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“A WOMAN MUST QUIETLY RECEIVE INSTRUCTION WITH ENTIRE SUBMISSIVENESS”
by Philip Owen

             The sign says:  SPEED LIMIT 35.  We drive 38.  The sign says:  SPEED LIMIT 70.  We drive 73.  There’s nothing like an imperative to reveal our rebellious natures.  And in today’s culture, there’s nothing like making a distinction between the sexes to raise our hackles.  But today’s imperative does just that—make a distinction between the sexes (there are only two, by the way), that is.   Writing to Pastor Timothy concerning order in worship in the church, Paul says, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (I Tim. 2:11, 12).

            What Is Often Overlooked.  Kneejerk indignation and cries of prejudice ignore or dismiss several salient points concerning this verse and the context of Scripture as a whole.  First, women must receive instruction.  This is a uniquely biblical doctrine.  The clear implication of this statement is that women are expected to learn God’s holy truth right alongside men.  There is not one body of truth for men and another for women.  There are not “higher” truths that only men can comprehend or be permitted to receive.  No, women receive all the truth of God without exception.  This elevation of women, this equality of opportunity to learn runs counter to ancient human culture.  Both the Old Testament law and the New Testament gospel were to be learned by women.  In contrast with modern man’s views, the Bible exalts women.  Second, women are acknowledged to be able teachers in the proper context.  For example, the older women are expected to teach the younger women and children (Tit. 2:3-5).  In an even more striking example, we read that Apollos was “an eloquent man . . . mighty in the Scriptures.”  Furthermore, he “had been instructed in the way of the Lord” so that he “was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus. . . .  But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:24-26).  That women are honored in Scripture can also be demonstrated by the fact that a Samaritan woman was the first person to whom the Lord revealed the fact that He was the Messiah (John 4:25, 26), and a woman (Mary Magdalene) was the first person to whom the Lord revealed Himself after His resurrection (Mk. 16:9).  Third, and most significantly, Christ, who is very God, one in essence and being with the Father, submitted to God (I Cor. 11:3).  It is a lie of Satan to maintain that submission equates to inferiority.   Submission is both an honor and a privilege.

            What Must Not Be Overlooked.  The Scripture makes clear that men and women are equal in nature.  And as spiritual beings in their relationship to God they are also equal.  And in heaven for eternity, gender will play no role with regard to position in Christ.  But men and women do have differing roles on earth and in the church.  Despite the effects that modern feminism has had on the psyche, God has established and will maintain a distinction in the roles and functions of men and women.  According to our text, a woman has no authority to instruct men (whether by preaching or teaching) in a church worship service.  Their God-ordained role is to receive instruction from God-ordained pastors and teachers.  The manner in which this is to be done is emphatic:  “quietly” and “with entire submissiveness.”  “If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church” (I Cor. 14:35).  Women are not permitted to take on leadership roles in worship or to challenge such leadership in public worship.  Without exception, preaching and teaching ministries are the exclusive domain of God-ordained men (I Tim. 3:2) within the context of formal church worship services.  The church that violates God’s order in this matter is neither more enlightened nor more charitable than others; rather, it has transgressed God’s plainly expressed unalterable commands. And the woman who usurps authority over a man in these circumstances has placed herself in a position to receive chastening.  God knows what He is doing.  We don’t have to like it; we may not understand it, but we do have to heed it if we wish to escape chastening and receive blessing.  “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says” (I Cor. 14:34).  Remember Christ.  How the Lord blesses a submissive spirit!                        

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