About Women, Authority, Teaching and the Church
Priscilla & Aquila
Divide and conquer! This is one of Satan’s most effective tactics in spiritual warfare. The obvious differences between men and women, as we perceive them, provide Satan with some easy targets. The hurt, bitterness, competition, conflict and anger existing between male and female in the body of Christ, is sad testimony to the effectiveness of Satan’s deception.
Satan’s cunning use (or misuse) of the words of God is a good example. Many of us, who willingly follow his example, need to be aware that using God’s words for selfish purposes is SIN and will lead to destruction. If quoted scripture provokes contention, contention was the intention. Most probably, all of God’s words on the subject were not used, just enough to express a selfish point-of-view. God’s words have His nature, loving kindness. If brothers and sisters would find love, it must be found by first seeking the KINGDOM OF GOD and His Righteousness. Trying to prove we are right is never pleasing to God. Only when we, as Jesus, are willing to give up everything, doctrine, desire, position, yes, even life itself, will His love be expressed through us.
The best place to start, is at the beginning, specifically, Genesis 1:26. God created man in the image of the full God-head (Father, Son & Holy Spirit). Male and female were created in the image of God. We are both in the image of God. It really says that, doesn’t it?
In Genesis 2:7, God formed man of the dust of the earth. Man was created in Chap. One but was not given an earthly form until later. It appears, since man was formed of the dust of the earth, that the man we can see is only for our time here on earth. Then God saw it was not a good thing for man to be alone so He took an earthly part of Adam and made that part into Eve, equally earthly and dusty. God then said, “… they shall become one flesh.”
In the third chapter of Genesis, the serpent (Satan) spoke to the woman (one half of man) and deceived her. She did not ask her other half (Adam), if what God said was true, she made her decision (she had her rights) to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil on her own. In doing so, she denied God’s proclamation that they were one flesh. (Her husband, though, knew firsthand what God said and knowingly chose to follow suit.) Later, while meting out punishment to Eve for her role in the Sin, God declared that her husband was to rule over her. He did not say that she was an inferior being but that she was to come under her husband’s authority and protection. Apparently because she ignored God’s declaration of their oneness in the flesh and had acted on her own. The declaration was God’s, not man’s’. When the ramifications of her selfish choice are considered, we have to marvel at God’s love in providing woman with protection and comfort rather than with the condemnation we might have chosen to apply.
With man’s authority over woman so clearly established by God, it is nothing less than astounding that men would command women to come under their authority. We need to recognize that all authority comes from God, which relieves men of the obligation to enforce it. When a woman is disobedient to her husband while he is fulfilling God’s admonition to love her and to treat her as the weaker vessel, she can anticipate meeting God in her situation, as He will surely bring loving correction her way. When that correction does not come, her husband may be operating in his own authority rather than love. Should he be functioning as his wife’s benefactor, rather than her servant, he would do well to read the words of our Savior in Luke 22:26. Jesus made it very clear, the chief is the one who serves. Only among the Gentiles (unbelievers) are those in authority called Benefactors, who lord it over others. He specifically forbids believers from using that kind of authority over other believers. His “more perfect way” is love. The current trend, on both sides, is claiming rights or, “knowing what is right.” If any of us can claim to understand how our Lord’s rights were involved in His death upon the cross or how that was right, then let him lecture the rest of us on the superiority of RIGHT(S) over LOVE.
Man’s authority over woman according to Gen. 3:16 has never been revoked, but those sharing that revelation face daily challenges while walking it out. This is resolved as are all other things; trusting our Lord Jesus Christ, living within us, to provide the power once we have made the choice to LOVE above all else. If we find ourselves insisting on a set of rules for the “other” people, perhaps our hearts are set upon the flesh rather than the spirit. If so, it would be wise to surrender to Jesus as Lord of our lives.
Priscilla & Aquila
Perhaps a few words on authority in general would be of some benefit. Most of us have been conditioned by the world to view authority only as power and control over others. We have been trained to accept that those in authority have dominance or command over people. In other words, to be authoritarian is to be stern, strong willed, rigid and domineering. Consider our Heavenly Father’s departure from that format when He chose Moses to lead His children out of Egypt, with full authority over them.
Moses, about 80 years of age, was called aside by God while tending his Ethiopian Father-in-law’s sheep clear out on the backside of the desert. Told by God to go to Egypt, Moses could only muster a very non-assertive, “Who am I?” That does not sound like the voice of authority as we have learned it. Because he couldn’t speak well, his Brother Aaron went to speak for him. Later, after the Lord performed many miracles through him (the plagues of Egypt, parting the Red Sea, bringing water from the rock, receiving the Ten Commandments, etc.), God still described Moses as very meek, above all men on the face of the earth. This account was of the rebellion by Aaron and Miriam against Moses’ rule. (Num. Chap. 12) The love of God, unimpeded by his pride, prompted Moses to pray for God to heal Miriam of leprosy with which she was afflicted as punishment for her rebellion. His meekness enabled him to be merciful, not macho. Each time the people rebelled, Moses interceded for them because he, if no one else, knew their rebellion was against God, not him, and that God would enforce His orders.
Authority has been established by God to maintain order in His Kingdom and He will not allow man to use it to elevate or glorify himself. Jesus, a lowly carpenter, is known as the Lamb of God because of His meek ways. Jesus described himself (The King of Kings) thus; “For I am meek and lowly of heart.” (Mat. 11:29)
It surely follows that, in the Kingdom of God, leaders and men in authority under God are meek and humble. Realizing our authority has been granted by almighty God will give us pause to reflect and season it with love. Recognition of God’s steadfastness to enforce His Word by His Power will encourage obedience from those who know and fear the living God. No man is capable of dealing with rebellion in the heart of his wife, or anyone else, and any attempt to do so is only counterproductive and requires action by him of equal or greater sin than the original. The only way to deal with rebellion is by the example of Moses, from an attitude of love and intercessory prayer, pleading God’s mercy upon the offender. Is this not the way of a servant?
The loving advice given in 1 Peter 3:1-6 (identical to Paul’s but with the added credibility of coming from a married man living with his wife) which admonishes wives to be in subjection to their own husbands, does not provide that she first determine if he is right. Peter said, “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” He also called a woman’s adornment, “a meek and quiet spirit which is, in the sight of God, of great price. In verse 7, husbands are instructed to give “honor to the wife as unto the weaker vessel, and being joint heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” If failure to honor our wives will hinder our prayers, God must be serious indeed. Love is not optional in the Kingdom of God.
By now there must be at least a few questions regarding the position of unmarried women in the authority of God as most references tell women to be obedient to their own husbands (and sage advice it is). Most materials on this subject deal with much straining at gnats, swallowing of camels and clever manipulation of Scripture proving opposite points. What remains is to submit ourselves completely to the Father as He instructs us by His Holy Spirit in our answer to this as well as every other question arising over relationships with one another. If we need rigid commandments or rules, we missed Jesus. He didn’t demand His rights or to be right, He suffered and died on the cross to free us from the law of sin and death. His LOVE for us transcended everything else as He demonstrated the MORE PERFECT WAY.
Aquila and Priscilla
Many believers suffer “spiritual malnutrition” from feeding on spiritually empty Bible teachings. Since the day man chose knowledge of good and evil over LIFE in the Garden of Eden, he has been compulsively seeking more and more knowledge. Even after being born again, he continues to experience that fruitless quest of knowing more and more about (essentially) less and less. While he should, and could, be satisfied knowing only, “Jesus, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) he wants to rapidly fill his mind with everything in the Bible plus such doctrines as he can understand and some he can’t. Paul said, “I will not dare to speak of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me…” Rom. 15: 18 Men go to Bible schools and seminaries to learn about the Lord Jesus Christ, then go out into the world to teach others what they have learned, which is nothing. Knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing the man Jesus Christ who indwells the believer. Clearly, in his desire to appear SPIRITUAL before men and to satisfy his own infinitesimal intellect, man will refuse the pure milk of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, ignore His wonderful salvation and gorge himself on the corruptible fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He will come together with others in what is called a “church,” not in praise of God and thanksgiving, but to hear a “sermon” or to have a ‘Bible” study. Beloved, if we will confine ourselves to speaking only those things that Christ has done in us, (our testimony, Rev. 12:11) the Holy Spirit of the Living God can provide all the teachings we REALLY need. It is a heart-wrenching pity to see so many beautiful Christians, once on fire through their contact with the Lord; now so spiritually weak with empty knowledge they can’t keep up with the moves of the Holy Spirit.
The Christian community is rife with educated but unsaved preachers who, through false credentials issued by spiritual imposters and approved by worldly government agencies, illegitimately supplant the true preachers and pastors ordained by God for the teaching and tending of His flock. The called men of God, who are the true guardians of our souls, cannot compromise themselves for state recognition and must, like Paul, earn their own livings while faithless flocks pour their money and substance into the coffers of corrupt and empty schemers preaching gospels which tickle ears. It is proof of their calling that the true “slaves of Jesus” continue to serve without compensation, solely for the glory that awaits those who are faithful to the end.
Paul said, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”(II Tim. 3:16) He did not lie but we do when we use the words of God to teach, reprove, correct or train others without the Holy Spirit directing our use of the Scripture. Just because a teaching is Biblically accurate does not mean that is what God would have us learn at this particular time. Regular reading of the Bible plus the devotion of time usually spent in “Bible studies” to prayer and praising the Lord will give the Holy Spirit opportunity to teach us all things according to our own individual needs. We even find that we do not need “Great Scholars” who can relate interesting trivia and even tell us what the Bible says “in the original Greek, Hebrew or whatever. (There is a place for scholars, make no doubt.) What we do need are self-sacrificing Christians who will lay down their own lives to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who need it, encouragement and exhortation to all of us and continuing words from the Throne of God as He directs them. When we come together with the right attitude and with God-ordained people in order to thank and praise the Lord, He is able to inspire a teacher or prophet, whom He has anointed, to speak a word or give a teaching that has been wrought in him. And, for our protection, He will have in attendance, men in authority, trained by Him, to discern the accuracy of the word brought forth with the power and willingness to gently make corrections as required. No teaching or prophecy should stand unless judged correct by the God-ordained Elders and/or Prophets.
