Speaking Sound Doctrine


Divine Worship

II.                The Limited Role Of Women In Worship

Before we go any further, we should lay some additional foundation regarding the special role of women in worship.  Our Lord imposes restrictions upon the roles of women in teaching the gospel.  A degree of controversy abides in religion today concerning women's roles in public Bible teaching.  The controversy is less prominent than it used to be, as it has become more widely acceptable in mainstream denominationalism for women to become so-called ordained ministers and pastors in local congregations. 

Scripture indicates a clear distinction in gender roles in the home regarding domestic matters and also in the church regarding spiritual matters.  Let us now set aside our personal feelings about what we think is fair and examine what the scriptures actually say about the role of women in the church.

1 Timothy 2:9-12  In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

This passage provides a benchmark for our discussion.  Let's make some observations.

A.          Textual examination

1.      Spiritual things

First, note that the context of this passage pertains to spiritual things – things involving the teaching of the gospel and divine worship (vs. 4-7).  Paul's instructions here regarding the limited role of women do not apply to carnal or secular things.  A woman has every right to be in authority over a man in secular matters.  She can be a military officer (Judges 4:4), a government ruler (1 Kings 10:1), a business executive (Proverbs 31:16, 24; Acts 16:14), or a college professor.  She can hold any kind of authoritative position over a man in secular things, but in spiritual matters, such as worship in the church, it is not permitted.

2.      Submission

In 1 Timothy 2, Paul establishes a principle for the spiritual role of women: submissiveness.  Let us look carefully at what Paul is actually stating and harmonize it with the rest of scripture.  To begin, the word "submission" (verse 11) translates HUPOTAGE {hoop-ot-ag-ay'}, meaning "1) the act of subjecting 2) obedience, subjection" (JHT).  The verb form of this word is HUPOTASSO {hoop-ot-as'-so}, as found in 1 Peter 5:5.  Its definition includes, "1) to arrange under, to subordinate 2) to subject, put in subjection 3) to subject one's self, obey 4) to submit to one's control …" (JHT).  One in submission does not assume control.

3.      Serenity

"Silence" (verse 11, 12) is from HESUCHIA {hay-soo-khee'-ah}, meaning: "1) quietness 1a) description of the life of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others 2) silence" (JHT).  This word does not necessarily indicate utter speechlessness at all times but a demeanor of quietness and serenity.  In Acts 22:2, the word indicates a crowd becoming calm and attentive.  In 2 Thessalonians 3:12, it indicates one who is settled and minds his own business.  In 1 Timothy 2:2 and 1 Peter 3:4, the adjective form is used to denote a lifestyle characterized by tranquility and gentleness.  Furthermore, in these passages, this attitude is enjoined upon not only women but all who would serve God.  Therefore, Paul is not declaring that in worship and other spiritual things a woman must always remain in utter silence in every circumstance.

4.      Teaching with authority over a man

The word "teach" (verse 12) is from the DIDASKO {did-as'-ko}, meaning, "1) to teach 1a) to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses 1b) to be a teacher 1c) to discharge the office of a teacher, conduct one's self as a teacher…" (JHT).  From this word, the English "didactic method" is derived, indicating a lecture or an oral dissertation.

Consider now the aspect of authority (verse 12) in Paul's statements.  The original word, AUTHENTEO {ow-then-teh'-o} (from whence the English "authority" is derived) has a rather shocking definition: "1) one who with his own hands kills another or himself 2) one who acts on his own authority, autocratic 3) an absolute master 4) to govern, exercise dominion over one" (JHT).  This word appears nowhere else in scripture.  Unlike the most commonly occurring Bible word for authority, EXOUSIA {ex-oo-see'-ah}, which indicates the power of choice or the right to rule, AUTHENTEO indicates a domineering or overpowering authority taken by force where one rules down over another.  The KJV expresses this well with the term "usurp" and the ASV with the term "dominion."

The word "man" (verse 12) translates ANER {an'-ayr}, which is gender-specific: "1) with reference to sex 1a) of a male …" (JHT).  We will consider Thayer's further definition in coming paragraphs.

