations which compelled Paul to oppose the innovations of his opponents with the demand, concretized in detail, for the preservation of the traditional practice.  Since he obviously did not sense that the active participation of women in the cultus was demanded by the Gnostics, it is characteristic of his freedom that he tolerates this practice without contradiction.  At the time of Epistle B he is better informed; hence he now demands that the Gnostic custom, which allows women to engage in public prayer and certainly also in speaking in tongues, be once again discontinued.  On this point it is interesting that he now refers briefly to the tradition and sets forth the practice of other communities as normative, without attempting again a fruitless theological motivation for this originally Jewish observance.  In judging Paul one must keep in mind the special cause which compelled him in the last analysis against his intention, to limit Christian freedom in this way, and one then will readily accept, without qualms and naturally also without legalism, passages like 14:33b ff. as Pauline.  One will then also, at the deepest level, feel no contradiction between 11:2 ff. and 14:33b ff.  It is the same correctly understood Christian freedom which lets Paul allow the activities of women in the cult there and forbid it here” (Schmithals, 244-245).

Thesis 71: The word “shameful” in verse 35 (αισχροσ) suggests behavioral problems rather than doctrinal issues.

(A) “[vs 35] … for it is shameful for a woman to speak …”: Compare Ephesians 5:12: “For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret.”

(B) Plutarch writes, “Not only the arm but the voice of a modest woman ought to be kept from the public, and she should feel shame at being heard, as at being stripped” (quoted in Barrett, 331).

(C) “Paul’s short-range solution to the disruptive problems was for women to be silent during worship.  His long-range solution was for women to become educated in their faith” (Perales, 97).

Thesis 72: In summary, 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 can be understood as follows (following Dentinger, 13):

(A) “But the heart of the passage is the Greek term e, which introduces 1 Corinthians 14:36.  This particle startles us with its vivid forcefulness and its strong negative reaction.  As J.H. Thayer pointed out in 1889 (A Greek-English Lexicon), e with the grave accent may appear ‘before a sentence contrary to the one preceding [it] ….’  Thayer then listed 1 Corinthians 14:36 as an illustration.  Therefore, 1 Corinthians 14:36 is hardly a summation of verses 33b-35.  Consequently, Paul rejects the quotation of verses 33b-35, apparently cited from the Corinthian letter and rabbinic law: “What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you [men = masculine form] the only ones it has reached?”  What irony!  The very text that has been used for centuries to silence women from joining in the worship of the church, Paul used to establish their equality” (Kaiser, 12-I).

(B)  Paul (with sarcasm, mimicking comments he has heard or else quoting from the letter he has received from the Corinthians (note, for example, 1 Corinthians 6:12-13, 7:1, 8:1, 10:23):

“Women should keep silent!”  “Wives should not speak!”  “Wives (women) should be subordinate (that is our culture!)!”  “Jewish custom says wives should keep silent (they do not help constitute a synagogue)!” “Let women ask their husbands!  It is a shame for wives to speak (i.e, question husbands) publicly!”

Paul, then, with anger, incredulously (because these kind of sniping comments contradict what he said in 1 Corinthians 11:5):

What! Are you men (the second pronoun in verse 36 has a masculine adjective) the only ones who have received the word of God?  (No, there are other congregations with other practices!)  Did the word originate with you men?  (The Greek, literally translated, “… or from you [υμων, plural] the word of God went out, or to you [υμας, plural] only did it arrive?!”]  Are you men God?  Do you have the arrogance to usurp authority over other human beings?”

(Other examples of Pauline sarcasm include 1 Corinthians 11:20;  Paul uses sarcasm to show how ridiculous a point of view is. Paul is saying God did not give men a monopoly on the Word of God.)


Or following Martin (75) and Dinda (8), the passage can be read this way:

Paul: (While I’m on the subject of confusion in the church, let me briefly address the problem of babbling and chattering and causing confusion back behind the screens where they must stand or sit.  They are disturbing us, and that’s disgraceful.  Let your wives keep silent in the worship service, for they are not allowed to babble (that disturbs the worship).  Rather let them be under (self-)control, just as the (pastoral) ruling says.  (My pastoral advice is that) If they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home (rather than disrupt the worship scene).


▬  1 Corinthians 14:37-40 ▬

[37] If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.  [38] If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized.  [39] So, my brethren, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; [40] but all things should be done decently and in order.

◆ “Having appealed to the Old Testament (to the Law in I Cor. 14:34; the Creation Accounts and the Fall into Sin in I Tim. 2:13f.), Paul points to the highest authority the early church knew, the command of the Lord himself” (Giertz, Springfielder, 15).

Thesis 73: The Scriptural “[vs 37] … a command of the Lord” addresses behavior in worship, not eligibility for public office in the church.

(A) Exactly what is the Lord’s command?  That women should stay out of public ministry?  Or that worship be done “decently and in order”?

(B) Verse 37 indicates that this is addressed to “any one,” that is everyone, regardless of gender, and not specifically women.

(C) These verses are Paul’s summary of the chapter, and, one would think that if women’s role in worship leadership and preaching were the problem, it would have been included in this summary.  His key word in this chapter is “edify.”

(D) See comments under 1 Corinthians 14:26-36.


▬ 1 Corinthians 16:16 ▬

[16] I urge you to be subject to such men and to every fellow worker and laborer.

Thesis 74: The English translation clouds biblical truth.

(A) “[vs 16] … be subject to such ….. laborer“: The Greek for “to be subject to” (υποτασσω) is the same word as in 1 Corinthians 14:34; Paul does not limit the word to male superordination over women.

(B) The Greek here does not have the word “men” in it; a more accurate translation would read, “be subject to those who work and labor,” which would include women (cf. TDNT, 3: 827-830).

(C) The Greek verb for “laborer” (κοπιαω) means “work hard, toil, strive, struggle.”

(D) Paul uses the verb κοπιαω to describe his ministry (1 Corinthians 3:8; 4:12; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 11:23; Galatians 4:11; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 3:5).

(E) Paul uses the word to describe office bearers, those “who labor among you and are over you in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:12).

(F) Paul uses the verb to describe the missionary and pastoral work of others (1 Corinthians 15:58 and 2 Corinthians 10:15), as well as the ministry of women (Romans 16:6, 12).

(G) No one, not even Paul himself (2 Corinthians 1:24), is to lord it over another’s faith; all are to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).


Excursus: Is it possible that Paul counsels from both rabbinic as well as Gospel insights?  Do the unique insights provided by the Gospel at times change or negate the rabbinic or Old Testament logic and approach (such as between 1 Corinthians 11:9 and 1 Corinthians 11:11)?  Does an insight as we find in Galatians 3:28 represent a “breakthrough” which negates the idea of certain groups “keeping silent in the church”?

Some passages of Holy Scriptures which seem to contradict previous passages are simply fuller revelations and reflect deeper divine insights than the previous ones.  Below are a number of examples:

(A) One example measures retaliation and forgiveness:

(1) Genesis 4:23-24: “Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Sillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, hearken to what I say: I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.  If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”  The Old Testament cultural context permitted unlimited retaliation.

(2) Deuteronomy 19:21: “Your eye shall not pity: it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”  The Mosaic law posits a limited retaliation.

(3) Matthew 5:38-41: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil.  But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”  Jesus takes the problem one step further and denies any retaliation as a Christian response.

(4) Not all of Scripture expresses the Creator’s original intent.  But we see the gradual unfolding of God’s intended will most fully expressed in Jesus Christ.  We do not hold to the teaching of the Genesis passage or the Deuteronomic passage, but we do teach the forgiveness implied in Jesus’ words.


(B) Other examples:

(1) Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” God’s original intent is the concept of one indissoluble union.

(2) Deuteronomy 24: “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter husband dislikes her and writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord.”  Moses permits an exception to God’s intent.

(3) Mark 10:2-5: “And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’  He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.’  But Jesus said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.”  “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.'”

 (4) Jesus appeals to Scripture (Genesis) against Scripture (Deuteronomy).  Jesus goes back to the original intent of the Creator.


(C) Still others:

(1) Leviticus 15:25-31: “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her impurity … everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her impurity.  And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.”

(2) Luke 8:43-48: “And a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years and could not be healed by any one, came up behind [Jesus], and touched the fringe of his garment … And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.'”

 (D) We do have commands and prohibitions in Scripture that are not absolute:

(1) “Thou shalt not kill,” yet the government is given the power of the sword.

(2) “In everything give thanks,” yet certainly not for having given in to temptation.

(E) The Deuteronomic injunction is transformed by forgiveness; compare:

(1) Leviticus 20:10: “... commit adultery … shall be put to death...”

(2) John 8:47: “Let him without sin among you cast the first stone … Go, sin no more.

(F) Numbers 27:1-11  The daughters of Zelophedad, disinherited according to the Levitical laws (which recognized only sons as heirs, Deuteronomy 21:15-17), appeal their property rights against the Levitical laws before Moses. The request is granted, and the law is changed to “[vs 7] … cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them.”

(G) Scripture does reflect the human limitations and emotions of its human authors even when they are opposite God’s ultimate will; compare:

(1) Psalm 137:9: “Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!”

(2) Proverbs 24:17-18: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it, and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.

(H) Judaism forbade women to worship with men. The early church had the question: “How do women interact with men now that we worship together?”

(I) These examples from the Scriptures need to be kept in mind when we approach texts that seem to bind the faithful in the absolute and immutable.  God’s intention in dealing with sinful humans is their salvation, and his prophets and apostles work in their individual situations to remove barriers which inhibit people from faithfully embracing fully their life with God.

(J) There is a recognition among biblical students that, even though “all Scripture is inspired” (2 Timothy 3:16), not every passage of Scripture is on a parity with every other verse and theme of Scripture.

(K) Scripture reveals in some places insights not available in others.  In Christ comes the new: Baptism replacing circumcision, Eucharist over Passover, substance instead of shadow, one Lamb surpassing many sacrificial lambs.

(L) Thus, even if in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 Paul were ordering public proclamation based on the “orders of creation,” creation order can be renewed and replaced by new insights such as Galatians 3:27 and 28.

(M) This does not mean playing one proof text against another.  It does mean seeking passages that more clearly and unmistakably capture God’s intent for his first creation and his New Creation.

 ▬  2 Corinthians 5:17-20 ▬

[17] Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.  [18]  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  [20]  So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.

Thesis 75: In Christ, the Gospel and the Spirit change the Old Order and the old carnal way of relating.

(A) The NEB catches the sense: “[17]…and a new order has already begun.”

(B) “In Christ” the new has already begun; yet for Paul all is not yet fulfilled.  Christian life is simul justus et peccator and growing in sanctification (Romans 6:19, 1 Peter 2:2).

(C) Operating within this tension, Paul can point to the New Creation; yet recognizing “the old” is still not completely defeated, he can advise pastorally on the basis of the New Creation within the old order.

(D) Thus, recognizing the presence and power of sin, Paul had to be satisfied with partial application (e.g., the slave question).


▬ Galatians 3:27-28 ▬

[27]  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  [28] For there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

◆”The division into male and female established in the order of creation is not relevant in reference to Baptism into Christ” (CTCR- WIC, 26).

◆ “Gal. 3:26-29:  On the basis of the difference between the order of creation and the order of redemption the 1956 study committee report correctly concludes that Gal. 3:26-29 (along with 1 Cor. 12:13 and Col. 3:11) describes human relationships in terms of redemption, and thus it is improper to use the Galatians passage as a basis for supporting the cause of women suffrage” (Lutheran Witness, June 1969, page 7).

◆ “This text [Galatians 3:28] reveals how believers appear before God, but it does not speak to issues pertaining to order in the church or the specific functions of women in the congregation” (CTCR-WIC, 27).

◆ “ [Galatians 3:28] … does not mean identity of man and woman can be exchanged any more than Greeks can become Jews or vice versa” (CTCR-WIC, 27).

Thesis 76: Galatians 3:27 and 28 suggest that God’s purpose is the restoration of the original creative intent.

(A)  The lines quoted above from Missouri Synod literature illustrate a basic exegetical bias in working with Galatians 3:28.  Does Paul limit the passage to the “order of redemption” (salvation)?  Does not faith have to do with the nitty-gritty of life (James 2:14-17)?  We can distinguish but not separate salvation and sanctification in the way the Witness writer implies.

(B)  Once again, the Gospel, the Good News which comes through Jesus Christ, does speak to all issues in the church, to orders and ordination and to men and women in ministry and sacradotal office; if it does not, it is a limited Gospel at best!  There is no area of faith and life which the Gospel does not encompass and to which it does not speak!

(C) Galatians 3 deals with current issues and is not just talking about a future way of being.  The baptized “put on Christ” within the present order.  We are called to grow in Christ-likeness now (Ephesians 4:11-16).  The verbs are past tense: this has already happened; we have already been clothed in Christ.

(D) If “the division into male and female established in the order of creation is not relevant in reference to Baptism into Christ,” as the CTCR-WIC maintains, then, by extension of the same logic, the division and separation between Jew and Gentile and slave and free also remain, and the Gospel has no bearing on the concrete reality of these other two issues.  But if “in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female,” then there is no order.

(E) A central point of the letter to the Galatians is that neither Jew nor Gentile because of race or patrimony (or lack of it!) has priority in Christ.  Paul even describes the concrete, historic New Order in which this takes place (Galatians 2:4-21) and castigates the Galatians for being “bewitched” (Galatians 2:1) by a gospel which denies this Christocentric reality now.

(F) Paul specifically singles out three relationships in which God’s Eden-ic intent has been prostituted by making one group unequal to another in the eyes of one.  He works through this Jew-Gentile division in Romans and Galatians.

(G) And most of the Book of Acts details Paul’s effort to break down through the power of the Gospel “the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) between Jew and Gentile, and Paul’s letter to Philemon certainly plants the seeds of renovating the relationships between master and slave and abolishing the institution of slavery (Philemon 16).

(H) None of us would limit access to the pastoral office based on race (Jew and Gentile).

(I) None of us would stand up and support slavery today, even though Paul (Ephesians 6:5) wrote, “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters.”

(J) The Gospel does not erase created distinctions, male and female, but it does empower God’s people to work through “sinful divisions.”

(K) “[vs 28]… neither male nor female…”

(1) The Greek actually reads “male and female.  Scholars see this as a clear reference (an identical form is used in the Greek Septuagint) to Genesis 1:27.

(2) Paul uses the words for male and female (αρσεν και θηλυ)instead of husband and wife.  He thus links this passage back to Genesis 1:27.

(3) Such a reference would indicate a reference to God’s original creative intent, equity-with-differences.  The baptized, participating by grace in God’s New Order, reflect God’s original intent.

◆ “ C.S. Lewis makes a similar point in his essay on ‘Priestesses in the Church?’ when he writes, “the point is that unless “equal” means “interchangeable,” equality means nothing for the priesthood of women’ (that is, for women in the pastoral office)” quoted in CTCR-WIC, 26.

(4) Lewis misses the point of “equity with differences.”  No, equal does not mean interchangeable.  Equality does ask one to ignore the distinctions; it implies working through the divisions that sinful beings create because of distinctions.

(L) In a footnote CTCR-WIC gives lip-service to this: “As long as the gospel is a living power, differences in this world cannot become the basis for arrogance and oppression.”

(M) “Any claim that there is something about the nature of another human being [emphasis added] as such that renders that person to be of inferior value not only denies the biblical doctrine of creation, but also calls into question what the Scriptures teach about the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As a human, Jesus descended from Adam [Note: and Eve!], whom God created (Luke 3:38), and whom all human beings have as progenitor.  To deny the full humanity of any fellow human being is at the same time to compromise the apostolic truth that in Christ ‘the fullness of the deity dwells bodily’ (σωματικοϖσ, Col. 2:9), that is, that he truly ‘was made man’ (Nicene Creed)” (CTCR, “Racism and the Church,” February 1994, 38 and 39).  Since Galatians 3 mentions not only race (Jew and Gentile), but also male and female, would that the CTCR’s theology in “Racism and the Church” were also applied to women in the church.



Excursus: Consider the following sequence:

(A) Genesis 1: Male and female are created in the image of God.  God is Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, equal in all ways, each deserving equal majesty and honor, none less than the other.  That equity-with-difference” posture is part of the image of humanity, male and female.

(B) Genesis 3:16:  That man “shall rule over you [the woman]” is not God’s ordering of creation, but a result of the fall into sin.  It is a consequence of anyone heeding the subtle and tempting call of Satan, “You will be like God,” setting oneself up as God, determining power and authority or right and wrong.

(C) 2 Corinthians 5:17:  “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”  The Gospel changes people and how they relate in structures and relationships.  God inaugurates a New Order.

(D) Galatians 3:28:  Paul, in this Galatians text, describes what the new creation looks like as it finds expression in the church.  The Old Order still operates the way “the Gentiles do” (Mark 10:42).  In Christ, in the Church, the New Creation reigns.  Differences and animosity and separateness between Jew and Gentile are a matter of the past (Ephesians 2:11-22).

(E) The seeds for dissolving the slave-master construct were planted (Philemon), even though it takes yet centuries for these seeds to be nurtured and grown.  In applying Law and Gospel Paul is working with deep-seated social institutions, structures firmly entrenched in culture.  Had the Gospel been fully implemented, for example, in the area of slaves-masters, the machine of Rome would have “crucified Paul” (note the Roman response to Spartacus).  Paul, instead of attacking the demeaning and exploitative institution head on, injects a new motivation (Philemon 16, 21).