Prophets are both male and female. In the spirit, there is neither male nor female. Before man was formed of the dust of the earth, he was created male and female in the spirit. If we will worship God in spirit and in truth during our comings together, His Holy Spirit will be free to move “upon all flesh: and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.” (Joel 2:28,29) To deny that the Holy Spirit of God can speak through women is not only to deny the sovereign power of God and His right to do what he wills in His words, but also to keep ourselves from hearing those things which would have been spoken through the women. Of course, the elders and prophets are still obliged to judge and correct any errors due to works of the flesh. A woman, not the Holy Spirit, is forbidden “to teach or exercise authority over a man but to remain quiet,” (I Tim. 2:12)
ABOUT THE CHURCH
Aquila and Priscilla
I Timothy Chapter 3 established the qualifications for church authorities (Elders, aka Bishops, aka Overseers, aka Presbyteros). Church workers, (Deacons and Deaconesses) are similarly qualified. The reference to women, in verse 11, is to the deaconess and not the wife of a Deacon. It seems that what passes for the “church” has a real problem with properly using words given in the Bible. Very few accept and abide by God’s titles. Seemingly, it is such a small thing to always adhere to such strict word use, but to do otherwise is to lie.
In Acts 14:22,23, Paul and Barnabus, after first confirming the people were believers and exhorting them to continue in the faith, ordained Elders in each place after a period of corporate prayer and fasting. They didn’t call a vote, make speeches, politic or follow any worldly procedure. They petitioned God and the Holy Spirit made the selections. It was not by coincidence that the ones chosen matched the qualifications, for a second witness of authenticity. Until God, being petitioned with corporate prayer and fasting, made His choices for Elders, there were no churches among the true believers.
There are still no churches among true believers unless God, through corporate prayer and fasting, sets His men in place. Unbelievers and pretenders can have anything they want and call it what they like, but they have no Church. If God Himself establishes the authority in a place, He will enforce that authority and there will be no “church politics.”
In addition to meeting the other qualifications, God will not select young Elders. As there are no tall midgets, there are no young Elders. Not even if there are no older men and it seems necessary to install young men. If there exists a doubt in any mind about this, call a corporate fast of at least one week and seek the Lord in prayer for His will and His way.
Nowhere does the Bible say that Deacons were persons of authority. In Acts 6:2, Peter, who declared himself an Elder in I Pet. 5:1, was one of the twelve who “called the multitude of disciples unto them” for the purpose of assigning the business of feeding the Greek widows. Those seven men, the first Deacons, were chosen by the church members to take care of things other than “prayer and…the ministry of the word.”
As working in the church is non-spiritual and without authority, there can be no prohibition against women who meet the other requirements. It can be a real problem when scriptural titles are not adhered to, as in a group that refers to de facto Elders as Deacons. Though they have the authority of Elders, the title Deacon includes women who are Biblically excluded from having authority over men and creates festering divisions that debilitate the church. Refusing to do it God’s way leaves us with man’s way, leading to death and destruction.
Those who will deny God His choices of Elders are not brothers in the faith but empty clouds without water at best and angels of light at worst. These are the ones who become proprietors of churches and Pharisaic, holier-than-thou givers of the law they themselves cannot keep. They are gentile benefactors ruling over, not lifting up their congregations. You will find them spiritually and financially unaccountable and rarely under the authority of other men. Easy to spot, they live higher than their congregations and will not submit to financial audit or real spiritual correction. Also, God’s Elders are locally situated in order to be available as servants. Though they may be called for special missions, their Eldership remains local. In other words, Elders do not function from afar.
Brothers and sisters, these things are being written because “I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (II Cor. 11:3) Beloved, we must never forget our absolute dependence on the man Jesus Christ and our moment-by-moment walk with Him to bring us into fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Unless we seek first THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and His righteousness, our doctrine will never be correct. Apart from Jesus Christ our hearts devise evil. (Jer. 17:9) Whatever we learn and know, we “know in part” or “see in a mirror dimly.” (I Cor. 13:12) With such a lack of breadth and clarity, how can we be so certain of our own correctness? Only LOVE as Jesus loves through us is true and pure and worthy of being our doctrine. Our hope is in knowing Jesus and Him crucified. Do not return to the original sin of choosing knowledge of good and evil (they are inseparable) over LIFE, but just love one another, fear God and seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. Do not involve yourselves with the world and go after fleshly lusts but choose instead to yield your members to the will of God that He may, in His power, for His glory, present you to His Son as the pure, unspotted Bride of Christ. Jesus is coming ……… soon!