From these textual observations, we can now express conclusively that God has appointed that women are not permitted to take an authoritative, dominant, or controlling role over a man in spiritual matters and worship.  A woman can speak in worship as long as by doing so she does not assume a position of dominance and authority over a man.  However, in any circumstance that would require a woman to assume such a position when she would speak, she must remain utterly silent.  We will further discuss the complete silence of women in church in a later section of this study.

B.          Things Paul does not say

We need to take note of several things Paul does not say in 1 Timothy 2.  To harmonize scripture, we must recognize that Paul is not categorically declaring that a woman cannot teach a man; she is only not permitted to do so usurping an authoritative position over the man.  Scripture clearly indicates women teaching men in other circumstances.  In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul instructs the young evangelist to teach faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  The word "men" is ANTHROPOS {anth'-ro-pos}, meaning, "1) a human being, whether male or female…" (JHT).  God's plan for the spread of the gospel is people teaching people: men and women (Acts 8:4).  In Acts 18:25, 26, Priscilla, together with her husband, Aquila, teaches Apollos the gospel of Christ more accurately.  Luke clearly indicates that Priscilla participates in this teaching role.  However, she does so not taking a usurping position over Apollos, but instead, she and her husband take him unto themselves, not correcting him publicly.  Moreover, Timothy was taught by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15), which is what mothers are supposed to do (Proverbs 1:8; 31:1).

Paul also does not say that a woman is never permitted to take a dominant, authoritative role in spiritual things; she is only not permitted to take this position over a man.  In an audience of entirely women, a woman has the authority to take such a position of spiritual leadership.  However, in mixed company, God has appointed the man to this role.

Paul is also not suggesting that women ought not pray (1 Corinthians 11:5).  Instead, Paul is indicating that men are appointed to take the lead over this when present.  Correspondingly, in 1 Timothy 2:8, when Paul declares that he desires "that the men pray everywhere," the original for "men" is also the gender-specific ANER as in verse 12.  Paul is certainly not saying that women are not permitted to pray, but they are not to take the position of authority and leadership over a man in the matter.  On the other hand, a woman is indeed permitted to lead prayer in an audience of women only. 

Paul is also not saying that a woman is not permitted to sing in public worship, even though by doing so, she is speaking and teaching men who might be in the assembly (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).  Paul is only disallowing women to speak and teach from a position of authority over a man.  However, to join in congregational singing while a man is in the position of leading, she does not usurp but remains in submission.  On the other hand, Paul's instruction would allow a woman to lead singing, but only in an assembly of all women.

Note also that Paul's instructions in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 have no limitations regarding time or circumstance and hence apply at all times and all places.  As previously mentioned, some churches consider didactic lecturing in the gospel to be worship but classroom question and open discussion style not to be worship.  There is no foundation for this distinction; gospel teaching is a spiritual service of worship whether by lecture or by open discussion and whether on a Sunday morning or a Wednesday evening or whether with the entire body assembled or in separate children's classes.

C.          Women teaching children

Paul is also not saying that a woman is not permitted to take an authoritative teaching role over male children.  Thayer's definition of ANER continues: "2) with reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy."  The challenge before us now is differentiating between a man and a boy.  There are various ideas about this.  From a spiritual perspective, some suggest a boy becomes a man upon reaching the state of accountability or becoming a baptized believer.  From a physical perspective, some suggest it occurs when he reaches puberty.  From a mental perspective, some suggest it occurs when his behavior indicates maturity.  From a civic perspective, some suggest it occurs when he is legally able to vote, serve the military, or pay taxes.  Scripture gives us some insight.

1.      Manhood, spiritually

Luke 2:41-52  And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem…. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 …and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You done this to us?  Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously." 49 And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me?  Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"

Here "Boy" translates PAIS {paheece}, "1) a child, boy or girl" (JHT).  Luke appropriately uses this word to describe a twelve-year-old still in subjection to His parents.  Jesus is now showing signs of spiritual maturity, clearly understanding His relationship and responsibility to the Heavenly Father, yet Luke does not characterize Him by "ANER" – a grown man over whom a woman is not permitted to have authority. 

