There have been women in ministry from the very beginnings of the Jewish nation. Generally, their God-given task is not existent, not acknowledged or not allowed. Despite that, many have pushed through to doing what God has commanded them. In most cases, the opposite is the case. I would like to mention India as we have ministered there for many years. There have been many publicly outstanding Indian women in this country. The church unfortunately, has had few of them. However, there is at least one who dominates all others in the church and even in the secular field. She is Pandita Ramabai, 1858-1922. She combated unjust religious, political and economic practices. She decried lack of education, inadequate health care, child marriages and the cruelty towards widows. She wrote “The High Caste Hindu Woman”, 1887. She was fluent in eight languages. Then she found Jesus Christ to be her Saviour.
She founded a home at Mukti in Maharastra to care for women and children, especially child widows and orphans. She had orphanages and a home for prostitutes. At Mukti in 1905 she commenced prayer meetings. Twice daily, 550 women met to respond to her call to pray. They then experienced a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God, including speaking in other tongues. Foreign missionaries, male and female went there and experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Here we have a woman not only daring and believing for funds from God to involve herself in caring for the destitute. We also find a woman who ministered to male and female. There were many high class and educated English men and women who went there. They also submitted to her leadership in the things of God and were baptized in the Spirit, speaking in other tongues. She was a leader in the move of God in the normal Pentecostal way.
Today, there are many women in this country who have the Holy Spirit baptism, the boldness, the gift from Christ naturally and spiritually to follow in her steps. Sisters, arise to what should be your task from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us look at the situation of women in general over the centuries. We will also discuss women in the Bible and what their scriptural position in the church of Jesus Christ should be today.
Women have been downtrodden, abused, dominated and purchased and owned as “things”, i.e. property, for centuries. They have been considered second-class people. They have been denied education, been denied careers, been scorned and treated as slaves and chattels of fathers first, and then of husbands.
The gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, performed a major revolution, when it lifted women in status, in society, in education, in the work force and in their homes.
The church of Jesus Christ is obligated to recognise what Jesus Christ and His coming as Saviour has done for women within her ranks. The majority of its ministers who went to the Mission Fields over the past few centuries have been women.
More women than men dared to confront the strangeness of culture, the loneliness, the hardships, the dangers, the diseases, the hunger, the threats, the persecutions and the deaths – than men. They were all missionaries or apostles, ministers of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Early church history of Europe reveals women were active in the church. Their ministry on a wider scale, as pastors and priests, seemed to cease around the third century. However, the history of the East is different and more advanced for women. From the second to the eighth centuries in Persia, now Iraq and Iran, women played an important part.
From the fourth to the eight centuries in Persia (Arabia) there were many Christian queens. There was Hirah, the first Christian Arab queen in 373 A.D. There was Hindu, who founded a Christian convent.
In the fourth century. Two books, “The Teaching of the Apostles” and the “Constitutions of the Holy Apostles” refer to ordained deaconesses. Some women were teachers and ministered as priests (pastors). The Syriac “Testament of Our Lord”, fourth century, charges widows with ministries of teaching and giving pastoral care. They shared priestly functions. They stood at the altar, along with the bishop and presbyters. They were ordained to their office by the bishop in the same way as presbyters were. The church in Syria sent out missionaries to Kerala in the early centuries. For a few centuries women were given these ministries and importance in the churches.
Perhaps the churches of Asia, the East, have been in the early centuries, far more understanding of the Scriptures in relation to the ministry of women. Asia led the way in those times! What of today? Arab women were prominent in the history of Christian kingdoms of Arabia (Iraq and Iran). There were many women who became martyrs during the different persecutions.
From the fifth century on (the four hundreds) the Church of the East, Persia, China, Turkestan and India included tribes-women and princesses.
We go to the north of India, to West Turkestan where there is an old Christian cemetery, from fourth to fourteenth centuries. There are 630 gravestones. Many are of women, some of them being students of religious studies, probably at a monastery. They were taught by a famous Christian theologian.
In Mongolia and Kansu, North East Asia, ninth to fifteenth centuries, women high and low, even tribal leaders or wives of Christian priests shone as lights. A number of highly-ranked women, related to the various khans, are known to have been Christians.
Old Chinese manuscripts from the seventh to the eleventh centuries include one that stresses the poverty and obscurity of the first disciples and the women messengers of the empty tomb. During the Mongol Empire, a key role was played by women of the families of the khans in keeping up Christian practices.
From Korea comes evidence of ancient ministry of women. There remains two carved figures of women. One has a flagon and the other is crowned, giving a cup to a worshipper. These are believed to be Christian.
All these women of the Church of the East, that perhaps was stronger than the Church of the West, had a ministry to perform.
Without women missionaries or apostles, many lands would have been deprived of the gospel in recent history as well as the education and the blessings that their going out meant. The various heathen countries that had the gospel so preached there, owe very much to women. In India, for instance, the Church acknowledges this, particularly many of the Churches of South India, and there is a high regard for those women who went as messengers of Christ.
Those countries in turn, should allow their own women to go out and suffer as ministers of the gospel, as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Pastor/Teachers. Countries that in the past sent out more women missionaries than men, prepared to suffer privations, sacrifice and suffering, should always honour and receive women Pastors into their own churches.
This book is primarily about the ministry of women as Christ ordains it, in His church. This ministry in the church is in addition to the obvious ministry of women in the home to families, to husbands and to children. When those duties are done unto the Lord, it is a ministry to Him.
It is not more important for a Christian mother to rear boys than to rear girls. Girls are just as important as boys are in God’s sight. Psalm 113:9 says, “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children”, (not of boys). Psalm 144:12 reads, “Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace”. Boys and girls are different but equal.
In Psalm 127:3-5 there is a distinction made between sons and children. Children are a reward from the Lord (both boys and girls with no difference). Sons are emphasised in this portion, the reason being that then a man will have soldiers when his sons grow up, to help defend the city, and home. None of us today are in that situation. No father today needs sons to grow up and become soldiers to help defend his city, town, village or home. Therefore the emphasis on “sons” is not applicable for today.
I repeat, baby girls are just as important in God’s sight as baby boys are. It is generally in heathen cultures that boys are given importance. We have been redeemed from our cultures, “the vain traditions handed down by our fathers” 1 Peter 1:18. Therefore, we believers in Christ esteem baby girls as important as baby boys. Females are not to be treated as second-class. That is a great sin. It shows the lack of love to them, and love is of God.
Consider Eunice, the mother of Timothy. 2 Timothy 1:5 first of all speaks of the grandmother of Timothy, Lois. She probably had a few children, boys and girls. Not one boy is mentioned, only one of her children, a girl, Eunice, who is noted in the Scriptures as being the one who produced Timothy. In him dwelt the sincere faith that first lived in his grandmother Lois and in his mother Eunice. In giving Timothy to the church, Eunice is given importance by the Spirit of God, whereas none of her brothers is mentioned.
Each woman of faith can consider herself important in God’s eyes. He has placed women in Christ as the “apple of His eye”. Sisters in Christ, thank God that you are born to be women!
All Christ-like Pastors will esteem the women in their congregations, and will regard them as members of the Body of Christ to be considered with the honour and care that Jesus Himself gives them.
It is time that the church came back to the doctrines of the Bible and of the Apostle Paul, and completely changed its treatment of women. Its attitudes towards women in the preaching ministry, and places of spiritual authority in the church need a profound restructuring. Who will be a Daniel, and even stand alone to perform this? Who will be a Paul, a Deborah, a Mary, a Mary Magdalene, a Priscilla or a Phoebe to trumpet this message, and to act accordingly?
Who will stand for Christ against the terrible abuses of women in our lands and in the church today? I trust you, dear reader, will be one who will dare all for Christ.
There is a wonderful passage in the Bible regarding women’s ministry in the church, that both men and women do well to read and consider It is:–
“Great is the company of women who published (bore) tidings of the Word”, Psalm 68:11. or –
“The Lord gave the Word. The women that published the tidings are a great host.” This is self-explanatory.
Another translation says: “Women bear the glad tidings, a vast army”.
In considering this wonderful prophecy regarding the large number of women preachers, we should note that Verse 12 is a new commencement of Psalm 68 showing what the women were to preach. The Hebrew words used show that it is an important utterance and God’s Word of promise. It is His Word of power spoken about elsewhere as a mighty voice of thunder, Psalm 68:34; Isaiah 30:30 and as a trumpet-blast, Zechariah 9:14. It is the Word of power by which God changes the condition of His oppressed church.
There are ten translations for verse 11 that I can find that use the word “women”. They are The Amplified, the Living Bible, American Standard Version, New American Bible, Tay’s Translation, Good News Bible, New American Standard, and there is a footnote “or company of the women” in the New Revised Standard Version and also in the old King James Version, which latter bible I used for many years. Young’s translation reads “The female proclaimers are a numerous host”. These ten translations are ample proof.
In this day, women proclaim this great tidings of victory to the Church, which consists of men and women. These women are a great host. God’s decisive word shall go forth this time, according to this Psalm. Of these women preachers, pastors, prophets and apostles there shall be a great host. They will be like Miriam and Deborah. In the time of the outpouring of the Spirit, their work shall be much greater. Women in Christ, who are called to preach, arise!
God has promised to pour out His Spirit on men and women, young and old, and that they will prophesy, Joel 2:28. This began to be fulfilled in Acts 2. The men prophesy (edify, exhort and comfort by the Spirit) to the men and women, and the women prophesy to the men and women. This is done publicly and it means that men are “under” the women as they listen!
In Joel 2:29 God has promised to pour out His Spirit on His men servants and on His female servants, New American Standard Version (NASV). The Greek uses the words for “male” and “female”. The King James Version in its translation use of “hand-maidens” leads us astray in understanding, as it has done to myself all my life. I now see what God is saying. A “servant” of the Lord is one as is Paul, Timothy, Peter, Barnabas, Philip, John, Phoebe and Priscilla and Aquilla. He or she is a minister and preacher of the gospel and of the Word. God has made provision in the New Testament church for both male ministers and female ministers, Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets and Pastor/Teachers. This is repeated by Peter in Acts 2:17-21.
On women preachers, who are of necessity pastor-teachers, apostles, prophets or evangelists, as well as on the men preachers, God promises to pour out His Spirit. Therefore, we wait to see the major fulfilment of this verse. It has not yet happened. It must happen before the Lord returns, or it would mean that part of His Word is made void, without fulfilment. This could not be.
We will now investigate God’s dealings with women in Scripture and His will for them in today’s church.
WOMEN IN DAYS OF OLD
The bondage of women was particularly prominent in all heathen societies. Even today, this bondage is very pronounced in pagan and non-Christian countries. Their position is one of degradation. This affects them morally and intellectually. Their position in the home and in society is always one of a second rate citizen. They are there to serve the male and to be controlled and abused by him in whatever way he wishes. The bondage of women is very cruel in those countries that have not had the light of the Gospel affect the way of life. Women in those countries are not respected. They are often treated as baggage, or things owned by men.
The main reason for this is found the story of the fall of man in Genesis 3. In verse 15, God said to Satan, “I will set a feud between you and the woman, between your brood and her brood” or “I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring”.
This enmity continued from the time of Eve, through the centuries. Satan hates women in a particular way. He has vented or used his spite, hate and cruelty in a great way, against them. This has occurred throughout the course of history in all the nations of the world.
The status of Christian women who are born in a heathen society should be lifted above that which is normal for that society. Christians are to live new lives in a new way and in a changed society of their own making. Therefore Christian women should not be treated by Christian men in the manner that is done by the heathen.
There was a difference amongst the nation of Israel under the Law. God’s chosen people were under His Law and certain benefits came as a distinct improvement. Even so, their behaviour towards women worsened after the Babylonian captivity and was lower than that followed after the introduction of the gospel. The religion of the true God in the Old Testament order freed the woman to a large degree. She was given a much higher position than in the other nations. She had an influence that commanded attention. She was regarded with honour.
Nevertheless, under Jewish traditional laws, the woman was not a person but a thing. Her father or her husband could dispose of her as they wished. She could not learn the Law as did the boys and men. To instruct a woman in law was considered “casting pearls before swine”.
When synagogues came into use, women had no part in the service. They were shut apart where they could not be seen. A man came to the synagogue to learn. A woman could only hear. No women ever read a lesson from Scripture. A woman could not teach in a school which were only for boys, not even the youngest. She was not obliged to attend the sacred feasts and festivals. Women, slaves and children were classed together.
In the Jewish morning prayer, a man thanked the almighty God that God had not made him “a Gentile, a slave or a woman”. This was merely tradition, not God’s law. One supposed “wisdom” was, “Everyone who talks much with a woman causes evil to himself, does not keep the works of the Law. In the end he will inherit Gehenna”. It was said of women; “Her work is to send her children to the synagogue; to attend to domestic concerns; to leave her husband free to study in the schools; to keep house for him until he returns”. Natural man, which is the way these Jews acted in their traditions, has hardness of heart and cruelty.
We note the story of Rebekah before traditions hardened, in Genesis 27:44,45. She had enough authority in the home to tell Jacob to leave home and to promise to send for him. We look at Jacob’s wooing of Rachel, Genesis 29:1-30, and find that in her own homeland, which was not under the influence of the God of Abraham, she was a captive. She had little freedom. She had to veil her face. This changed after she became wife to Jacob, who was in obedience to the God of his fathers. In Genesis 31:34 she dared act against her father.
The Law given by God protected woman’s weakness and gave her rights that did not exist in other nations or religions. God gave her certain freedom, Deuteronomy 21:10-14; 22:13; 22:28 and in Matthew 5:31; Mark 10:11,12; Luke 16:18 (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus said in Mark 10:5 that Moses allowed a bill of divorcement because of the hardness of their hearts. Thus Jesus speaks of the protection of a woman from the man’s natural or learned hardness of heart.
Only a man could divorce. In Mark, Jesus speaks of a woman divorcing her husband. That was a Roman right. The law of Moses required that if a man were to put away his wife, he should give her a formal document to that effect. This document implied that she was innocent of adultery. It thus protected her from being found guilty of adultery, and put to death. The Law required death for the adulterer, Leviticus 20:10.
Under Divine law, women’s liberties were greater, her work more varied and important and her social standing was more honoured.
Proverbs 31 depicts the honour and status of a wife in God’s Old Testament order. She rules the house, verse 27, “She keeps watch over all that goes on in her house”. In verses 14-18 we discover she is a manager of the household, a merchant and acts as a businesswoman for the husband and home. She acts independently of him. In these matters she acts on her own and not under his supervision or supremacy. In these matters she is not even considered his equal. It appear she acts without being in subjection to him.
She goes out of the home on business. She looks for opportunities to purchase supplies. She knows how to make a profit in her business endeavours. She buys vines from the profits of her businesses. Her household produces more than is necessary and she organizes the sale of much of its production. She has much experience in the selling of the fruit of the toil of herself and those she directs. Verses 20,23 shows she gives much to the poor. She shows her husband such love peaking in the marital bed, and such honour, that he is a very respected member of the city’s leaders.
In the book of Ruth, we find a heathen woman desired to become one of the people of God. She immediately left all her heathen ways. She disregarded all her heathen culture and her own country’s culture. She took on the Law of God that gave her a different culture. She lived accordingly, and Ruth 1:15-17; 2:2 shows that she followed the Law of Israel, Leviticus 19:10). In Ruth 3:1-6 Ruth listens to her mother-in-law’s godly culture, and follows the Hebrew law of the kinsman.
She is an example to believers in Christ who are not to follow heathen culture and traditions.
Although Satan’s hatred was still in evidence in the rest of the world, in the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people to bring forth Christ, the status of women had begun to rise already. This was part due to God’s mercy on Abraham and his natural descendants and in part due to the promise of the Redeemer.
The famous Matthew Henry whom Bible scholars have followed for decades, comments on Eve as follows – “If man is the head, she is the crown, a crown to her husband, the crown of visible creation. The man was dust refined, but the woman was double-refined, one remove further from the earth.
“The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”
Eve was not different from Adam in nature. Because Adam was created first, this gave him headship, but not superiority.
Both man and woman were made equal with dependence on each other. Both man and woman were given dominion, Genesis 1:28.
THE FALL AND REDEMPTION
Eve was first in deception, Adam was first in sin.
The serpent deceived Eve, Genesis 3:1:5; 1 Timothy 2:14. Eve was “completely or thoroughly deceived, and has fallen into transgression”. Eve was a victim of Satan’s wiles. She did not deliberately sin, she merely fell into it.
Therefore it cannot be said that she has to be in subjection due to her being the first to sin. She looked at the tree with the false light Satan threw upon it by his seductive words, as shown by “Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was pleasant to look on”, Genesis 3:6.
With Adam, it was quite different. He was given the direct command by God not to eat of the fruit of the tree, Genesis 2:16-18. Eve was not yet created. The command obviously was relayed by Adam to Eve when she was made. This was the reason the Serpent could say to her, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Adam sinned with his eyes open. Satan did not come to him. He had heard the law, Word of God, from God Himself. In the face of that, he sinned. “Sin is the transgression of the law”, 1 John 3:4.
This is why it is stated in Romans 5:14, “Death reigned from Adam …even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam” or “even those whose sin was not a breach of law as was Adam’s”. Thus Adam is considered by God to be the first sinner, and the one by whom sin came into the world, Romans 5:12, “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin”.
God said there was to be blessing to come upon mankind, despite this terrible fall. He gave a promise to Eve, of the coming of the Gospel. In Genesis 3:13-19 we can discover what God ordained would happen regarding the woman, Eve. First of all, He gave a wonderful promise in verse 13 that her seed would crush the serpent’s head. This is the first mention of the gospel.
Jesus Christ was the seed who crushed Satan on the Cross. The other part of the promise was fulfilled in Satan’s “biting of the Saviour’s heel”, allowed by God. Christ was the seed of Abraham, of the line of Seth, Eve’s son, to whom were given the promises, Galatians 3:16. The family of Adam ended in Christ. He was the last Adam, 1 Corinthians 15:45. The last Adam, Jesus, was the spiritual seed of Eve. This godly line went through Abraham, to Isaac and then finally to Christ. Then a new family was commenced, from the seed of Christ who is also the Son of God (Isaiah 53:10), the last Adam who has restored the believers from the Adamic family to the likeness of God.
While there was judgment on the serpent, God promised blessing for the woman. In verse 15, God had just pronounced judgment on the serpent. However, He gave to the woman a wonderful blessing. She would bring forth the seed who was to destroy Satan. We should not take verses out of context. The grace of God promised that through the woman He would give to the fallen human race He who is Conqueror of sin, death and the devil.
Eve had not been afraid to expose Satan. God responded to Eve in the words of the correct translation of verse 15, “I am putting and will put enmity between you and the woman. She has chosen to make the breach, I will widen it.” The position was that when God came to both Adam and Eve after the fall, He questioned both of them. In Genesis 3:12, 13, Adam blamed the woman. He did not acknowledge his sin. God dealt with Adam first and then Eve, because Adam was the sinner. In her answer to God, Eve covered her husband’s guilt, despite having shown what Satan had done.
She did not blame him as being the sinner even though he should have made sure that she knew enough of the Word of God not to listen to anything different. Probably there was already something in the heart of Adam that made him hope to be like God having dominion and able to act independently in pride, being the “man” mentioned in Isaiah 14:12-16.
Perhaps some explanation of both Isaiah 14 regarding Babylon and Ezekiel 28 about Tyre, would be appropriate. The general view of those chapters that it refers to Satan, was never taught by the early church. It became a doctrine when Jerome of the Roman Catholic Church, in the fourth century, and Tertullian whose doctrines generally tended to error, in the early third century, introduced the idea. It was carried on right through the Middle Ages until the Protestant Reformation, when both Luther and Calvin rejected it. It is sad that many of those wrong beliefs from the Catholic Church still exist in Pentecostal and Charismatic and Protestant circles.
Isaiah 14:8-11 refers to the King of Babylon, Meriodach-Baladan, who in chapter 39 sent messengers to King Hezekiah. A special place was reserved for him in the world of the dead, because of his great evil, tyranny and idolatry. In verse 11, the love of music by the Babylonians is to be noted.
The whole of Isaiah 14 is about this king, who was also a god-king as was normal in those ancient days. Verses 12 onwards concern a myth of the god, Lucifer, Helios Klymene, son of Eos. Also, El-Elyon was a god and the god-king, Hebel, son of Schachar, and a great hero, who tried to make himself like the god. History says he wanted to make himself higher than the clouds, above all the stars of the god. He would raise himself to the very mountain to the farthest north, where the gods gathered. There he would reign over the universe, including the gods.
In a picture of Adam in his sin, in verse 12, “Day Star, Son of the Morn”, we could refer to 2 Peter 1:19 that says about the people of the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, “until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”.
Ezekiel 28:11 is about the King of Tyre. How can any king be a picture of Satan, who is not a man, who does not die and go into the grave or Pit? It would appear that those verses onwards are also a picture of Adam. He was in Eden, a place never controlled by Satan. He was the anointed cherub, or living man (in Christ). He was driven out of the Garden of Eden, when God placed a Cherub to “guide (or guard) the way to the Tree of Life”. This Cherub could represent eternal life, the very life of God, in the believer, that is the only way to future heaven and Eden on the new earth.
The heart of the man has never altered. However, male Christians should be changed by the power of the gospel in salvation. They should be delivered from pride and wishing to dominate.
Coming back to Eve, she acknowledged her guilt in being deceived. This resulted in her taking it from the tree. She admitted to God that she had eaten. She went further. She exposed what Satan had done. Adam knew of Satan’s part in it but he kept silent. Was he frightened of Satan? Eve plainly told God of Satan’s deception. In doing this, she made a breach between herself and Satan. Before, in verses 3-6, she had treated Satan in a friendly manner and listened to him. Now she is not frightened to expose his deceit of her.
God would widen the breach between Eve and Satan. This was because of His promise about “her seed”, Jesus Christ, whom Satan has always opposed. With the word to Satan that this seed of the woman would squash his head, he was to become very inflamed against Jesus Christ and against women.
This enmity has been in effect down through the centuries. For the seed, this enmity culminated on the Cross. There Jesus Christ defeated Satan and bruised his head. Now Satan’s enmity is still against natural woman but in particular, it is against the woman, she who gave birth to Jesus Christ. This woman is the Church of Jesus Christ, Revelation 12:7. In this way, God Himself did widen the breach, for the sake of the whole of mankind so that redemption could come to them.
Let us look at Genesis 3:16a, regarding Childbirth. We look at verse 16 in the light of the promise to the woman. The contents of verse 16 cannot be a curse. If such is the case, it would mean that such curse is added to a blessing, which is what verse 15 is. What God says in verse 16, follows on the promise of blessing in verse 15. The verse is a statement of fact. The real translation from the Hebrew means that God is pointing out that Satan brought a snare to her in the Garden. That snare has brought to her an increase in sorrow and sighing. Her children would prove a sorrow to her. This happened to her when the first-born Cain, killed his brother Abel. Cain was then driven away by God, and both her sons were lost to her. Sin affects the race.
Then God foretold what would happen to the woman. He did not curse her. According to some scholars, this should be the reading of Genesis 3:16, “Unto the woman he said, A snare has increased your sorrow and your sighing; in sorrow you will bring forth children; you are turning to your husband, and he will rule over you.
This does not contain a curse, a judgment or a pronouncement of travail on the woman. Sickness, disease and death are features of the human existence. Therefore, for women to suffer travail in childbirth, is a sickness as in other parts of the body. It will automatically happen (not the predetermined “shall”).
The King James version correctly does not translate it “shall be” as it is not in the original. It reads, “Thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire to thy husband”. “Shall be” is in italics, meaning it is not in Word of God in the original Hebrew. “Conception”, in the King James and “giving birth” or “bearing children” in other translations, is wrongly used. The word in the Hebrew language is two letters short of the one for “conception”. That word means “sighing”. Conception is a wrong translation.
Genesis 3:16b. We now come to that portion of verse 16 which says, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you”. Unfortunately, according to unbiased scholars who have studied the original Hebrew diligently, this is a wrong translation in many English bibles and also in versions that follow the King James.
“Shall” is in italics in the Authorised English Version. That means the word is not in the original Hebrew. The Hebrew reads “And he will rule over you”. The “will” means the husband’s rule is not ordained of God as it would in the “shall”`.
The Lord, Jehovah, was stating what He in His foreknowledge and Omniscience knew would be a fact (prophesying). The wife would turn to her husband (instead of to the Lord?) and as a result the husband would rule over her. This has been the history of all races, particularly in heathendom. Christianity alone has shown any signs of freeing women from this terrible turning and resulting bondage to their husbands. Thus the majority of women have been in bondage and slavery for centuries.
In her “sighing” she will have a continual desire, emotion or passion that she will not be able to free herself from. It is almost a disease. She will have a weak dependence impelling her to lean on the man. She will involuntarily follow the leading of the man. To understand this, we need to know that sin is always followed by it turning into a judgment whereby the sinner is judged, under God, by that very sinful tendency. That very sin against the good that was there itself becomes the destroyer of the good that should be. However, in Christ through the Cross, this bondage of women that is within them is given deliverance. That is why in Western nations, women are very much freer than in non-Christianised nations. Christianity in those countries has enabled believers to be the salt of their nations to bring freedom to women.
The sin of Adam and all males, is that of pride, domination and egotism. With women, the sin is one of leaning to her husband. This is common in every nation. This sin hits at a woman’s emotions in particular. She so leans towards a man that she expects him to fully satisfy her emotional and selfish needs. Naturally, no man is capable of this. She then turns against him and this is one reason for the high divorce rate in the West. Adam replaces God by exalting himself on the throne of his own heart. Eve replaces God with her own selfishness and a male to satisfy her emotional outlet. In actuality, no one but Christ is to rule within and to satisfy with the denial of self.
Rather, it signifies that as a result of the woman turning to her husband, he automatically will rule over his wife. May I say that this is due to the natural sin of Adam and of his male descendants to be egotistical and to wish to rule and command? That is the history of man down through the centuries.
“Desire” to the husband as in the King James Version and others, is translated from “teshuqa” which occurs only three times in the Bible. Every version of the Bible up to one hundred years after Christ, e.g., the Septuagint Greek, the Syriac Peshito, the Samaritan and Old Latin, all make it to be “turning“.
I own a translation by Lamsa, from the “Peshitta, The Authorised Bible of the Church of the East”, from ancient Eastern manuscripts. That bible translates “desire” as a “turning”, when it reads, “you shall be dependent on your husband”. “Turning” is the translation used by the early Church Fathers, Clement, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Jerome, Ambrose and Augustine.
God said Eve was “turning” to Adam. In Genesis 4:7, the same word “teshuqa” is used, and translated, from the Peshitta, “Cain, you should return to your brother”. In Song of Solomon 7:10, “I am my beloved’s (who is Jesus Christ) and his desire is for me”, Young’s translation, “his desire is on me” – He is turning to me.
Following the original translations in the second century, it appears God said that Eve was “turning” to Adam; that Abel was “turning” to Cain, and that Christ is “turning” toward His Bride, His church.
In 1528 AD, Pagnino translated anew, the Bible from Hebrew into Latin, for the Roman Catholic Church. He wrongly translated “teshuqa”. English Bibles, and probably Indian translations, have followed his translation, unfortunately. Is this a result of Satan’s enmity towards women?
We should note that the English translations came from the Latin Vulgate version of 282 AD. This version by Jerome into Latin from Hebrew was made under the influence of the Jewish Rabbis. The translator obtained his understanding of Hebrew from them. They were influenced by the myth found in the Babylonian Talmud.
Eve, and womankind, willingly and voluntarily, often place themselves in the position of so turning to their husbands, so desiring them and being so dependent on them, that they will suffer because of it. Due to this, a man will take advantage of the situation and deliberately master her, lord it over her or dominate her.
This is not the will of God. When God said this would happen, He was merely stating it would, from His Omniscience. He did not decree that it must happen. It was the result of Eve allowing herself to be deceived and thus dominated by Satan. In the original Hebrew it is not stated “he (husband) shall rule over you”.
It is wrong to say that Eve was cursed by God. She was not cursed. It was Adam who heard the curses, as in verses 17-19, “Cursed is the ground because of you, in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground”.
“The curse on Eve” is a false doctrine. The Jews publicised the Talmud, in 800 AD (some say 300 AD). In it is recorded a fable, “Ten Curses Against Eve”. This originated from a pagan Greek myth about 800 BC. The Jews began to listen to pagan myths four hundred years before Christ. During those “400 Silent Years”, Jewish preaching was mixed with Greek paganism.
BLESSING AND GRACE ON WOMEN
Let us look at Genesis 3:20. “This man named his wife Eve (meaning the ‘Life-giving one’).” Another translation reads, “Adam called the name of his wife ‘Life’ (Eve) because she was to be “the mother of all living”, or “source of life”.
It is revealing to note that in Numbers 19 the Children of Israel, on contact with death, or a corpse, were to offer as sacrifice a Red female heifer. The blood was to be sprinkled towards the Sanctuary, and the animal burnt, with medicinal aromas, outside the camp, its ashes to be mixed with water and used as a purifier. The reason a female was used, the only occasion in a sacrifice, was because a woman or female is the transmitter and bearer of life. This confirms the significance and importance of the female, as with Eve and all women following in belief, as the mother of all living, or source of life.
I believe we will meet Adam and Eve in heaven. They fell but were redeemed by the Cross of Christ because they believed in Him who was promised, Romans 3:24,25 “They are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed”.
God had cursed the Tempter, Satan. Towards fallen man, He showed mercy and grace. He provided a means of life and salvation. Adam received of His mercy and believed the promise of the Seed of the woman. We know this is so because he revealed his faith in the promised Seed through the name he gave to his wife. He called her “Eve”, or “Life”, “Life-giving one”. Eve became the life-spring, naturally and spiritually.
The continuance of the race was guaranteed to Adam through his wife. The salvation of his being was also guaranteed to Adam through Eve, his wife. The promise of the great blessing of salvation to come on mankind, was to be through the woman. It was to be the Seed of the woman and not the Seed of the man! Thus God in His love and mercy, honoured the woman. This was no curse. It was blessing.
Romans 5:19 says, “Just as by the one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners”. It is not correct to blame Eve and womankind for the plight the human race is in. All of us outside of Christ, male and female, stand before God as sinners. There is no distinction, for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:24 and “God is no respecter of persons”, Acts 10:34.
God sent the man and the woman out of Eden. Genesis 3:22-24. God speaks of “the man”. We conclude that this is Adam, as representative of the human race. Jesus, the last Adam, was also the representative of the human race. There is significance in the fact that God spoke of “the man” and drove “the man” out. The woman is not mentioned, but she had to go out also, because she was part of Adam’s sin, as we are.
There was a natural application. God in His mercy denied them the tree of life, as to live forever in the condition of ever-increasing sin, sickness and hardship would have been a terrible thing. With regard to the spiritual application, eternal life was not focused in a tree of life in a Garden of Eden. It was forever after to be centered in the Person of the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. When He eventually appeared, He could say, “I am the Resurrection and the Life”, John 11:25.
Eve as the Life-Spring or Life-Giver must also leave the Garden of Eden. She was now the source of eternal life to come instead of the tree. She was the one whose Seed would become the Life of the world to those who believed. Eve was the security of the race of believers. She was also the security of salvation for her husband, Adam. Without Eve, there would be no salvation for Adam or the race. Eve went out of Eden, not cursed, but a forgiven and restored believer. She was lifted up in her own person to the honourable position of an enemy of Satan and the mother of the coming destroyer of Satan and his power.
Even at that time, there was hope of the salvation that would come in the future for women from their degradation. There would be grace for women. Along with men, today women come under the blessings of salvation and redemption through the gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
We look at 1 Timothy 2:13-15. “Adam was first formed, then Eve”. “Formed” is not the word used for “create”. The Greek dictionary says it is “to mould, form, shape”. The lesson Paul draws here is that as Adam was first developed, and then Eve, in the natural world, so it must be in the social order. As the race of men have shown development down the centuries, in like manner the women should have had similar development. They have not and it only began in the first years of the church, without much improvement in the Middle Ages.
“Adam was not beguiled, but the women being beguiled has fallen into transgression”. The woman was “thoroughly deceived”. She was the victim, and not the sinner.
Salvation came to Eve and salvation comes to all women believers. Eve was deceived and as such was a victim of Satan. She was dealt with by God in abounding grace. This victim, Eve, was dealt with and given honour by God. He promised that she would be the ancestor of a Saviour who would eventually destroy the serpent’s (Satan’s) power. Eve was saved then, through faith in a coming Saviour. She believed the Word of God. Women are under the power of sin, drawing its wages. We all today need God’s abounding grace, along with men, Jewish or Gentile, so that we find salvation.
We know this from what happened in Genesis 4. In verse 1 on the birth of Cain, she said, “With God’s help I have created a man”, Tay’s translation. “The help of” is in Italics in the English versions. This means that those three words are not in the original.
Eve is saying, “With Jehovah, I have created a man” or “I have gotten a man – even the coming One“. There is significance in this. She had relations with Adam and conceived. Yet she did not consider her child to be solely fruit of that union. Did she (or Adam) understand then how a child was conceived?
All she thought of was the promise given by God, and conveyed to Satan, that the “seed of the woman” would bruise his head. Eve thought this was the promised “seed of the woman”. She had faith in the promised One.
Of course, she was mistaken about the birth of Cain. Nevertheless we understand now about her faith that it was in the coming Saviour.. All of us today, both men and women, can thank God for His wonderful grace that has saved us all from sin through faith in Christ Jesus.
This Salvation was not in the promise only but in the actual child bearing of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. We read again, 1 Timothy 2:15 “Yet she will be saved through child bearing”. Obviously, this has no reference to the fact of natural and ongoing childbirth. Billions of women bear children and have borne children from the beginning of time. Giving birth to children has never brought about their salvation from pain, sickness, disease, oppression, sin and death.
The actual translation should be, “through the bearing of the Messiah (Christ)”. This is found in Lamsa translation from the Aramaic which is that used in the Syrian Orthodox Church. As we examine the accounts in Genesis, it would appear that Eve showed faith in Christ, the promised Messiah, before Adam did. The grace of God touched her. The deception in Eve and in all women, is removed by faith in Jesus Christ. Thus all women who believe (if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-restraint) take part in the promise to Eve and her faith in the birth of the Seed. Faith takes place of deception.
This means that as a body, all women believers are united to Eve in the bearing of the Messiah (the promised Seed). O, blessed truth! O, blessed promise! O, wondrous grace of God! Galatians 4:4 reads, “God sent his Son. He took birth from a woman”.
“Saved through the child bearing of the Christ” has much meaning. The child bearing of Christ was the great event of the world. It culminated at the Cross. It is very clear that the woman shall be saved from all that the incarnation and death of the Son of God obtained for her. Women are to have salvation spiritually and socially.
This salvation being spiritual, is to bring total deliverance from the sins of the past, including emotional traumas, sorrows and the effects of abuse, whether verbal, physical or sexual. She is to be saved from all this sinfulness in herself and from others.
With such a full salvation, a believer in Christ and fully baptized in the Spirit according to Acts 2:4, does not need “inner healing”, a process of forgiving, or other psychological exercises. Those remedies are of the world and are carnal, demonic and Satanic.
Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that more abundantly”. This more abundant life Jesus gives is so powerful that it overcomes the darkness of the sinful past. Christ has power to take away the power of sin within, the guilt of the past and the sinfulness of the human soul, whether in male or in female.
Women are not to remain under the shadow of Eve’s “deception” for ever. In like manner, men who believe in Jesus Christ, do not remain under the consequences of Adam’s wilful sin forever. They are set free in Christ. Even so women believers are set free from all the consequences of Eve’s deception. No wonder Paul said to Timothy, “Let the women learn” and learn of her redemption from the Fall in the birth of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Jewish and Gentile women needed to learn that lesson. The grace of God ensures there will be understanding of this truth.
The Jews said, “Women must not learn”, and so did the heathen. Thus says Satan. Today, many Christian leaders say, “Woman was deceived once and she is prone to deception. Therefore she cannot be allowed to learn to teach!” There is an if to Paul’s instructions to women. She must continue in faith etc. Therefore, she must learn the faith and learn to teach it to others of both sexes.
WOMEN USED BY GOD UNDER THE OLD COVENANT
IN WAYS SIMILAR TO THAT OF MEN
There were women who were Priestesses in the Tabernacle, as disclosed in Exodus 38:8.
Many Bible Scholars now admit that women had their place in the Tabernacle services either as Priestess or Levite. As the centuries went by, many Jewish translators, due to their wrong traditional ideas about women, as stated before, were reluctant to continue correct translations in this matter.
This is borne out in the English Bible of Many Translations. The reading of Exodus 38:8 is, “Of the mirrors of the ministering women” or “of the women”, or “of the female hosts”, while still another says, “contributed by the women caretakers”.
Then the different translations continue about these women, “who used to keep watch”, or “who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting”, or “who served at the door”, or “who were on duty at the entrance to the Tent of the Presence”.
It is very obvious from all of these various translations that there were indeed women priestesses and Levites. Only priests and Levites could perform these tasks. One has just to read the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers to know this. In Judges 11:31,39, Jephthah offered up his daughter to the Lord for service in the temple in the same way as did Hannah offer up Samuel in 1 Samuel 1:11;2:11, . Moreover, Hannah was the first person in the Bible to speak of “the Messiah” as such or “the horn of his anointed”, 1 Samuel 2:10. The Targum reads it as “He shall give strength to His king and enlarge the kingdom of His Messiah”. This revelation was given to a woman before it was shown to any man. Dare anybody forbid women preachers today in the light of a woman such as Hannah, being the first to mention “Messiah”?
In the Old Testament order when first initiated by God, He made no distinction between male and female. Women were involved in ministry in the Tabernacle, or tent of meeting, as found in 1 Samuel 2:22. Several translations read as follows, “with the women, who did service at the opening of the tent of meeting”, or “with the women who served”, “with the women caretakers at the door of the trysting tent”, and “the women who prayed in the tabernacle of the congregation”. This praying would have been audible and not silent.
Those who did these things in the tent of meeting were only Priests or Levites. Here again, there were women in the service of ministry to the Lord. They were women priestesses and Levites, even some hundreds of years after the time of Moses. In Isaiah’s time, he records his wife, as being Prophetess, in the Temple, Isaiah 8:3.
This practice of having women priestess and Levites probably continued until at least the time of the separation of the two Kingdoms or until the Captivity into Babylon, 1 Kings 12; 2 Kings 25:21. Mankind, even in Israel, through aversion to having women minister and because of the low regard placed upon them, eventually thrust the service of women aside. When Jesus came He spoke severely against all kinds of the traditions of men that were substituted for the commands and will of God, Matthew chapters 21-23.
In the New Testament order mankind in the Church of Jesus Christ has done the very same thing. This is rebellion against God. We are no better than God’s people in the Old Testament. Let us get back to the Bible ways and be obedient to the will of God.
Still under the Law, Mary and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, publicly spoke and sang regarding the conception and birth of the Messiah. In Luke 2:41-45, Elizabeth spoke and in verses 46-55, Mary sang unto the Lord with a vision of salvation beyond the nation of Israel and of the Lord’s Christ.
God used a woman to be the first to proclaim His word of good tidings after Jesus was born. Anna was a prophetess. When Mary and Joseph took their baby Jesus up to the temple, she preached publicly, before men and women in the Temple precincts. She told all who would listen of the birth of the Messiah. Tay’s translation says, “Publicly proclaiming the Messiah’s arrival to everyone in Jerusalem who had been waiting the coming of the Saviour”.
She was the first preacher of the news of the gospel after the birth of Christ. She conveyed the message of the birth of Him of whom God had said it was too light a thing that He should just be for the Jews. He was to be for the Gentiles also, as His light would go out throughout the earth. Again, the revelation of His future death on the cross, in Luke 2:35, was told by Simon to Mary in the words, “a sword will pierce your own soul”. His crucifixion has its first mention in the gospels, albeit obscure, in those words to Mary, His mother, a woman.
It was a woman, His mother Mary who was used as part of the beginning of His ministry. She said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you”, John 2:5, before He performed His first miracle. It was then the ministry of Jesus’ miracles began. The promise, the prophecy, the birth and His showing forth His glory on earth, were all because God worked through women in the most vital acts in the giving of the Saviour to the world. We remember that women were the first heralds of His resurrection. Dare we forbid women to be preachers of the gospel, when God has given them such a prominent place in redemption?
Mary was with those who had been promised power or authority to witness for Christ. She was among the first to hear an angelic announcement of the second coming of Jesus Christ. Also, she was at what is recognized as the birth of the church, on the Day of Pentecost. Mary, a woman, on a level with the other men and women of the one hundred and twenty who were there, was one of those who were the first to be filled with the Holy Ghost. See Acts 1:4, 10,11, 12-15;2:4.
Women are not to be exalted above men and neither are men to be exalted above women as is common. To follow such ideas of the superiority of men and the impossibility of women preachers is to go against the whole of Scripture.
From the Garden to the birth of Christ, it was women whom God used in relation to the promised Saviour. Despite having been deceived, Eve was told that her Seed would defeat Satan. Then it was Hannah who first prophesied of the Messiah. We trace the importance of women in this to Mary herself who conceived, prophesied and gave birth to that Saviour, Jesus Christ.
We, male and female, should repent of our treatment of women in the church and our not allowing them as apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors/teachers in the Body of Christ.
There are several women who stand out in the Old Testament. The first one is, Eve as mentioned before. Examining Genesis 3:15; 4:1 again and 1 Timothy 2:14,15, we emphasize certain things. Eve believed in Christ. To Eve God gave the blessing. Adam received the curses, Genesis 3:17-19, 23. She was the first person in the Bible to be under the grace of God. She was the first person to be in the true Church of Jesus Christ, because God told her that her Seed (Jesus Christ) would bruise Satan, and crush his head. In Colossians 2:15 Satan and his minions were utterly defeated on the Cross by Jesus Christ. After the Cross, Jesus ascended to heaven conqueror for us over Satan, sin, death and Hell. He had the keys of death and of hell.
When Cain was born, Eve thought it was the promised Seed. She had believed in His coming, as promised by God. In Genesis 4:1 she said “I have gotten a manchild with the Lord”, N.A.S.V. Revelation 12:2,5 shows the birth of the “manchild”, who is of course, Jesus Christ.
She had been deceived by Satan but God then promised her a Seed, being the Saviour to come. She believed this word of God that she heard, whereas she had doubted God’s word that was given to Adam.
Salvation came to the woman through her faith in this Messiah who was to be born of a woman. A woman has the distinction of being given the blessing, the promise of the Messiah, and of being the first believer in Christ. One can only marvel at the grace of God.
SARAH, Genesis 12:2,3; 17:5,15,16.
In Genesis 17, when God changed the name of Abram to Abraham and confirmed the Covenant with him, Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah and she was blessed. Through both of them, blessing would come to mankind and also believing mankind would become children of the covenant.
Her original name of “Sarai” meant “a Prince (Princess)”, whereas her new name signified “my Prince (Princess)”, indicating that she was such to Abraham. She was to be “nations”, as the original states. Her name change was just as important as Abraham’s. Without her, there would be no promised Seed. The significance of Sarah tends to be neglected by Bible readers. Both Abraham and Sarah had laughed in scorn, derision and unbelief at the thought of a child, Genesis 17:17; 11-13. Then this changed to faith for both of them.
Although called the “friend of God”, Abraham, a Prophet, was not named a Prince. Sarah, a Prince (Princess), showed the humility needful for both men and women, when she called her husband “lord”, or “master”, 1 Peter 3:6. It is to be noted that God commanded Abraham to obey Sarah, in Genesis 21:12, even as we, both male and female, are commanded to “submit yourselves one to the other”, in Ephesians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 7:4.
Sarah is a wonderful type of the heavenly city, the mother of all believers. To her this privilege has been given. Abraham is the father of all believers but he was never a “type”. Also, as well as being a “type” in the Old Testament, Sarah is stated in the New Testament to be the mother of the free-born, Galatians 4:22, 26-31. “The heavenly Jerusalem is free, and she is our mother”. Sarah typifies the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God, Mount Zion, Hebrews 12:22,23.
MIRIAM Exodus 15:20,21; Numbers 12;1-15; 20:1; 26:59; Deuteronomy 24:9; Micah 6:4.
Let us notice that Miriam was unmarried. In those days, as perhaps in some countries such as India today, it was thought necessary that a woman marry. Instead, Miriam had an interest in the calling of the Children of Israel. She became a Prophetess. Perhaps she can be an example for many women today who would follow the call of the Lord Jesus in ministry, as she did. The story of Miriam, begins in Exodus 2:4,7,8, when she was left by their mother to stand guard over baby Moses who was placed in the basket in the bulrushes. The wisdom of Miriam saved the baby from death.
Miriam became a poetess and prophetess. She was raised up by God to be this. She was inspired by His Spirit to proclaim to men and women, the power and faithfulness of God. She did this also by way of song. She led the Israelite women in dancing and with tambourines, as she sang the poem of praise. She was now past forty years of age.
The whole song is recorded in Exodus 15:1-17, repeated somewhat in verse 21. Verse 11 stands out, “Who is like you, O Jehovah, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendour, doing wonders?”
“A prophetess” in the concordance is stated as being “a female preacher”. Miriam is said to be this in Exodus 15:20, which in N.R.S.V. is translated “the prophet Miriam”. We do not know how many other times she prophesied what was not recorded.
