God’s Place for Women in His Church
The place of women in society is being widely discussed today. The influence of the “Women’s Liberation” or “Feminist” movement is felt throughout the world. Most men and women would agree that there should be equality in employment and wages. Most would also agree that women should have the same rights under the law as men do. However, Christian men and women must oppose many of the ideas of the “Feminist” movement for they are contrary to God’s will.
In the Lord’s church today, there are some who question the place that women have. Some are saying that women have the right to lead public prayers, preach, and even serve as elders. They have been influenced by the “Feminist” movement or by denominations, especially the Pentecostals, which allow women to do everything that men do.
Christians want to follow the will of God. God’s will for the place of women in His church is revealed in His Book, the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We must follow the Bible if we want to please God and be saved eternally. What does the Bible say? What is the role of women in the church?
There are some areas in which men and women are just the same before God. God’s love is the same for both (John 3:16). God is no respecter of persons in regard to salvation (Acts 10:34-35). Men and women must obey the same plan of salvation and will receive the same blessings (Galatians 3:26-28).
There are, however, areas in which God’s plan for women differs from that for men. In the family, God has appointed man to be the head (Ephesians 5:23). Man is to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of his wife and children (Genesis 3:17-19; 1 Timothy 5:8; Ephesians 6:4). Women have a special place in God’s plan that men do not have. Women are to be helpers to their husbands, teachers of their children and keepers of the home (Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:22-24; Titus 2:4-5). Men and women are different physically and psychologically. The place that God has appointed for each best suits them as God made them.
There are several Scriptures which deal with women’s place in the church. In 1 Corinthians 11:3, the Apostle Paul wrote:
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Man has a head to whom he must submit—Jesus Christ. Woman also has a head to whom she must submit—man. But even Christ has a head to whom He must submit—God the Father. Christ is not inferior to God because He submits to Him. Nor is woman inferior to man because she submits to him. The place that God has appointed for men and women has nothing to do with inferiority and superiority. It has to do with the purpose for which God created them.
First Timothy chapter two is a very important passage which deals with women’s role in the church. Paul is speaking of the public worship of the church when it assembles together (1 Timothy 2:1-2; 3:14-15). In verse one, Paul commands that prayers be made for all men. In the original Greek language in which Paul wrote, the word he uses for man is ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) which is the general word for human beings. It includes both men and women. Paul again uses this same word in verse four when he says that God
would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. But in verse eight, when Paul speaks of leading in prayers, he uses a different word for man. It is the Greek word ἀνήρ (anēr). This word is used only to refer to males. It does not include females! The command then is for men only to lead the public prayers of the church.
There is a clear contrast between verse eight where men are commanded to pray and verse eleven where women are commanded to learn in silence with all subjection. The word “subjection” comes from a Greek military term which means “to rank under.” In verse twelve, Paul writes:
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Women are forbidden to have authority over men. They must not take a privilege which is not rightfully theirs. Preaching and public teaching of classes where men are present are forbidden to women. Leading public prayers in assemblies where men are present is forbidden to women.
Paul gives two reasons why God has given the leadership in the church to men: (1) Adam was first formed, then Eve; and (2) Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression. Man has leadership over woman because God created him first. Man was not created for woman, but woman was created for man (Genesis 2:18-24). Second, Adam was not deceived in the temptation in the Garden of Eden, but Eve was (Genesis 3:6). Woman is different from man. Satan took advantage of her more trusting nature to deceive her. Adam sinned also, but he was not deceived! He knew what he was doing and deliberately went into the sin with Eve.
Women have many wonderful areas of service to God. Bearing children is not a curse brought on by the fall in Eden, but a blessing God gave women in the beginning (Genesis 1:28; 3:16). Women also have the privilege of being teachers, not of men, but of other women and children (2 Timothy 1:5; Titus 2:3-5). Christian women, like Priscilla, may assist their husbands in teaching others privately (Acts 18:24-26). Godly Christian women teach others by their example (1 Peter 3:1-2).
Peace prevails in the church and God is pleased when both men and women serve Him in the role He has created for them. Women are not suited to be elders, deacons, preachers or public leaders in the worship of God. But their work of being good mothers and teachers of children and other women is just as important. Let us humbly submit to God’s will!
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Woman’s place in society is something that is widely discussed in our time. The world has felt the force of the “Feminist” movement, or “Women’s Liberation,” as it is sometimes called. Most of us would agree that men and women should have the same rights under the law. Equal pay for equal work should be the expected and encouraged. However, what about woman’s place in the church? In our lesson today, we’ll examine what God has revealed concerning women in His church.
Our study today is entitled: “God’s Place for Women in His Church.” A tract by this same title has been distributed for some time now by Truth For The World. We thought this subject worthy of our attention because of the developments in our society today concerning the woman’s role as it affects the church of the Lord. Christians must realize that many of the ideas set forth in the feminist movement are contrary to God’s will.