2.      Manhood, physically

Matthew 14:21  Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Here, ANER is distinguished by PAIDION {pahee-dee'-on}, a diminutive of PAIS, meaning, "1) a young child, a little boy, a little girl 1a) infants 1b) children, little ones 1c) an infant 1c1) of a (male) child just recently born 1d) of a more advanced child; of a mature child; 1e) [metaphorically] children (like children) in intellect" (JHT).  Though this word includes a mature child or adult offspring, when it is applied in contrast to ANER, the connotation is the immaturity of boyhood.

3.      Manhood, mentally

1 Corinthians 13:11  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Here, ANER is distinguished by NEPIOS {nay'-pee-os} meaning, "1) an infant, little child 2) a minor, not of age 3) [metaphorically] childish, untaught, unskilled" (JHT).  Paul makes a clear distinction to the way a child talks and acts compared to an adult.  This writer has seen youngsters who had been baptized yet still played with childish toys.  Getting baptized does not make a boy a man.

4.      Manhood, civically

Galatians 4:1, 2  Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

Here, NEPIOS is used of one not of legal age.  A problem with this aspect is that legal age varies between different cultures in different places and at different times and circumstances.  Though we do not normally think the will of God should be subject to such variance, it is reasonable that a woman's submissiveness to an authoritatively teaching man be well evident with respect to particular cultural norms.  We will revisit cultural aspects later in our study when discussing prescribed veil-wearing for women (1 Corinthians 11:1-16).

These observations indicate that all these distinctions merit our consideration.  In application, we ought not compose any declaration or interpretation that states more than scripture states.  For scriptural harmony, all these aspects need to be accounted rather than forming a judgment on just one aspect alone.  Note some examples:

·        Some young men are not yet of legal age in every aspect but are physically and mentally mature enough to be considered men, over whom a woman is not to usurp authority. 

·        Some men are not yet spiritually mature enough to be Bible teachers, but they are still grown men, over whom a woman is not to usurp authority. 

·        Some baptized believers are still mere children, under whom a woman is not required to be in submission.

Regardless of how we may apply this, scripture makes clear that a distinction is intended.  Without doubt, women are scripturally permitted to authoritatively teach infant males but not adult males.  Since the demarcation will be subject to judgment in many cases, God evidently leaves assessing intermediate conditions to our best, reasonable, sound judgment or the rule of elders.  Wisdom would encourage any questionable circumstance to err toward the conservative.  Furthermore, where opinions are involved, brethren should not be forcing their judgments on others without regard to their conscience.  We certainly ought never divide over matters of opinion but seek common ground where we can all stand together without violating each other's convictions (1 Corinthians 1:10; 8:1-13; 9:19-22; Romans 14; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:11-14).

D.          Silence

1.      Without speech

The apostle Paul ordains that there are certain circumstances and functions in which a woman is to remain in complete silence.

1 Corinthians 14:34-37  Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. 36 Or did the word of God come originally from you?  Or was it you only that it reached? 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

The word "silent" is translated from SIGAO {see-gah'-o}, meaning, "1) to keep silence, hold one's peace 2) to be kept in silence, be concealed."  Unlike the word translated "silence" in 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 meaning calmness and unobtrusiveness, this word describes utter speechlessness.  The word appears frequently in scripture in the setting of a church gathering where only one is speaking while all others are only listening.  For instance, in Acts 15:12, 13, Paul, Barnabus, and James each take their turns delivering didactic speeches while all others keep completely silent.  In 1 Corinthians 14:28, with this term Paul orders that a man is to speak not a word to an audience in an unknown language, unless he has an interpreter.  In verse 30, he orders that if someone else has something to say, he is not to speak until the one who is talking is finished.  Clearly, the word means utter silence, but the application of this to women speaking in church requires harmonizing the scriptures.