God’s calling on Miriam is shown in Micah 6:4 where God says “I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam”. She is mentioned on a level with her two brothers. Therefore, her calling as a prophet was considered by God as very important for the nation of Israel, as were the callings of Moses and Aaron. However, Moses alone was the one through whom the Law was given.
In Exodus 15:20 it shows “Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister”, as taking the timbrel and leading the women in dancing. Why “Aaron’s sister”? This showed she ranked with Aaron, both being leaders of the male and female members of the Children of Israel. It was said she was “sister of Aaron”, and not the “sister of Moses” because Miriam and Aaron were subordinate to Moses.
Miriam identified herself as being called, as were Moses and Aaron. The second wife of Moses was an Ethiopian, a dark-skinned young woman as Moses had lived for forty years in the house of Pharoah and forty years after that in the wilderness. Miriam was zealous for the purity of the nation of Israel and spoke against this black woman whom Moses had married. By now, Miriam was around ninety years old.
This is found in Numbers 12:1 where she incited Aaron and the both of them revolted against the God-ordained leadership of Moses. In verse 2, they said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.
They acted carnally. God had chosen Miriam to this high calling of prophet. He had chosen Aaron to be the High Priest standing for the Children of Israel. He had spoken often by them. They now rebelled against God’s calling of Moses as leader of the household of Israel. God showed them in that chapter that even though He made Himself known to them in visions and dreams, with His servant Moses He spoke face to face. Moses has been entrusted “with all My house”.
Then Miriam became a leper as a judgment from God. Moses interceded for her. God heard and healed her, but she did not enter the Promised Land. Not only did she go beyond her calling but she also exalted herself to being something God had not commanded. So also did Aaron. Each brother and sister in the body of Christ should take note of Romans 12:3, so that all would “not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of your yourself with sober judgment”. Sisters should acknowledge that there might be ministries on a higher plane than theirs and vice versa, brothers should think that there are sisters who do have ministries on a higher plane than theirs by the Spirit of God.
DEBORAH. Judges 4 & 5; Hebrews 11:32-34.
Deborah was a Prophetess-Judge. She was married. Her husband, Lapidoth, which means “lightning flashes” presumably admired the ability and influence of his famous wife. He was not a weak man. Perhaps Deborah would not have been the woman she was without the love, sympathy, advice and encouragement of her husband. Such men are the most wonderful of husbands. They are men amongst men!
We should look at the office of Prophetess in both New and Old Testaments, which are somewhat different, one from the other. This office in the Old Testament was different from the kind of prophesying that men and women do in the Body of Christ when they exercise the Gift of Prophecy”, 1 Corinthians 12 & 14. It was an office whereby the person, male or female, proclaimed Divine truth. The part a prophet might play in the New Testament church is not to be compared to any Old Testament prophet.
As far as Deborah was concerned in her day, the ones who came to listen would have been mainly the men. I wonder how all those millions of men who oppose women’s ministry in the Body of Christ today can feel justified by their stand in the light of this? Deborah gave to these men, in a teaching capacity, wisdom and instruction by the Spirit of God. All our work in the Body of Christ must be by the Spirit of God. In our day it is in a different manner of the Spirit’s working. Also there will never be a Judge in this dispensation.
Deborah also held the office of Judge. She used to sit under a palm tree for this purpose, daily. This office appears only in the Old and not in the New Testament. The fact that a woman was thus positioned is of great significance. It was before the Messiah and the cross and yet there was a woman in amongst all the other male judges over all those years. In the book of Judges, God raised up “Judges” periodically to deliver His people from the bondage their idolatry had brought them to. She was the fifth “Judge” which means Deborah was a Ruler, ruling men. In word and in action, Deborah prominently ruled the nation. She gave out righteous words, justice and mercy to the nation. Deborah ruled in the land for forty years.
Deborah was also a warrior. When Sisera with a force of 100,000 soldiers and 900 iron chariots came up against Israel who only had 10,000 men, the General, Barak, became faint-hearted through fear. Then he said he would lead his men against this horde of invaders if Deborah rode with him. Deborah won the victory with God, as “the stars in their courses fought against Sisera”. She saved Israel from the invaders.
Deborah was prophetess, ruler, warrior and poetess. Her song in Judges 5 is recorded so that all generations can read it. Verse 1 is wrongly translated. In the original Hebrew, it has the Feminine form. It should translate, “For that freeing women freed Israel …Praise ye the Lord”. This translation fits the deeds of Deborah in particular, and Jael. Cassel, a converted Jewish Hebrew scholar says, “That the hair waved wildly in Israel”, and Cooke, “For those whose hair was let flow loose”, which speaks of women. Jael was included in the song because she killed Sisera, as found in Judges 4:21.
In verse 7, she is stated as being a “Mother in Israel”. Quite often we give this name to some older woman in the church who looks after the spiritual welfare of the Sisters. That is an incorrect usage. To bear the name “Mother in Israel” with Deborah, a woman must be prophet, spiritual ruler, spiritual warrior for souls as she preaches and a worshipper who sings songs by the Spirit to the Lord.
HULDAH. 2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chronicles 34:22-33.
She was a Prophetess. An Old Testament Prophet is an Office. Prophecy in the church today is generally by a Gift of Prophecy, without the person necessarily filling the Office of a Prophet (Prophetess). Christ has given to His church for today also, the ministry of a Prophet as well as the other ministry gifts in Ephesians 4:8-11. These gifts are to “men”, meaning “male or female”.
The remarkable thing that happened with Huldah was that she was consulted rather than Jeremiah, when the lost book of the law was found. On the surface of things, we class Jeremiah far above Huldah. Perhaps our estimation has been wrong. Why should Huldah have been consulted above Jeremiah unless she had greater anointing, and thus greater spiritual authority at that time?
When the book of the law was found, King Josiah sent for Huldah. She said the scroll was genuine. She then prophesied national ruin because of disobedience to the commands of God.
Huldah’s prophetic message and the public reading of the Law brought a revival. King and people promised to follow God with renewed spiritual law. Here again, is the public preaching of a woman in the Old Testament, that stirred the heart of the King and also the hearts of the men (and women) of Israel. If these things could happen under the Old Covenant of Law, they should happen much more frequently under the New Covenant of Grace.
WOMEN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The beginning of Matthew records the genealogy of Jesus Christ. This includes three Gentile women (from ‘all nations’), in the first chapter, recorded in the genealogy of Jesus. They are, Tamar, of heathen background, Rahab, heathen and Ruth, also heathen. All became believers in the God of Israel.
In Genesis 38, Tamar pretended to be a prostitute so that Judah would fulfil the laws according to marriage as given in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, setting out the marriage laws. Rahab’s story is found in Joshua 2, Ruth’s in the book of Ruth. Rahab is shown to be a woman of faith, in Hebrews 11:31. Ruth’s testimony is recorded in Ruth 1:16,17, where she tells Naomi, “Your God shall be my God”.
The promise to Abraham that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed, is shown in the beginning of its fulfilment in a genealogy of the baby Jesus. That genealogy contains the names of the only three Gentiles, the rest being natural descendants of Abraham, i.e. Israelites. The three Gentiles are women, who are honoured by God. There is no Gentile man, obviously, in the genealogy of Jesus.
There came a time in His ministry when women began to minister to Jesus. This was in the area of material support to both Jesus and His disciples. Luke 8:2,3 “Women ministered to Jesus, of their substance”.
Luke mentions Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna, with many others. Men of that day held women in low esteem. The gospel of Luke emphasises the regard of Jesus for women. He had healed these women of evil spirits and sicknesses.
Jesus had given up His means of subsistence as a carpenter, when He began His three years’ ministry. He did not use His miraculous powers for sustenance. He was not wealthy. It is inadmissible that He used the gold, frankincense and myrrh given at His birth. That probably was given by His parents to the Temple. He was accompanied by twelve men. Some would say that there were no women amongst those twelve disciples. True.
However, Jesus came under the Law and worked within its framework as much as He could. He lived according to the customs of both the Jews and the Romans, as we know. He was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, according to the ministry of John for that particular short period. It was not Christian baptism. He paid taxes to Caesar, Matthew 17:27.
There was a common purse, John 13:29; 12:6. He said, “Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all things needful will be added unto you”, and “There is none that leaves father, mother, house, lands for the kingdom of God who does not find a hundred times more”, (in spiritual blessings, not wealth). The needful things were added to Him. Those who received His spiritual riches as He taught and healed, in gratitude and love repaid Him with giving to His temporal necessities. Many of these were women. He cared about women and blessed them with salvation and healing.
This group of women were ahead of His company as they went around the countryside. Out of their own resources many women supplied His needs and ministered unto Him. This was a ministry they did for Jesus At that time, men were not particularly involved in this wonderful ministry of “giving”, as is the case in Romans 12:8.
There were many women recorded in the New Testament who were doing what we call “the Ministry” today.
ANNA, PROPHETESS, Luke 2:36 is the first one in the list. She publicly, before men and women in the Temple precincts, spoke of the birth of the child. Tay’s translation reads, “Publicly proclaiming the Messiah’s arrival to everyone in Jerusalem who had been waiting the coming of the Saviour”. John the Baptist later would herald the coming of the One greater than he. That was foretold in centuries gone by. Anna comes to us out of obscurity without any suggestion regarding her particular place in the history of Christ’s birth. She is merely one of the “great company of women who proclaimed” the Word announced by the Lord, Psalm 68:11, mentioned previously.
WOMEN PROCLAIM THE RESURRECTION. It was women who were the first to be told of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Women were the first preachers of the resurrection. They preached this message first of all to men, even to those who became apostles in the church. This was not a mere casual gossiping. It was an announcement from heaven that they told. It was with great believing jubilation that they proclaimed the glorious resurrection of the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He was the promised Messiah. True, He had been crucified but now the glad news had to be conveyed by preaching it and proclaiming it. Jesus Christ is risen! They were given this great honour directly from God in heaven. Dare we say that women cannot teach men when it was Divinely allowed them?
MARY MAGDALENA, JOANNA AND MARY THE MOTHER OF JAMES were the names of the first preachers and proclaimers of, “Jesus is risen”, Luke 24:1-12.
Just as through a woman, Eve, was given the promise that her Seed would bring forth salvation for men over Satan and sin and just as through a woman, Mary, the Seed was born; so through these woman the first preaching of the risen Saviour was given to the world. Men today are taught by these women as they read the accounts of their preaching in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
There is an interesting biography of Joanna, gathered from the Scriptures. She was the wife of Chuze who managed the income expenditure of Herod. She held a high social position. She would have been a witness to Jesus in the palace and amongst Herod’s servants, and taught Herod’s foster brother, Manaen, who later was a church teacher. Matthew 14:2; Acts 13:1. She was one who prepared spices and ointments for His body, Luke 23:55,56 and was one of the first heralds of the resurrection.
Dean Alford, an Anglican, which church has not ordained women in the past (but they have also not baptized in water or the Holy Ghost) has written – “Women sat unveiled in the assembly in a separate place and were ordained by the laying on of hands.” This took place, he said, until 363 AD.
Chrysostom, in the latter part of the fourth century, wrote, “The great devotion of this woman, Phoebe, that she should be even counted worthy of the name, ‘Apostle’”!
The leaders and pastors of the earliest periods of the church recognized women as being leaders and pastors. They also considered that it was in order for women to attend the services and to pray or prophesy without veils.