(F) White Christians in the American South in the pre-Civil War era wanted to absolutize slavery as it was in that day: but God’s truth goes marching on; no Christian in the 1990s would stand up and support slavery.  The seed Paul planted in the Gospel, “all are justified” and “in Christ there is neither slave or master,” has borne fruit down through the centuries.  In the same manner, in our most faithful postures, we do not tolerate “walls of hostility” “between Jew and Greek,” or Hispanic or Anglo or Black.

(G) And it is taking centuries to address the male-female consequence (Genesis 3:16), even “in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11), even in the church. Walking faithfully, then, calls for us not to absolutize male-female relationships, whether in society or in the Church, at a first century point.  In Galatians 3:28, Paul plants this seed as well.  The Gospel changes even all the Old Orders.  In the Church, there is not hierarchy, but servanthood.

(H) Slavery

 Paul injected new motivation to live within evil social structures

Civil War: White Christians in 1860 in the South wanted to absolutize slavery here

Abolition:  But God’s truth marches on

2000: We are still in bondage to various institutions, but the implementation of the Gospel insights continues

(I) Point: Don’t absolutize male/female relations at a first century point.  Galatians 3:28 is the Gospel insight and ideal; we struggle today with the Gospel implementation and practice.



Excursus on Distinctions and Divisions:

◆ “Galatians 3:28 is not intended to remove God’s created orders and patterns (that would imply that God contradicts Himself).  Instead, Galatians 3:28 refers to our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.  Nearly every one of Paul’s letters, for instance, shows that, though all are one in Christ, the distinctions between male and female always remain (Genesis 1:26-27).  They are part of the pattern of creation from the beginning” (Touchpoint, Study Manual, 18).

◆ “However, the oneness of male and female in Christ does not obviate the distinction given in creation.  Gal. 3:28 does not mean that the identity of man or woman can be exchanged any more than that Greeks can become Jews or vice versa” (CTCR- WIC, 26-27).

◆ “The fact of baptism and oneness in Christ’s body allows no argument as to the proper ordering of the church.  Nor does it annul the facts of life in this aeon into which we are all born.  It does not suddenly eliminate the fact of sex.  Believing and baptized women do not suddenly cease to be women…. However important Gal. 3:28 is for the relation of men and women in the church, and for the proper respect and dignity they are to accord one another, it does not speak of female ordination directly or indirectly” (Hamann, 3).

◆ “According to the order of creation, God has assigned individual identities to each sex.  He ‘from the beginning made them male and female’ (Matt. 19:4).  The identities and functions of each are not interchangeable; they must remain distinct” (CTCR-WIC, 22).

There is a difference between “created distinctions” and “sinful divisions.”

(A)  The above quotations all fail to distinguish between distinctions and divisions.

(B) The point is not the blurring or exchange or obviating identities and distinctions by becoming another sex or race or economic class.

(C) Only when we do recognize true distinctions do we allow for oneness.  We are one with God the Father only when we recognize the Creator/Creature distinction; we are the children, not the Father, not God.  Marriage (“one flesh”) involves the distinction between maleness and femaleness, and the marriage of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5) requires knowing that Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is the Bride.

(D)  The point is the transformation of human hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel so that sinful antagonisms which cause divisions and which divide and destroy partnership and fellowship will no longer result in sin-controlled behavior patterns which create exploitation and “walls of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).

(E) What we gave up in Baptism is the idea that God assigns any of us an identity based on something about ourselves (e.g., our gender).  The Gospel transformation of the heart enables us to “see” the other in terms of God’s relationship to us.

(F)  Arguing the same way as the CTCR-WIC document does, we would also have to assume, then, the same for slave/free and Jew/Gentile, that Baptism has no concrete historical effect.  “Baptized into Christ” has not only faith implications, but sanctification (social and cultural) implications as well (cf. Matthew 25:31-46).  And compare 1 John 4:20: “If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  Any “orders of creation” (or the Fall?) cannot be unaffected by the Gospel.

(G) The separation between “the spiritual” and “the profane”:  This same tradition speaks of the “invisible church.”  What is forgotten is that Biblical theology is a theology of paradoxes; for example, one God yet Father, Son, Spirit; Christ, divine and human; sinner yet saint; divine Scripture yet human authors; a salvation which is “already now” and yet “not yet.”  When we work with that which focuses just on the “invisible” nature of the church, which says that Baptism, the Sacrament of incorporation into the people of God (1 Corinthians 12:13) is not a relevant issue when addressing “orders of creation,” we have forgotten this paradoxical tension: the church is both invisible and concrete (that’s what 1 Corinthians 11 is all about!).

(H) The CTCR-WIC document asks the questions rhetorically.  And the answer should be “Yes!”   Paul gives up on the Law (the “order of creation”) as mandating relationships, as being determinative for the community of faith, understanding that “in the Lord” the Gospel is determinative.


(I) Creation/New Creation

 (1) Creation  ➠   Fall  ➠     The New Creation

God’s intention initiates the Old Order in the midst of the Old Order

Gen. 1  (creation)…  Gen. 3:16 (fall)….  Gal. 3:28 (new creation)

Equity-with-differences… “he shall rule over you…”  “…in Christ … all are one”

(2) In our baptism into Christ, humanity enters a new relationship with each other– now!–whether Jew or Gentile, free or slave, male and female.

(3) The dominance/subordination dynamic instigated by the Fall and sin (Genesis 3:16) is unraveled.  We relate not on the basis of gender hierarchy, but on the basis of the forgiveness of sins.

(4) The Church is the one place, if any, where God’s creation intent–parity with differences–should find expression!



▬ Ephesians 4:11 ▬

[11] And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers …”

◆ “Prophesy is distinguished from preaching in Eph. 4:11.  Preaching is a form of teaching, but the distinctive characteristic of prophesy is that it results from God having put his very words into the mouth of the one speaking (2 Pet. 1:21-22).  In other words, the prophet depends on special inspiration to speak a message which is more than a product of human thought” (CTCR-WIC, 10).

Thesis 77: The CTCR misreads Ephesians 4:11.  Prophesy and preaching are not distinguished from each other in this verse.

(A) Preaching is not mentioned in Ephesians 4:11.

(B) There is no indication here that gifts of the Spirit are dispersed according to gender.

(C) Miriam, Hulda, Deborah, et al, are female prophets.


▬ Ephesians 5:21-33 ▬

[21]  Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.  [22] Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.  [23]  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  [24] As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.  [25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  [28]  Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  [29] For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, [30] because we are members of his body.  [31]  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  [32] This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; [33] however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.  

“The word which Paul uses to describe this order  — subordination — (The Greek word for subordination is hypotage, which is formed from the word tasso — to appoint, to order, to arrange, and hypo — under) — does not carry with it any notion of inferior value or oppression.  This term is used by Paul simply to refer to order in the relationship of man and woman to one another.  St. Paul teaches in 1 Cor. 11:7-9, ‘For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.)'”  (CTCR-WIC, 23).

Thesis 78: The Biblical word radically reinterprets the cultural patterns of its time.

(A) Jewish attitudes of the New Testament times are expressed in words like these: “Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman,” and “When a boy comes into the world, peace comes into the world; when a girl comes, nothing comes.”  In the synagogue women were assigned special places behind a screen.

(B) “The restricted role of women in the New Testament needs to be viewed in the light of attitudes toward women prevalent at that time” (CTM, June 79, 134).

(C) “In the light of this background it is clear that New Testament authors did not introduce a subordinationist view of women as a new, central divine teaching that was in conflict with the view of Jewish and pagan society around them.  Rather, they shared or at least did not fully oppose, the views of their environments” (CTM, June 79, 134).

(D To add verse 21 (“… υποτασσομενοι αλληλοισ εν φοβω θεου …”) is the radical (evangelical) Christian reinterpretation of community and religious norms.

Thesis 79: Mutual submission is the Christ-like way.

(A) “[vs 21]… be subject to one another …”:  This verse establishes the framework of the entire passage: mutual voluntary submission; no spouse is superior or inferior in any way.

(1) (Much of the literature in discussing Ephesians 5 for some inexplicable reason begins with verse 22; for example, Zerbst, 80).

(2) The passages which relate to the role of women in marriage, Genesis 21:12, Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians 3:18-19, 1 Peter 3:1-7, all urge wives to submit to their husbands, yet reciprocally the responsibility of the husband is stressed.  In these passages husband and wife are seen as “join heirs of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).

(3) “[21] …be subject to one another … [22] …(be subject) to your husbands …”:  The English verb (“ subject…”) in verse 22 is not in the Greek; rather, the verb from verse 21 is carried over as understood into verse 22.  Wifely submission is dependent upon the verb for mutual submission.  We cannot separate the issue of voluntary wifely submission from mutual submission.

(4) “When Paul speaks of wives submitting themselves to their husbands, he is building upon the concept that every Christian is intended to submit to every other Christian, to serve every other Christian, to defer lovingly to every other Christian” (Mollenkott, 23).

(5) “Sometimes 5:21 is translated as if it begins a new section only incidentally related to the preceding section: ‘Submit to one another.’  But it is more likely that the Greek phrase ‘submitting to one another’ retains here its usual force in the context of the parallel phrases that precede it: a subordinate participial clause dependent on the preceding imperative.  In other words, the submission of 5:21, like the worship of 5:19-20, flows from being filled with God’s Spirit (v. 18)” (Keener, 158).

(B) Clarifying “mutual submission”:


◆ “A woman who sees her rights and her dignity of being a human being as violated by the ‘obey’ clause in the marriage ceremony probably has never calculated the honor and dignity of being wife and mother worth the price of the loving service she owes her husband” (Naumann, 8).

(1) Paul does not use the word “obey” for wives toward husbands (he does use “obey” [υπακουω] for both children [Ephesians 6:1] and slaves [Ephesians 6:5]).

(2) There is no reference to the husband possessing authority “over” his wife.

(3) No permission is given for the husband to demand that his wife submit to his authority.

(4) The husband is not given leave “to rule” the wife or “to be lord” over her.

(5) There is no reference here to a “chain of command.”

(6) “This passage depicts marriage not as a hierarchical organization, but as a living, unified (head and body) organism” (Groothius, 153).

(7) Christ is himself the provider of definitional content for “head”:  self-giving, cherishing, self-sacrificing, nourishing; not exercising domineering authority and rule.

(8) The thrust in this passage is not to the Christ “possessing authority” over the Church, but to the Church’s willing self-subjection to Christ.

(9) “Christ’s self-humbling and voluntary self-humiliation is pictured as a model for the Christian husband, not for the wife at all” (Mollenkott, 123).

(10) Culture and society do not define the roles, but rather the pattern between Christ and his Bride, the Church.

(11) The ideal is “one flesh” (5:31), achieved when there is mutual submission prompted by the Spirit.

(12) “Masters are not directed in the Bible to have slaves submissive to them; men are not directed to have wives submissive to them.  The directive is always toward the person under authority, that they should bear it without concern.  Therefore, it is humility that is being called for on the part of both men and women” (Dentinger, 6).

(13) The address of a word of submission to one person is not simultaneously a word of superordination and domination to the other party.  To ask women (in a specific context) to be submissive or silent is not an order to males (or even the church!) to subject women to lesser status or silence or exclude them from certain functions.

(14) See the notes on Mark 10:42-45.

Thesis 80: The concept of κεφαλη is not applied in the Scriptures to the public ministry.

(A) The concept κεφαλη is not used of any office within the early Christian church within the New Testament.

(B) The term is used only in the context of the marriage relationship.

(C) Therefore, any application of this concept to the church’s ministry is an inference which does not have direct warrant in the text itself (Priebe).


Excursus on υποτασσω: The word  υποτασσω: The word,  υποτασσω, often translated to English as “submit,” in its basic New Testament context of relationships between believers suggests a voluntary Christ-like act, a self-giving without the implication of being forced or coerced by another.

(A) The noun υποταγη is used four times in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 9:13, Galatians 2:5, 1 Timothy 2:11 and 3:4).

(B) The verb τασσω means “to order, to position, to determine.”

(1) With υπο in the active voice, it means “place under, subordinate, subject.”

(2) With υπο in the passive voice, it means “become subject to someone or thing.”

(3) With υπο in the middle voice, it means “voluntarily submit oneself, defer to, surrender one’s right.”

(C) The verb υποτασσω is employed thirty nine times in the New Testament


◆ “The woman is reminded, always in the context of an appeal to the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ, that she has been subordinated to man by the Creator and that it is for this reason that she should willingly accept this divine arrangement” (CTCR-WIC, 31).

The motivation for voluntarily submitting oneself: Never does the New Testament remind the woman “that she has been subordinated to the man by the Creator.”

(A) Contrary to the CTRC implication in the above quotation, the woman is reminded to subordinate herself as Christ subordinated himself.

(B)  “Order of creation” ideology never is given as the reason for self-submission.  The Greek word for “subordination,” as used in the New Testament,  is related not to any,”order of creation” theology, but to Christology and soteriology.   “be submissive,” the one to whom the person is to be submissive is also exhorted and reminded of the need to defer from the normal cultural pattern of domination (see also the discussion in Kittel, 8:39-45).

 The purpose of submission is not authority but service:


(A) 1 Peter 2:13-3:6 and 1 Corinthians 9:19-23: to win the other for Christ;

(B) 1 Corinthians 11:11: for mutual care;

(C) 1 Corinthians 7:35: “to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”


The dynamic of submission is

(A) “be subject …”:  self-initiated, not imposed “from above”  (vss 22 and 26: the middle voice of the Greek leaves the initiation for submissive behavior with the wives themselves).

(B) Compare Philippians 2:3-8, Christ’s self-emptying (κενοω).

(C)”[vs 21] …out of reverence for Christ“:  the submission is done in obedience to Christ, and is grounded in one’s faith, not in an “order of creation” teaching.

(D)”Mutual submission” and αγαπη inform κεφαλη, not εξουσια.


“To obey” and “to submit oneself” are not synonyms.

(A)Υποτασοω does not mean “obey.”

(1) “To obey” means to respond under a required order from a higher authority.

(2) There are three other New Testament words which express “obey” better: πειθαρχειν, πειθεσθαι, and υπακουειν.

(3) Υποτασσω does not imply a blind, uncritical acceptance or agreement to the person being submitted to (Acts 5:29; Acts 4:19-20).

(4) “The problem of υποτασσομενοι αλληλοισ in Eph. v. 21 is to be solved not by attempting to explain away the idea of reciprocity, but by recognizing that υποτασσεσθαι here does not mean ‘obey.’  The real meaning of the phrase becomes clear when we compare Rom. xii. 10 (τη τιμη αλληλουσ προηγουμενοι) and Phil 11. 3 f. (τη ταπεινοφροσυνη αλληλουσ ηγουμενοι υπερεχοντας εαυτων, μη τα εαυτων εκαστοι σκοπουντες, αλλα και τα ετερων εκαστοι).  The three phrases, υποτασσεσθαι αλλνλοισ, τη τιμηη αλλνλουσ προηγεισθαι and αλληλουσ ηγουμενοι υπερεχοντας εαυτων, would all seem to mean essentially the same thing” (Cranfield, 243).

(5) The motive for “submission” or “deference,” then, is an inner one, one’s faith relationship to Christ and through Christ to one’s neighbor.

(6) “A complete and wholehearted submission amounts to giving oneself so completely that one lays down his or her life for the other.  This, in fact, is precisely what husbands are told to do in Ephesians 5:21-33.  Ironically, this is the passage most frequently used to mandate the wife’s universal and unilateral submission to the husband’s authority over her”(Groothius, 164).


“The word which Paul uses to describe this order –subordination–(The Greek word for subordination is

hypotage, which is formed from the word tasso–to appoint, to order, to arrange, and hypo–under)–does not carry with it any notion of inferior value or oppression.  This term is used by Paul simply to refer to order in the relationship of man and woman to one another.  St. Paul teaches in 1 Cor. 11:7-9, ‘For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.)'”  (CTCR-WIC, 23).


The appropriate English referents need to be found for υποτασσω.


(A) Note the following English definitions of the word “submit”:

(1) “Synonyms: yield, relent, bow, defer, submit, capitulate.  These verbs all have a sense of abandoning or retreating from a position or stand.  Yield has the widest application.  It can refer to giving way for reasons ranging from recognition that one is overmatched to acknowledgment that an adversary’s position is the more correct one … Defer can mean either giving way to authority or changing one’s stand as an act of courtesy, respect, or recognition of another’ s superior knowledge, judgement, or the like.  Submit implies giving way out of necessity after opposing unsuccessfully…” (American Heritage Dictionary of the American Language, 1980,  1484).

(2) “Yield: any sort or degree of giving way before force, argument, persuasion, or entreaty… Submit suggests full surrendering after resistance or conflict to the will or control of another….Defer implies a voluntary yielding or submitting out of respect or reverence for or deference and affection toward another…” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1368).

(B)  The word “subordination” in English clearly implies “inferior, placed in or occupying a lower class, rank, or position” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1175).

(1) The same source gives no indication that the word can be used as it is defined in CTCR-WIC, 23.

(2) The dictionary definition of “submit” is the least in corresponding to the theological Greek word, υποτασσω.  The New Testament understanding is not “giving way out of necessity after opposing unsuccessfully” nor “full surrendering after resistance or conflict to the will or control of another.”

(3) If υποταγη “does not carry with it any notion of inferior value or oppression” (CTCR-WIC, 23) then careful scholarship asks that we find an English equivalent of the Greek to say what the Greek says.  If it does mean “to appoint, to order, to arrange…under,” then we need to use those terms.