Some in the Lord’s church today are questioning the place of the woman. They are saying she should be allowed to lead in public prayers, preach, and even serve as elders, or deacons in the church. The religious world as a whole has been influenced to think along these lines, in many instances. However, those who are concerned for truth cannot compromise it in any area. Does the Bible tell us that women should be allowed to do everything men do in the church? The answer to that question is clearly, “No.” The Word of God is complete, furnishing us with all we need on every subject. The place of the woman in the church is no exception. God has revealed His will on this subject, as we shall see in this study.
First of all, we need to make clear that in some areas women and men are exactly the same in God’s eyes. Certainly there is no distinction between men and women in salvation. God’s love for all is seen in the giving of His Son, Jesus Christ for all people. Remember, in Acts 10:34-35, Peter at the house of Cornelius clearly stated this principle:
And Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him. The “whoever” in this passage means just that. Every man or woman of accountable age who obeys God is loved and saved on the basis of obedient faith in response to God’s grace. There is no difference in the blessings received through the gospel by men and women. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:26-28:
For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.
Now that passage does not teach that in the church a woman can do everything a man does. Nor does it mean that God makes no distinction between the husband and wife in the family arrangement. God decrees that the husband is the head of the wife (Eph. 5:23). He is to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of his family, including those of his wife. The woman in the home is to be a helper to the husband, teacher of the children, a “keeper at home,” as Titus 2, verses 4 and 5 point out. God recognizes certain physical and psychological differences between men and women. God created us all, and He knows us better than anyone. He has given the man and the woman roles best suited for them.
There are several passages in the New Testament which regulate woman’s role in the church. In 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul wrote,
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. This is an important verse because it reveals that we are all in submission to someone. Even Christ, according to this passage, submits to God the Father. Is Christ inferior to God because He submits? Certainly not. Neither is the woman inferior to the man simply because she is to submit to him. The difference God makes between the two is in His purpose for each. In fact, God has placed woman on a pedestal, teaching the husband in His Word to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5). How much greater love could be given? If the husband takes seriously his God-given responsibilities to his wife, the wife has everything for which to be thankful, and nothing to regret.
A passage of great importance to the question of woman’s role in the church is 1 Timothy 2. The context indicates Paul is writing about the public gatherings of the church as it assembles to worship. In verse one, Paul commands that prayers be made for all men. The word for “men” in this verse, in the original language of the New Testament, means “mankind.” It is the general word for all human beings, both men and women. However, down in verse 8 of 1 Timothy 2, Paul is writing about the leading of public prayer in the assemblies of the church. Here he uses a different word for “men” which means only the males. It does not include females. This is a very important distinction. Had Paul meant for women to lead in public prayer, he certainly would not have used a word which can only mean the males. Therefore, the men only are to lead the public prayers of the church when men and women are present together.
Another clear contrast is seen between verse 8 of 1 Timothy 2, where men, that is, the males, are commanded to pray, and verse eleven, where women are commanded to learn in silence, or quietness, with all subjection. Then, in verse 12, Paul writes:
But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. A woman cannot “have dominion over” a man in the church. Preaching and public teaching of classes where men are present are clearly forbidden by this passage. Leading public prayers where men are present is also prohibited by this passage. The woman is to learn in silence. In this case, the word translated “silence” in many versions, literally means “quietness.” She is not required to be absolutely silent in the assemblies today. However, she cannot speak in any way which teaches, or usurps authority over the man.
Paul, here in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, gives the reasons why God has made men the leaders in the church. He writes:
For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression. God created the woman for the man according to Genesis 2:18-25. In the deception of the Garden, it was Eve who succumbed to Satan. Adam sinned also by following Eve’s lead, and thereafter God made it clear that man was to lead his wife and family. Again, we repeat that this arrangement in no way suggests the inferiority of the woman. It simply establishes God-given roles for her. And oh, how important those roles are, both in the home, and in the church. The importance and the influence of the mother in the home cannot be overstated. Women may also teach in accordance with God’s will, as they instruct their children, and other women. Also, Priscilla, a fine Christian woman, privately assisted her husband Acquilla in teaching Apollos (Acts 18:24-26). And we must never overlook the power of example. Peter wrote:
In like manner, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, even if any obey not the word, they may without the word be gained by the behavior of their wives; beholding your chaste behavior coupled with fear (1 Peter 3:1-2). These verses speak volumes about the influence of a godly woman in the home. The non-Christian husband who will not obey the Word of God by direct teaching, may ultimately be won to the Savior by the sweet, submissive example of his Christian wife who demonstrates daily her love for God and her appreciation of her important God-given role. How totally tragic it is that today so many women are turning away from the greatest life there is—the life of the Christian woman who sees the value of living as God would have her live.
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