Friday, March 20, 2009

Where Theology Meets Ecclesiology

I know that for some readers, the subject of women in ministry is a boring one, or one that is not as important as others (it may seem). However, the issue of women is linked to other things—in particular, theology. If women are not allowed to serve in the church, what does that say about their God-given image? And, if women are “less-made” in God’s image than men are, what does this say about the character and nature of God? It’s frightening to think of all the issues surrounding this debate. In any case, the issue of women involves so many other discussions than just whether or not women should serve in leadership positions in the church.

Udo Middleman hits on the aftereffects of Calvinism:

“Recent generations have abandoned the ‘God is in control’ of Calvinism, because of God’s implied complicity in or absence from the horrors of the twentieth century. They also rightly reject the immorality of some Christians who claim to have Jesus in their heart. But they have fallen into two new forms of determinism. The first kind of determinism leads to a fatalistic acceptance of whatever is. Here people submit to a larger whole, a UNITY of being. That determining unity may be GENDER, RACE, COLOR, or SOCIAL CONTEXT. These give a NEW CONSTRAINT to people who thought they had been newly emancipated from God…GENDER, COLOR, and SOCIAL BACKGROUND TELL HIM OR HER WHAT BEHAVIOR CONFORMS TO HIS GENDER, COLOR, AND SOCIAL DESTINY. We have seen this before in the propositions of fascism, nationalism, and forms of biological control” (Middleman, “The Innocence of God,” 212).

According to Middleman, determinism is not just a theological issue—it is connected, for Calvinists, to EVERY AREA OF LIFE! Notice that I made certain words bold in the quote. The reason for so doing is to allow you, the reader, to see the emphasis Middleman places on these things. It is his belief, as is mine, that determinism under the Calvinist agenda spreads to ALL LEVELS of society. In the blog here on women in ministry, Calvinism rears its ugly head in the issue of gender. Complementarians believe that God has given the woman the role of marriage, raising children, and keeping house, while the man was made to lead the marriage, work in the public sphere, and protect his family. When it comes to church life, the woman is supposed to submit to the men in the church—for the men are the only ones who are “called” to lead church life. And why can complementarians get away with these ideas? Because of Calvinism. Most of evangelicalism is Calvinist, which means that, in some indirect way or another, most believers affirm determinism in everything. Because of this nice neat system, where everything “seems” to work itself out, women can grow up Baptist, for example, and believe that God has ORDAINED their place of submission in everything (whether married or not). Such women can easily believe that God has PREDETERMINED their every move to be wife, mother, and babymaker, while the husband’s role is fixed to work and lead. The woman, in their eyes, is supposed to cook the meals and take care of the home. But what about if the husband is better at cooking than his wife? Do you mean to tell me that God would will for the woman to cook and “burn water” while the husband (the best chef) is supposed to sit and eat “burned water”? Surely no! But, if you listen to the complementarians, this is what they’ll tell you. Why is it wrong for the husband to cook? Because it’s the wife’s job. Why is it wrong for the husband to take care of the kids at home while the wife goes to work? Because it’s against societal expectations (and of course, they’ll include the Bible as psychological comfort to ease their guilt over the issue).

The fact that a woman is made a woman (according to the Calvinist) is enough to MAKE her a homemaker. God has ordained this role for every woman, and this is what they should live up to. No wonder 1 Timothy 2 is taken OUT OF CONTEXT! Complementarians (Calvinists at heart) really do believe the woman’s greatest work is in the home. If a woman is married, she should be faithful to her household duties. If the woman is single, she should pray that God send her a mate so she can get married, have children, and take care of the home (in addition to cooking her husband’s meals and ironing his shirts). This determinism is what drives complementarians (such as Thomas Schreiner) to affirm that “When Paul says that a woman will be saved by childbearing, he means therefore, that THEY WILL BE SAVED BY ADHERING TO THEIR ORDAINED ROLE” (“Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15,” page 118).

Schreiner’s (and all other complementarians) argument is determinism when it comes to how to apply this passage to everyday life. But what about the single woman, or the woman who will never have a family? What is the single woman supposed to do? How does the single woman obey and apply Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2? According to complementarians, her role is to be married, have children, and keep house. But, if God wills this for EVERY WOMAN (as complementarians claim), then what about Paul’s commendation of the single woman in 1 Corinthians 7?

32I want you to be(AM) free from anxieties.(AN) The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35I say this for your own benefit,(AO) not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:32-25, ESV).

The unmarried woman has a greater amount of time and opportunity to pursue the things of the Lord—why then, should she NOT preach and teach and pastor?

Middleman shows us a link between Calvinists and Complementarians—both are DETERMINISTIC in their own right: the Calvinist in the salvation of God, the complementarian in the giftedness God gives to His people. Nevertheless, a deterministic worldview will lead to blaming the Almighty for everything—and constraining Him into a sort of domineering parent. Calvinists and Complementarians must learn that, as Richard Weaver’s book title tells us, “Ideas Have Consequences.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Missing Link

I discussed yesterday that while God’s Word tells wives to submit (not single women!), it does not tell the husband to RULE over his wife! Today, though, I wanna go back to some of the Scriptural passages we examined yesterday regarding this discussion of men being in charge—Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 3. In addition, I’d like for us to examine a part of Genesis 2. This discussion will focus on the implications of these passages of Scripture. It is my belief that complementarians are half-dividing the Word of Truth on this matter.
Let’s take a look at Ephesians 5. Just so everyone can read it without worry, I’ll paste it here:

22(AR) Wives,(AS) submit to your own husbands,(AT) as to the Lord. 23For(AU) the husband is the head of the wife even as(AV) Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is(AW) himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit(AX) in everything to their husbands.

Notice something here: there are two relationships being compared to each other—husband/wife and Christ/church. In both relationships, there is a leader and a follower: in the home, the husband is the leader, and in the church, Christ is the leader. Both the husband and Christ are heads, but the husband is ONLY HEAD OF THE HOME! He is head of the home because of Eve’s punishment back in Genesis 3. However, Christ is the head of the church and should be Lord of the home (the husband is the lowercase “l,” lord of the home).

Somehow, complementarians have distorted the Scriptures to their own liking. They will totally affirm the first part of Ephesians 5:22, that “the husband is the head of the wife.” But they will stop at that—to them, the fact that the husband is the head of the home means that now, the MALE is the leader of the FEMALE (all men are over all women); and then, when it gets to the church, now, the MAN rules over the WOMAN in church. Complementarians take God’s words to Eve in Genesis 3:16 and misapply it across all of society. I even know of complementarians who have said that if a woman is in a manager’s position over her husband in any given company, the man should leave that company (because the woman is not to be over the man, from 1 Timothy 2)! How absurd! Does God’s Word REALLY say that? Of course not.

Let’s look at the second part of verse 22: “For the husband is the head of the wife EVEN AS CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH…” Did you catch that? Christ is the head of the church, not the man, the husband, the deacon, the preacher, the teacher, the Pastor, the trustees, the musicians, the choir members, etc! NOONE IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH BUT CHRIST ALONE! The husband is the lowercase “lord” of the home, but Christ is the uppercase “LORD” of the church! The man’s sphere runs to the home and ONLY the home; it stops when he reaches the church. Yes, his wife is supposed to acknowledge his headship in public before all, but his headship doesn’t give him the right to determine what gifts his wife has or whether or not she can use them. That’s not the husband’s call. The husband’s job is to lead in the marriage, NOT IN THE CHURCH! The husband only has one wife (monogamous), so he was never given the job of running the church, where there are lots of married women and single women alike. The husband has no authority over other women—only his wife!