WOMEN MINISTER IN THE CHURCH
There were women with the apostles and other believers on the Day of Pentecost. This is known to be at the beginning of Christ’s church. If men were the important ones, why were they not there alone? Why were there women praying and being filled with the Holy Ghost? One main reason for the outpouring of the Spirit, the Promise of the Father, was told by Jesus in Acts 1:8,13-15. All who received were to be witnesses to Jesus Christ and His resurrection. This would be men and women witnessing to other men and women, even to the ends of the earth. The word for “witness” is “martus”. It is the same Greek word as is used in verse 22, when Peter exhorted the brethren in verses 15, 16 to choose a man to fill the gap left by Judas. They choose Matthias by lot. Nothing is ever heard of him again in the Scriptures. Were they acting according to the will of their risen Lord?
Peter said these words, “For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection”. The same word for “witness” here is used, “martus”. Peter used it in relation to ministry of a man. Jesus had used it in relation to ministry of men and women. It is apparent that His intention had been for men and women to participate in the Divine setting up of His church. Men bound by tradition exceeded His demands by excluding women at that time and focusing on men.
I wonder if Peter allowed women ministries later on in the church in Jerusalem? Paul, to whom was given more aspects of the “mystery of the gospel”, Ephesians 3:4-6, than Peter, 2 Peter 3:15, commended many women who were in ministry in the Gentile churches.
A WOMAN APOSTLE CALLED PRISCILLA. Priscilla, with her husband Aquila, were Christians before they went to Corinth. They were part of the expulsion of Jews from Rome about 49 AD. Those Christians probably date back to 30 AD because Luke in Acts 2:10 lists visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes. Their Christianity was particularly Jewish. Aquila, a tent-maker, was joined by Paul in their craft. The mention of this couple in the Bible includes that of naming Priscilla before Aquila. This leads us to believe that she was the one with the most prominent ministry.
Paul left Corinth in 52 AD with both husband and wife. Aquila and Priscilla stopped in Ephesus, Acts 18:2,18,26.. Apollos arrived on the scene, Acts 18:24-8. It states that Priscilla and Aquila spoke to him and taught him further. He knew the Jewish scriptures and the story of Jesus. He had a knowledge of “The Way” but it was defective, as is found in people all over many Christian churches throughout the world.
All Apollos knew was the baptism of John. They invited him to their house and gave him more instruction. Apollos came from Alexandria and presumably made contact with Christianity there. Alexandrian Christianity was for a long time different from true Christianity, Acts 18:25. Possibly Hellenistic believers took the gospel to Alexandria after Stephen’s death, Acts 7:59,60; 8:1-3.
It is Scripturally correct that when we find believers with an incomplete knowledge of the gospel or the Word, we should teach them further. We should not be influenced by their philosophical, human psychology or non scriptural inclusion of beliefs. This Priscilla and Aquila did with Apollos, from their great store of Scriptural and experiential knowledge. Priscilla taught Apollos herself. Here is a woman teacher teaching a man! Apollos became an apostle, 1 Corinthians 1:12 who later established churches. The ministry of this woman, Priscilla, with in her case her husband, was very productive in many areas.
Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned in Romans 16:3. They had returned to Rome and pastored a church. Priscilla was the leading pastor, as evidenced by the way Paul addressed them both. This letter to Rome was written about 57 AD. The church was in their house. There were not any church buildings in the New Testament.
Both Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned as being “fellow-workers” with Paul. See 1 Corinthians 16:19; and 2 Timothy 4:19. They were “missionaries” or “apostles”, like Paul. They had been threatened with martyrdom for the sake of Paul, Romans 16:4. Women who visit other countries to merely to “witness” or help in small ways are not apostles.
In 66 AD when Paul wrote to Timothy, this couple are mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:19. Again, they were pastoring another church in another city, in their home. Timothy had been left in charge of the work in Ephesus, and Asia Minor, 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 4:13,14.. Now Priscilla and Aquila are living in Ephesus. Shortly after that, it is thought they were martyred there.`
TWO WOMEN MINISTERS. These were Euodia and Syntyche, who laboured in the Gospel. In Philippians 4:2,3, they were quarrelling! Not only women do this. Men do also, as evidenced by Paul and Barnabas, Acts 15:37-39. There were no Sunday Schools in those days, no women’s meetings that we hear of. Labouring in the gospel meant preaching, teaching, travelling, visiting, instructing and being used of the Lord in some of the ministry gifts He had placed in His church.
PASTOR NYMPHA. In Colossians 4:15 the record reads, “to Nympha and the church in her house”. At one point in history, due to the prejudice of men and particularly of a certain scribe, she was said to be a man. This scribe clearly recognised that having a church in her house meant this person was the Pastor. However, the name “Nympha” is female not male. Other theologians, being anti-women, also recognised these implications. Because of this, they decided it did not relate to church worship but private worship in the home of Nympha! It is dangerous, however famous the theologian is, to tamper with the original and real meaning of Scripture.
The New International Version, translated by scholars from all denominations, including the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, reads clearly`, “Nympha and the church in her house”. They obviously recognised that Nympha, a woman, was the Pastor.
We do not know if Nympha had a husband. If she did, he was not active in pastoring the church “in her house”. Whether she had a husband or not, as Pastor, Nympha would have baptized the new converts in water. Also, she would have presided at the Communion Table. Nympha the Pastor, would have taught both men and women the Word of God.
Women, called of the Lord today, can act as Nympha did, in all aspects of pastoral ministry. Such women if married, are not required by the Lord Jesus, or any portion of the New Testament, to hand over to their husbands, any duties generally associated with that of Pastor.
In New Testament days, many women acted a Magistrates in the Roman Empire. Today, there are women Judges and other professionals. In following their duties, such women, often married, do not hand over any of their duties to their husbands. It would be unlawful. There is a parallel in the Christian Church. It would be unlawful in the eyes of the Lord Jesus for wives called by Him to hand over to husbands, duties incumbent on the holder of a Holy Spirit ordained office in the Christian Church founded in heaven.
CLAUDIA We read about her in 2 Timothy 4:21. There are men mentioned also. The first was Eubulus, a leader of the church in Rome. There was Linus, known to be one of the first bishops of Rome. Claudia is in the same group. She also held a highly esteemed ministry as she was one of those preachers. These would not be singled out from the following words, “and all the brethren” if all of them were not preachers. “Brethren” in Greek means “male and female”.
FOUR WOMEN PROPHETESSES. This is a ministry gift of Christ, in the same way as apostles, evangelists and pastor/teachers. Ephesians 4:11 reads “And it is He who gave to the church, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Pastors/Teachers. There are four ministry-gifts (not five). The original Greek does not specify they are men. It means men and women. We allow so-called Prophetesses, who exhort, edify and spiritually comfort men in public. Therefore as a Prophet is in the above list, on the same basis we should allow women Apostles, women Evangelists and women Pastors/Teachers. Notice that the latter, in the English versions, and Greek, is always “Pastors and Teachers” as one ministry. Acts 21:9 mentions the four daughters of Philip, who were prophetesses.
Jesus lifted women as being on an equality with men, after His resurrection. As Paul stated it in Galatians 3:27,28, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Down through the ages, man has followed his own rules and traditions in an orthodox way rather than in a spiritual way. The body of Christ is a living, Spiritual organism.
THE ELECT LADY and her children whom I love. 2 John:2. John writes to this woman, who had a church in her house. As was common in other cities, it appears this prominent woman pastored that particular church. There were no church buildings in the early Church. They met in homes. We can give undue importance to church buildings.
The word lady in Greek, is “kuria”. It is the feminine form of “kurios”, which means “lord, master”. “Children” really should be “Born-ones”, “teknon”. “Whom” is in the masculine tense and refers to male and female. It appears to me that these were her converts that she pastored. Any woman has the right to pastor the converts, male and/or female, that she wins to Christ. No man should gainsay this.
ROMANS 16. This chapter of Paul’s writings, shows clearly the importance he placed on his words in Galatians 3:28, “All distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female, have vanished; for in union with Christ Jesus you are all one”. Another translation says, “There is no room for Jew or Greek, no room for slave or freeman, no room for male and female, for you are all one through union with Christ Jesus”. Dare we act as if this is not written for us? There is to be no distinction in the church of Jesus Christ between male and female, in both office and authority.
Let us look at all the women preachers that are mentioned, whether women apostles, women pastors/teachers or women evangelists.
PHOEBE, an APOSTLE. verse 1, of Romans 16.
Theodoret, around 400 AD, says “Phoebe was famous”. Theodoret was born at Antioch and was a theologian. He was given position by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It was after this Council that the Syriac-speaking Christians began to be organised into three religious denominations. One of these is the Syrian Orthodox Church, from the Jacobites. This is the church that has had such an influence in Kerala, India. It is interesting to note that this Syriac speaking theologian, regarded Phoebe as a famous woman apostle.
She was a “servant” of the church. This has no connection with a woman who works in a Pastor’s home or Bible School, cooking and cleaning.
The same Greek word for the “servant” Phoebe, is that used of the “servant” of the Jesus Christ, Paul, in Romans 1:1. This Greek word is used of apostles, as the dictionary states, in the scriptures, Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:24; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1, Jude 1, Acts 4:29. Mentioned in this way as apostles, are Paul, Timothy, James, Simon Peter, Jude, the eleven (or twelve if Matthias is included) and Phoebe.
EVANGELIST AND PASTOR/TEACHER, Verse 3
PRISCA (OR PRISCILLA) has already been mentioned.
MARY, PROBABLY PASTOR/TEACHER, Verse 6.
She “worked hard” for the church. This can only be in ministry, including the preaching of the Word of God to the whole church, consisting of men and women. There was no need for a janitor, building custodian, cleaner, cook or general handy-woman in their general church situation. She was a leading preacher in that church.
JUNIAS, AN APOSTLE, Verse 7.
Junias is meant by translators to be a male name. In the original, the name is Janian (Greek). There is no masculine form (Junias) in any dictionary of Greek names. The English translations incorrectly use Junias. It should be Junia.
Chrysostom, himself a Greek, about 390 A.D. wrote, “Oh, how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should even be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle!” Andronicus and Junias were husband and wife. Both were “outstanding among the apostles”. Here is another woman apostle. There has been an innumerable company of women who have left their western lands and gone out to suffer in mission fields over the centuries. Many of them were single women who faced danger, trouble, tribulation and loneliness. They were acting as apostles, Christ’s sent ones, preaching, teaching and often establishing churches. One thinks of all the women whose graves are scattered all over India, among them Amy Carmichael and others too many to be named. They were held in great esteem by their converts and churches.
WORKERS IN THE LORD, verse 12, as TRYPHOSA and PERSIS. They were women preachers, pastors/teachers, evangelists. All believers and ministries were supposed to be prayers and intercessors. The normal Christian life was to be for all believers, praying and interceding, often in other tongues aloud in their assemblies as history records for the first one hundred and fifty years.
HERMAS, verse 14, is a female, mentioned with others (who were male ministries) and the “brothers and sisters who are with them”, NRSV Version. The brethren were not ministries but the five mentioned were such. Hermas was a preacher.
Dare we forbid women today, who are called of God, from taking their place in the church of Jesus Christ? To forbid them is to forbid the Holy Ghost. It is to do what they did in the book of Revelation, when Jesus had to stand at the door of the Church knocking. They had left Him outside, Revelation 3:20.
CORRECT INTERPRETATION OF CONTENTIOUS SCRIPTURES RE WOMEN
The first such scripture, is EPHESIANS 5:21-31.
We notice three points from this portion of scripture, including the much loved verse 22 regarding the “duty of wives”.