2.      Clarifications

Some mistakenly teach that these verses forbid a woman to speak or teach under any circumstance in the assembly.  This cannot be true.  If so, then she cannot sing (teaching one another), as commanded in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19.  She also would not be able to make confession, as commanded in Romans 10:9-10, or even say "amen," as indicated in 1 Corinthians 14:16.  Instead, a woman is forbidden to speak or teach whenever and wherever she would usurp authority over a man to do so.  Therefore, a woman is not permitted to take authority over teaching a Bible class with men present, even though she can teach a class of women or children.  Likewise, a woman is not permitted to be a public preacher of the word or lead the assembly in prayer when men are present.  This is a role God has given to the man.  In fact, in the context of 1 Corinthians 14, this is exactly the case.  Speakers are taking the leadership in a public teaching assembly each in turn:

1 Corinthians 14:29-33  Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Incidentally, in verse 35, Paul writes, "If they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home."  This sounds harsh, as if God doesn't want women to learn anything in church.  This is obviously not the case; all are to learn from gospel preaching (verse 31).  According to W. E. Vine, the original word here translated "learn," MANTHANO {man-than'-o}, means "to learn by enquiry or observation."  To learn by observation would include silently sitting and listening, but to learn by inquiry would include a type of challenging point-counter-point debate or interrogation (Galatians 3:2).  This action would require one to take a dominant, leadership, speaking role over a mixed audience: a role which the Holy Spirit reveals a woman is not to have.

Inevitably, the question arises as to how a woman can ask her husband at home if she is not married.  In response, the word translated "husband" is the familiar "ANER," which includes a man – not necessarily a husband.  The significance of the instruction does not reside in her relationship to the man but in that she is not to use this gathering as the time and place for such a discussion but is to do so privately, as Priscilla did with Apollos (Acts 18:26), not from a dominating position.

E.           Misapplications

We will now examine several common misunderstandings regarding 1 Corinthians 14 that sometimes arise in discussions.

1.      Misconception: a special assembly now obsolete

Some have suggested that 1 Corinthians 14 pertains not to a regular worship assembly but only to a special assembly for the purpose of exercising miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, and since these gifts have passed, these instructions do not apply today.  Further argument that this was a special assembly is presented from verse 23 noting that Paul would not say "If the church comes together" in the subjunctive mood and aorist tense (indicating an uncertain or contingent single event in time), to describe a regularly recurring and mandatory first-day-of-the-week worship service.  Let's examine these arguments carefully.

To begin, the idea of having an assembly for the express purpose of exercising spiritual gifts is not aligned with any ordained work of the church.  The purpose of the spiritual gifts was not so that the church could gather together for some miraculous demonstrations; it was for instruction (1 Corinthians 14:26, 31) and confirming the word (Mark 16:20, Hebrews 2:3, 4).  A spiritual gift was not an end to itself but a means to the end of gospel teaching.  This gathering was most definitely a worship service just like is commonly conducted today with teaching, singing, and prayer where the unbelievers and visitors are exhorted to obedience (verses 23-26).

The argument from the assembly being described in the subjunctive mood and aorist tense is faulty.  Consider that the contingency in verse 23 is not that the church might only come together but the combined event that all of those who are speaking are also using an unknown tongue with no interpreter and that an unbeliever might also be present.  This three-fold contingency does nothing to contradict a regularly recurring mandatory assembly.  Moreover, where the Greek optative mood would strongly indicate the unlikelihood of an improbable event, the subjunctive mood, as used here, can anticipate it as inevitable.  Quoting from Robertson, Dana and Mantey explain: "It is quite probable that the future indicative is just a variation of the aorist subjunctive" (DM, page 170).

2.      Misconception: the whole church not gathered together

Some have further suggested that the condition for a woman to speak in church depends on whether the whole congregation is assembled, as is mentioned in verse 23.  According to the reasoning, if the entire congregation is gathered, as in a worship service where the Lord's Supper would be served, she is not permitted to speak, but if the assembly is not comprised of the entire congregation, as when the children and perhaps others are assembled in separate Bible study groups, then she is permitted to speak.  Let's examine whether this reasoning is sound.

To begin, this also does not harmonize with the command for her to sing or make confession of her faith, which would be expected when the whole church is assembled.  Moreover, if the instruction for her to be silent only applies when the whole church is assembled, then also the contextual instructions to do all things unto edification (verse 26), to not speak in an unknown tongue without an interpreter (verse 28), to wait for one to finish speaking before another speaks (verse 30), and to do all things decently and orderly (verse 40) also do not apply unless the entire local membership is gathered together.  This is unreasonable.  Besides, the terminology does not actually indicate such a limited application.  In verse 23, Paul is not issuing an imperative but only indicating the inevitable confusion that will result from a certain possible future scenario, as explained earlier.  Conclusively, these instructions apply whenever Christian men and women gather together for spiritual service, regardless of when, where, or how many.

Consider that 2 Corinthians 14:34-35 is an application of the instructions recorded in 1 Timothy 2:11-14: that a woman is not to usurp an authoritative role over a man in spiritual things.  In order for a woman to take her turn teaching over a church gathering as described in 2 Corinthians 14:31, she would have to usurp that role over a man.  However, since she is not allowed to assume that role, then she must be silent and refrain from taking such an authoritative teaching position over a man.

F.           Conclusions

In review, these scriptures prohibit a woman from assuming an authoritative leadership role over a man in spiritual things.  In order for her to participate in worship from a standpoint of all submissiveness in a mixed assembly, she must not be the preacher, teacher, prayer leader, song leader, or presiding speaker in any other function over the assembly from a position of authority.

Conversely, in any other speaking capacity where a woman would not usurp an authoritative position over a man, she is permitted to speak.  She can sing, confess, and say "amen."  She can make a comment or ask a question in an assembly.  As long as the leading man calls upon her to speak and she does not take his position of authority, he remains in control, and she remains in submission.  She can do these things even if men are present and are learning from it, because she does so from a position of submission.  She can also teach a children's Bible class, not because the whole church isn't gathered together or because it is not a so-called "worship service" (since it actually is), but because she does not usurp authority over a man by doing so. 

G.          Basis of the ordinance

In 1 Corinthians 14:34, when Paul commands the women to "keep silent in the churches," he then adds, "As the law also says."  The principle Paul applies here also applied under former times.  Since it applies in this assembly, it applies also today – and for the same reason, which Paul clearly states: "They are to be submissive."  Here, the phrase "be submissive" is translated from HUPOTASSO {hoop-ot-as'-so}, meaning: 1) to arrange under, to subordinate 2) to subject, put in subjection 3) to subject one's self, obey 4) to submit to one's control 5) to yield to one's admonition or advice 6) to obey, be subject" (JHT).  This is the verb form of the same word Paul uses in 1 Timothy 2:11, where he continues and by divine inspiration refers all the way back to the creation and fall of man to establish the principle. 

1 Timothy 2:13-15  For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

Whether or not we understand why or think it is unfair, God has placed the woman in subjection to the man in these matters by virtue of him being created first and the woman being created afterward as his helper.  Moreover, for allowing herself to be deceived in the Garden, the Lord ordains the woman's fate:

Genesis 3:16  To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you."

Paul's statement in 1 Timothy 2:15 that the woman would be "saved in childbearing" is difficult to explain.  Clearly, this is not indicating that a woman must bear children to have her sins forgiven.  "Saved" translates the word SOZO {sode'-zo}, meaning: "1) to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction 1a) one (from injury or peril) 1a1) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health 1b1) to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue…" (JHT).  For insight, since Paul takes us to Genesis 3, we should seek to understand his words in light of it.  Therefore, perhaps Paul's message is that, even though submissiveness and travail are the typical characteristics of her appointed role, through it all, God will deliver the righteous woman who by self-control serves Him in modesty, propriety, and moderation through godliness with good works (1 Timothy 2:9, 10).

We need to recognize that these God-ordained distinctions pertain to role, not rank.  For example, a husband is to be the head of the wife, not because he is more important or out-ranks her, but because that is the role which God has assigned him.  Godly husbands are not over-bearing or belittling to their wives, but they hold them in honor as equal partners (Ephesians 5:30; 1 Peter 3:7).  So it is in the church that the distinctive role God has placed upon women is not to de-rate them.  Even if we do not understand why, if we accept that this is the ordinance of the Lord, we will not rebel against it.  Moreover, for a woman to step beyond her God-ordained role, it brings her disgrace and shame (1 Corinthians 14:35; