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The Role of Women in the Church

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Text: 1 Tim. 2.8-15

Thesis: To prove that although God has limited what women can do publicly in the worship

             assembly, they are still equally important and valuable in the eyes of God.

Introduction:

(1)    Unfortunately, history records unfair treatment toward women, even in the church.

(2)    Nevertheless, women have always been important in the eyes of God.

a.       Think of such women as Esther, Ruth, etc.

b.      Jesus viewed women as important.

c.       They have always played a key role in the church.

(3)    Before we look at what the Bible teaches, we must believe:

a.       The Bible is the inspired Word of God (2 Tim. 3.16).

b.      The books that we have in the canon today are real and authentic.

c.       The context must be properly considered in order to understand any verse.

d.      One should assume that the Bible is speaking to him/her today unless the context shows differently (e.g., John 16.13).

e.       What God says on the matter is the end of the matter.

(4)    Now we will look at 3 main points in our study:

Discussion:

I.                   Women are equal with men and just as important.

A.    Galatians 3.28 – We are all one in Christ Jesus (in reference to salvation)

B.     1 Cor. 12 – We are all members of one body with each member being equally essential

C.     Matt. 25 – Parable of the talents – We all receive the same reward

D.    Verses speaking of her worth:

1.      “An excellent wife, who can find?  For her worth is far above jewels” (Prov. 31.10).

2.      “An excellent wife is a crown to her husband […]” (Prov. 12.4a; cf. 1 Cor. 11.7).

3.      “He who finds a wife, finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD” (Prov. 18.22).

4.      As Rex A. Turner, Sr. points out:

“The astounding fact is that while woman was first in the fall of humanity, she is now first in the rise of humanity.  Her “limited role” suddenly became the greatest single role for the redemption of mankind.  The same qualities that make women to be loving, sympathetic mothers also make them angels of mercy to the sick and elderly” (29).

II.                Limitations placed upon certain roles are found elsewhere.

A.    Consider elders for example:

1.      He must be married, have children, etc.

2.      Could a man still do a good job if he weren’t married, etc.?

3.      Possibly, but regardless, God has spoken on the matter.

B.     Likewise consider deacons.

C.     What about apostles?  They had to see the Christ, etc.

D.    What about Old Testament priests?  Only from the tribe of Levi

E.     We see qualifications placed even today (e.g., age of president – at least 35; job qualifications – B.A. required; tests to get into programs, etc.).

III.             What does the Bible teach about the role of women today in the church?

A.    She may:

1.      Teach the younger women (Titus 2.3-4).

2.      She may teach her children (2 Tim. 1.5; 3.15 – Timothy’s mother and

      grandmother – Eunice and Lois).

3.      She may teach privately (Acts 18.26 – Aquilla and Priscilla taught Apollos).

4.      She may be involved in the great commission (Matt. 28.19).

5.      She may visit, etc.

6.   She may be a keeper of the home, etc.

B.     She may not:

“Teach or exercise authority over a man” (1 Tim. 2.12)

1.      Teach (didaskein):

a.       “To deliver didactic discourses” (Thayer’s 144).

b.      This is modified by over the man; thus, only wrong when men are present

2.      Exercise authority (authenteo):

a.       “To assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to” (BGAD 150).

b.      “To govern one, exercise dominion over one” (Thayer’s 84).

c.       “To use or exercise authority or power over as an autocrat” (Zodhiates 11).

d.      “Any act of worship wherein the woman is in control of the act and consequently the minds of those engaging in the act, is an activity wherein she is in a position of authority over those following her in the activity” (qtd. In Meadows 12).

3.      Rather, they are to learn:

1 Tim. 2.11 – Wants women to receive instruction, the manner in which they

learn is to be quietly (hesychia) and with entire submissiveness (hupotage)

a.       Quiet – quit disputing; a quiet demeanor and spirit that is peaceable instead of argumentative

b.      Submissiveness – subordinating herself in every respect; to the authority of

the men authorized to lead; “to be placed in an order, as ranks, rows, classes”

(1)    Note: Submission does not mean inferiority

(2)    Jesus submitted Himself to God the Father while here upon this earth

(3)    Men are women are to be submitting one to another (Eph. 5.21)

4.      Where is this the case?

a.       A. T. Robertson notes that “it is public worship, of course, and in every place for public worship” (569).

b.      Paul “is regulating worship, in which both men and women take part” (R. Lanier 2:166).

c.       Neil Lightfoot correctly observes: “though these passages have assembly contexts, the principles underlying them are broad and reach back to creation” (42).

5.      Why is this the case?

a.       Some argue that this was a culture thing, etc.

b.      Paul, through inspiration, says that this principle is tied to creation (1 Tim. 2.13-14).

c.       Over and over again, God emphasized and demanded male spiritual leadership in both the OT and NT (see F. LaGard Smith).

d.      There may be some specific reason why God made this decision, but suffice it to say that God decided things to be this way and we must adhere to His teaching on the matter.

e.       H. Lockyer drives the point home when he says:

“More than 160 women who are named in the Old and New Testaments, and more than 100 references to women who are not named […] In all this there is not one reference to any woman’s ever having a leading role in any public worship to Jehovah”

Conclusion:

(1)    We’ve noted that although limitations have been placed upon the role of women in church, women are still important and equal in the eyes of God.

(2)    May more God-fearing women rise up and do much good for the Lord’s Kingdom. 

(3)    Will we respect what God has said in every matter whether the qualifications of elders or what must one do to be saved?

Works Consulted

BGAD.  A Greek-English Lexicon of the NT and other Early Christian Literature.

Cottrell, Jack.  Gender Roles and the Bible.

Elkins, G., ed.  The Role of Women.  Power Gospel Journal.

Gender and Ministry (FHU Forum). 

Kostenberger, Andreas J., et. al., eds.  Women in the Church.

Meadows, James.  Some Thoughts on Women’s Role in the Church.

Robertson, A. T.  Word Pictures in the NT.

Smith, F. LaGard.  Male Spiritual Leadership.

Thayer, J.  Greek-English Lexicon of the NT.

Zodhiates, Spiros.  Word Studies on Women in the Home and Church.

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