In verse 21 all are to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”. This cannot and does not mean that we are to implicitly “obey” one another or be “subordinate to one another”.
The noun “subjection” as stated by a renowned scholar, is not found in the Greek language outside of the New Testament. Therefore, it can only have a scriptural meaning – not a secular meaning. What does the New Testament teach about “subjection”?
“Subjection” does not mean “obedience”, as it is sometimes wrongly translated in various English Versions. A Greek-Latin dictionary says that it does not always “convey the thought of servile subjection” as used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The Septuagint is not the given inspired Word of God. It is a translation from the Hebrew and Aramaic in which the Old Testament was written. The language the Old Testament was written in originally, make it the inspired Word of God.
As we examine various parts of the Epistles where “subjection” occurs, we can gauge its scriptural meaning. The portions are, Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:16; Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 5:5.
These scriptures relate to the subjection required of believers to those who “help in the work” of the Lord, some being women, as shown in Romans 16:3. Wives are told to be in “subjection”, and in two portions, all believers, including male and female, pastors, evangelists, leaders and ordinary believers, are commanded to be in “subjection” one to the other.
Looking at the above mentioned verses in Ephesians 5:21,22, we notice that we read “subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ”. This means all believers, regardless of whether they are male or female. Each is to be subject to the other, in the fear of Christ – males to each other and to females, and females to each other and to males; believers to pastors and other servants of the Lord, and pastors and all servants of the Lord to each other. It also includes husbands to be in subjection to wives, as well as wives to husbands. “All of you” includes both husbands and wives.
No one is to “lord” it over the other, even as Jesus commanded. In Mark 10:41-45, He told His disciples, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you, “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for man.”
In Ephesians 5:22, in the Revised Version, the words “be in subjection” are in Italics. As usual with Italics, this shows that they are not in the original. To omit the Italics as should be done, we read, “Wives, unto your husbands as unto the Lord”. This indicates clearly that we should never separate verse 22 from 21. Verse 22, addressed to wives, should never be used alone, as in the original, it is merely a follow-up of verse 21. Verse 21 addressed to wives is used regularly alone and thus used wrongly.
Verse 21 is the main verse, reading “be in subjection one to the other” or “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”. The Apostle Paul then follows as an additional incorporation also, “Wives submit to your husbands”.
The emphasis by Paul is not the subjection of wives to husbands. His emphasis is upon the subjection of all believers as categorised above, one to the other. Then he adds the need of wives also to be in subjection to their own (not other) husbands.
Personally, I feel that this has some relation to marriage with its sexual acts, making husband and wife one body. As Paul also refers to this in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, this matter obviously is a point in Ephesians 5:22,23,29,31. In addition, Hebrews 13:4 states that the “Marriage should be honoured by all and the marriage bed kept pure”.
From a natural point of view, God has created the husband to be the aggressor. This is seen in the animal world also, where the male is the instigator. It is borne out by John 1:13 where the Scripture says, “is born not of human decision or by a husband’s will, but born of God”. The point of all those verses is found in Verse 32 where it is said “but I am talking about Christ and the Church”. He has brought out the close and intimate relationship between Christ and His church, and that we are members of His body. We are one. Then Paul relates this mysterious union to the union of husband and wife, the two becoming one flesh. That occurs in the marital acts. This analogy is given to help us understand something of the deep union of Christ and His church.
It is natural that the wife is called upon to be in “subjection” in this act. Quite often, wives will not, for a multitude of reasons. If the reason is fear of pregnancy, it is common and godly sense for both partners to use birth control and/or contraceptives. There is nothing in the Bible against such use. The Holy Spirit knows the make-up of women and it could be that He included verse 22 to cover the special need of wives to act according to what the Spirit of God would have them to be as true wives, in subjection (or submission, not as servile slaves).
From the woman’s point of view, if she does this in obedience to the Scriptures it is in a sense, a ministry. As she trains her children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, this also is a ministry. Likewise, if the husband acts as the Word of God says, for him it is also a ministry. For both husband and wife it is a matter of obedience. He is to love his wife as his own body. Therefore he will never beat or abuse her. He will love and cherish her as being more to him than his own children, as she is part of his own flesh, according to the Scriptures.
In such an act, it is a medical fact that a husband nourishes a wife, both physically and emotionally. Thereby, he acts as her head and so nourishes her. This, as shown below, is headship viz. to nourish.
No one, including wives, is told to be in obedience, under the rule of, in a subordinate position to another, or to allow yourself to be ruled by another (whether believer, husband or wife).
The husband is the head of the wife does not mean he is the “ruler” of his wife. He is head in the same manner Christ is head of His church. The word head means nourisher and not ruler.
The kind of Head Christ is shown clearly in verse 25, where He “loved the church and gave himself up for her”. With such a love, husbands are to treat their wives. Christ does not “rule” over us as a dictator or autocrat. He bears with us in love, and allows us the privilege of willingly obeying Him and His Word. He rules over principalities and powers, as in Ephesians 1:21 and 22a. He is Head over His body, the church, and it has not been placed under His feet as have the demonic powers.
According to Ephesians 2:6, “God raised us up with Christ and seared us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”. We are not under His feet. A wife must not be made to feel or act that she is under the feet of her husband, i.e. that he is to rule her!
Christ has given us all, male and female, commandments, but nowhere do the Scriptures say that husbands are to give wives commandments.
Verse 29 stating, “He feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church”. Being Head of the church means that Christ cares for it, His body and feeds it (nourishes it). The husband, who is “one” with his wife, is to “love their wives as their own bodies”. They also are “head” of the wife in the same sense that they are to “love, feed and care for his” own body (meaning his wife). Being “head” therefore cannot and does not mean the husband is the “ruler”, the “boss” or the “lord” (as in heathendom).
1 TIMOTHY 2:8-12
RE WOMEN IN PUBLIC PRAYER Verses 8, 9 according to the Greek-English New Testament read, “the man to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting, Similarly or in like manner the women in orderly clothing.” This obviously states women pray in a similar manner to the men. They pray publicly. There is a proviso, or stipulation, for women regarding their dress. It must be modest and discreet. Modern women in Western churches and many in Indian churches should heed this.
Regarding women’s clothing in Verses 9-10 these must be read according to their historical background. Let William Barclay, world-renowned Scottish New Testament interpreter and profound scholar speak.
“Ephesus, which was the city where Timothy served as Pastor/Teacher and Evangelist, was a city in the Roman Empire with a Greek background. The place of women in Greek, heathen religion was low. The pagan temple in Corinth had one thousand priestesses who were sacred prostitutes. A respectable Greek woman stayed in her own quarters. She did not appear at meals, never on the street alone, and did not go to any public assembly. With Christian women in a Greek Town, the case was different. They were taking an active and speaking part in Christian work.
“Furthermore, in Greek society there were women whose whole life revolved around elaborate dressing and braiding of the hair. One historian tells of a bride in Rome, whose bridal dress cost the equivalent of $U.S.1,000,000 which is 300 Indian lakh rupees. Even many Greek and Roman heathen men were disgusted at the love of dress and jewellery that some women showed.
“The Mystical Greek pagan religions had an inscription reading, ‘A consecrated woman shall not have gold ornaments, nor rouge, nor face-whitening, nor a head-band, nor braided hair, nor shoes, except those made of felt or of the skins of sacrificed animals’.” In Christendom today only the legalistic denominations, Pentecostal or non-Pentecostal, not real Bible-based organizations, emphasise the dress of women. However, modesty of dress befits Christian women.
All things restraining women in 1 Timothy 2:8-12 were a temporary matter. They were to meet a certain situation that existed in the city of Ephesus at that particular time in history.
Paul, who wrote this letter to Timothy there, had a permanent view. It is found in Galatians 3:28, “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”. In the Church of Jesus Christ we do not consider whether one is Indian or European. All are one and in the Church of Jesus Christ, we should not consider whether one is male or female. Neither must we give importance to whether one is High Caste or Low Caste. All are one in Him.
WOMEN’S CLOTHING, 1 Peter 3:2-6.
The first two verses deal with the behaviour of wives, in the main, towards their unsaved and heathen husbands. They are to please their husbands and in this way perhaps win them to Christ by their Christian and loving behaviour.
It is not their dress and appearance that will win these husbands. However, Peter is not advising wives to dress in an unbecoming manner. Sometimes wives do dress in a drab way, only to find their husbands glance at other women who are nicely dressed, and commit adultery with them. This should not be. Women must do their best to appear attractive to their husbands, in both godly behaviour and appearance.
It does not excuse men in any wrong-doing, who really commit the sins of fornication and adultery because of their own sinful lust and hardness of heart.
It is becoming to a Christian, whether a brother or sister, to dress neatly and cleanly. However, vanity of heart and worldliness, can creep into the matter of dress as in all areas of our lives. Vanity and worldliness can appear in the hearts of poor and rich, and of religious and irreligious.
Wearing white saris does not show a lack of vanity or worldliness. Both vanity and worldliness can be the motivation of the heart for wearing “white” or “red” or “saris” or whatever type of clothing is decreed. The world is opposed to Christ. Vanity of heart is a work of the “flesh”. In the matter of dress for women and wives (and also for men) vanity and worldliness should have no place in the heart.
According to verse 2, women are to have chaste and respectful behaviour before their husbands. This is accomplished in attitudes towards one’s husband, communication with him and dress. Immodesty of dress should have no part in a Christian’s life. We should not follow the customs of the world or of our culture. We are to follow the standards of the Kingdom of Christ.
Once again, the historical background is that of persecution, as it was then 63 A.D. in the terrible period of Nero’s fierce and cruel persecution. 1 Peter 1:6; 3:17; 5:10 refer to these times. It would be wise, says Peter, if Christian women acted and dressed so as not to inflame further, the ones who were persecuting them. Woman’s adornment is to be internal as well as external, verses 3 and 4.
The N.A.S. Version reads, “Let not your adorning be “merely” external -braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewellery, or putting on dresses”. This can be the only meaning that will make sense of the verse.
If we say it means, “Do not braid your hair, and do not wear gold jewellery”, we must also say, “Do not put on dresses (or saris, or clothing of any description)”. We cannot tell any woman not to wear dresses or saris and we would not. We expect them to be clothed, as all persons are throughout the world.
Therefore this verse is not saying, “Do not wear gold jewellery”. In any case, if we take it to mean that, we must also forbid the woman to braid her hair, which all Indian women do, as indeed they all wear saris, dresses or trousers – quite correctly.
There is no verse in scripture that forbids the wearing of gold. We should note that the believers of those Epistles as In India, had used gold while they were heathen. They were also wearing gold after coming to Christ.
As we learned previously in this writing, the custom was for many women to spend too much money on their dress. That, in the face of poverty and the need of the gospel, would be sin and lack of compassion. All of us can only dress according to our needs, available money and the law of love in Christ.
VERSES THAT APPARENTLY WOMEN MUST KEEP SILENT
1 Corinthians 14:34,35 “Let your women keep silent in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. If they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church”.
Let it be noted that some scholars including some Pentecostal Assemblies of God consider these verses are not genuine. They think they were inserted by a scribe at a later date. I tend to agree as they seem not to relate to the subject.
If genuine, we must say “Why did the Apostle allow women praying and prophesying, in 1 Corinthians 11:5, which he wrote a short time previously, and in 14:31 say for all to prophesy?” He did allow women to speak publicly in churches, as the ample evidence given in this writing, proves.
Therefore, if indeed it is genuine, we have to look for what the meaning really would be. Paul would not contradict himself in the space of an hour or so, between the time he wrote women were praying and prophesying, and these verses of 1 Corinthians 14:34,35.
