Ordination Of Women

Ordination Of Women “ORDINATION OF WOMEN”

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES

BY GLEASON L. ARCHER

DOES 1 TIMOTHY 2:12 FORBID THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN?

First Timothy 2:11-12 lays down this principle: “Let a woman learn in silence [hesychia] with all submission [hypotage]; I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over [authentein] a man, but to be in silence [or `quietness’- hesychia].” The reason for the distinction between men and women in the matter of leadership in the and in the home is then grounded on the relationship between man and woman established at the very beginning (vv.13 – 14): “For Adam was created first, afterwards [eita] Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, having been quite deceived [exapatetheisa] became involved in transgression. But she shall be saved [sothesetai from sozein, which here implies that woman is saved or redeemed from the disadvantage or reproach of having been the first to succumb to the wiles of Satan’s temptation at the Fall] through childbearing, if they [i.e., childbearing women – or even all women, as potential child-bearers] abide in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety [sophrosyne, which implies `moderation,’`good judgment,’ `self-control,’ `chastity,’ or `self-restraint’].” (Sothesetai must not be taken out of context as meaning that a child-bearing woman is saved by her good work of bringing a new life into the world; for her it is just as true as it is for a man, that salvation from sin and death is bestowed only by grace through faith, as Eph. 2:8-9 clearly teaches.)

Here we have a very clear principle of subordination of woman to man in the structure of the church as an organized body and in the family as a team in a household. God intends that the responsibility of leadership devolve on man rather than woman in both cases. Yet both man and woman are equally precious and worthy before God (Gal. 3:27-28), and the assigned level of responsibility does not give to men any special advantage or any inherently higher status before God than is granted to women.

The following teachings emerge from this passage:

  1. There is a distinction between what is permitted for women. By implication, since women are expressly forbidden to teach men (i.e., fellow believers in the congregation who are men) in an authoritative way (didaskein and authentein seem to be intended as a combined concept and describe the function of the teaching elder at minister of the gospel, who instructs and exhorts a congregation from the pulpit), that which is not permitted to women is permitted to men. It seems to this writer that this dictum cannot be worked so as to make it mean that women are granted the same privilege and status as men. (Some of those who attempt to do so are in danger of violating the rights of language and reducing Scripture to a plastic medium that can be interpreted to mean anything the interpreter may choose. Willful manipulation of the plain sense of Scripture must be regarded as tantamount to a denial of the objective authority of Scripture.)
  2. On the other hand, this verse does not prohibit women from teaching individual men on a personal basis (as Priscilla – along with her husband Aquila – taught Apollos the way of God more accurately [Acts 18:26]. Nor does it forbid women to “prophesy” in a respectful and submissive manner (symbolized by keeping a covering over their heads in church meetings [1 Cor. 11:5-6]) and to address fellow believers – male and female – to their “edification, exhortation, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3 so defines “prophecy”).

Indeed, there is a wide scope of opportunity afforded to women who have such a gift; all four daughters of Philip the evangelist were likewise endowed with the charisma of prophecy (Acts 21:9). Undoubtedly they spearheaded the Christian outreach to women who could not be contacted in public meeting places but could be evangelized in their homes – along with the younger children, no doubt. An apostolic pattern for Bible study and prayer groups in the home was set by Lydia at Philippi, who was Paul’s first European convert. Not only at the “Laundromat” by the river but also in her own home she promoted evangelism with all who would consent to enter her house (Acts 16:14,40.

This was not written by myself as I downloaded it from another board but if you would like to logon to my board, you are more than welcome! The Christian BBS – (604)478-2789 – 24 Hrs – 8,N,1 – C/O Dave Geauvreau, Voice (604)478- 0254, 3053 Metchosin Rd. Victoria, B.C., Canada – V9B 4Y9

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