(4) As a noun, “order” suggests structure, rigidity.  As a verb, “to order,” it implies God’s action and puts the emphasis not on a created structure or ranking but in the Creator who continues to order all existence.

(5)  “In fact, the closest thing Paul gives to a definition of the term [υποτασσω] in the context of Ephesians 5:21-33…is the word ‘respect’ in 5:33, where he plainly summarizes his whole exhortation to wives” (Keener, quoted in Groothius, 164).

(C)  The CTCR fails to heed its own understanding of approaching the Scriptures: “The undeniably necessary effort to hear a text of Scripture first of all in its particularity, its meaning ‘then and there,’ must be balanced by an equal effort to hear the text both in its integral relation to all the rest of Scripture and its meaningfulness for all who hear it today.  This effort does not require an arbitrary flattening out of the rich variety of the Biblical witness into a dull one-dimensional uniformity” (CTCR, “A Lutheran Stance Toward Contemporary Biblical Studies,” 10).


Additional commentary:

◆ “Assumption of that office by a woman is out of place because it is a woman [emphasis added] who assumes it, not because women do it in the wrong way or have inferior gifts and abilities” (CTCR-WIC, 36).

“Social structures would disintegrate into anarchy and chaos were mankind to seek to live by a purely egalitarian model of communal life.  To conceive the personal dimension as an I/thou fellowship does not imply an egalitarianism that knows no level of authority and obedience, no super- and subordination in society.  In fact, in the concrete structures of life, women ought to be subordinate to men as the occasion demands.  By the same token men ought to be subordinate to women as the occasion demands.  It is not the subordination of some women to some men, but the subordination of all women to all men, because they are women, that constitutes the indefensible thesis, indeed the unscriptural thesis. … Since men and women are equally in the image of God, what is true for one is true for the other [emphasis added]. … Men and women are persons related as partners in life.  Hence neither men nor women by nature are born to command or to obey; both are born to command in some circumstances, to obey in others.  And the more personal the relationship between them, the less there is of either; the less personal the relationship between them, the more there is of both” (Jewett, 130-131).

“Just as we do not believe that wifely subjection excludes the wife from loving her husband, we should not believe that husbandly loving excludes the husband from subjection to his wife” (Mollenkott, 27).

Mutual submission involves not obedience but reciprocity.  Obedience cannot be a synonym for submission; rather in Ephesians 5 “love” seems to be the synonym for “submission” (cf. Groothius, 154-155).

◆ “If we admit that Christ has authority over his church, it is crystal clear that man has authority over woman” (Christian News, 23 June 1986).

◆ “As in the husband-wife relationship  (the husband the head, the wife the helper), so in the church the same role differences apply” (Tom Trapp, Newsletter of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Campus Ministry).

There is no biblical suggestion in the original context that “head” (from Ephesians 5) and “helper” (from Genesis 2) are opposites.

Titus 2:9 also uses the word submissive: “Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect.”  The Gospel has transformed that relationship (consider abolitionist pre-civil war thought!).  The same applies to woman: what is the cultural context and similarity for women today?  The Scriptures are problem-solving literature, and the Scriptures give divinely inspired examples of problem solving, addressed to special situations and contexts, which must not be read as “eternal principles.”

“The first century Jews understood very clearly that when Jesus claimed to be doing the work of God his Father, he was claiming equality with God.  For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God (John 5:18 NIV).  And the response of the Father to the voluntary submission of Jesus was immediate exaltation.  Because Jesus submitted to death on the cross, ‘therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name’ (Philippians 2:9 NIV).  So if we are going to talk about the relationship between the Father and the Son as a model for Christian wives and husbands, we are talking about a model of complete unity and equality, involving only a voluntary submission and a voluntary exaltation which is to be an example for both males and females” (Mollenkott, 64).

 “The instruction, ‘Let everyone be subordinate …’ has been so seriously misunderstood, and then abused, because of the failure to respect the complete context in which both the word hypotassesthai and the other similar invitations to obedience, honor, to humiliation are found.  All of these words give expression to an essential mark of Christian relationships to one’s fellow man: in the congregation, in the family and in the city, for brethren, for non-Christians, and also (in political contexts) toward the bearers of power.  The call to ‘be subordinate,’ to ‘obey,’ to ‘regard another as higher than oneself’ is addressed to men with regard to their wives and vice versa, slaves toward their masters (and again vice versa, compare Philemon), children toward their parents (and the parents should honor their children by not irritating them), the young toward the old, and the elders toward the congregation which they lead.

“If then one does not regard the imperative, ‘Be subordinate,’ in isolation, it immediately loses the bad taste which the word ‘subject’ has taken on in German history and literature.  Hypotassesthai then does not mean playing along at every price, not slavish obedience, not bowing before the throne and altar.  It is not the attitude of the loyal citizen in the time of national absolutism.  It is rather founded, in accord with an ethical theme which runs clear through the New Testament, in the person and the way of the Lord, who is at the same time the norm and the realization of this self-abasement; cf. 1 Tim. 2:3-7; Titus 3:3-7; 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:21-25, 3:18; Eph. 5:25-27; 4:32-5:2; Phil. 2:5-11; Col 2:18ff; 4:1; Eph. 6:1-9; 1 Cor. 7:20ff; 8:11f; Rom. 14:7ff; 15:3f; Gal. 5:24; 6:2, and many other texts.

“The best-known example, the Christological Psalm of Phil. 2:5ff, grounds the imperative to the church to ‘regard one another as higher than oneself’ by pointing to the self-abasement of the Lord of our salvation.  The concrete definition of the meaning of hypotassesthai comes from the crucified and risen Lord who, being free, abased himself for our sake and gave himself for us. Since we receive our life from this deed of this Lord, it is fitting that we subordinate ourselves to one another in a way that corresponds to this gift and this example.  The form of love among us is defined by that love which was shown toward us by the Lord who served us and rescued us.

“If on the other hand one understands hypotassesthai in isolation, then one has made of this root word for discipleship a formal and a passive obedience which takes from the ‘subject’ his own arbitrariness.  But the blame for this misunderstanding does not belong to the New Testament but to our unbelief, which has made out of the call to freedom and discipleship and the way of the cross an invitation to duck out of danger, to get out of the way, for the benefit of whatever group may be in power…


“If then hypotassesthai (and the other substantially synonymous terms) is in principle a posture ‘befitting’ the gospel of the self-abasing Lord of the world, then it is in every situation a free, extremely aggressive way of acting, taking very clear account of the situation, including feeling and understanding and will, always including the possibility of a spirit-driven resistance, of an appropriate disavowal and a refusal, ready to accept suffering at this or that particular point” (Hamel, 159-161).


To adopt the free act of submission or deference for the Christian is recognition that God has created and redeemed the other and is a sign of parity and fundamental worth with the one to whom one freely submits or defers.  Addressed to the subordinate person in the social order, such an address makes of this one a decision maker, assigns renewed responsibility, and makes this one’s service an arena of witness and ministry.


If slaves, then, are to be submissive—and in today’s social context we would argue that slavery is evil—, this injunction regarding women must also be seen in the same light.


Some conclusions:

(A) When Christians are asked to submit or to defer to another, the theological reason given is never “order of creation,” but Christological or soteriological or doxological.  “Order of creation” rationales are never used with υποτασσω.

(B) The submission or deference of one Christian to another is the “recognition that the other person is the representative of Christ to one, in accordance with Matt. xxv. 40, 45.  It is the glad recognition that the other person, as Christ’s representative to one, has an infinitely greater claim upon one than one has upon oneself” (Cranfield, 243).

(C) God is not setting up or reinforcing a created hierarchy; he is talking about equal relating and equally submitting oneself.

(D) The injunction to be submissive or show deference is always directed to the one under authority, never to the one the person is to subordinate oneself to.  For example, in Ephesians 5, wives are counseled to show deference to husbands, but husbands are never told “Subordinate or subjugate your wife.”

(E) υποτασσοω, in New Testament usage, contains the seed of reciprocity.  Pleas to “be submissive” or “to defer” are counterbalanced also by a word to the second party regarding that person’s behavior toward the one giving deference.

(F)“The vast majority of feminists are pleading for the equality of men and women.  But the Biblical answer is submission: not the submission of one category of persons to another category, but rather the voluntary and loving submission of each individual to all the others” (Mollenkott, 32).

(G) υποτασσω is a Christian virtue, what one does from faith and not what one does because she is female (or conversely, male).  In Ephesians 5 the key is mutual submission (cf. 1 Peter 5:5) of one to the other, as to Christ, recognizing Christ in the other.

 (H) Christ is the example of submission (Philippians 2:3-10);  here in Ephesians 5 his voluntary humbling is pictured as a model for the Christian husband, not the wife.

(I) υποτασσω means “to arrange or order one’s life to be of benefit to the other.”  Given the reality of Genesis 3:16, the “head” is addressed to take the lead in ordering for the benefit of the other.

(J) Biblical references admonishing women to be subordinate are all in relation to each woman’s individual husband (not to men in general).

◆ “Women must not be permitted to exercise authority over man …” (Ft. Wayne Exegetical Department, 1976, page 200, Pittsburgh Convention Workbook).

(K) The phrasing “women must not be permitted …” violates the sense of the use of υποτασσω as it is used in Scripture.  In the Scriptures it is middle passive, reflexive, what one does to oneself without outward compulsion.

▬ Ephesians 6:5 ▬

[5] Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters …

Thesis 81: The Scriptures first must be understood as applied within the original context.

(A) One cannot imagine Paul today addressing these words to any group — or supporting the institution of slavery with such advice.

(B) Proper biblical exegesis and interpretation must first of all see the text in light of the original context, learn the meaning of the biblical Word for that time, and then apply it to today’s situations.

(C) Unless we first “read Paul’s culture” in our exegetical process, we will not correctly interpret when we then “read Paul’s word.”

 ▬ Philippians 2:7 ▬

[7] … taking the form of a servant …

Thesis 82: The Christian ministry and life is not rooted in a hierarchical model, but in the servant self-emptying of the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ.  Cf. John 13.

▬  Philippians 4:2-3 ▬

[2] I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.  [3]  And I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellows workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Thesis 83: The Scriptures recognize the public ministry of women.

(A) “[vs 3] … labored side by side with” Paul “in the gospel …” suggests a similarity of service.

(B) Paul accepts the prominence and influence of Euodia and Syntyche in the Corinthian congregation.

(C) Their influence was so great he feared their continual disagreement would hurt the community of faith.

 (D) “[vs 3] .. labored …”: the verb συναθλεω indicates “to contend as an athlete who strains every muscle” in the Gospel’s cause.

 ▬ Colossians 3:16  ▬

[16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you [plural] richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Thesis 84: The Scriptures are consistent in not limiting public functions to one gender.

(A) “[vs 16] … you … teach and admonish one another …”: Paul, again, adds no restriction and does not limit these functions only to males.

(B) All in the congregation are included.

(C) If limiting women were such an important issue, surely Paul would have been careful of his gender language and spoken of limiting women’s service in texts like this.

▬ Colossians 3:18-19 ▬

[18] Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. [19] Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Thesis 85: The combined exhortations to both wives and husbands again suggest mutual submission and care.

(A) The context, verses 12 through 17, is addressed to all Christians and exhorts the Christian virtues of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearing one another, forgiveness, and love.

 (B) The appeal is not to “the order of creation,” but to what God does in Christ, “as is fitting in the Lord.”


▬  Colossians 4:15  ▬

[15] … to Nympha and the church in her house.

Thesis 86: Women are listed by Paul as leaders of the church.

(A) A house church is listed, and a woman is listed as the leader.

(B) Note the struggle over translations:

(1) King James Version: “and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.”

(2) Living Bible: “…and to Nymphas, and to those who meet in his home.”

(3) New King James Version: “..and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.”


▬ 1 Thessalonians 5:12 ▬

[12] But we beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.

◆ “The kind of teaching referred to in the passage [1 Timothy 2:12] is tied to exercising authority.  The authority forbidden to women here is that of the pastoral office, that is, one who ‘labors in preaching and teaching.’ (1 Tim. 5:17; cf. 1 Thess. 5:12)” (CTCR-WIC, 35).

Thesis 87: The phrase, “labors in preaching and teaching” is also used by the Scriptures of women in ministry, contrary to the CTCR implication.

(A) “But insufficient attention has been paid to other words of Paul which indicate that Paul recognized and accepted the leading, ministering function of women in the church.  One word in particular points to Paul’s approval of the pastoral work of women.  That word, kopiao/kopos, is usually translated “to labor/toil.  “Kopiao/kopos …, along with a related word, ergazomai, ‘to work,’ display Paul’s understanding of ministry.  K. [sic] is a favorite word of Paul for his own ministry.  And k. is a term that Paul applies to the ministry of others, including women.  K. represents burden-bearing, suffering service of the gospel which characterizes the ministry of Paul and other Christian workers” (Gerberding, 285).

(B) “Paul chose k. to refer both to his manual labor and to the labor of ministry.  1 Cor. 4:12 refers to the former … But for Paul there is a thin line between labor as manual labor in order that Paul might preach, and labor as actual toil of preaching/evangelizing/pastoring.  Paul moves easily from k. as manual labor to the ministerial aspects of his work.  Paul often uses k. to refer to his own pastoral work (1 Cor. 3:8, 15:10; 2 Cor. 11:23,27; Gal. 4:11; Phil. 2:16; Col. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:5)” (Gerberding, 286).

(C) “If in fact Paul utilizes k. and e. to refer to the ministerial functioning of women, then what is said of other ministers must apply also to these women.  In 1 Corinthians 16 Paul urges his sisters and brothers to ‘be subject to such who have devoted themselves to the service of the saints and to every fellow worker and laborer.’  This would mean that Paul’s readers are admonished to be subject to those women in their midst serving as ministers” (Gerberding, 288).


▬  1 Timothy 2:5-6 ▬

[5] For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, [6] who gave himself as a ransom for all …

◆ “The minister stands as a representative of Christ before the congregation.  Therefore, a woman cannot be a ‘male’ representative.  The argument is carried further in the example of an all-male choice of Apostles by Christ” (Springfielder, 48).

◆ “The arguments against ordained women pastors on Scriptural prohibitions are well known …these … are not spun in thin air but are based on the deeper realities of Christ’s choice of His apostles and, beyond His choosing the apostles, of the sublime mysteries of the incarnation and God Himself.  God became incarnated in the man Jesus Christ because He was the eternal Son of the Father.  God is not only like a father, He is Father!  That eternal Father is perfectly mirrored in the eternal son incarnated in Jesus” (Scaer, Affirm).

“Against the Cololyridians, Epiphanius writes, ‘Never from the beginning of the world has a woman served God as priest’ (Panarion 79)…. Such an appeal … was predicated upon the belief that Jesus was the incarnated Word of God by whom all things were made and through whom all things were redeemed” (CTCR-WIC, 14).

◆ “The NT is QUITE clear in Romans 5:12-19 and 1 Cor. 15:20-22 that the Savior HAD TO BE A MAN” (Christian News, May 18, 1998, 6).


Thesis 88: To the argument that “clergy must be male” because Jesus was male and his disciples were male, the Scriptures reply that Jesus’ maleness is not the key to his saving work; his humanity is the soteriological component.

(A) Jesus did become incarnate as a human male (“…she gave birth to her first-born son” Luke 2:7).  (The only other choice would be female, hardly an option in terms of his ministry in first century culture.)

(B) The biblical witness to Jesus in his role as Savior stresses his humanity.

(1)  The Greek word  ανθρωπος means “humanity,” while the Greek term ανηρ refers to the male gender.

(2) “[vs 5]…one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…”:  The Greek in both instances is ανθρωπος.  The use of the same generic term emphasizes Jesus’ full identification with humanity.  When Jesus is held up as the mediator, it is not his maleness that is considered, but his humanity.

(3) The point is that he entered into our humanity (John 1:14, “The Word became flesh …”) in order to be our Savior.

(4)  His humanity, not his gender, is the soteriological issue (“… who gave himself as a ransom for all”).

(5) The Scriptures indicate nothing in Jesus’ maleness per se that is absolutely necessary or constitutive for God’s salvific work in and through him.

(C) Note other biblical witnesses which stress not Jesus’ male-ness but his humanity:

(1) John 19:5: “Ιδε, ο ανθρωπος!”

(2) Romans 5:12, 15: “[12] Therefore as sin came into the world through one man [ενος ανθρωπου] and death through sin, and so death spread to all men [παντασ ανθρωπους] because all men [the Greek has only παντεσ — “all”] sinned …. [15] But the free gift is not like the trespass.  For if many died through one man’s [the Greek has του ενος — “the one’s”] trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man [του ενος ανθρωπου] Jesus Christ abounded for many.”

(3) Philippians 2:7: “… εν ομοιωματι ανθρωπων γενομενος…”

(4) Hebrews 7:16: “…[Christ] who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning physical descent but by the power of an indestructible life…”

(D) Yes, “the minister stands as a representative of Christ before the congregation” (Springfielder, page 48).  But (if male) he stands in this station as Christ’s representative in his embodiment as representative humanity, not as a male.

(1)  “The Church Fathers never evoked the maleness of Jesus or the apostles as an argument for regarding women as second-class members of the community of redemption.  This argument was developed in scholastic philosophy in the Middle Ages.  Thomas Aquinas and others adopted Aristotle’s views of biology which define women as misbegotten males” (Reuther, 33).

(2) “Any claim that there is something about the nature of another human being [emphasis added] as such that renders that person to be of inferior value not only denies the biblical doctrine of creation, but also calls into question what the Scriptures teach about the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As a human, Jesus descended from Adam [Note: and Eve!], whom God created (Luke 3:38), and whom all human beings have as progenitor.  To deny the full humanity of any fellow human being is at the same time to compromise the apostolic truth that in Christ ‘the fullness of the deity dwells bodily’ (σωματικοϖσ, Col. 2:9), that is, that he truly ‘was made man’ (Nicene Creed)” (CTCR, “Racism and the Church,” February 1994, 38-39).  Since Galatians 3 mentions not only race (Jew and Gentile), but also male and female, would that the CTCR’s theology in “Racism and the Church” were also applied to women in the church.

(E) As we shall see in the next section, Gnostic heresy is here, too, addressed and refuted.

(1) Gnostic theologians posited many intermediaries.  Paul says there is only one.

(2) Gnostic theologies sought to “enlighten” people; Paul says Jesus came to offer  himself a “ransom” for humanity.

(F) Whence comes authority in the Church?

(1) The Donatist heresy made the power of the Gospel dependent on bodily configuration of the proclaimer.

(2) Is authority inherent within the speaker, or is it in the Word?

(3) Is authority in the church determined by sex and gender, or is it determined by the Word of God?


▬ 1 Timothy 2:8-15  ▬

[8] I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; [9] also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire [10] but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion.  [11] Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness.  [12] I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent.  [13] For Adam was formed first, then Eve; [14] and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  [15] Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

◆ “In 1 Tim. 2:12 St. Paul instructs the church, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness.  I permit no woman to teach or have authority over man; she is to keep silent.”  Again on the basis of Scriptural arguments, the apostle holds in this text that women are not to take the position of one to whom is assigned responsibility for the formal, public proclamation of the Christian faith” (CTCR- “The Service of  Women …16 November 1994”).

◆ “In 1 Timothy 2:13-14 (R.S.V.) man is ascribed a superiority in the worship services, because ‘Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.’  The woman has her origin and purpose in life in man” (Surburg, 27).

◆ “If we have the same writer in both letters writing on the same matter, we have the right to allow one text to explain the other, and especially to let the clearer on more definite throw light on the less precise.  So 1 Tim. 2 is the key for the understanding of 1 Cor. 14” (Hamann, 5).


✔ “Many … view all biblical passages about the role and ministry of women through the lens of 1 Timothy 2:12.  It becomes the key verse on women, the one on which all others turn” (Kroeger, 12).


✔ “Without 1 Timothy 2:11-15, traditionally interpreted, there would be no case at all for the universal restriction of women in ministry” (Groothius, 211).


Thesis 89: Paul is writing to address a concrete historical situation, and the Scriptures here give us a divinely inspired example of pastoral practice and Gospel application.

(A) “[vs 8] … I desire then …. [vs 12] … I permit no woman to ….”: such wording suggests Paul is giving pastoral advice in a given situation.

(B) That Paul says “I permit” instead of “thus says the Lord” (as he does elsewhere; 1 Corinthians 7:25; 11:23) suggests that he is making a pastoral application and/or correction of a certain locally specific problem.

(C) Paul does not assume that Timothy already knows this instruction.

(D) “Verse 12 … begins with Paul’s own personal instruction (I do not allow; better, ‘I am not allowing,’ implying specific instruction to this situation)…” (Fee, 35).  (The verb επιτρεπω is a present active indicative.)

(E)  He is not laying down a timeless and universal restriction that he received from God, but addressing a local, time-bound behavioral and/or doctrinal aberration.

(F) Some exegetes would understand the dress code in 1 Timothy 2:9 (in the same paragraph) as culturally relative, yet the instruction in verses 11-12 is considered universally permanent.  This is not good exegetical logic.

(G) “[vs 8] … every place…”: Paul’s instruction is not limited to either the home (private) or the house church (public) locale.  The issue here is not the ecclesial position of women regarding worship leadership, but proper decorum.

 Thesis 90: The context of 1 Timothy 2:8-13 suggests that Paul is addressing the issue of husband and wife relationships, not general male/female rankings, and not public ministry issues.

(A) What is the larger context?

(1) Acts 20:30-31 suggests Paul’s concern.

(2) 1 Timothy 3:14-15 suggests the problem is behavior.

(3) The Greek διδασκω appears twenty times, and Paul speaks of his teaching and Timothy’s teaching and the teaching of church elders.

(4) 1 Timothy 1:3 indicates the problem basically is false doctrine.


(B)  “[vs 8] … men …  [vs 9] ..women … [10] …women .. [11] …woman …  [12] woman  men …”: The context suggests that Paul is addressing wives and husbands, not just men and women in general:

(1) γυνη can be translated “wife” as well as “woman.”

(2) ανηρ is used five times in 1 Timothy, three times (1 Timothy 3:2, 3:12, and 5:9) outside this passage.  In the three passages outside this passage the word means “husbands,” not males in general.

(3) The larger context suggests “wife” as the translation here: compare similarities with 1 Timothy 2:9-15, 1 Corinthians 14:34-36, 1 Peter 3:1-17, all of which relate to wives.

(4) The usages of ανηρ and γυνη in this passage can well be translated “husbands” and “wives” instead of “men” and “women.”

(5) 1 Timothy 2:13-14 has allusions to Genesis 2 and 3 which relate to the institution of marriage (Genesis 2:24) and Adam and Eve, the “first couple.”

(6) “When he [Paul] does not use anar as husband, the passage is very clear that he is referring to the adult male human; e.g. 1 Cor. 11.12: ‘For just as the woman is from the man, so also the man is through the woman …;’ 1 Cor. 13:11b: ‘When I became a man …;’ etc.  Only two passages are not that absolutely clear, the two verses in our text: ‘I desire that the man should pray …’ and ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to govern a man.’  Only these two passages seem  ambiguous.  Shall we then be absolutely dogmatic in insisting that these two instances must refer to males in general and not to husbands?” (Dinda, 20).

(7) Even more specifically, refer again to the study by Hugenberger (354): “In summary, besides the use of aner and gyne in lists (where the terms are generally found in the plural) there are no examples where aner and gyne bear the meanings ‘man’ and ‘woman’ when the terms are found in close proximity.”

(8) Luther understands 1 Timothy 2:11-12 as referring to husband/wife relationships and not to men and women in general (Commentary on 1 Timothy, 276).


◆ “His instructions are directed to the worship/church setting. … The teaching that Paul forbids women to perform is the latter, namely, that of the formal, public proclamation of the Christian faith” (CTCR-WIC, 34).

(C) The context, too, suggests that the subject is not instruction or corrective aimed at all women, but at the behavior of Christian wives (women) vis-a-vis husbands (men) within a worship context:

(1) vs 8: husbands, as is the custom, are to lead family prayers;

(2) vs 9: modest apparel in the worship setting is a sign of inward beauty;

(3) vs 10: good deeds are a sign of a faith-filled woman;

(4)  vs 12: the emphasis is behavior (wives are not to dominate or contradict husbands publicly and go against cultural custom);

(5) the reference to Eve and Adam suggests the marital context;

(6) the reference in verse 15 to childbirth suggests a family and marriage situation;

(7) vs 15: “Yet…if she continues…” focuses on the behavior issue;

(8) 2:15: Paul is writing so “you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God.”

(9) The whole discussion is summed up as a behavioral issue with the words: “with modesty” (vs. 15).

(10) Note the parallels to the husband/wife discussion in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Peter 3.

(11) Juvenal (as quoted in Fee, 39): “There is nothing a woman will not permit herself to do, nothing that she deems shameful, when she encircles her neck with green emeralds and fastens huge pearls to her elongated ears … So important is the business of beautification; so numerous are the tiers and storeys piled one upon another on her head! … Meantime she pays no attention to her husband.”

(D) The context indicates the issue is the disruptive consequences of what is being taught.

(1) “[ vs 12] I permit no woman to teach.. “: Paul’s prime intent at this point is to suppress false teaching (and its practical consequences) rather than define the ecclesial role of women during worship.  The contrast is between women who are teaching unprepared (and being influenced by the Artemis cult) and the need first to learn well;

(2)  1:3: Paul discusses false teachers, and urges Timothy to remain in Ephesus in order to instruct the congregation “not to teach any different doctrine” and to engage in “divine training” (1:4);

(3) 1:5: false teachers and their speculations (1:4) stimulate “dissensions, slander, base suspicions and wrangling” (6:4-5) and cause havoc within the Christian community;

(4)  1:20: the excommunication of two of the false teachers;

(5)  2:7: Paul defends his apostolic authority over against the false teachers;

(6)  3:14-16: the false teaching is causing disruption in the practice of worship of the community; Paul reiterates the core of the Christian faith to correct heresy and to oppose the teachings of the Artemis cult;

(7) 4:6-7: a good minister nourishes the people “on the words of the faith and of good doctrine”;

(8) compare 2 Timothy 2:17-18; 4:14-15; Titus 1:9-14;

(9) 2 Timothy 3:6-7: The false teaching had found a beachhead among the women in the congregation;

(10) 1 Timothy 1:8-10; 2:9-10; 5:6-15: the excesses engaged in by the women are connected with the false doctrine.

(11) “Fee notes that ‘to talk foolishness’ is a better translation than ‘gossip’ (NIV); for this word was ‘used in contemporary philosophical texts to refer to “foolishness” that is contrary to “truth”’” (Fee quoted in Groothius, 213).

(E) In summary, the context supports the understanding that Paul is not addressing men/women relationships in general but instead the behavior of certain Ephesian wives vis-a-vis husbands, a behavior stemming from false teaching.

◆ “Note the paragraph following the above sentence: “Nascent Christianity was located within a religious environment in which female deities and significant female religious leadership were not uncommon” (CTCR-WIC, 15).

◆ “Johann Gerhard in his Locus XXIII under No. 186 understood the instruction of St. Paul which explicitly deny [sic]women the right to hold the preaching office in the church as thus: a necessary reaction to the matriarchal tendencies of various heretical sects” (Springfielder, 49).

◆ “The theological matrix for the apostle’s inspired teaching on the silence of women in the church and the exercise of authority is, again, the order of creation” (CTCR-WIC, 36).

Thesis 91: The Artemis cult of Ephesus provides the socio-religious context which influenced and  adversely infected the Christian community.

(A) “At that time there arose no little stir concerning the Way” (Acts 19:23).

(1) Paul’s letter to Timothy is mailed to Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3), the site of the cult and worship of the goddess Artemis (“Diana” to the Romans) (Acts 19:23-41).

(2) The temple dedicated to Artemis, the Artemision, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and served as a strong economic factor in Ephesus.

(3) “The cult of Artemis reflected religious mixture (syncretism) but basically was an Oriental fertility rite, with sensuous and orgiastic practices” (Fee, 5).

(4) The Christian teaching of the apostles reacted strongly to the system of worship of Artemis (Acts 19:19).  Paul warns about myths (as opposed to divine training in 1 Timothy 1:4 and 4:7).

(5) Paul had a tough time in Ephesus, with doctrine and with life (Acts 20:31; 1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

(6) The silversmiths saw Paul’s teaching as undermining the political, economic and social fabric of the city (Acts 19:23-27).

(7) Apollos is corrected in Ephesus by Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:24-28).

(8) The effect of this pervasive Artemisian culture on the young church would be similar in effect for a Lutheran pastor serving in a heavily Mormon-populated area such as Utah, or a pastor serving in Las Vegas or Reno and teaching the implications of the Seventh Commandment, or a white pastor of a white congregation in the South in the 1960s addressing racism.

(B) “[vs 13]… for Adam was formed first, then Eve …”: Goddesses were central to Artemisian theology and worship.

(1) In 1 and 2 Timothy Paul constantly addresses the issue of false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 6:3-5; 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 1:15; 2:16-18; 3:6-9; 4:3-4; 4:14-15).

(2) “The church at Ephesus no doubt numbered former Artemis worshipers among its converts” (Gritz, 31).

(3)   “The Mother Goddess represented the great parent of all nature.  She had responsibility for the health and well-being of both humans and animals … As Earth Goddess, her divine authority rested in her ability to create new beings continually.  Other deities were the daughters and sons of the all-creating Earth Mother … As a mighty and popular deity, the Mother Goddess held the power over life and death.  In mythology and later in cult practice, she often associated with a young lover-turned-devotee, the god of vegetation.  This male consort held a subordinate position” (Gritz, 34).

(4) Another example, this from The Apocalypse of Adam (V.5.64.9-14): here Adam says about Eve: “I went about with her in a glory which she had seen in the aeon from which we had come forth.  She taught me a word of knowledge of the eternal God.”  In On the Origin of the World (II.5.115.31-116.9), Eve, the “instructor,” gives Adam life.

(5)  In Ephesus, the locale of the letter to Timothy, Artemis was associated with Eve.  The distorted idea taught in the church there saw Eve as giving life to Adam; motherhood was acclaimed as the ultimate reality.  Knowledge of one’s origin brought salvation (cf. Kroeger, 105-113).

(6) “Peter said to Mary, ‘Sister, we understand that the Savior (σωτηρ) loved [you] more than (παρα) the rest of the women.  Speak to us the words of the Savior (σωτηρ) which you recollect, those which you know and we do not, nor (ουδε) have we heard them.’  And Mary answering said, ‘I shall explain to you what has been hidden from you,’ and she began (αρχεσθαι) to speak to them” (The Gospel of Mary, quoted in Kroeger, 73).

◆ “1 Timothy 2:13-14.  Paul appeals to the temporal priority of Adam’s creation (‘Adam was formed first’; cf. Gen. 2:20-22), as well as to Eve’s having been deceived in the fall (Gen. 3:6), to show that women should not teach or exercise authority over men in the church” (CTCR-WIC, 22).

◆ “In 1 Timothy 2:13-14 (R.S.V.) man is ascribed a superiority in the worship services, because ‘Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.’  The woman has her origin and purpose in life in man ….In forbidding woman either to assume leadership or the teaching office in the church, Paul cites the order of creation, as establishing man’s natural leadership” (Surburg, 27).

◆ “On the basis of 1 Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11-15, we hold that God forbids women publicly to preach and teach the Word to men and to hold any office or vote in the church where this involves exercising authority over men with respect to the office of the Keys.  We regard this principle as of binding force also today because 1 Tim. 2:11-15 refers to what God established at creation” (Convention Proceedings, Denver, 1969, quoted in Convention Proceedings, New Orleans, 1973, 110).


(C) “[vs 13] … for Adam was formed first …”:

(1) Paul is not appealing to “the temporal priority of Adam’s creation” as the CTCR suggests.  This would be inconsistent with Genesis; it would fall into the same trap of finger pointing as Adam (“…the woman whom thou gavest to be with me” [Genesis 3:12]) and Eve (“…the serpent beguiled me” [Genesis 3:13]).

(2) That God is not concerned with “temporal priority” is indicated in that he held each one (man, woman, serpent) responsible for what each did.  God did not accept the finger pointing and blame casting.

(3) See also Romans 5:12-14, in which Paul shows his concern is not with “priority” (“Who sinned first?” — finger pointing: “It’s his/her fault!”) because instead of citing Eve, he cites Adam as prototype for all humanity.

(4) Paul here does not say specifically that “creation order” equals a timeless mandate or universal principle for male authority.  Rather Paul is stating a historical fact.  Groothius quotes John Calvin: “The reason which Paul assigns, that woman was second in the order of creation, appears not to be a very strong argument in favour [sic] of her subjection; for John the Baptist was before Christ in the order of time, and yet was greatly inferior in rank” (218).

(5) “The argument often made that the ‘order of creation’ precedes the Fall and is therefore eternally binding is neither made by Paul (nor Moses) nor relevant, since that is not his concern here.  Rather Paul is concerned with her subsequent deception and fall into sin” (Fee, 40).

(6) “The Ephesian church had problems during worship.   False teachers had encouraged some women, including wives, to flaunt respected behavior and traditional roles.  Some women dressed indecently.  Some wives exalted their Christian freedom and denigrated their husbands in public.  They had been deceived by the wayward elders … Wives who did not submit to sound doctrine but to unorthodox notions and instructed their husbands in public reminds [sic] one of Eve’s behavior.  Paul wants to break a similar pattern at Ephesus.  With Artemis glorified as the giver of life and knowledge, it would not be too surprising if former devotees overturned the Genesis accounts and similarly glorified Eve.  Later Gnostics did this” (Gritz, 140).

(7) “Eve was not born after Adam, she was ‘born’ from Adam” (Groothius, 221).

(8) “The grammar here does not require us to understand Paul’s reference to Adam and Eve as the causal basis for the prohibition.  The word ‘for’ does not necessarily mean ‘because’; it can be used simply to express a connection or continuation of thought, as it does in 1 Timothy 2:5.  If this is the case here as well, then verses 13 and 14 could simply be supplying an analogy that explains why women must, at this time and in this church, learn from the men who are in leadership” (Groothius, 216-217).

(9) The context would suggest that Paul is not arguing either from or for an “order of creation” theology; instead, he is offering correctives to mistaken theologies.  For example:

 Artemis: “There are many gods!

Paul: “No, there is one God and one mediator … ” (1 Timothy 2:5).

(10) Paul is gently reminding the women in Ephesus that their emphasis on Eve’s primacy and female superiority does not square with the basic Biblical account. Thus:

Gnostic Artemis: “Eve, who pre-exists Adam and who is the source of all the living,           gives Adam life and is primary!

Paul: “No!  Remember the Genesis account?  Adam was formed first, then Eve.