Verse 34 gives us the clue, when it says, “as also says the law”. This cannot be the Law of Moses, as there is no such regulation in the Old Testament. It can only be the Oral Law of the Pharisees that contained traditions of men, which Jesus denounced. Such words are not found in the Law of Moses in the Old Testament.
Therefore, this obviously is a quotation of their law and not the Old Testament. The commands of men say, “Let the women keep silent in the church …for it is improper for a woman to speak in church”. Verses 34 and 35 can only be a quotation from their traditions.
Then in verse 36, “Was in from you that the word of God went forth?” No it was not, as he proves by then saying, “Or, has it come to you”. Paul himself preached the gospel to all of them, including the Judaizers, and not they to him. He is the one to whom the Lord has revealed the way meetings should be conducted in the assembly of the saints, not them. They cannot forbid to speak in the church. They did not bring the revelation of the gospel. When they forbid women to speak they are wrong. We also are wrong if we follow their wrong ideas.
Churches have followed their wrong ideas for centuries. Generally, it is because scholars and theologians who know better, are not willing to allow women a place in the church. They want only men to minister. They are wrong.
Paul himself thought the Judaizers were wrong. He does not agree with them that “women should be silent in the assembly”. What he says is correct. What the Judaizers say is incorrect. In verse 37 Paul states, “let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.”
The “Word” in the New Testament can be the Gospel or Prophetic utterance from the Lord, as in 2 Corinthians 4:2,3 “nor do we distort the word of God… Even if our gospel is veiled…”, Acts 20:23 “The Holy Spirit warns” and Acts 21:10,11 “a prophet named Agabus…’The Holy Spirit says…’”.
The word of the gospel came from God through Paul and not through those critics who were Judaizers and not true gospel followers. In relation to the Word possibly being prophecy, Paul would say, “The Spirit of prophecy came from God and not from you Judaizers. If you restrict true prophecy, you are dictating to God as to whether He should use only men and not women”.
In verse 37 he states that what he writes are the Lord’s commands. Then he commands, in verse 39, “Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy”. To prophesy is to speak publicly, and not to keep silent. He directs them all to do this, including the women. The Greek word for brethren always means men and women, brothers and sisters.
He has said in verse 31 “all can prophesy all may learn”. Therefore, this again proves that in verses 34 and 35 he was quoting a traditional regulation and not the Word of God or his own command. He would not tell women to prophesy in one verse and forbid it in the next.
Brethren comes from the Greek word that means male and female as in mankind.
Women are allowed to speak publicly in the church. They are not commanded to be silent.
It is women as well as men who “learn”, verse 35. They also are of those who prophesy, verse 39.
WOMEN PREACHERS, 1 Timothy 2:10-12.
Satan stops the ministry of many of those called to be preachers of the Gospel from fulfilling their calling. He does this by wrong interpretation and understanding of Scriptures. Both male believers and the majority of female believers are deceived in this way.
Let us examine a portion of scripture that is wrongly used to hinder women.
It is 1 Timothy 2:10 that leads on to the generally misquoted verses 11 and 12. The translation is “But which becomes women professing godliness through good works”. The Greek word for “professing” is found in 1 Timothy 6:21 and is translated in King James, “which some professing, have erred concerning the faith”. The Greek-English Dictionary, shows the meaning in all uses in the New Testament. It is “to announce” something, or “to profess”.
As Professor Ramsay says, it “regularly implies that the person mentioned came before the public, with promises, in order to gain supporters; it is applied to candidates for … votes in the Greek cities, who publicly announced what they intended to do”. Women preachers also publicly proclaimed to men and women.
Therefore, verses 8 and 10 show that it was the practice for women to pray and to preach publicly in the Christian Church.
RE WOMEN LEARNERS. In verses 11 and 12 Paul says something different. It is about a woman learning. Paul’s advice is always in accordance with the situation of the Christians under Nero the mad Emperor. He reigned from 54 to 68 AD. Paul wrote to Timothy about 67 AD, as is commonly stated.
The Roman policy of persecuting Christians was very strong for decades. There was Nero who used Christians as the scape-goat for his own crimes. Those who confessed to being Christians were arrested. They were mocked and killed – some covered with the skins of wild beasts and then torn by dogs, some were thrown to the lions, some were crucified (as was Peter) and others were burned as torches to be lit at night. This persecution spread throughout the empire. It became an established Roman policy of persecution which even the Jews used against the Christians.
WOMAN LEARNING QUIETLY. This is found in verses 11, 12. During these perilous times, the Jews were able to publicly oppose the Christians. As shown above, the Jews did not allow women to be taught. Paul made allowance for this at that point in history only.
It was a temporary measure. In order that the Jews would not be incited against the Christians, he said it was best for the women to be taught and to learn in a quiet manner. Then the Jews, who despised women, and hated Christians, would not find out and urge the Roman authorities to persecute the Christians.
The word is “quietness” and not “silence” as in the King James. The same word is used in Acts 22:1 reading, “they were the more quiet; they quieted down still more.” Many translations of 1 Timothy 2:11 read “Let a woman quietly receive instruction”.
During this period of historical persecution, when the women had to learn in quietness it also meant that the men were to teach, and that quietly.
The status of women in the churches Paul founded was equal to that of men. Neither was higher than the other. Neither was to lord it over the other, both in the church, in the home or in society. 1 Peter 5:21 commands all are to be “subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ”.
This does not mean that any person, male or female, is to be subordinate to another. It does not mean servile subjection. It is the “Christian grace of not following one’s preferences but rather to yield to another, where no principle is involved.”
Jesus as a boy, gave us such an example. In Luke 2:51, He was subject to His parents, whereas in the Temple and for three days previously, He had ignored them to obey His Father in Heaven.
AUTHORITY OF WOMEN TEACHERS. Let us look at 1 Timothy 2:12. which reads, “I never allow women to teach or lord it over men; she must be silent”. King James reads, “I do not suffer a woman to teach or to usurp authority over a man; she must be silent”.
“Lord”, or “have authority”, comes from the Greek word meaning, “one who acts on his own authority; the author; autocratic”.
Even a man in the church is not supposed to be that. Paul was not and certainly a woman must not. In other words, a woman is not to snatch at this as her own doing. All, men and women, are to be called of God and serve in humility. “Usurp” is not in the original Greek. The original Greek means “to have or exercise dominion over”. No man should and surely no woman should act like that.
For a woman to be like this, would most certainly involve sexual sins. No man would take notice of a woman who acted domineeringly and using authority from herself – unless it was sexual. To “exercise authority” in the Greek, as translated into English, really means “to use licentious and sexual doctrinal behaviour”.
Revelation 2:20-23 speaks of such a woman. Jesus Christ spoke harsh words against that Jezebel. She was a prophetess and teacher. Jesus did not condemn her as a teacher. He condemned her because she led them astray into immorality. There is no such thing as a Jezebel spirit mentioned in Scriptures!
Paul was not forbidding women teachers or preachers. How could he, when he had women teachers and preachers working with him? He himself directed those women pastor/teachers, apostles and evangelists into the ministry. This is clear from other scriptures. Neither male nor female preacher or teacher, is “to lord it over the flock”, 1 Peter 5:3. It is a great sin for men pastors to lord it over the flock, including over the women. They should have the Spirit of Jesus and not try to dominate men, and particularly the women.
1 Timothy 2:12 in Greek is in Present Active Indicative tense, which means “not presently permitting” a woman to teach and not to be made a principle for all time. The King James gives a different understanding which obviously is not correct. We must follow the Greek.
We should note that a translation is the work of scholars and not the inspired work of the Holy Ghost. For that reason, the King James may be wrong in certain areas as can others also. However, we can rest assured that in the main, the translations give good meanings.
Let us take examples in relation to appropriate behaviour at certain times, in more recent history. During the Communist regimes in many countries we know that the churches did not function normally. The same applies to China today. If there is inter-racial or inter-religious tension can the people, men and women, function normally? Are the people living normally in Sudan during the present horrors? Of course not. The churches take temporary measures as befit the occasion.
Paul acted likewise in their terrible times of persecution. When the persecution eased, they were back to normal. The normal Christian occurrence was that women prayed and preached publicly and that women preached to both men and women and that women taught men also.
“The women who proclaim the glad tidings are a great host”, Psalm 68 is written shortly before the passage in verse 8, concerning the resurrection and which is quoted by Paul in Ephesians 4:18 concerning gifts to the church. Isaiah 40:9 says in the original Hebrew, “O woman that publishes good tidings to Jerusalem, Say that here is your God”, concerning the coming of the Saviour. In Isaiah 32:9 He calls to women, “Rise up you women who are at ease”, and in verse 15, it is to be “until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high”.
This accords with Joel 2:28,29 where sons and daughters are to prophesy (publicly proclaim) in the outpouring of the Spirit. Women as well as men in Acts 2 were filled with the Holy Ghost to be witnesses, which means they were to publicly proclaim to men and women, the gospel of Christ. Then the coming of the Lord will draw closer, Joel 2:31,32 and Joel 3.
The men have obeyed by preaching, and the women must also obey. In view of these scriptures, the church of Jesus Christ should repent of its treatment of disallowing women to figure in a major way in preaching. Women in the church should repent of their indifference and being at ease in Zion.
Women have become Judges, Lawyers, Barristers, Psychiatrists, Engineers, Doctors, Professors, Chief Ministers, Prime Ministers and Politicians. Where are the women Pastors, Preachers and Teachers in the Church?
Satan deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden. Strangely and sadly, until this point in time, Satan has deceived both men and women regarding the position and status of women in both Society and the Church. Are we still going to listen to Satan who is controlling men in these areas, even in the church, or are we going to listen and obey the Word of the Living God? Strangely a brother in Christ e-mailed me on one occasion. He suggested that I, being a woman, was prone to deception regarding the Bible. He said this because there have been women so deceived who have headed cults. As I pointed out to him, history beginning at the time of the Early Church abounds with deception in doctrines, many institutions and so forth. The vast majority came through men and not women.
This is a suggestion for women with the call of God upon them and particularly the married ones. Be confident in the Lord and your call. Wait on your ministry and learn to use the Word of God correctly. Seek for the Gifts of the Spirit. In much praying in the Holy Ghost (other tongues), lay hold of the horns of the altar continuously, until God Himself makes a way for you in the ministry to which you are called. This will annul the efforts of any man or woman against you.
Women sisters in Christ, you must act your convictions. You who are called by the Lord, should listen to His voice alone. You should start and pastor churches – in your own home and/or in outlying places of your cities, towns and villages, in the will of Christ.
As there is no scriptural basis for the modern attitude that generally prevails towards women, whether in the home, society or in the church, the only conclusion one can arrive at is that it is based on male desire for dominance as well as female contentment with such a subjection. Men and women both, we need to aim for purposes of Jesus Christ for His own, whether n the home, society or in the church. Women must be uplifted to their rightful place beside, and not under the men! This being the case, there comes a call for general repentance from wrongful ways. “Let God arise, His enemies be scattered!”
Should there be any man or woman who has the call of the Lord to be a Pastor/Teacher or Evangelist, we trust you are fulfilling your ministry. If you are engaged in such and do not have credentials, we are willing to ordain you and give you credentials that are perfectly lawful and Christ honouring. One will be large enough to place on a wall and the other small enough to carry with you. There have been well over a dozen brothers and sisters who have received such credentials with the laying on of hands in confirmation of the call of God. Man can only recognize and ordain those whom Christ Himself has called and ordained and placed as Ministry Gifts in the Body of Christ.