Let’s look at 1 Timothy 3. Yesterday, I made the point that women can serve in the church as leaders as well; that, based on the chapter, Paul includes women when he mentions them later in 1 Timothy 5 and calls them “despots of the home” (literal translation of the Greek word “oikodespotein”). But let’s reexamine 1 Timothy 3 again:

1The saying is(A) trustworthy: If anyone aspires to(B) the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore(C) an overseer[a] must be above reproach,(D) the husband of one wife,[b](E) sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable,(F) hospitable,(G) able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but(H) gentle, not quarrelsome,(I) not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity(J) keeping his children submissive, 5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for(K) God’s church? (1 Tim. 3:1-5, ESV)

One of the qualifications for the leader is to be a good manager of his household. But notice what Paul says in verse 5: “for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”

I want us to look at the two verbs in this rhetorical question of Paul’s: the first is “manage” and the second is “care.” Paul uses the word “manage” with regards to the home (“household”); but what does he use in regards to the church? Does he use the word “manage”? Does he use the word “despot” as he did with the young widows? No. Paul doesn’t do anything of the sort—he uses the Greek word “epimeleisetai,” meaning “to care for.”

Don’t you see a difference in these two words? When a person manages something, they are over everything, as is a manager in a manufacturing plant or a corporation, for example. But does a person have to be the manager “to take care of” something? No.
To illustrate my point biblically, let’s go back to Genesis 2. Let’s read one verse of this chapter:

15The LORD God took the man(O) and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15, ESV).

Notice that, although Adam was the first human created, he was placed in the Garden as a steward—to work and keep the Garden. He was God’s assistant, but HE DID NOT OWN THE GARDEN! God owned the Garden, but He chose Adam to work it and keep it. And this is what God expects the leader in the church to do—work in the church and keep the church pure and spotless from temptation and error (to maintain doctrinal purity). So, while the man (or woman) can manage their homes, they are not to RULE the church—but to work it and keep it. The Lord owns the church just as He owned the Garden of Eden. Therefore, there is no room for power in the church. All the power belongs to Christ and He dispenses it as He sees fit.

There is no direct link here between the husband as head of the home and as head of the church; yet, it’s surprising that conservatives link “the church and home” in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. If you read works such as “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” by Grudem and Piper, you’ll find that they mention “church and home” or “home and church” several times throughout the pages. But the problem comes in when you have to prove that husbands were given RULE over the church, because they lead in the home—and that is proof that the complementarians don’t have.

This then, is the missing link—the connection between the husband leading in the home and leading in the church. Husbands, nor do wives, children, or church officials, serve as the head of the church. In fact, there is language from 1 Peter to tell us the role of overseers in the church:

2(C) shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,[a](D) not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;[b](E) not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not(F) domineering over those in your charge, but(G) being examples to the flock.

Peter tells the elders not to “DOMINEER” over those they serve. What are the leaders to be? Shepherds. And as shepherds, they are to lead LIKE THE CHIEF SHEPHERD. And what does the Chief Shepherd do?

11(H) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd(I) lays down his life for the sheep. 12He who is(J) a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and(K) leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and(L) scatters them. 13He flees because(M) he is a hired hand and(N) cares nothing for the sheep. 14(O) I am the good shepherd.(P) I know my own and(Q) my own know me, 15(R) just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and(S) I lay down my life for the sheep.

The undershepherds and other leaders of God’s church are to care for the church.
Nowhere in the passages above do we read of leaders RULING the church. If complementarians want to “connect the dots” and show why men are the leaders of the church, they will have to invent interpretations and perform “Olympic exegesis” to do it.

Impact Unnoticed

“Many interpretations of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 rely heavily on the nature of this false teaching at Ephesus in explaining what Paul means in these verses. There is nothing wrong with this in principle; good exegesis always takes into consideration the larger context in which a text appears. However, Paul tells us remarkably little about the specifics of this false teaching, presumably because he knows that Timothy is well acquainted with the problem. This means that WE CANNOT BE AT ALL SURE ABOUT THE PRECISE NATURE OF THIS FALSE TEACHING AND, PARTICULARLY, ABOUT ITS IMPACT ON THE WOMEN IN THE CHURCH…” (Grudem and Piper, “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” 177).

Douglas Moo wrote the above statement in his chapter from “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” entitled “What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men?” Moo attempts in his article to study 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and show through exegesis why it is that women’s ministries are limited in the church. What interests me is the last phrase of the above quote.

Moo states that because we don’t know the nature of the false teaching, what the false teaching was exactly, that we can’t know of its impact on the church at Ephesus. But what is troublesome about this statement is that, according to context, we know a great deal about the impact of the false teaching on the church. Consider the following statements:

1 Timothy 1:6 (ESV)—“Certain persons, by swerving from these have wandered away into vain discussion…”

1 Tim. 1:19b—“by rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith…”

These verses show us that such false teaching threw those influenced by it out of the faith. In addition, we have a proper context from 1 Timothy 1 that tells us the situation:

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons NOT TO TEACH ANY DIFFERENT DOCTRINE, NOR TO DEVOTE THEMSELVES TO MYTHS AND ENDLESS GENEALOGIES, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Tim. 1:3-4).

In addition, view these few verses:


It is not a coincidence with that 1 Timothy 2:12-15 discusses teaching (discussed in 1:3). In addition, notice that chapter 2 discusses genealogy (“Adam was first formed, then Eve”), which is also discussed in 1:4) and myth (“and Adam was not deceived”), which is discussed in chapter one, verse 4. Complementarians have made this passage seem more vague and obscure than it really is.

Whenever we seek to study a biblical text, we have to keep in mind that ALL WE HAVE IS THE TEXT! All we have is what the text gives us to make inferences. We have to examine the text in-front of us to discover the setting and background. In my reading of complementarian studies, I have found that many of them seek to make the issue here one of an “overrealized eschatology”; yet and still, the text of 1 Timothy does not discuss an “overrealized eschatology,” but instead, a false doctrine of myths and endless genealogies as we are told from 1 Timothy 1. If they truly seek to examine the text as it is, with its context, they don’t have to look any further than the book of 1 Timothy. To mention an event of 2 Timothy (overrealized eschatology) is to reconstruct the text, to read a later issue back into an earlier situation. It is, in short, bad exegesis!

As if they don’t notice how terrible their response is regarding the false teaching, they turn around and DEMONSTRATE ITS IMPACT!

Look at another excerpt of Moo’s chapter:

“Some of the aspects specifically relevant to 1 Timothy 2:11-15 are:

2. The false teachers HAD PERSUADED MANY WOMEN TO FOLLOW THEM IN THEIR DOCTRINES (1 Timothy 5:15; 2 Timothy 3:6-7)” (177).

Here we see that division and a drifting away of believers occurred in this church. These results are no small things to snuff at! The impact of the false teaching was a mass explosion, according to 1 Timothy itself. How then, can complementarians look at this and conclude, as Moo does, that we don’t have any idea of the impact of the false teaching? Not knowing the nature of the teaching doesn’t excuse away its impact.

Moo doesn’t notice the impact of the false teaching on the church at Ephesus in the first century. If false teaching is as prevalent in the book as Moo shows it to be, then how can this be disregarded when considering the purpose of chapter 2?

For those who want to view this argument, go to the following site and scroll through the table of contents:

For those who desire to read more posts on the blog, please go to the following site:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Apostles" or "Church Messengers"?

Hopefully, those who read this post have read the first two posts on "the Resurrection of Junia." I just posted the article by David Jones at the website of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, so that those who desire to read the article will do so. Please take time to read the article before reading this one.
Today's topic will tackle another combative response of Wayne Grudem's from his book on "Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth" ( I want to again re-emphasize that, while I am not a complementarian, I am also not a feminist. I believe that both sexes should exercise their God-given gifts in the church.

But, as those of you who've read my posts may know, I am currently tackling the problem regarding Junia: who was this person-- male or female? And if Junia was female, was she really an apostle in the church at Rome? I dealt with those issues last night...but one issue still lingers on: what does the word "apostles" mean in this context? Were Andronicus and Junia apostles in the sense that they possessed a God-given ministry? or were they just church representatives passing through Rome?

To start off the debate, let's get a good quote from our "favorite" guy, the distinguished Dr. Wayne Grudem: "Answer 7.2e: The word translated 'apostles' could just mean 'church messengers' here as it does elsewhere in Paul's writings" (EFBT, 226).
Grudem then proceeds to point out a few passages where this meaning is present: John 13:16, 2 Corinthians 8:23, and Philippians 2:25 (not to mention, Romans 16:7, our most important passage for this post).
To be fair, let's examine these three passages outside of Romans 16 where the word "apostles" could really mean "church messengers."

First, we have John 13:16-- "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him" (New American Standard Bible). Grudem believes that this refers to a messenger. And it does. At its basic definition, "apostle" means "one who is sent." The word comes from the Greek word "apostello," meaning "to send forth." It does mean "messenger", at its most basic definition. But note here that Christ is talking to those who would form the twelve apostles in the early church. In verse 17, Jesus says, "if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them." Notice that when He talks about "one who is sent" (v.16), He is referring to the twelve He would go on to give what we know as The Great Commission (Matthew 28). Jesus commissioned the twelve Himself and told them, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). The twelve got their calling from God, not from a church. Notice also that in Matthew 16 when Jesus is talking to Peter, He tells Peter, "and upon this rock I will build my church..." (v.18). Jesus hadn't built His church before renaming Peter; He was starting to gather His church. To call the twelve "church messengers" is to read a later construction back into a text that is, to say the least, "pre-church."
Looking at Matthew 28 once more, there is one more significant thing that we cannot miss; it is found in the preceding verse, verse 18: "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." It's funny that Jesus makes this pronouncement of having "all authority" before He sends out the twelve. This is what Paul makes reference to in our favorite gifts passage, "Ephesians 4," before mentioning the gifts. Let's read Paul's statement:
"Therefore it says, 'When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.'
(Now this expression, 'He ascended,' what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?
He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers" (Eph. 4:8-11).

the verse that Paul quotes in Eph. 4:8 is a reference to Psalm 68:18 and Colossians 2:15. Read both verses in their contexts (surrounding verses), and you will see that in order to receive the gifts, Christ had to "disarm the rulers and authorities." And what happens when one ruler prevails over another? The defeated ruler in history had to pay tribute. This is where the saying, "To the victor belongs the spoils" was born. Whoever won the battle got the riches-- gold, silver, servants, women, etc. When Christ triumphed over Satan and his authorities, Christ received the authority (having defeated death, hell, and the grave) in order to give authority to His church. And the purpose for this was so that Christ could make good on His promise, "...upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." In order for Christ to make this promise, He knew that He would go to the cross and defeat Satan and his kingdom. As a result, He had the power to then leave gifts with His church. Ephesians 4 lists the gifts.
Christ mentions His victory to the twelve before sending them out, which shows that they were not going out through the church, but because of Christ. They were going out in order to "build" Christ's church. In so doing, they had Christ's support (His power and authority) with them. In addition, this task was not for a limited time (as that of a church messenger); instead, this was a lifelong task of reaching the lost for Christ.

Next, we have 2 Corinthians 8:23-- "As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ" (NASB). The word for "messengers" here is "apostolois." Context here dictates these men are some sort of church messengers. 2 Corinthians 9 tell us what the underlying situation is for 2 Corinthians 8: "Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all" (2 Cor. 9:13). So we find that the context of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 involve the church at Corinth sending a contribution to the Macedonians (2 Cor. 9:2). These men involved are "appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work" (2 Cor. 8:19), so the title of "apostle" here has more to do with church delegation than the spiritual office itself.

In Philippians 2:25, Epaphroditus is sent by Paul to the church at Philippi: "But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus...who is also your messenger and minister to my need." Paul calls Epaphroditus "your messenger" and "minister to my need." Epaphroditus is serving as a church messenger ("your messenger"); but notice that Paul says more about him: Epaphroditus is a "fellow soldier." Not only does he work alongside Paul ("fellow worker"), but he is also one who "battles" alongside Paul. An ordinary worker could work hard for Paul, as did Mary in Romans 16:6, but every worker beside Paul was not a "fellow soldier." The fact that Paul refers to Epaphroditus as such lets us know that Epaphroditus "fought" alongside Paul, did the work of ministry beside Paul, went where Paul went, did what Paul did. He was not just a simple church messenger, for if he was, he would have been appointed by the churches. Notice that Paul sends him to the church (2:25). Let's look at what Paul writes about Epaphroditus: "Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me" (Phil. 2:29-30). Paul tells the church to hold Epaphroditus in high regard. The fact that Paul makes him an example to follow shows that Epaphroditus was not just a mere church messenger. When Paul refers to Titus, for example, he calls him "my partner and fellow worker" (2 Cor. 8:23). What did Titus do as Paul's "fellow worker?" "for this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you" (Titus 1:5). Titus, as an apostle, was supposed to establish churches on the island of Crete. He was an apostle, just as much as Paul was. Even he was not a mere messenger. With Epaphroditus, Paul refers to him as a "minister to my need." Paul chose to send Epaphroditus because he was close to him, but also because Epaphroditus served in that same office-- as an apostle whose job consisted of watching over the churches. Paul did not just send ordinary people, those without a calling, to the churches. If a person was sent, it was because Paul had seen testimony of such a witness in their lives. This is best seen in how Paul was hesitant to allow John Mark to come along with he and Barnabas (Acts 15:37-38).

Last but not least, let's look at the passage from Romans 16:7. In context, there is nothing that would make one believe that Andronicus and Junias were church messengers. If they were church messengers, they would have been sent to another church or place for a set purpose. When Paul writes to the church at Rome about Phoebe, he says, "our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea" (16:1). Phoebe, then, is serving here as a church messenger, while also being a woman in leadership at her church. So even Phoebe, while serving as a church messenger, is not someone without spiritual authority in her church!! Phoebe wasn't just a church messenger without authority, and neither are Andronicus and Junia apostles without authority. Notice that in Romans 16:7, no other church is given. They are not representatives coming to Rome from another church-- they are believers in the church at Rome! Paul salutes them, then, not because they're "running errands" for churches-- but because they're apostles at Rome, a man and woman of spiritual authority in the church!

I think this post has dealt with the attack by Wayne Grudem, David Jones, and others about Andronicus and Junia being just church messengers. Don't worry-- in case more attacks come, more scriptural combat will follow.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Resurrection of Junia (Part II)

In my last post on Romans 16:7 and the disputed name (Junia/Junias), I mentioned David Jones, a prominent scholar and member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, who argues that "iounian" is really "Junias," although it could be a woman. I just read a little while ago his 16-page article titled "A Female Apostle?: A Lexical-Syntactical Analysis of Romans 16:7," and I highly recommend that those who read widely on this subject take a hard long look at it (

Jones is careful to do his research. However, there are problems (as one could imagine). In his section titled "Evidence from Greek Literature," he correctly notes that the names "Junia" and "Junias" are rarities in Greek literature-- but the evidence works against him. David Jones writes at the end of part I of his article, "Perhaps I could sum it up this way: if I were serving on the NIV revision committee, my recommendation to the committee would be to translate the name Junias, but to acknowledge with a footnote the possibility that the name could refer to a woman named Junia" (6). Jones makes it clear what side he's on-- he believes the name should be translated in the masculine. But what evidence does he give for this? in his section on Greek Literature, he notes that both Junia and Junias are rarities in Greek literature; but what he doesn't see in his own research is that, while both names are rarities in Greek, the only evidence he presents is for "Junia." First, he mentions the reference in Romans 16:7 (which he assumes is debatable); then, he mentions "Junia, who was both the wife of Cassius and the sister of Brutus (one of the men who murdered Julius Caesar(3); last but not least, he finds a partially-erased inscription which reads, "[ ] ia Torquata." Whatever the name was, the fact that it had an "ia" ending reveals to us that this was a woman's name. No man's name in the first century, nor today, will end in an "ia." If someone claims this to be true, call a man "Maria" whose name is "Mario," and I'll be glad to talk to "Mario" and ask him how it feels...

Therefore, while "Neither the male nor the female versions of this name were common in Greek literature" (3) surely, Junia appears in these evidences...and where is the case for "Junias"? There isn't a case, because the name didn't exist.

Jones gives himself away again on his section called "Evidence from Latin Literature": "In Latin writings Junia appears as a fairly common woman's name while Junias, the man's name, is virtually nonexistent. There is a masculine equivalent to Junia in Latin, but it is Junius, which then translated into Greek is 'Iounios,' not 'Iounias'" (3). Junias is nowhere to be found not only in Greek literature, but Latin as well. According to Eldon Jay Epp in his book (I recommended in my first post on the Resurrection of Junia), the name Junia is mentioned at least 250 times in historical literature, while "Junias" is nonexistent. How does Jones attempt to account for this apparent "imaginary" name? "This absence of the male equivalent (to Junia) could be explained by the process of forming nicknames in Greek" (3). Did you read that? Notice that it "could be explained." Yes, surely, it is possible that it could; but where's the evidence? Show me in all of Greek and Latin literature where the name is mentioned. It isn't. Looking for the name "Junias" in the historical research is like looking for the name "Shaquilla." "Shaquilla" is a contemporary name and chances are, it won't be found in any ancient literature.

In section E, "The Evidence from the Early Church Fathers," Jones notes John Chrysostom's belief that the person "Iounian" was Junia, and that she was quite a woman to be named an apostle. But then note Jones's sarcasm: "It is important to recognize, however, that Chrysostom did not take Junia to be an authoritative apostle, but rather as an apostle in a secondary sense, as one commissioned by the church for a certain task (cf. Acts 13:2-3; 14:14)" (5).
I find it fascinating that Jones uses these scriptures as his justification. If one looks at the context of Acts 13, one will discover that first, "prophets and teachers" are mentioned (13:1), and, secondly, the Holy Spirit is the one who commissions Paul and Barnabas: "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" (13:2). The Holy Spirit is the one who called Paul and Barnabas and told the church that He called them to this work in verse 2. Paul and Barnabas, in this context, are not "commissioned by the church" as Jones states; they are called of God. This calling by the Holy Spirit, then, is that of the office of Apostle, not a simple representative or one sent to do a task by a church. After all, it would be Paul who would later state in Romans 11:13, "Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry..."(English Standard Version). Paul then, considered being an "apostle" as more than a simple church task-- it was a ministry, a constant, continuous spiritual work that he dedicated himself to. It was not a task given by a church, but by the Lord. If Junia was given the work of Acts 13 and 14, then Junia truly had authority as an apostle. What apostle in Scripture, known as such, lacked authority in the churches? There is no such distinction between an "authoritative" and a "non-authoritative" apostle. This wording indicates Jones's inherent bias against women in authority. I smell a "1 Timothy 2" rat here...hmmm...

In his last section of evidence from the church fathers, Jones uses one example of a "Junias" mentioned: "Epiphanius (AD 315-403), bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, writing perhaps just prior to Chrysostom's comments on Rom. 16:7, includes a reference to Iounian in his Index of Disciples: 'Junias, of whom Paul makes mention, became bishop of Apameia of Syria'" (5). It seems that Jones has found such an example of "Junias"-- but the problem still remains: why is it that Jones provides a fourth and fifth-century example when he knows as a renown scholar that Paul writes his letter in the first century AD? Epiphanius then, had an interpretation that was the only one altogether. This does not shatter his attack on Brooten. He looks bad for not finding an example from the first century. He digs his hole much deeper here, after not having any evidence for "Junias" from Greek and Latin literature.

As if Jones's evidence against "Junia" is not poor enough, he then tries to attack her apostleship. In his section on "The Context of Romans 16," Jones writes:
"Andronicus and Iounian are buried amidst a virtual potpourri of greetings that Paul extends to members of the Roman church. It seems odd that Paul would not refer to two apostles until well into his greetings; one would think that they would be more prominent among the individuals mentioned. The fact that he mentions Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila, and others first suggests that Andronicus and Iounian were not as prominent in his mind" (9). This becomes Jones's first reason against Junia as an Apostle. His problem, however, lies in "One would think..." Placing this as a justification against Junia is no justification at all. Jones has failed here to provide examples of such writing in Paul's letters. He fails to study significant persons in all of Paul's greetings and show us a consistent pattern of where Paul mentions the "most authoritative" persons first. He fails to even research this, but instead, appeals to what "one would think." This is not scholarship-- just an intellectually lazy reason to bump Junia from her rightful place.

On to Jones's next reason for a "non-authoritative apostleship": "Andronicus and Iounian do not receive the extravagant praise that these others do, like Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila. Why would two prominent apostles be given less praise?" (9) What does an "extravagant praise" have to do with their authority? Phoebe, Prisca, and Aquila are all mentioned in the way Paul does because they have done specific things for Paul: Phoebe has supported Paul, and Prisca and Aquila worked with him as tentmakers (Acts 18:1-3). He had a lot more to say because he spent more time with them and Phoebe than he did his kinsmen. Notice that Paul greets other kinsman, such as "Herodion" (Rom. 16:11), about whom he had nothing to mention. However, he mentions Rufus, and Rufus's mother, whom he says, "has been a mother to me as well" (16:13b).
Now, on to what Paul actually says about Andronicus and Junia: "my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners...they are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me" (16:7). First, they are his kinsmen, his relatives; secondly, they are his "fellow prisoners"; third, they stand out from the apostles; and fourth, they were in Christ before he was. With all he notes about Andronicus and Junia, how can it be mistaken that Paul doesn't offer any "extravagant praise" for him? Once again, Jones is grasping at straws, attempting to find any and every little thing to keep from acknowledging Junia's apostleship.

Notice his third reason against Junia's office: "If we are to understand the gender of Iounian to be feminine, the fact that she is mentioned second to Andronicus suggests that she may have been less prominent than he was" (9). But look at what he places in parentheses: "(cp. the order in v.3, where Prisca is mentioned first)." If Jones wants to play the "order game," where order equals importance and ability, then Priscilla was more gifted than her husband-- and Paul doesn't have a problem admitting that to the church at Rome. Mentioning Junia second may very well mean that Junia had a "less prominent" role than Andronicus; but how does being "less prominent" replace the fact that Junia was still "prominent"? About Andronicus and Junia, Paul says that they are "outstanding among the apostles." They are noteworthy, they are of special mention to Paul. How is that degrading because she may or may have not been "less prominent" than Andronicus? As I've stated in a few posts, gender-biased scholars will focus on the little small things such as "less authority" because they don't wanna admit that Junia had authority. She was an apostle, and all the apostles had authority in the early church. They were all church leaders-- although some had more authority and greater tasks than others. But what does this have to do with Junia not being an "authoritative apostle"?

Next, he tries to use 3 Maccabees 6 (an apocryphal text) to show that the Greek phrase "en tois apostolois" really means "to the apostles": "whatever Paul means in Romans 16:7, he does not intend to say that Andronicus and Iounian are the most prominent of the apostles, or else he could have used the genitive case (as in 3 Maccabees 6:1) to heighten the comparison" (10). Now, Paul "could have used" the genitive! It seems as if, to save his own presupposition, Jones must now deny the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that drove Paul to write the way he did. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God..." For Jones to question how Paul wrote something shows that he is willing to deny the Holy Spirit's inspiration to write Scripture just to save his gender bias against Junia. The moment Paul acknowledges a woman, now Paul must have been a little beside himself!
Well, to prove Jones wrong, I found a passage, Matthew 20:26, where Jesus is discussing rank in the apostolic order. Interestingly enough, the Greek phrase says, "hos ean thele in humin megas," which translates to (in the English Standard Version), "whoever would be great among you." The phrase "en humin" here translates to "among you." Notice here that Jesus uses the adjective "great," followed by "among you." He first points out something that is above the rest of the apostles. Now look at Romans 16:7-- the phrase there in the Greek is "hoitines eisin episemoi en tois apostolois." The first word, "hoitines," is very similar to Jesus' word "whoever" in Matthew 20:26; the second word, "are," is the plural verb for Andronicus and Junia, just as Jesus used the verb "estai" (will be). Next, Paul uses a qualifier for these two persons, "episemoi," which means "outstanding" or "noteworthy." Jesus uses the word "megalas," which means "great," a qualifier for his statement.

Now, Paul uses the phrase "en tois apostolois." This is where the translation gets interesting. In Matthew 20:26, the phrase translates to "among you (all)." The "great" would stand above the rest. But this is where some scholars stop...and instead of translating the phrase as "among the apostles," they translate it as "well-known to the apostles" (such as translators of the English Standard Version and others). The problem with this is that there is a qualifier for these two persons: they are not just apostles, but of special emphasis for Paul. That, alone, makes them two who stand out from the rest of the group. But then, notice that Paul says about them, "they were in Christ before me" (Romans 16:7b). He is writing this greeting to them because he knows of their work in the faith and how they labored in his presence. If Paul were writing to greet other apostles, he surely would have mentioned them in his letter, as he mentions "Gaius" (v.23), "Timothy" (v.21), "Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater" (v. 21), as well as "Erastus" (v.23). None of these men are called "apostles." Paul does not mention another apostle in the letter, only Andronicus and Junia. While Paul is not mentioning himself as being of the group here, he is making it clear that there were a group of apostles at the church at Rome, and that, of them, these two are unique from the group. The ESV seems to not disagree with "among you" of Matthew 20:26; but when it gets to this verse, they seem to have a gender bias that keeps them from rendering this in the traditional manner.

There is so much more to write on this subject, and I will write soon. Next time, I will attack Wayne Grudem's translation of "tois apostolois" of Romans 16:7 as "church messengers."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Resurrection of Junia

In case you're seeing one of my posts for the first time, let me make it clear that my job is to find out what the Bible says about men and women in the church. While I will often combat complementarians on this site, and may even sound harsh at times (although I don't like to), I am also not a feminist. I don't believe that women and only women should have leadership in our churches. A good 'ole boys network nor a good 'ole girls network will do.

Instead, God has designed two genders, male and female, and has given them both dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26). So the church should be composed of men and women in leadership who love God and exercise their gifts to His glory.

Last time, I discussed Deborah's role as a prophetess and how women serving as prophets (one of the highest gifts according to Ephesians 4) aids the defense for women in ministry. Today, I'm gonna spend time on women as apostles-- and to aid this discussion, we have the question regarding Junia in Romans 16:7-- is the name "Junia" or "Junias?"

Romans 16:7 reads: "Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me."

Wayne Grudem tackles this topic in his book, "Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth" ( In response to feminist assertions that Junia's apostleship opens the door for women, Grudem responds (Answer 7.2a): "The name that is spelled "iounian" in the Greek text of Romans 16:7 could be either a man's name or a woman's name simply according to the spelling...just as in English there are some names (such as Chris or Pat) that could be either a man's name or a woman's name, so in Greek, this name could be either masculine or feminine, and we cannot tell from the spelling alone" (224).

For those who desire a good response to Grudem (or any other complementarian), read Eldon Jay Epp's book entitled "Junia-- the first woman apostle." This book, written in 2005, shows how the issue of "junia/junias" became an issue when it wasn't one for a long period of time: "...for the first seven centuries of the church's life Greek manuscripts did not employ accents (in the name), but when accents did become common practice in the manuscript tradition...they uniformly identify the name as feminine...there is no Greek manuscript extant that umambiguously identifies Andronicus's partner as a male...that consistent pattern coheres with the evidence offered by early Christian writers for the first thousand years of the church's life and well into the second thousand years. Theologians as diverse as Origen, Ambrosiaster, John Chrysostom, Jerome, Theodoret, John Damascene, Peter Abelard, and Peter Lombard, assume that the partner of Andronicus is a woman by the name of Junia...only with the thirteenth century Aegidius of Rome, and especially with Martin Luther's translation, did the view arise that Junia was in fact a male, Junias. Finally, and not of least importance, the female name Junia is a widely attested Roman name, but there exists no evidence for the use of the masculine forms 'Junias' or 'Junianus'" (foreword, x-xi).

There are those who seek to attack "Junia" because they believe that a woman could never be an apostle. Epp discusses the editor's comment regarding Romans 16:7 in Bruce Metzger's "Textual Commentary to UBS" (1994): "Some members, considering it unlikely that a woman would be among those styled 'apostles,' understood the name to be masculine ("iounian"- Junias), thought to be a shortened form of 'Junianus'...others, however, were impressed by the facts that (1) the female Latin name Junia occurs more than 250 times in Greek and Latin inscriptions found in Rome alone, whereas the male name Junias is unattested anywhere, and (2) when Greek manuscripts began to be accented, scribes wrote the feminine 'Iounian ('Junia')" (Epp, 54). The historical research that gives credence to Junia's name is all there-- but yet and still, there are biased scholars who deny the truth even when it's staring them in the face. Evidently, research isn't an objective activity anymore.

At the end of Grudem's analysis, he concludes that the name of the mysterious apostle beside Andronicus is Junia (EFBT, 226) from the earliest citations by church fathers. However, other forces out there, such as David Jones (from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) have attempted to argue for "Junias." The problems with this interpretation have already been given: there is no research present for the name itself. When there is no research, and scholars "forge" research anyway, what do we have? A made-up, fictional character like Peter Pan to believe in. And I don't know about you, but I'm too mature for fairy tales...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Reading With Common Sense

“When I was in seminary, one of my favorite professors, John Sailhamer, programmed into our heads that Scripture itself contains the most important clues to inform us today of the historical situation in which the books of Bible were written. He told us that he spent eight years formally studying ancient Near Eastern history at the University of Southern California only to find out that he didn’t need such an exotic education in order to read the Scriptures with understanding. It was mainly under his influence that I began to read the Bible anew, paying close attention to the clues that are there in the text.

ALMOST EVERY LINE OF SCRIPTURE GIVES US HINTS ABOUT THE HISTORICAL SITUATION. Sometimes it tells us what the people needed to be reminded of, and sometimes it tells us what they needed to be taught for the first time. IN MANY CASES, IT TELLS US SPECIFICALLY WHAT THE RECIPIENTS OF THE TEXT WERE THINKING OR DOING. For instance, in Galatians, when Paul said to the churches, ‘Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another’ (Galatians 5:26), we can safely guess that Christians in Galatia were competing, not cooperating, with each other” (Sarah Sumner, “Men and Women in the Church,” pp.236-37).

Sumner, once again, helps us see that hermeneutics itself, while sounding like a fancy exercise, really isn’t—the average person CAN read the Bible with understanding and make sense of Scripture. As a Protestant, I stand behind Martin Luther in this regard and proclaim that the average person can read the Bible with understanding.

1 Timothy 2 is no exception to this rule. The chapter can be read with understanding and the chapter can make sense to the person in the pew as well as the Professor in the seminary. But sometimes, I fear that believers have gotten so engrossed in seminaries and Bible colleges all across the country, that the simple techniques for Bible reading have gone neglected—and in most cases, forgotten.

What is the story behind 1 Timothy 2:13-14? Paul gives the prohibition against women in 2:12, but then provides a justification for so doing in verses 13 and 14. The reason why I would like to spend time on this is because so much discussion has been paid to these two verses. The traditional argument will tell you that by virtue of Adam’s being the head of creation and Eve’s deception, that the male should be the only one to lead in the church. As I’ve stated before, however, if you approach the text from this standpoint, you’ve got to affirm that all women everywhere—at all ages and at all times—will be more prone to deception than men are. And if you make that argument, then you’re stomped by the fact that 1 Peter 3 refers to women as having a “weaker” vessel—which doesn’t EXCLUDE men from being physically weak either! If you wanna read the rest of my discussion on 1 Peter 3, please see my blog post called “Schreiner’s Biological Argument Overturned” under the section at my blog called “Philosophical Factors” (

On to our task—of finding out what verses 13 and 14 of this controversial chapter of 1 Timothy are all about…

12(A) I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13(B) For Adam was formed first,(C) then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but(D) the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15Yet she will be saved through(E) childbearing—if they continue in(F) faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:12-15, ESV).

Looking at verses 13 and 14, the common misconception (as noted above) has prevailed. But I think we miss Paul’s argument because we focus so much on ANALYZING the text—we’re always so preoccupied with what the text MEANS, instead of what the text SAYS. Oftentimes, our need to find the meaning without knowing the saying leads us into all types of interpretive complications that could be avoided if we read the text for what it is.

I don’t think I need to remind you that verses 13 and 14 are a reference to Genesis. Everyone on both sides of the debate—whether complementarians or egalitarians—affirm that both verses allude to Genesis 3, the Fall. Let’s pair up verses 13 and 14 with Genesis 3:

1 Timothy 2:13— “For Adam was formed first, then Eve;

Genesis 2:7—“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

Genesis 2:22—“And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

1 Timothy 2:13 argues a set creation order, but all it does is ECHO the creation order that is recorded in Genesis 2—Paul never comments on the creation order. All the commentaries and books I have read that seek to COMMENT on this creation order add to the text. Paul doesn’t say that Eve was formed second and that made her inferior, or Eve was formed second and that makes her less able to lead. These are all presuppositions of tradition that are not demonstrated in the text.
Next, let’s look at 1 Timothy 2:14 and pair it up with its parallel reference in Genesis:

1 Timothy 2:14--14and Adam was not deceived, but(D) the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Genesis 2:16,17—16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil(A) you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[a] of it you(B) shall surely die."

Genesis 3:13—13Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said,(A) "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

Why does Paul write, “And Adam was not deceived”? I think Sarah Sumner hits on something vital when she tells us that, from what we read, we can infer the situation. Paul is having to defend Eve being deceived, but Adam NOT being deceived. Why is that, when Genesis NEVER states that Adam was deceived? The reason? Because there was a following in the church at Ephesus (most likely the women) who argued that Adam was deceived instead of Eve!

According to the philosophical concept called “Ockham’s Razor,” the answer to challenging passages of Scripture can be solved with the following: “The easiest answer is ALWAYS the best explanation.” Complementarians have sat around for years wringing their heads, striving to find a way to justify Paul’s reference to Genesis; but I think they’ve wasted so much time analyzing a passage that Paul didn’t analyze. Paul doesn’t write to ANALYZE—he writes to DEFEND! Paul quotes Genesis to uphold the Law in a church where the Law was being abused because of “myths and endless genealogies” (1 Timothy 1).

So how would I interpret 1 Timothy 2:12-15? As the text SAYS. Women should not teach that they are “authentein” (to be the origin) of man. Why? Because Genesis tells us otherwise: “Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Adam was the origin of mankind and Eve was deceived. Genesis records this—and so does Paul’s letter to Timothy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Presupposition Complicates Everything

In my last post, I wrote about Douglas Moo and how he fails to notice the impact of the false teaching on the church at Ephesus—although he spends quite a lot of time referencing it. Here in this post I will show how Moo’s presupposition—as that of the complementarian mind—will not release them to see clearly how they skew the last few verses of 1 Timothy 2 to fit their personal beliefs.

Let’s look again at Douglas Moo’s article, “What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men?”:

“In order to understand 1 Timothy 2:11-15, we need to back up and begin with verse 8, where Paul requests that ‘men everywhere…lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing’…THIS CAUTION ABOUT ANGER AND QUARRELING DURING PRAYER IS ALMOST SURELY OCCASIONED BY THE IMPACT OF THE FALSE TEACHING ON THE CHURCH, for one of the most obvious results of that false teaching was divisiveness and discord (see 1 Timothy 6:4-5)” (178).

Notice that regarding verse 8, Moo says that false teaching was responsible for this disturbance. But notice that verse 8 mentions NOTHING about the false teachers:“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;”

What about verses 9 and 10? Do they relate to false teaching?

“The exhortation of verses 9-10…might also be directed AGAINST THE IMPACT OF THE FALSE TEACHING IN EPHESUS. For ostentatious dress, in the ancient world, sometimes could signal a woman’s loose morals and independence from her husband” (178, 179).

Verses 9 and 10 don’t mention false teaching at all; yet and still, Moo believes that these verses, too, involve the false teachers. What about verse 11?

“In verse 11, he commands them to ‘learn in quietness and full submission’…THESE WOMEN HAD PROBABLY PICKED UP THE DISPUTATIOUS HABITS OF THE FALSE TEACHERS, and Paul must therefore warn them to accept without criticism the teaching of the properly appointed church leaders” (179).

So in verse 11, the false teachers are to blame for women rising up against their instructors. But look at what Moo writes starting at verse 12:

“Verse 12 is the focus of discussion in this passage, for it is here that Paul prohibits the women at Ephesus FROM ENGAGING IN CERTAIN MINISTRIES WITH REFERENCE TO MEN” (180).

Here, Moo doesn’t seem to even CONSIDER the possibility that verse 12, regarding teaching and authority have ANYTHING to do with the false teachers! However, he doesn’t seem hesitant to acknowledge verses 8-11 concern false teachers (although there is no direct evidence from the text). The only two things Moo addresses with regard to verse 12 are whether or not Paul is appealing to all women or wives only, and whether or not “epitrepo” (the Greek infinitive) is translated “permit” or “forbid.”

After discussing these two things, Moo goes into what constitutes the nature of teaching that Paul is prohibiting. However, Moo just said earlier in his article that no one knew the nature of the false teaching! Next, he asks a question:


Instead of explaining what this verse means, Moo simply jumps to what “teaching” would have been discussed here. And the answer he gives is totally based on presupposition:“In light of these considerations, we argue that the teaching prohibited to women here includes what we would call preaching…and the teaching of Bible and doctrine in the church, in colleges, and in seminaries. Other activities—leading Bible studies, for instance- may be included, depending on how they are done” (181).

Once again, what “authority” over men is not given in the text—but somehow, complementarians ASSUME it refers to ecclesiastical authority. Adam however, didn’t have ECCLESIASTICAL authority over his wife, but HOME authority—being the head of his household (Genesis 3). The church hadn’t been created yet, so how could Adam receive “headship over the church” from God? Secondly, notice that Ephesians 5 refers to Christ as “head of the church.” Christ, then, NEVER relinquished His title as “Head of the church” to anybody—not even husbands. What other authority did Adam have PRIOR to Genesis 3—authority given to him as THE FIRST HUMAN! This is why he was allowed to name his wife—because he was created first! There is authority that came with being the first human; but we can’t take that and read a much-later created church authority back into a text that is much older. While Paul later wrote in Ephesians 5 that Adam and Eve were concerning Christ and the Church, he doesn’t say that Adam and Eve were a symbol of LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH!

Moo simply fails to address his biggest issue—his presupposition. We’ve seen it through his exposition of verses 8-15. When someone can address every other verse as referring to false teachers EXCEPT verse 12, there seems to be something suspicious happening. Presupposition complicates EVERYTHING…

- DMR (

Spiritual Privileges and Spiritual Gifts

I finally worked up the courage to return to reading material for Wayne Grudem and John Piper’s book called “Rediscovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” Today I read chapter 7, entitled “Role Distinctions in the Church (Galatians 3:28)” by S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. The entire chapter was written to demonstrate that, while Galatians 3:28 allows us all to be on equal footing “in Christ” and “before God,” such status does not eliminate social distinctions (for instance, being male or female).

I want to take time, however, to focus on some key statements Johnson makes and demonstrate where his argument fails.First, on page 151 of Grudem and Piper’s book, Johnson writes (regarding Galatians 3:28),

“The universal privilege of sonship in the present age through union with Christ is Paul’s point, and it sets the tone of the context for interpreting verse twenty-eight. PAUL’S EMPHASIS IS ON SPIRITUAL STATUS IN CHRIST, “THE SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGE OF BEING THE SONS OF GOD” (151). Notice that Johnson calls being a child of God a “spiritual privilege.” But aren’t spiritual gifts “spiritual privileges” as well? I mean, gifts do come from the Spirit:11All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit,(W) who apportions to each one individually(X) as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:11, ESV).

The Spirit gives the gifts as He sees fit, which means that the Spirit gives gifts to both genders—to each man and woman according to what He decides to do. The Holy Spirit does not consult the “Council of Complementarians” when He chooses to gift His people—He does it without answering to anyone because He is God and is free to do as He pleases. When referring to the context of Galatians 3:28, Johnson writes:“…it must…be remembered that in this context Paul is not speaking of relationships in the family and church, but of STANDING BEFORE GOD IN RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH” (153). Did you notice that? Johnson (and thus, Grudem and Piper) do what Sumner accuses them of—they place women as equals to themselves BEFORE GOD, but not before GOD’S PEOPLE!

“…Piper and Grudem qualify women’s status as ‘fully equal…before God.’ They affirm the status of women in the presence of the Lord BUT NOT IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD’S PEOPLE. It sounds pleasant for every Christian man to feel ‘in his heart’ that God sees Christian women as men’s equals. But it doesn’t strike me as being challenging. It’s easy to give assent to God’s impartiality toward women. The biblical teaching is much harder. The Bible makes it plain that every believer is expected to become impartial too (1 Tim. 5:21)’” (Sumner, “Men and Women in the Church, pp. 280-81).

Now, I want you the reader, to notice something about a former connection I made. In a post I wrote a few days ago, called “Encountering Church Tradition,” I stated that, if we were saved by grace through faith, and are all welcome to be baptized in Christ, then why is it that, after salvation, the gifts (given through grace) suddenly become based on social distinctions? That doesn’t make any sense! Well, believe it or not, I’ve finally found a verse-to-verse connection that will demonstrate the point I was trying to make in that post. Let’s look at Galatians 3:26-28 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-13—

Galatians 3:26-28 (ESV)—“ 26for in Christ Jesus(AV) you are all sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as(AW) were baptized(AX) into Christ have(AY) put on Christ. 28(AZ) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free,(BA) there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (ESV)—“ 12For just as(Y) the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body,(Z) so it is with Christ. 13For(AA) in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—(AB) Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and(AC) all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

Do you notice something between these two passages? Galatians 3 tells us that we were baptized into Christ; 1 Corinthians 12 tells us that we were baptized in one Spirit. What these two passages are telling us is that, when we accepted Christ, not only did we put on Christ, but we were also given His Holy Spirit. We “were made to drink of one Spirit,” which means that the Spirit was part of this baptism. If we were given spiritual privileges at the moment of our salvation, then we were also given spiritual gifts at this baptism—which means that the spiritual gifts are SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGES!

This is so important because Johnson, Grudem, and Piper have spent time arguing that we get spiritual privileges as sons of God—but if we get spiritual privileges, and we are baptized into the Spirit as well—then we also receive spiritual gifts, which are PART of the spiritual privileges (or spiritual inheritance)! And how do we know a person receives a spiritual gift? God visibly manifests it in the lives of those whom He gives the gifts to-- and everyone else around them can see it as clear as day. I want to address gifts and offices, but I’ll do it in my next post.

- DMR (

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An Inconsistent Hermeneutic

The more I study the text of 1 Timothy 2, I am convinced that the issue of women in ministry is not a matter of who adheres to God’s Word or not, or whether one believes the Bible to be the ultimate authority or not. As a theological conservative, I believe that God’s Word is the highest authority in the land—and nothing stands taller than God’s Word. However, the issue comes down to one thing in particular—HERMENEUTICS!

Hermeneutics is defined as “the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible).” Hermeneutics consists SOLELY of interpreting Scripture. The job of the teacher, preacher, or pastor is NOT to invent Scripture, or REWRITE what they believe the writer intended. Their job is to find the intention behind the text, and to interpret ONLY what is there.This principle can be seen in the argument between complementarians and egalitarians over the issue of submission in the home. Ephesians 5 is the debated passage.

Look at Ephesians 5: 21 (ESV):“submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”Now, look at Ephesians 5:22 (ESV):22(AR) Wives,(AS) submit to your own husbands,(AT) as to the Lord.There are some egalitarians who look at Ephesians 5:21 (which stresses mutual submission) and they use it to argue that husbands and wives must both submit to each other—hence, men do not have any authority over their wives in the home. However, if that’s true, what do we do with Ephesians 5:22?

On the other side, there are the complementarians who say that Ephesians 5:21 applies to a different situation than does Ephesians 5:22. How are we to interpret these two verses? They say that we should look at context, the background of the letter, the flow of thought with these two verses. Looking at Ephesians 5:21, we see that the context, the verses prior to it, vv. 19-20, show us that the context refers to a gathering of people: “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”The context here seems to involve “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (5:19). Ephesians 5:3 shows us that the letter is written among the saints. In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul refers to “one body and one Spirit” (4:4), a reference to the body of Christ, the church. The background tells us, then, that when Paul refers to mutual submission, he is referring to the church, not the husband and wife context. But then, in Ephesians 5:22, Paul goes into a different type of relationship—he leaves the relationship of church members and goes to the relationships common in households—husbands/wives, then parents/children (6:1-4), and masters/slaves (6:5-9).Verse 22 reads,“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”How do we know that this submission between husband and wife is different from the mutual submission of church members? Because of verses 23 and 24:“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit ineverything to their husbands.”Notice that the husband is compared to Christ in the two analogies. The husband has authority over his wife as Christ has authority over His Church. Secondly, Paul gives a command to wives: “so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” In Ephesians 5:21, Paul has just exhorted the church to submit to one another “out of reverence for Christ.” By submitting to one another in the body of Christ, we submit to Christ.The fact that Paul compares the husband/wife team to Christ and the church and gives a command to wives (as he has just given a command to husbands right before it) indicates to us that there is a similar thought in mind regarding authority in the household as well as in the church.As the biblical evidence shows us, there is simply no basis for the egalitarian claim regarding the household—there is “submission and love,” with the wife submitting to her husband and the husband loving his wife, possessing self-sacrificial love (with his example being Christ and His self-sacrificial love for the church).

Not only does context tell us that this interpretation is correct, but the rest of the canon does so as well. First, there is Genesis 3:16; then there is Eph. .5:22, 24; then there are Colossians 3:18 and 1 Peter 3:1. This is proof from the rest of the canon of Scripture. Yes, there is also proof of mutual submission—but when this occurs, it is in the context of the Body of Christ, the Church. Notice, however, that the complementarian considers context when determining how to interpret Ephesians 5: 21, 22.

However, when complementarians arrive at 1 Timothy 2, they take a different approach all together. Instead of considering the context and background situation, the complementarian scholar instead looks at 1 Timothy 2:12 and says, “See, women can’t be pastors or preach and teach in the public assembly. Why? Because Paul said that a woman can’t have authority over a man in the church.” And they do this without even examining context or background to find out how wrong their interpretation may be. The background of chapter 2 concerns abuses in the church—men are arguing during prayer, and women are wearing very immodest clothing, and rising up against their male instructors in service. Instead of being submissive to their authorities (in this case, their teacher), they rebel and speak so confidently (1 Tim. 1:7) about things that they don’t understand or don’t know where they came from.

I have one wish: that the complementarians would be consistent in their hermeneutical approach; that, just as they use context to defend the submission of the wife in the home, they would use context to support women teaching and preaching in the church (while learning how to deal with those whose preaching and teaching are questionable). As the saying goes, “What’s good for the GOOSE is good for the GANDER."
- Deidre Richardson


Dear CTS Readership,

The distinguished Byron M. Gillory III has left me oversight of the Center for Theological Studies. Byron and I have been friends for about two years now, and he has done a marvelous job of sharing his brilliant mind with the world—all for the glory of God.

I want to take time to share a little about myself: Although I grew up as a conservative Baptist, I attended a church where women’s giftedness was part of the rule, not the exception. God called men and women into His work, and a person’s giftedness was a visible sign of that calling to the church itself. I still believed that the world felt the same as I did—until I entered into my Master of Divinity degree. Upon entering Seminary, I immediately noticed one day that not everyone believed what I did—most of those around me believed that women had a select few tasks they could accomplish for God, with the others left up to men. In the last three years at Seminary, I have been blessed to meet wonderful men and women who have treated me with the utmost kindness and compassion—although I differ from them on women and their tasks in the church at large. My differing view (and theirs), however, has not stopped us from becoming friends, and letting our friendships glorify God. For that and so much more, I am thankful.

It is my intention, dear CTS readership, to exercise oversight of this blog with the utmost care and concern. The subject matter discussed will still concern those things of which Byron has always been passionate about. He will still post to the blog regularly (and I expect him to!). I can’t do this all alone, and I want him to continue to challenge me as he always has. With my new contributions to the blog, however, a new subject matter will be discussed which has not—that is, the issue of women in ministry, and what Scripture has to say regarding this matter.

Often in my contributions I will go against the traditionalist view. You must understand that I grew up a traditionalist, believing what I was told about women for so long. It has taken such a growth in the Lord as well as a bold courage and greater study of Scripture to change my mind regarding God’s work for women.

All I ask is that you would pray for me, Byron, and the work done here at CTS. I pray that whatever I say or do here would glorify God, and that His people would be blessed as a result of it.

For those who desire to see more of my work than that which is posted here, please go to my blog:

All for Him, Deidre M. Richardson