(11) Or, following Kaiser: “But how could Eve so easily have been duped unless she previously had been untaught?  Adam had walked and talked with God in the Garden during that sixth ‘day,’ thus he had had the educational and spiritual advantage of being ‘formed first’ (v. 13).  The verb is plasso, ‘to form, mold, shape’ (presumably in spiritual education), not, ‘created first’ (which in Greek is ktizo).  Paul’s argument, then, is based on the ‘orders of education,’ not the ‘orders of creation.’   Thus, when the women have been taught, the conditions raised in the ‘because,’ or ‘for’ clauses (vv13-14) will have been met and the ban removed even as the Bible illustrates in the lives of Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, evangelist Philip’s daughters, Phoebe, Priscilla, Junias, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Eudodia and Syntyche” (12-I).

(D) “[vs 14] ..and Adam was not deceived…”: Paul also offers a corrective here:

(1) On the surface, Paul can hardly mean this: Adam was deceived and was a transgressor.  Scripture teaches male and female were co-participants in the Fall; Adam is no less culpable than Eve (Genesis 3:6, Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

(2) The verbs in Genesis 3:6-7 are plural; both Adam and Eve were present at the temptation and fall.  Eve, biblically, is not primarily responsible for the Fall; she and Adam are co-participants (see Thesis 16)  Thus:

Artemis convert: “Eve gives life.  Adam was not told this; he was deceived about his priority by the gods.

Paul: “No, the biblical accounts make clear the woman, too, was deceived, and became a transgressor.

(3) “Certain persons by swerving from these have wandered away into vain discussions, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions” (1 Timothy 1:6-7).

(4) “Yet, ‘Adam was not deceived’ (1 Tim. 2:14): He deliberately partook of the transgression.  He knew exactly what he was doing” (Lepper, 4).

(5) We must let the “clear” passages help inform this “dark” passage. Genesis shows that God’s intention is equity-with-differences.  Domination comes in with the Fall (Genesis 3:16).  The pattern of exegesis usually interprets Genesis in the light of 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2.  We need to let Genesis help us with the Pauline verses.  Genesis 3:6-7 is instructive in interpreting the obscurities of 1 Timothy 2:13-14.  1 Timothy offers a corrective to Ephesian heresy.

(6) “We believe that the verb here forbids women to teach wrong doctrine, just as 1 Timothy 1:3-4 and Titus 1:9-14 also forbid false teaching.  An alternate translation for 1 Timothy 2:12 provided is ‘I do not allow a woman to teach nor to proclaim herself author of man.’ … The writer of the Pastorals was opposing a doctrine which acclaimed motherhood as the ultimate reality.  Our Bible maintains that God, who far transcends all limitations of gender, created the heavens and the earth, and that all things are of God” (Kroeger, 112).

◆ “Paul appeals to the temporal priority of Adam’s creation (‘Adam was formed first’; cf. Gen. 2:20-22), as well as to Eve’s having been deceived in the fall (Gen. 3:6), to show that women should not teach or exercise authority over men in the church (“CTCR-WIC, 22).

◆ “Turning from creation to the Fall, Paul adds that Adam was not deceived but that the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  The conclusion drawn is that the leadership of the official, public teaching office belongs to men.  Assumption of that office by a woman is out of place because it is a woman who assumes it, not because women do it in the wrong way or have inferior gifts and abilities” (CTCR-WIC, 36).

(E) “[vs 14] … the woman was deceived …”:

(1) Does this mean woman was more gullible, culpable?  Note these quotations from Missouri Synod literature that demonstrate the poisoned bias that infects our theological blood stream:

“The New Testament constantly points to the Genesis record.  Adam … is told, after the fall, that his mistake was to listen to the voice of the woman. Because he thus relinquished his leadership he is to find that he can no more rule in the way he did before the fall.  The sin of both is disobedience, but Paul calls attention to the fact that the attending circumstances of the fall point to Eve as the ‘adjutrix Satanae,’ the agent of Satan [emphasis added]. Eve usurped first the Lordship of God by taking matters into her own hands, the second step was almost a natural consequence, she now also entices Adam to be obedient to her or Satan” (Nauman, 6).

“Woman, when speaking in the congregation, not only revolts against the clear command of God, but also usurps authority over man, subverts the divine rule of order, and entails upon the Church the perils of false doctrine and general disorder and confusion, through her amenability to fraud and deception [emphasis added].  It is for these reasons that Paul forbids women to speak in the churches — an injunction to remain in force at all times” (J.T. Mueller, 43).

“The point of Paul in these two references of 1 Tim. 2 to Adam and Eve is the subordinate position of Eve: she was created second, i.e., to help and serve [emphasis added] Adam —  the mere succession of time is surely not the point — and she is mentally (morally?) inferior” [emphasis added] (Hamann, 7).

(2) Note the biblical record which instead speaks of the wisdom of women (Proverbs 1:20-33; 8:1-9:6; 31:26; Judges 4:4-5;  1 Samuel 25:33-35; 2 Samuel 14:1-24; Esther 4:14, 8:17, 9:11-12, 29-32; Mark 7:29).

(3) Paul here is not placing the blame on Eve and leaving Adam unscathed.  Rather he is offering a corrective to heretical teaching.

(4) The original sin was “disobedience” (Romans 5:19).  Here Paul is emphasizing not the sin, but the process, “was deceived.”  Both Adam and Eve are culpable.  Thus:

 Convert from Artemis: “Eve, as goddess, is the source of enlightenment and knowledge!

Paul: “Au contraire! Eve, too, was completely deceived, just like Adam.”

(5) The fact of Eve’s deception is a relevant illustration of the current problem in Ephesus.

(6) The CTCR-WIC document contradicts itself; it says on page 24: “When the New Testament talks about the origin of the subordination of woman to man, it does so on the basis of Genesis 2 and not on the basis of Genesis 3.”  Compare instead the notes on Genesis in this paper.

 Thesis 92: Paul wants the women solidly grounded in the faith so they would not easily be swayed.

(A) False doctrine which appealed especially to women is the problem Paul addresses here: “… swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6-7).

(B) “The learning of wrong ideas and behavior had threatened the faith of the Christian community at Ephesus.  Heretical elders had promoted an officious and intellectualistic piety that had attracted women.  Female believers were learning deceptive teachings.  Those women converted from the Artemis cult brought to the worship setting a noisy boisterousness that did not conduce to learning.  Between their own former cultic patterns of behavior and the encouragement of wayward elders, these women represented a problem for Christian worship done decently and in order” (Gritz, 129).

(C) “[vs 11] …let a woman learn …”:

(1) That the Scriptures counsel women “to learn” is a radical departure from Jewish culture.   This would be new for a Jewish convert: women in the synagogue culture did not engage in formal Scripture study:

(2) The verb μανθανω implies “to learn by study.”  “Μανθανειν takes place when God’s will is learned from Scripture and taken up into one’s own will” (TDNT, IV:408).

(3) The verb μανθανω here is a present imperative (μανθανετο), which is best translated “let a woman continue learning” (Kroeger, 103).

(D) Women were already participating in public worship and teaching.

(1) Otherwise Paul would not have tried to correct the abuses.

(2) Men were the first to assume authority in God’s church, and in other aspects of life.

(3) Women were new to this; when they had “learned” then they would also assume any such positions (Galatians 3:28).

(4) “… let women keep on learning …”:  The contrast is learning as it relates to teaching.  The implication is that women must learn and hold correct content before being allowed to assume a teacher’s role.  Paul does encourage the opposite of synagogue custom: “let women keep on learning.”  This positive position of Paul is often lost in arguments over this passage.

(E) In “1 Timothy 2:9-15  … Paul says, ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent’ (v. 12 NIV).  The imperative verb, however, is in verse 11: “A woman must be taught …[‘… must learn …’]”  The prohibitions cited in verse 12 [to teach and to have authority] follow and are subordinate to it [the learning].  But the problem is that few pause to listen for the reasons given in verses 13 and 14 where Paul tells us why he ‘would rather not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority.’  It is mainly because Eve had been tricked, deceived, and easily entrapped (v. 14)” (Kaiser, page 12-I).  In short, Paul uses a biblical example from the Old Testament to illustrate and give an example for his reasoning.  He is not laying down “principles.”

Thesis 93: The verse, “[11] Let a woman learn in silence…,” refers to the process of learning and does not establish qualifications for pastoral office.

(A) The word ησυχια (here translated “silence”; cf. 1 Timothy 2:2) does not mean “always keep your mouth shut.”

(B) The primary meaning is manner, attitude, demeanor; compare other usages of the word:

1 Thessalonians 4:11 (“… to aspire to live quietly…”);

2 Thessalonians 3:12 (“ do their work in quietness…” not as the “busybodies” in verse 11);

1 Timothy 2:2 (“…that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life…”);

1 Peter 3:4 (“…a gentle and quiet  spirit…”) (Dinda, 25-26).

(C) Compare Acts 11:18: Here Peter is confronted by the apostles and others, and he tells of a teaching he received from the Lord in a vision.  The apostles, having heard Peter, then ησυχασιν, “held their peace” (King James Version).  The word of truth struck home as true.  “The verb doesn’t mean the apostles did not speak; it probably meant they were paying attention to what someone else was saying” (Perales, 104).

(D) Not just women, but the “whole church is exhorted to this kind of quiet lifestyle with the same word in this very context ([1 Timothy] 2.2)” (Keener, 108).

 (E) Since ησυχια means “quietness” and “rest” in addition to “silence,” this phrase is better  translated, “Let a woman continue learning with a quiet demeanor in an attitude of receptivity.”  Or, “… learn with a quiet demeanor, with respect for the teacher and the teaching.”

(F)  That women should learn with an attitude of receptivity would imply that the opposite was happening (2 Timothy 3:6-7).

(G) Compare 3:6 for the same application to men who are learning: “He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil…”  The implication of this statement of Paul’s is that women, due to exclusion from the synagogue and from learning experiences, are playing “catch-up.”

(H) “The phrase silence and submission is a Near Eastern formula implying willingness to heed and obey instruction — in this case that contained in the Word of God”  (Kroeger, 75-76).

(I) The focus here is on behavior, not on qualifications for ecclesiastical office.

 (J) The focus here is on training, learning, and behavior, not on excluding women from teaching men or participating in or leading worship.

Thesis 94: “Submissiveness” refers to the process of learning, not to a structured relationship.

(A) Vs 11: “Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness…”:  To whom or what is the woman to be submissive?

(1) There is no object in the Greek at this point to the term “submissiveness.”

(2) The context is how women should learn.

(3) Nowhere in the New Testament is υποτασσω or its noun form used to give the Church authority to subordinate various members or classes of members.

(4) Compare 2 Timothy 3:6-7: “For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”  Women in this context were not hearing and learning the truth.

(5) Women are to submit to the sound doctrine Paul is preaching and not to the heresy of Artemis, and not run around talking “about what they should not” (5:13).

(6) The object, then, of “with all submissiveness” is not “husbands” or “men”  but “what is taught.”

(B) What the passage says, then, is that a woman in the process of learning is not to teach or assume authority (compare our Missouri Synod practice of not “licensing” seminary students to preach until they have taken homiletics courses).

◆ “The teaching that Paul forbids women to perform is the latter, namely, that of the formal, public proclamation of the Christian faith … The apostolic restriction of 1 Timothy 2 pertains to that teaching of God’s Word which involves an essential function of the pastoral office” (CTCR-WIC, 34).

◆ “To be sure, if women having a majority on such a panel were to seek to assert their power as women over men, such conduct would be a violation of Christian love, just as it would be for a majority of men to exercise power as men over women in such a situation” (CTCR, “The Service of Women … 16 November 1994).

◆ “… as long as this service does not violate the order of creation (usurping authority over men)” (CTCR, “The Service of Women … 16 November 1994).

◆ “Women may not teach (didaskein) men in St. Paul’s use (1 Timothy 2:12).  The Service of Women in the Church (Touchpoint Series).

 Thesis 95: This passage from 1 Timothy refers to process; it does not give a universal decree regarding women in ministry.

(A) “[vs 12] … I permit no woman to teach …”: On what basis do we insist that this refers to forbidding women to engage in public instruction?

(B) Women do teach (Acts 18:26; 1 Corinthians 11:5, 14:26 [see notes under this heading]; Titus 2:3-4).  In 2 Timothy 4:19 Paul upholds Prisca who taught Apollos; in 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul reminds Timothy to “entrust to faithful people” (not “men” as the RSV has it!) what Timothy has heard from him.

(C) In his letter to Timothy, Paul is concerned about a ministerium which is mature in the sanctified Christian life and produces the fruit of the Spirit: “He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil … The women likewise must be serious, no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things” (1 Timothy 3:6-7, 12).

(D) In the context of this 1 Timothy 2 passage the issue is poorly instructed women who tend to spread false teaching (compare 2 Timothy 3:6-7 where Paul has the same concern about men!).

(E) “[vs 12] … I do not permit …”: Paul is giving not “a word from the Lord” but a divinely inspired pastoral application of the Gospel to this current situation.

(F) According to Greek grammar, the focus of the sentence falls on the content of the teaching rather than on the women’s ability to teach or on their gender (Perales, 107).

 (G) “ … the verb ‘to permit’ is written in a tense that implies continuous present action.  To more accurately translate, the verse could say, ‘I am not currently permitting a woman to teach …’ The verb is not written in the command mode.  The command mode [imperative] appeared in the previous verse, where Paul was telling women he wanted them to learn.  But in verse 12, he was telling them he was not permitting them to teach at that time, which implies that those who learned might eventually teach – just not right now” (Perales, 106).

(H) “‘I am not permitting them to teach’ corresponds to ‘women should learn'” (Fee, 35).

(I) In Titus 1:10-11 Paul also silences the men for this reason: “For there are many insubordinate [ανυποτακτοι] men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially the circumcision party;  they must be silenced [επιστομιζειν], since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for base gain what they have no right to teach.”

◆ The teaching that Paul forbids women to perform is the latter, namely, that of the formal, public proclamation of the Christian faith.  The word for teach (didaskein) is used uniformly in this way throughout 1 Timothy” (CTCR-WIC, 34).

(J) “On the basis of these uses of didasko in the Pauline letters, on what grounds do we insist that the use of I Tim. 2.12 must refer to the public proclamation of the Word in a worship setting?  Of course, Paul does use didasko to refer to such proclamation, but we note two things: in none of those texts does he limit the teaching exclusively to males; second, many of the passages make no clear distinction between public instruction over against private instruction.  I believe with Luther, that our passage may not refer to a formal worship environment at all” (Dinda, 24).

(1) Note 1 Corinthians 11:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Timothy 6:2, 3. See also 1 Timothy 1:7, 1 Timothy 2:14-15, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, and Titus 3:9 where instruction applies to teaching the Scriptures.

◆ “If the right to vote is a franchise of power and authority, how can the woman who exercises that right in the assembly avoid usurping authority over men, especially when they are in the majority? (1 Tim. 2:12)” (Pittsburgh Convention Workbook, page 199 [an argument against women suffrage]).

◆”Priscilla, together with Aquila, took Apollos in and expounded (exethento) the way of God more accurately.  Neither didaskein nor any other closely related word is used (Acts 18:26)” (CTCR-WIC, 35, footnote 49).

(2) Or, sarcastically: “But isn’t this exactly what Priscilla did in straightening out Apollos (Acts 18:26)?  No, she ‘expounded’ or ‘explained’ (exethento), says the Touchpoint Series.  St. Luke knew the difference, we suppose, even if Apollos and Priscilla didn’t.  And of course, under the influence of direct and inerrant verbal inspiration, he was led to use the exact word to describe the contretemps between Priscilla and Apollos, just so no one in the Missouri Synod would get confused by it later” (Lutheran Forum Letter, July 1995, 4). (Note: The statement is actually in CTCR-WIC, 35, footnote 49).

(3) It is human preference, not exegetical soundness, that leads the authors to conclude that these two Greek verbs are opposites, explaining two different educational processes, rather than synonyms.  Webster: “synonym: one of two or more words or expressions of the same language that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses.”

◆ “Theologians note that there is a great difference between women having authority with men and having it over them.  The former, dealing with a mutual exercise in authority, is appropriate in nearly every churchly instance outside of the distinctive functions of the pastoral office (e.g. preaching in the services of the congregation, leading formal public worship services and administering the Lord’s Supper …” (Lutheran Witness, September 1988, 6).

Thesis 96: We need to carefully distinguish between “have authority” and “exercise authority” and “usurp authority.”  There is a fundamental difference between “assertion to power” and “implementation of power.”

(A) “[vs 12] … or to have authority over men …”: The verb here is a hapex legomena (meaning it appears only in one place [here] in all of the New Testament).  Such words are difficult to translate clearly.

(B) The verb αυθεντειν, here translated “to have authority over,” has an unsavory flavor:

(1) “to domineer” (Arndt-Gingrich, 120);

(2) “to have power over.  From αυθεντης … an actual murderer: esp.of murders done by those of the same family: also a self-murderer, suicide.  2. an absolute master or ruler” (Liddell and Scott, 114);

(3) “… one who with his own hand kills either others or himself.  b.  in later Grk, writ. one who does a thing himself, the author … one who acts on his own authority, autocratic” (Thayer, 84);

(4) “It comes from aut-hentes, a self-doer, a master, autocrat … to domineer …” (Robertson, 570);

(5) “The etymology of the word is also obscure: it may come from auto-thentes, ‘the self involved in killing,’ or from autos-hentes, ‘achieving or realizing an action on oneself or by one’s initiative” (Wilshire, 48);

(6) Josephus uses the noun form of αυθεντειν to describe Antipater, Herod’s son, accused of killing his two brothers and attempting to kill his father, and he employs the term to translate  “assassins, murders” of a Galilean Jew on his way to a festival (Lepper, 46).

(C)  αυθεντειν and εξουσια are not synonymous.

(1) The first implies authority that is self-proclaimed and gained by “muscling in” and the second implies authority that is granted by someone else (John 1:12, 2 Corinthians 10:8).  The two are just the opposite of each other.

(2) Jesus himself addresses the innate human tendency (found in the disciples — and in us!) to use any “authority” we might have in a self-serving manner: “It shall not be so among you, but whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Matthew 20:25-27).

(3) “… exercising authority on one’s own account – doing something on your own – and exercising authority generated from Christ are poles apart … the former can be selfish; the latter is always selfless …” (Lepper, 46).  Cf. Luke 22:25-26.

(4) Nowhere does Paul forbid a woman to possess εξουσια, which is the power Christ imparts for the work of the Church.

(D) What are the translation options?

(1) The usual Greek noun used by Paul for “authority” or “power” that is granted by another [εξουσια] is not used here.

(2) Paul chooses instead a verb which has a negative connotation, “to domineer” or “to usurp” (Moffatt: “to dictate to men”; NEB: “nor must woman domineer over man”).

(3) So the thrust of the infinitive is not in “position” or “office,” but in the action someone takes independently.

(4) The thrust is not a neutral “have authority” (TEV, Jerusalem).

(5) The thrust is not a benign “exercise authority.”

(6) The “hard edge” to αυθεντειν would suggest that the King James Version’s translation, “usurp authority” (to take by force, acting on one’s own authority) or the New English Bible’s “nor must woman domineer over man” are translations preferable to the neutral “to have authority over” (RSV; NIV; TEV, etc.) or the benign “exercise authority.”

(7)  This understanding would fit the context: men are instructed to behave in the worship setting “without anger or quarreling” (1 Timothy 2:8), and women modestly and sensibly (verse 9) should not muscle their way in, seeking to domineer in the worship setting (verse 11).

(E)  Authority [εξουσια] can also be given (Matthew 28) or acknowledged.

(1) The text does not deny women possessing authority in the church.

(2) The text does not forbid these receiving authority from others or having authority acknowledged.

(3) The text does not deny the church bestowing authority on women who have received from the Spirit the gifts of preaching and teaching and pastoring and have had these gifts recognized and affirmed by the church.

(F) There are no instances in Greek literature from Paul’s era where αυθεντειν is associated with ecclesial authority.  This would suggest Paul is here not discussing guidelines for the pastoral office.

(G) The text is about obtaining authority in a process of self-promotion and arrogating it to oneself.

(1) The text is not talking about exercising authority over men with respect to the public administration of the Office of the Keys.

(2) There is no discussion of “ordination” as we in today’s church understand it in this passage.

(3) The text never mentions “office” or “position” but instead describes how Christians are to relate to and serve one another.

(4) Paul never uses the term “pastor” or “presbyter” in this passage.

(5) There is no express word here in this Scripture forbidding women in the office of ministry.

(6) The text does not speak to “authority” of women whose authority is granted  through gifts of the Spirit and learning and then recognized by the Church.

(7) The text is a correction of an abuse of a privilege already granted (compare 1 Corinthians 11:5).

(8) The text does forbid “usurping” authority, obtaining it through aggressive self-aggrandizement, in a way not compatible with the Christ-servant model.  “To usurp” is the opposite of the servant ministry Jesus taught and modeled (John 13:14; Mark 10:43-44) and Paul fostered (Philippians 2:3-8).

(9)  That Paul needs to say this indicates that the opposite behavior was taking place.

(H) The text does not speak to women in offices serving men and other women with the Gospel.  The text contains caution to women on how to use their positions of responsibility for service and not domination.  (What is applicable to women regarding sin is also applicable to men.)

(I) But to have “authority” recognized requires also the discipline of learning, of submissivenes to the Word (verse 11).

(J) Verse 11 instructs women to learn with quiet, receptive spirits, instead of engaging in activities that result in “usurping authority over men” (verse 12)(King James Version) or “lording it over men.”

(K) Not to “usurp authority” should be paired with “but to be in quietness” (receptive to learning).  Verses 11 and 12 begin with “quietness” and end with “quietness.”




(L)  In secular literature it is translated “to claim to be the author of something” or “to be responsible for the initiation of something” or “to begin something” or “to kill someone” or “to lay claim to property as being one’s own” (Kroeger).

(1) Hence, Kroeger suggests a possible translation: “I do not allow a woman to teach nor begin some (new doctrine) about men.”

(2) This translation would fit the context of the letter to Timothy, namely the environment in which the theology of the Artemis cult in Ephesus was rampant.



(M) “[vs 12] … over men …”:  The word, in Greek, is singular, “man,”  suggesting one “husband” rather than all “males.”

(N) Compare also Paul’s instructions to males in 1 Timothy 2:8.

(O) When the CTCR equates “order of creation” with “usurping authority over men,” it clearly weights a bias in favor of males.

(1) What the creation accounts suggest is that male and female relate as “equity with differences.”

(2) Any “usurping of authority,” whether by females or by males, violates God’s paradisal intent for humanity.

(3) Is it godly for males to “usurp” (take by force, deny by “show of right”) the ministry of women?

(P) “Yet this is the only biblical text that appears specifically to forbid female leadership; therefore, those who wish to use this prohibition to impose a permanent ban on women in leadership must somehow demonstrate that the meaning of authentein in this verse points unequivocally to authority in the ordinary, neutral sense of exousia” (Groothius, 215).

◆”The question now arises, what is the relationship between teaching, learning, and exercising ‘authority over man’? … In point of fact, however, a careful review of this passage indicates that the terms ‘teach’ and ‘exercise authority’ parallel each other.  They are intentionally linked.  The kind of teaching referred to in the passage is tied to exercising authority.  The authority forbidden to women here is that of the pastoral office, that is, one ‘who labors in preaching and teaching’ (1 Tim. 5:17; cf. 1 Thess. 5:12)” (CTCR-WIC, 35).

Thesis 97: The terms “teach” and “usurp authority” are linked and are “parallel to each other” but not in the sense that “to teach” equals “to usurp authority.”

(A) CTCR argument (CTCR-WIC, 35) goes as follows:

(1) “… they [the terms ‘teach’ and ‘exercise authority’] are intentionally linked …”

(2) “The kind of teaching referred to in the passage is tied to exercising authority.”

(3) “Teach” equals “exercise authority” (Paul intentionally links these two).

(4) Ergo, “The authority forbidden to women here is that of the pastoral office ..”

(5) [No detailed exegetical material is presented in the CTCR document.]

(B) Rather, what is forbidden is not teaching per se, but an individual’s domineering and aggressive process of obtaining a position of teacher within the faith community.

(1) See the thesis that does a word study of αυθεντειν, indicating its domineering and self-appointed and aggressive flavor.

(2) See other references which speak of women in teaching roles and theological education (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:3-4, Acts 18:26, Romans 16:3, 6, 12).

(3) “[vs 12]ουκουδε”: usually in reverse order, these two are the equivalent of the English “neither … nor…”  They connect two present infinitives διδασκειν and αυθεντειν (two separate infinitives, listed in sequence).

(4) “ouden/‘and not’ joins the two words.  The use of de (‘and’), as well as its compounds ouden/meeden (‘and not’), in 1 Timothy always strongly suggests a move [sic] to a different topic or to quite a different aspect of a topic.  See, e.g., 2:15 and 1:4 … the grammatical construction of the verse and the argument in the context … seem to suggest that teaching is one thing and with the mention of authority Paul moves on to a new topic … )” (Convention Workbook, 59th Regular Convention, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, St. Louis, Mo, July 15-21, 1995, “Dissenting opinion on women in congregational offices,” 313).

(5) And, “Paul gives two prohibitions here.  ουδε simply joins these two words as a negative conjunction.  Although the second prohibition explains and qualifies the first, these exist as two separate interdictions.  In other words, διδασκειν does not equal αυθεντειν.  Since διδασκειν and αυθεντειν are linked by a co-ordinate conjunction, ανδρος serves as the direct object for both of these verbs.  The nature of the two verbs requires a direct object in the genitive case instead of the accusative case” (Gritz, 133).

(6) Or, “At this point one can see the relationship between διδασκειν and αυθεντειν.  Teaching in the first century did contain the idea of authority for both Jews and pagans.  For wives to teach their husbands gave the impression that they were ‘lording it over them.’  The problem intensified in Ephesus because of the attitude of the false teachers — arrogant and highhanded.  Some women, including wives, unfortunately adopted this unchristian disposition.  A further complication resided in the fact that the heretics forbade marriage.  As a result, some wives publicly demeaned their husbands.  Ephesian Christian wives had overstepped their bounds.  This behavior had to cease.  Paul’s instructions in this entire passage reveal his pastoral concern at this point to maintain not only order in church worship but also healthy family relationships in an environment hostile to the same” (Gritz, 135).

(7) “The relationship and function of a woman in the congregation is to be seen in the light of the relationship between man and woman in the family” (Powers, 59).

(C)  Διδασκειν has no modifier (as it does eleven of the thirteen times it appears in the New Testament).

(1) This suggests the emphasis here is on the act or the process, not on who is teaching or who is being taught or the content of the teaching.

(2) Therefore, the text can be translated, “I am not permitting (present tense: “currently”) women to teach in a way as to domineer (or seize authority) over men.”

◆ ‘However, when the apostle’s phrases are separated in this way and used to formulate a code of rules concerning the role of women, both the text and women are abused” (CTCR-WIC, 35).

(D) No, the text is abused when αυθεντειν is translated with a neutral or benign flavor, “to have authority” or to “exercise authority” when the stress of the word is on a domineering and self-aggrandizing action.

(1) And women are abused when they are denied full use of their gifts which the Spirit distributes “as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

(2) The text does not indicate Paul forbids women teaching if it is done in a way that does not impose itself over others, nor does Paul say women cannot teach if this authority is granted by the faith community.  Paul is not saying women cannot “have authority” or “exercise authority.”

(3) “[vs 12] .. αλλα ειναι [present infinitive: “currently] εν ησυχια”: “but to be at this time in [a posture of] quiet receptiveness” (again the “rabbinic teaching model”).

(4) “… ουδε … αλλα ..”: the opposite attitude of “usurping” is “quietness,” learning first, earning the community’s authorization, then teaching.

(5) 1 Tim. 2:8-15 is not a reference to the pastoral office.  Paul is not forbidding authoritative teaching; he is forbidding the arrogant action which assumes one can muscle one’s way into the community as a teacher.

(E) There is no express word herein which hints at or refers to pastoral office.

Thesis 98: “[vs 15]… women will be saved through childbirth” is an admittedly difficult passage.

(A) “Three possible meanings of this verse are: (1) It speaks of the godly woman finding fulfillment in her role as wife and mother in the home; (2) it refers to women being saved spiritually through the most significant birth of all, the incarnation of Christ; or (3) it refers to women being kept physically safe in childbirth” (Concordia Self-Study Bible, 1852).

(B) Gnostics taught that the physical was evil.  Note Saturnilus (ca. 130 A.D.), a gnostic teacher, as described by St. Irenaeus:  “The Savior he [Saturnilus] assumed to be unbegotten, incorporeal, and without form, but appeared in semblance as a man.  The God of the Jews, he says, was one of the angels; and because all the archons wanted to destroy the Father, Christ came for the destruction of the God of the Jews and the salvation of those who believe in him; these are they who have the spark of life in them.  He was first to say that two kinds of men had been molded by the angels, the one wicked, the other good.  And since the demons helped the wicked, the Savior came for the destruction of the wicked men and demons, and the salvation of the good.  Marriage and procreation, he says, are of Satan [emphasis added].  Many of his followers abstain also from animal food [emphasis added], and through this feigned continence they lead many astray” (quoted in Karris, 68).

(C) “[vs 15]…through childbirth…“: δια with the genitive (“in the state of child bearing”) — even as mothers (contrary to Artemis who denigrated motherhood) (Dawn).

(D) Beck translates this, “But women, having children, will be saved if they live in faith, love and kindness, and use good judgment.”

(E) “[vs 14] … the woman (singular) was deceived … [vs 15] Yet woman (singular) will be saved … if they (plural) continue in faith …”:

(1) “…will be saved…” is passive, indicating salvation comes from someone other than herself.

(2)  The outlines of Pauline salvation through faith are still evident in the text.

(F) If we take verses 13-14 at surface literalism without historical context and interpret them as “order of creation” material, then we should do the same for verse 15:

(1) For example, we should argue that salvation is denied to all infertile women.

(2) Then we should deny Jesus’ and Paul’s assertion that salvation is by grace through faith.

(3) Then we should relieve Adam of his responsibility for sin.

◆ “Corresponding to Priscilla, who taught Apollos, early Christian tradition was not devoid of women known for their missionary teaching and preaching …The early church, therefore, did not apply the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:12 to the mission context” (CTCR-WIC, 15).

Thesis 99: So!  The early Church obviously did not feel bound by an “order of creation” argument in the application of 1 Timothy 2:12!

(A) What other conclusions can be drawn about our use of the “orders of creation” theology from this statement?

(1) That the early church had a double standard?

(2) Or that the early church did not consider the “order of creation” practice binding on conscience?

(3) Or that Paul (as elsewhere, with marriage, for example, in 1 Corinthians 7) determined that any application of any teaching, must be done pastorally (that is, a divine law is not mandated here).

(B) Maybe with Tertullian he was making a pastoral application because of the heretics’ offense.  Might not the offense given today be that females are discriminated against in society (e.g., the “glass ceiling,” male-only country clubs, victimization by the legal system in cases of rape, exclusion from certain positions) and that today Paul might answer such offensive behavior by pastorally advising the church to honor and include women in all positions as a visible corrective rather than joining a culture under sin’s dominion in subordinating women?

(C) If verses 11 and 12 are interpreted as a decree of timeless and universal application, the same viewpoint must be applied to verse 9 (“…not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire…”).  “…if we insist that v. 8 must be taken theologically, how is it that v. 9, so closely related to v. 8, is taken sociologically?” (Dinda, 20-21).

(D) See notes under “order of creation” excursus.

Thesis 100:  To understand verses 13 and 14 as theological rationale instead of theological correction is to continue a practice (allowing no women elders or presidents or vice-presidents) for the purpose of punishment of today’s daughters of Eve.  This contradicts the Gospel which removes the curse (Galatians 3:13).

Thesis 101: In this text (1 Timothy 2:11-14) there is no express word which indicates the pastorate or public ministry or qualifications thereof are being discussed.

(A)  This passage is the sine quo non for the CTCR understanding.  All other passages are read by the CTCR through its understanding of this passage.

(B)  There is no directive here to say that a human being who is female is not to assume the ministry of the Word (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:2-16).

(C) This passage does not say that men should have authority over women. The CTCR-WIC document errs.

(D) This passage does say that women should not usurp (assume by force) authority over men.

Thesis 102: This passage, 1 Timothy 2:11-14, may be understood, then, thusly:

Paul: “[Just as women should have good judgment and learn about inner and outer beauty,] let a wife [a woman] continue learning [the faith] with a quiet demeanor, being receptive [to receiving true doctrine]. [In this situation] I am [currently] not allowing [busybody (5:13)] women to teach [ — as I do with newly converted males (1 Timothy 3:6)] or to take authority by a show of force [or lord it over] from men [or to claim to be the originators of men, as the Artemis myth says].  She is to be receptive [not disruptive]. Is Eve the source of all humankind?  No, Adam was created first.  Is Eve the source of all revelation?  No, she, too, was completely deceived.


▬ 1 Timothy 3:1 ▬

[1] The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task.

Thesis 103: English translations of 1 Timothy 3:1 often obscure the integrity and point of the Greek text.

(A) A male pronoun is often added to the English translations where no pronoun at all is called for in the Greek text.

(1) In 1 Timothy 3:1 Paul employs the Greek τιζ which refers to “anyone,” male or female. [For the following I am indebted to Joseph Webb and Joann Lepper.]

(2) τιζ is properly translated “any one, anything, someone, something; many a one or thing” (Arndt/Gingrich, 827).  Thayer adds that it is an “indefinite … pronoun” (625).  It always has an indefinite referent, applying to either male or female or both.

(3) “So chapter 3 of 1 Timothy opens with ‘If anyone aspires to oversight’” (Webb, 43).

(4) Read 1 Timothy 3:1 and following.  All of the pronouns “in English are male pronouns: ‘he desires’ (v. 1), ‘he must manage’ (v. 4), ‘his own household’ (v.5), ‘how can he care for God’s church’ (v.5), ‘he may be puffed up’ (v.6), ‘He must be well thought of,’ (v.7), and ‘he may fall into the reproach of the devil’ (v.7)” (Webb, 42).

(5) “The fact is. … that the repetition of the ‘he’ in the text … is simply not a correct handling of the verbs and pronouns contained within those verbs.  In the Greek text, no pronoun is inserted at any point where the ‘he’ appears in the above list.”

(6) “‘He’ is only part of the correct translation.  The third person singular pronoun could also be translated as ‘she.’ It is without question most accurate to translate the pronoun each time it appears as ‘he or she’” or “the one who …”

(7) “The pronoun, instead, is always ‘implied’ within the verb form that is used.  In every instance listed above, moreover – and that includes virtually every verb in the text – the Greek verb is in the third person singular and should always be translated as ‘he,’ ‘she,’ or ‘it.’”

(8)  “With this line up of male pronouns – and it is this way in virtually all English translations – it is little wonder that the reader … would assume that it calls for men to fill the positions of leadership and for woman to be excluded” (Webb, 41).

(9) “We are required by tis to translate them with ‘he or she’ because only the ‘he or she’ harmonizes with the inclusive indefiniteness of tis, the ‘formative pronoun’” of this text (Webb, 43).  “The insertion of tis indicates that anyone without regard to sex, could aspire to the work of oversight.”

(10) Greek has sex-specific words for males and females, which Paul does use in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 to distinguish male and females.  Here he avoids those specific words.

(B) 1 Timothy 3:4 contains the Greek προισταμενον, a present middle participle.  It is attached to no specific pronoun.  “The participle itself has gender but the writer is quick to neutralize the masculine gender by inserting the indefinite pronoun [τιζ] in a repetition of the ‘manage’ statement which follows immediately.”

(1) προισταμενον means “managing.”  It may literally be translated, “managing one’s own household well …”

(2) The similar issue holds with the verbs in verses 6 and 7, which accurately translated would read “Not a recent convert, or being puffed up, he or she [third person singular] fall into the condemnation of the devil” and “being well thought of by outsiders, or he or she [third person singular] may fall into the reproach and the snare of the devil.”

(C) “If the apostle Paul had intended to indicate that ‘if any male aspires to oversight,’ he could have very clearly stated that, and given his penchant for precision, would have done so” (Webb, 43).

(D) Therefore, 1 Timothy 3:1 and following may be translated as follows: “If anyone sets the heart on being an overseer, he or she desires a noble task…managing the family well…(If anyone does not know how to manage the family, how can he or she take care of God’s church?)  He or she must also have a good reputation…so that he or she will not fall into disgrace…”


▬ 1 Timothy 3:2 ▬

[2] Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife …

Thesis 104: The point here is not the gender of the bishop.

(A) This passage is used by those opposed to women pastors to “prove” that God wants only males to be in the pastoral office.

(B) [vs 2] … the husband …“:  The point is the marital status and fidelity of the bishop to the spouse.

(C) The bishop must also have “children who obey him..”  If we follow a logic which says Paul is requiring only males because he says “husband of one wife,” we would end up concluding that to be a bishop one must be a husband and also have fathered children.

(D) Such reasoning would disqualify Paul himself (who was unmarried) as well as Timothy (1 Timothy 4:12).


▬ 1 Timothy 3:8-13 ▬

[8] Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, nor addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; [9] they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.  [10] And let them be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons.  [11] The women likewise must be serious, no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things.  [12] Let deacons be the husband of one wife, and let them manage their children and their households well; [13] for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Thesis 105: The Scriptures recognize the role of woman as deacon.

(A) “[vs 11] … likewise…”: The word ουσαυτοs translated likewise shows a close connection between the women and the deacons, and would support the contention that a new class is introduced analogous to the preceding order of deacons.

(B) “Another argument in favor of deaconesses is that no special requirements are mentioned for the wives of bishops …” (Guthrie, 85).

(C) “From the context and from the parallelism between the qualities required for them and for the deacons … these must be ‘deaconesses’ (not ‘wives of deacons’), women who help; cf. Romans 16:1″  (Lock, 40).

(D) The text says (verse 11) “the” women, not “their” women, indicating not wives but women who are deacons themselves.

(E) Women did function as διακονοι, e.g. Phoebe (Romans 16:1).

(F) “In 1 Tim. 3:11: γυναικας ωσαυτωσ σεμνας κτλ., … there is reference to official deaconesses with much the same duties as their male counterparts.  Their work is designed to support that of the bishops or presbyters.  It is certainly not limited to charitable endeavor, but consists rather in organizational or even pastoral work among women.  Nothing is said concerning their family relationships” (Oepke, TDNT, I:788).

(G) The NEB in its footnote allows the translation in verse 11 as “Deaconesses …”

(H) “It is telling that when a biblical passage listing qualifications for church leaders includes a reference to the prospective leader’s wife, this is taken as a requirement of maleness for the position.  But when a biblical passage describing the qualifications of a disciple refers to the prospective disciple’s wife (Luke 14:26-27), it is quite naturally and appropriately understood as referring to a general principle that is applicable to all believers, regardless of gender” (Groothius, 207).


▬ 2 Timothy 1:5 ▬

[5] I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you.

Thesis 106: The Scriptures uphold the example of women as teachers.

(A) Was Timothy a child, an adolescent, or an adult?

(B) If we understand 1 Timothy 2 to mean “women should not teach men,” at what point does a male child become an adult male?

(C) Note the history of the Missouri Synod’s struggle over whether to allow women to teach in the parochial school system.

(D) Do we not get into legalistic minutiae when we start drawing lines to exclude certain groups, “ …. straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew 23:24)?


▬  2 Timothy 2:2  ▬

[2]  … and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Thesis 107: The English translation clouds the Biblical word.

(A) “[vs 2] … faithful men …”:  The Greek uses the word ανθροπος which means “people” (without gender designation) or “humanity”; it does not use the gender specific word, αννρ (“male”).

(B) The translation, “faithful men ..”, is therefore misleading.

(C) Paul does not draw gender distinctions when it comes to the ministry of public teaching.


▬ Philemon 2 ▬

[2]…and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house…

Thesis 108:  Another prominent woman in leadership role is recognized by Paul.







▬  Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24  ▬

[7] Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith. … [17]  Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account.  Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you… [24]  Greet all your leaders and all the saints…

Thesis 109:  No restrictions are given here regarding the gender of leaders.

(A) “[vs 17] … as men who will have to give account”:

(1) The Greek has neither ανηρ nor anthropos at this point.

(2) The masculine participle could cover a mixed group.

(B) The “leaders” are not further defined, other than as ones who “spoke to you the word of God” (this can include Phoebe, Priscilla, and women in similar positions and circumstances).

 ▬ 1 Peter 2:9  ▬

[9] But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Thesis 110: All in the Body of Christ, regardless of gender, exercise prophetic, priestly, and royal functions.

(A) The public accountability for the function of the pastoral office properly resides in the local congregation and the exercise of the priesthood of all believers.

(B) To limit some function in clergy or congregation to only one sub-group (even sub-groups based on gender) creates an exclusive class which mediates God to the other and denies one group the function of representing the other before God.

 ▬ 1 Peter 2:18-25 ▬

[18] Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing. [19] For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. [20] For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently?  But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval. [21] For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. [22] He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. [23] When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. [24] He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed. [25] For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Thesis 111: The motive for submission is grace, not law. A comment:

“Through many centuries and even in our own time, there are many Christians who read these and other passages as teaching submission on the part of the wife and dominance on the part of the husband.  The only thing which is proved by such readings is how we have forgotten both Christ’s and Paul’s teachings concerning the Christian way of relating, which is mutual submission and mutual service.

“Similarly, many Christians read Peter’s remarks concerning wifely submission without paying any attention to the context, which once again concerns the Christian way of relating.

1 Peter 2:18-25 counsels servants to be subject to their masters ‘because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.’  From there Peter moves into a discussion of wifely submission, obedience, and subjection (3:1-6) and then into instructions to husbands to “in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers’ (3:7 NIV; emphasis mine).  From there, Peter moves into the widest sense of Christian community: ‘Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble’ (3:8 NIV).”  (Mollenkott, 25).



▬ 1 Peter 3:7 ▬

[7] Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.

Thesis 112: The Old Order is transmuted by the New Order.

(A) “[vs 7] … since you are joint heirs of the grace of life …”: Even in the “household lists” the Old Order is transmuted by the New Order.

(B) Counselors know that the more deeply intimate a couple’s love for each other is, the less struggle is found regarding “turf,” control, and hierarchical issues.

(C) Peter never tells women “to obey” their husbands.

(1) 1 Peter 3:5-6: “They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.  You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”

(2) “Christian women become daughters of Sarah as they become like her in doing good and in not fearing any potential disaster, but trusting in God” (Concordia Self-Study Bible, 1910).

(3) Compare Genesis 21:12.

(D) Peter does not tell husbands to dominate their wives.


▬ 1 Peter 4:10-11 ▬

[10] As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as stewards of God’s varied grace: [11] whoever speaks, as one who utters the oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies …

Thesis 113: All in the Body of Christ are called to develop whatever gift the Spirit supplies, and to use it as a steward of the grace of God.  No gender limitations are given or implied.


▬ 1 Peter 5:1-5 ▬

[1] So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed … [5] Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders.  Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Thesis 114: Peter urges submission to elders, but gives no definition of the office based on gender.




Thesis 115: We cannot establish as doctrine either more or less than the Scriptures teach.

(A) The “order of creation” argument is not part of the Lutheran confessional theology.

(B) The Confessions we affirm to be a true exposition of the Word of God, and we vow in ordination and installation to teach according to them.

(C) “In summary form, the Augsburg Confession asserts ‘that according to the Gospel the power of the keys or the power of bishops [pastors] is a power and command of God to preach the Gospel, to forgive and retain sins, and to administer and distribute the sacraments’ (AC XXVIII, 5; cf. 8-9, 21 etc.).  We recognize that neither the Scriptures nor the Lutheran Confessions provide a detailed list of the activities required of pastors as they carry out these responsibilities in the Christian congregation which they are called to serve.  However ….” (CTCR, “The Service of Women … 16 November 1994”).

 (D) “However ….” We cannot go beyond what the Scriptures themselves clearly teach.

(E) “The Lutheran Confessions are careful to affirm the fact that church order is fundamentally the will of God, but how this is implemented concretely is left to Christian freedom and to practical expediency so long as it serves the Gospel by preaching salvation, administering the sacraments and gathering the church” (Coiner, 8).

(F) There is nothing in the Confessions to explain the distinctive functions of the pastoral office.


“It is also taught among us that one holy Christian church will be and remain forever.  This is the assembly of all believers among whom the Gospel is preached in its purity and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel” (Augsburg, VII).


“It is necessary to acknowledge that the keys do not belong to the person of one particular individual but to the whole church, as is shown by many clear and powerful arguments, for after speaking of the keys in Matt. 18:19, Christ said, ‘If two or three of you agree on earth,’ etc.” (Treatise, 24).


“Wherefore it is necessary for the church to retain the right of calling, electing, and ordaining ministers.  This right is a gift given exclusively to the church, and no human authority can take it away from the church. … Where the true church is, therefore, the right of electing and ordaining ministers must of necessity also be.  So in an emergency even a layman absolves and becomes the minister and pastor of another” (Treatise, 67).


“We are not dreaming about some Platonic republic, as has been slanderously alleged, but we teach that this church actually exists, made up of true believers and righteous men scattered throughout the world.  And we add its marks, the pure teaching of the Gospel and the sacraments” (Apology VII and VIII, 20).


Thesis 116: The Office of the Keys is given to the whole church.

(A) The Office of the Keys is a mark of the church (Apology VII and VIII, 20).

(B) The Office of the Keys is given to the whole church.

(C) The church is the assembly of believers (Augsburg VII), and the whole church includes women as well as men.

(D) Each member of the church has the responsibility and the right to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


 “He teaches us that the church is hidden under a crowd of wicked men so that this stumbling block may not offend the faithful and so that we may know that the Word and the sacraments are efficacious even when wicked men administer them” (Apology VII and VIII, 19).


“…the sacraments are efficacious even if the priests who administer them are wicked men…” (Augsburg, VIII).


“When the sacraments are administered  by unworthy men, this does not rob them of their efficacy.  For they do not represent their own persons but the person of Christ, because of the church’s call, as Christ testifies (Luke 10:16), ‘He who hears you hears me.’  When they offer the Word of Christ or the sacraments, they do so in Christ’s place and stead” (Apology VII and VIII, 28).


Thesis 117: The efficacy of Word and Sacraments depends on the power of Christ alone.

(A) The effectiveness of the Word does not depend on any inherent qualities in the proclaimer of the Word or administrator of the Sacraments, whether those qualities be moral or personal, intellectual or rhetorical, or whether they be gender.

(B) The public ministry represents Christ.  That does not happen because the minister looks like Christ or reminds people of Jesus.  It is in and through the Word and Sacraments that Christ is represented.  The gender of the representative cannot make that Word or Sacrament more or less than what it is.  It is not the maleness of Jesus, but the mercy of Jesus, that is “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

(C) In the Confessions, there is no question regarding the validity of Word or Sacrament as shared by women.

(D) Zerbst, frequently cited as a basic source text in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, concludes on the basis of the Confessions that there is “nothing in the nature of the office of preaching and administration of the sacraments to exclude women from that office” (Reumann, 11; cf. Zerbst, 104-109.).  Zerbst argues instead that there is something in the nature of women to prevent them from serving (Zerbst, 109-115).

(E) “Therefore everything in the Christian Church is so ordered that we may daily obtain full forgiveness of sins through the Word and through signs appointed to comfort and revive our consciences as long as we live” (Large Catechism, 418, 55).




Thesis 118:  The preponderance of biblical illustration and example demonstrates that God gifts and employs women in leadership, ministry, and worship positions.

(A) Many clear examples far outweigh in number the several “dark” passages (e.g. 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2).

(B) The “dark” passages, which have a history of long exegetical debate and division of opinion, are used as keystone passages to limit women’s complete participation in the worship and ministry of the church.

(C) The overall biblical thread, and especially the New Testament, indicates the limitations are of men and not of God.

(D) In Genesis, God recounts for us the creation of the world.  God’s original creation was unbroken, whole, “good.”  God created male and female in his image, to be his people, to bear his image, to have parity with differences.

(E) Sin broke in and infected all relationships, so that now each “would be as gods,” and each now seeks the domination and lordship over others.  Sin distorts and warps and destroys what God desires.  People rule over others, nation over nation, male over female, white over black, and so on.

(F) In Christ, God’s original ordering of creation, that of male and female in his image, is not rescinded or canceled.  Rather, we the broken creatures are being restored.  We are united to Christ.  Because of Christ, a change has taken place within us.  Rather than allowing distinctions to divide and become “walls of hostility,” we recognize that true distinctions are part of God’s created gift to us.  We recognize, for example, that the Creator is distinct from the creature; we no longer in Christ desire “to be gods.”   Because the change has taken place within, we are now free and empowered by the Spirit to live according to God’s created order.

(G) The New Order is breaking in (2 Corinthians 5:17). Women, in the Scriptures, are shown faithfully accepting God-given opportunities for living faithfully and thankfully in response to the gracious gifts and call of God.

◆ “The Commission is aware of these exegetical problems (such as the possible meaning and usages of the term authentein, which occurs in Scripture only in 1 Tim. 2:12), and it will undoubtedly continue to study and discuss them.  It also believes, however, that despite any number of exegetical questions and ambiguities (some of which may never be resolved on this side of heaven) we do have a clear word from God in 1 Tim. 2:12″ (CTCR, “The Service of Women …, 16 November 1994”).


Thesis 119: We do not have a “sufficiently clear uncontroverted word” with which we justifiably may bind the consciences of the faithful.

(A) With all the exegetical debate–voluminous!–on 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 and 1 Timothy 2, can it be said, truly, “we do have a clear word from God” forbidding women’s participation in full ministry, elders, president, vice-president, yes, even the pastoral office?

(1) Is it a sufficiently clear Word to bind the consciences of the faithful?

(2) To call this “doctrine?”

(3) Do we base doctrine and practice on passages clearly filled with exegetical uncertainties?

 (B) Is the phrase, “a clear word,” a misnomer?

(1) Is it used as a political shibboleth?

(2) Are we confusing “a clear word” (in regard to women’s suffrage, roles as elder, president, and vice president–and even ordination) with the perspicuity of Scripture (as defined in our dogmatics, Pieper, I: 320; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4)?

(3) “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24).  We Lutherans hardly would define this Biblical statement by James about justification as “a clear word” standing by itself.  Luther himself found within the biblical canon texts which “contradict” this “synergistic” text and more clearly express the heart of biblical teaching on justification.

(4) Is “a clear word” a phrase we use because of tunnel vision, because we are afraid that to really listen at this point would expose something within us?

(5) An exegetical interpretation, when hardened into “an eternal  propositional principle,” which in turn effectively closes off discussion of specific passages, elevates (an exegetical) stance to the level of a doctrinal position (Matthew 15:9).  By clinging to and elevating a certain exegetical interpretation we fall into the reversal of what we desire: we let the “dark” passages shed light on the “clear” statements of Scripture, and we end up with a less than biblical position on “women in the church.”

(6) Do the texts we hold up as proof texts really carry all the freight we put in them; do they actually say everything we say they say?

 Thesis 120: The basic question seems to boil down to “Is subordination of creation or of the fall?”

(A) The lynch-pin in the argument for restricting pastoral office to males lies in the application of a teaching of “the order of creation.”

(B) It is legitimate exegesis to read the Genesis 1 and 2 passages as admitting no super- or subordination concepts.

(C) Any order within the created realm cannot be seen apart from the Fall.

(1)  Otherwise, we are asserting that some structures and parts of creation have been untouched by sin, that, ontologically, they are “without sin,” having in themselves an absolute and ultimate value (“… will be like God” [Genesis 3:5]).

(2) If an “order of creation” teaching is determinative for male and female relationships, then these relationships have a value separate from and unrelated to Christ and redemption.

(3) Romans 8:19 and 20 speaks of creation being “subjected to futility.” All orderings are demonized in the Fall (Genesis 3:16).

(4) This includes the structures that continue to dehumanize and impersonalize humanity.  Behind the structures of society, family, government, culture are the principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12).  These powers seek to enslave humanity to sin.

(5) Christ comes to disarm these principalities and powers (Colossians 2:13-15).

(6) “He shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16) is a demonization of the need for structure; “submit yourselves to one another” (Ephesians 5:21) is the Christ-like ordering (Philippians 2).

(7) Subordination, self-submitting, is the accepting of an ordering with the motive to benefit the other or for the sake of the Gospel.

(8) One, even a male, is not robbed of identity when one subordinates himself to another; subordination is not the distinct function of women.  Subordination is the ordering of oneself in relationship to another because one is “in Christ” and does it for the sake of the Gospel.

(D) If subordination begins with the Fall, and not in creation, then it is not God’s immutable will for human kind, and to use such arguments as a basis for denying women various roles within the Church is wrong.

(E) It seems that “order of creation” theology, structuring a hierarchy with “headship” and “subordination,” contradicts the intent of what Jesus says in Matthew 23:6-12, Luke 14:7-11, and John 13:12-17.  Are we listening to the voice of Jesus in his Word, or are we filtering our hearing through the sounds of the world’s agenda which insists on “being first,” being “on top”?

◆ “The Biblical view affirms that the New Testament discussion of male-female relationships is rooted in a divinely instituted order and that this order is not overthrown by the new creation” (CTCR-WIC, 25).

(F) Exactly!  The order of creation  (or is it the “order of the fall”?) is not “overthrown”: if anything, it is renewed.  The order of creation is parity-with-differences.  Divinely instituted orders are diseased by sin.  Divisions and domination become the order of the day.  Even humanity’s relationship with the animal kingdom is changed (Genesis 9:2-3; Romans 8:19).  God’s intent is to renew and restore creation to the One in whom “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

(G) There are many other arguments which need to be interwoven with a discussion on “the order of creation” issue: spiritual gifts, examples of women in ministry, Paul’s Christ-like attitude and practice, the new creation of the Church as the New Reality, etc.

 ◆ “To be sure, the new creation begins to transform that which is sinful, but since the eschatological transformation in the resurrection of the dead has not yet taken place, the relationships between men and women must bear the elements of the structure given in creation (Rom. 8:18-25; 1 Cor 7:17-31)” (CTCR-WIC, 25-26).

Thesis 121: Christ transforms the fallen creation.

(A) Must relationships “bear the elements of the structure given in creation”?  Have we read the creation accounts properly if we use them to support subordination and inferiority?

(B) The arguments created to sustain the “subordination of women” smell of the same exegesis that pre civil-war slavery advocates used to enforce the obedience of slaves to an inhuman social structure while at the same time expressing concern for their souls.

(C) The people who are now God’s New Creation, while never being able to completely or thoroughly transform sinful structures (since we are simul justus et peccator) will seek to be open to the transforming power of Christ.

(D) To deny the transforming power of the kingdom in present, concrete history, is to deny the power of God to transform.

(E) Women cannot be kept subordinate (biblically one can only subordinate oneself) or refused positions on the basis of what Eve may have done or not have done (Ezekiel 18:20-22; Galatians 3:13).

(F) God has the freedom to work authoritatively through all people (e.g., Hulda, Paul, etc.).

◆ “While some might argue that assisting the presiding minister in the distribution of the elements is not necessarily a distinctive function of the pastoral office, the commission strongly recommends that, to avoid confusion regarding the office of the public ministry, and to avoid giving offense to the church [emphasis added], such assistance be limited to men” (CTCR-WIC, 47).

◆ “The most that could be supported by Gal. 3:28 would, so it seems to me, be pastoral activity of women in cases of real emergency.  If somewhere, sometime, because of extraordinary circumstances, there just were no men capable of carrying out the pastoral office, and there happened to be a woman or women available capable of fulfilling the office, there would be nothing to prevent such an abnormal functioning of a woman as a pastor.  The welfare of the church there would be the supreme law …”  (Hamann, 3).

 Thesis 122: Offense is given to women within the community of faith when they are excluded (1 Corinthians 14:16, 23-24).

(A) Billing reminds us that all ordering is for the forgiveness of sins.

(B) Testimony by women outside our ecclesial expression of the Body of Christ indicates they also are offended by this “binding.”

(C) Is the welfare of the church and the sharing of the Gospel served when on such inadequate exegetical grounds we deny the full participation of women in ministry?

(D) When we speak of “the problem of women’s roles” in the church, who owns the problem?

(E) Or is it a problem of a male centered, Germanic tradition which refuses to listen to a clear Word of God which does free people?

(F) To what extent is this issue in the Church an example of culture infecting Church rather than Church infecting culture?  Remember that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is in itself a cultural expression of the deeper reality of the Body of Christ.

(G) Paul was concerned to remove behavioral aspects which gave offense in his culture.  Which is more offensive in our culture  – to exclude women or to include women?

Thesis 123: What is there in our hearts that makes us want to hold on?

(A) Why do we insist on no women presidents, vice-presidents, elders, and yet refuse to insist that women be veiled?  Is veiling too much of a social anachronism while sexism still influences male domination over female, even in the church?

(B) Is it sinful intolerance?   “Consider, for example, the reading of the lessons at worship services.  In the past year the congregational variations I have personally witnessed —  as to who is permitted to read  — included the following: (1) only the pastor; (2) the pastor and lay men; (3) lay men and lay women; (4) lay men who are permitted to read any lesson but lay women who are permitted to read only the Old Testament lesson; (5) everyone present at worship reading together and aloud all lessons; (6) lay men and women who are permitted to read the lessons at mid-week Lenten, Advent and summer services but not at Sunday services.

Add to those differing practices the congregations where the pastor always reads all of the lessons except for once-a-year special services such as LWML Sunday when women read the lessons.

Why, some logically ask, is it right for women to read at that one Sunday service but wrong to read at others?  Why, in some churches, are women permitted to read at Wednesday worship but not in Sunday worship?  Why, in some churches, can women read the Old Testament but not from the New Testament?

While such diversity is seen by some as healthy and essential to meet the needs of individual congregations as they serve the Lord, others see that diversity as evidence of practice gone astray and teaching gone wrong.  For lay people, however, the resulting confusion appears to derive less from the diversity of practice than from the intolerance on the part of some toward such diversity” (emphasis added) (Jean Garton, Issues, Fall 1992, 6).

(C) Is it labeling women as “inferior”? “… woman, when speaking in the congregation, not only revolts against the clear command of God, but also usurps authority over man, subverts the divine rule of order, and entails upon the Church the peril of false doctrine and general disorder and confusion, through her amenability to fraud and deception.  It is for these reasons that Paul forbids women to speak in the churches — an injunction to remain in force at all times” (Weis, quoting J.T. Mueller).

(D) Is it inadequate exegesis?  “The role of women in the church, or in the home, or anywhere else for that matter, is the story of the creation and the fall.  In the order of creation, woman was made to assist man and help him.  Rather than helping him she became an agent of Satan in the temptation of her husband.  The result of the fall is clearly recorded in Gen. 3:16.  Her husband shall rule over her” (Fink, 57).

(E)  What poison has infected the theological blood stream of our church?  Why do we insist on continuing a practice to punish one gender?

(F) Do we strain the gnat and swallow the camel?  Do we practice isagesis instead of exegesis?

(G)  All this invites an examination of the heart, of standing under God’s law and looking at our attitudes within, our attitudes which color exegesis and shade interpretation.  All this invites us to listen again, and well, to God speaking in his written Word.

Thesis 124: Does not the ministry, even the public ministry, begin with and find its foundation in baptism into Christ rather than with “the order of creation”?

(A) Baptism has to do with the “fleshly contours” of life and how we order our relationships as much as it does with salvation.

(B) Would the Word of God be less the Word of God were it preached, taught, expounded, shared, by anyone else besides a man?  Do we not teach that the Word has efficacy apart from the bearer of the Word?  That its power resides in the command and promise of Christ and in the power of the Spirit?

(C) What ministerial functions may women do under the supervision of a pastor?  Is there any ministry they cannot do under this condition?

(D) Would Christ mandate the church’s public ministry in a fashion and mode which contradicts his own personal, public ministry?

(E) Can any order in the church stand in contradiction of the Gospel, even the so termed “order of creation”?

Thesis 125: Are we simply playing the game of selecting and choosing texts that agree with our point?  “You may ask, What then is the Word of God and how is it to be used, since there are so many words of God.  I answer: The Apostle explains this in Romans 1.  The Word of God is the Gospel concerning his Son …” (Luther, in “The Freedom of the Christian Man”).



 Article VI Conditions of Membership

  1. A congregation shall be received into membership only after the Synod has convinced itself that the constitution of the congregation, which must be submitted for examination, contains nothing contrary to the Scriptures or the Confessions. (1992 Handbook, 11)


Article VII Relation of the Synod to Its Members

In its relation to its members the Synod is not an ecclesiastical government exercising legislative or coercive powers, and with respect to the individual congregation’s right of self-government it is but an advisory body.  Accordingly, no resolution of the Synod imposing anything upon the individual congregation is of binding force if it is not in accordance with the Word of God or if it appears to be inexpedient as for as the condition of a congregation is concerned. (1992 Handbook, 11)

◆ “Believe me when I say that it is not the desire of the Commission on Administration to meddle in the affairs of congregations.  However, in the spirit of ‘walking together’ as brothers and sisters in Christ, the members of the Commission do have certain obligations to the members of the Rocky Mountain District.  One of these is that all congregational constitutions within the District are in compliance with Synod’s guidelines.” (Rocky Mountain District vice president Pastor Gerald Harms in correspondence with Ascension Lutheran Church, Littleton, Colorado).


Thesis 126: Article VI and Article VII express the creative and evangelical tension Synod’s fathers recognized in the matter of “walking together.”

(A)  As we seek faithfully to live out the implications of the Gospel, this creative and evangelical tension is necessary.

(1) The tension involves living faithfully in a responsible relationship which balances the right of self-government of the congregation with Synod’s scriptural and confessional core and the expediency of synodical resolutions for the congregation’s ministry.

(2) What binds us together in Synod is our common faith (Ephesians 4:4-6), drawn from the Scriptures and expressed in the Confessions and our common mission as expressed in the synodical constitution (“Constitution of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Preamble: Reason for the Form of a Synodical Union … 2. Our Lord’s will that the diversities of gifts [emphasis added] should be for the common profit. 1 Cor. 12:4-31.”).

(B) The Spirit “blows where he wills” (John 3), and the Spirit informs each segment of the Body and leads it in faithfulness in its mission to its town and people.

(1) A congregation defines this relationship and expresses its faithfulness in its constitution (usually an article titled “Confessional Standard of Faith”), committing itself thus to order its ministry in a way so that “nothing is contrary to the Scriptures and the Confessions” (Synodical Handbook, Article VI, 11).

(2) “Walking together” does not mean “lock step uniformity,”  but rather unity in Christ.  The reality and understanding behind Articles VI and VII is that of creative (and sometimes unresolved) tension and diversity rather than a binding uniformity.

(3) We are not to deny the Spirit or quench his leading (Ephesians 4:30,1 Thessalonians 5:19).

(C) While insisting that male-female gender issues and Galatians 3:28 are in the spiritual realm, “walking together” is seen by the District and Synod not in “the spiritual realm” but in the mundane realm of congregational constitutional uniformity.

Thesis 127: Even our Synod, when it looks at its history, recognizes that the discussion is not closed and that understandings change as the Spirit leads.  Note these examples:

◆ “First, the position of our LCMS fathers on the question of women’s role in the church is not as monolithic as your reference to ‘the traditional position’ suggests.  For example, our fathers did not on the basis of the Scriptures forbid any and all exercise of authority by women in the church; present in LCMS tradition is the practice of permitting a woman to exercise veto power in excommunication procedures (J.H.C. Fritz, Pastoral Theology, p. 236) and in the calling of a pastor (T. Graebner, Pastor and People, 125).  Or, we have on the one hand Francis Pieper writing in 1913 that women’s suffrage in the State is ‘contrary to the natural order which God has established to govern the relation between man and woman’ (What is Christianity?, 157), and on the other hand, Theodore Graebner in 1932 opposing this argument (Pastor and People, 126-127).  I mention these facts only to show that whenever our fathers, equally committed to the authority of the Scriptures, sought to apply Scriptural principles in this area, there was not always total agreement, as is sometimes implied”  (Jerald C. Joersz, Assistant Executive Secretary, Commission on Theology and Church Relations).


◆ “In his Pastoral Theology (1872) Dr. C.F.W. Walther set forth the position of the Missouri Synod that only adult male members have the right of speaking and voting in congregational meetings.  Dr. Walther simply appeals to 1 Cor. 14:34-35 for his position on excluding women from the right to vote.  He does not stop to show how this passage proves his point.  In his Pastoral Theology (1932) Dr. J.H.C. Fritz includes 1 Tim. 2:11-12 as a Bible passage requiring that women not be permitted to speak in the church or to take an active role in the government of the church.  Until this time, it is to be noted, women suffrage had not yet been fully established in American political life.  After equal voting rights had become the norm for women (1928), the whole question of women suffrage in the church took on new significance” (Lutheran Witness, June 1969).


◆ “Since woman’s suffrage in the state implies participation  in the rule over men, it is contrary to the natural order which God has established to govern the relation between man and woman.  Just as invalid in this connection is the objection that women often are more prudent than men, more adroit at making election speeches, and more intelligent in the use of the ballot.  We are bound to the order which God has instituted, Gen. 2:18, I Tim. 2, 12.13; and wherever this order is perverted, His punishments are sure to follow” (Francis Pieper in 1913, quoted in Weis, 39).


◆ “A slightly different position was taken by Paul Lindemann in 1920.  In an article on ‘The Women in the Church’ Lindemann concluded that while women must be subject to men, there is no Bible passage that explicitly forbids women to vote.  Such voting, according to Lindemann, would be contrary to Scripture only if women thereby exceeded their subordinate position to men.  This position seems very similar to that mentioned above taken by the 1969 Missouri Synod convention.  Lindemann nevertheless concluded: ‘We are happy to see that the women in the Lutheran Church have not yet been permeated to any great extent with the general modern spirit of female restlessness'” (quoted in Weis, 40).


◆ “Every normal woman should enter holy wedlock, become a mother, and rear her children, if God grants her babies of her own.  That is woman’s highest calling; for this God has given her physical and mental gifts.  Unless God himself directs otherwise, a woman misses her purpose in life if she does not become a helpmeet to her husband and a mother of children” (Paul Kretzmann, Popular Commentary, 378, in discussing 1 Timothy 3:1-7).


◆ “The main issue addressed in 1969 was voting.  It was decided that the words of the text did not prohibit women from exercising the franchise in the church.  It was still clearly acknowledged then, however, that any activity which violated God’s created order between men and women contradicted these words.  The position has gradually mutated.  In 1985 the Commission  on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) applied the texts to the ‘pastoral office and distinctive functions of the pastoral office,’ but still maintained that the ‘order of creation’ prohibited women from occupying such positions as President of the congregation or elder.  The most recent study of the CTCR, published over the objection of a significant minority, opens the offices of congregation President, Vice President, and Board Chairmen to women.  It still seems to withhold the office of elder from women, though it is not entirely clear or firm on that point” (Concord, May 1995).


◆ To Prepare a Comprehensive Study of the Scriptural Relationship of Man and Woman, Resolution 3-10.

Whereas, It is apparent that confusion exists in the Synod, as well as in our culture regarding the relationship of male and female.   This is evident from the overtures received by the convention.  These overtures deal with a diversity of subjects: ordination of women, women suffrage in our congregations, use of female assistants in the public worship.  Additional overtures ask for a definition of the orders of creation as they relate to the priesthood of believers and the service of women in the church.

The committee therefore recommends a comprehensive study and offers the following resolution.  Among the questions which might be included in such a study are:

  1. Creation, Gen. 1:26-30: Does the image of God here apply to each individual person, or to the race? Are male and female together in their relationship to each other the image of God?
  2. Is subordination inherent in the very nature of a creation done by the Triune God, or is subordination a consequence of sin?
  3. Is the dominion given in Gen. 1:26, 29 given to both male and female, and what is the significance of this for their relationship in the race?
  4. Does Gen. 3:16 imply that the male is to have dominion over the female in the race?
  5. Does the subordination of the Son to the Father (1 Cor. 15:27-28) speak of some sort of subordination in the Trinity and what are the implications of this for the unity of the Trinity? What implications does this have for the distinction of persons within the Trinity?
  6. Does the image of God (Gen. 1:26, 29) in some way reflect the unity of the Trinity and the distinction of persons within the Trinity, and what implications does this have for the relationships of male and female?
  7. In the light of the above, must a distinction be made between the way in which the Adamic cultures understand the relationship of male and female, and the way in which the distinction between male and female is to be understood and expressed within the chosen race (1 Peter 2:9)?
  8. What is the meaning and implication of “head” in Eph. 5:20-33, and in what way is this illuminated by Eph. 1:22 and Eph. 5:20?
  9. May the words submit or subordinate in Eph. 5:21-22 be interpreted as meaning obedience as this word is understood by the Adamic cultures?
  10. In what way are the findings of this study to be applied to the church, as she orders her life and worship?
  11. In what way are the findings of this study to be applied to marriage and the life of the family?

Resolved, That the CTCR coordinate a comprehensive study of the scriptural relationship of man and woman, together with the faculties of both seminaries, making use of other persons who are competent in the area of theology, including women.

(Resolution adopted by the Convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, July 1995)




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