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Men, Women, and Authority

As we continue to study Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we now come to another controversial section.  He begins to talk about men and women in regards to the principle of authority.

I think that so much of our debating and anger over this section comes from both a misunderstanding and a misrepresentation of what Paul is teaching.  We need to see this without any preconceived ideas of what’s being said.

Therefore, I’ll try to stick to the simple statements found in Scripture, rather than my personal perspective.  The key word is “try.”

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
1 Corinthians 11:3

Let me get started by getting everyone mad at me!  This Scripture is a loaded minefield if you’re not willing to take it at face value.  It deals with the issues of authority and submission.

First of all, we’re talking about headship on an individual basis.  Notice that both the word man and woman are singular.  Paul is not saying that all men are the head over all women.

We make submission a very complicated subject.  I’m not going to talk about it much in this post.  I’ll simply give you some homework.  If you do a study of submission, you’ll find that the specific areas in which a woman is told to submit are to her own husband, or to her own father.

Having said that, this verse is saying that the head of a man is Christ.  The head of a woman is a man (either her husband or her father).

Women – Please don’t shut me off just yet!  Wait and see where I’m going with this.

All too often I’ve been flagged down by a husband, dragging his wife along.  He needed to ask me a “Bible question”.

“Pastor Nick, doesn’t the Bible say that the husband is the head of the wife?  Doesn’t she have to submit and do what the husband says?”

Immediately I see a problem in the relationship, and it’s not the wife.  It stems from a total misunderstanding of authority and headship.  Let’s see how Paul explains it.

In the above verse, he makes it clear that even within the Godhead there is headship and authority.  God the Son – Christ – is under the headship of God the Father.  Does that make Christ any less God?  Absolutely not!  He is fully God.

What then is the relationship when it comes to headship?

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
John 5:19

Notice what Jesus said here.  He did not say that He does everything the Father tells him to do.  Instead, He tells us that He does what He sees His Father doing.

The head sets the direction for the body.  In my last post, we saw Paul instructing them to imitate him as he imitated Christ.  This is true in any headship – authority relationship.

In my experience, the relationship of a wife to her husband is usually the same as the husband to Christ.  Godly men who are serving Christ faithfully usually don’t complain about lack of authority in their families.  It’s not about trying to get others to obey me, but about me getting my relationship right with the Lord.

Question: How well do you follow the headship of Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Sonship – It Includes Women Too!

WomanMany people accuse the Apostles of being male chauvinists. They say that in their writings they speak mostly to men and assign women to a lower position. I believe that this is an inaccurate assessment based upon a mere surface reading of the Bible.

I’m not going into a detailed discussion of women in the ministry. However, a careful reading of who Paul greeted in his letters, and how they were titled, shows that Paul ordained women as both pastors and apostles. There’s no Scriptural “glass ceiling” that would keep a woman from attaining to any position or calling. It’s all based upon the will of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

What I really want to talk about is the use of the words son and sonship in Scripture. Unlike what many teach, it was not the Apostles trying to make the church a Patriarchy. In reality it was just the opposite.

In the cultures of the day, which included Roman, Greek, and Middle Eastern peoples, the place of women were at the bottom of the social ladder. At best, they were a piece of art to be seen and appreciated. At worst, they were treated as property, slaves, or a family pet.

In Peter and Paul’s letters this concept was totally done away with.   They elevate women to a new level of equality unheard of in their day.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
1 Peter 3:7

Peter used a word in this passage that is translated heirs with you. It’s literally the word co-heirs. This means that the wife is someone with an equal share and claim on the inheritance. This was unheard of in those ancient cultures.

Women rarely, if ever, shared in their family inheritance. But in the family of God, all this has changed. Now women are considered of equal importance in the spiritual inheritance of the Lord.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

In Christ there is no longer the differences and limitations placed upon us by society. These have all been done away with at the cross. Paul says that there is neither…male nor female. YOU ARE ALL SONS.

Why would the Apostle make such an absurd sounding statement? He did it to emphasize the truth that in the Kingdom of God women have all the rights and privileges of a firstborn son. God sees a woman on the same spiritual level as a man.

If you’re a woman of God, then never feel inferior or of less importance than a man. You can go as high in ministry as the Holy Spirit will bring you.

Question: How has the ministry of women positively affected your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Ministry, Sonship, The Church

 

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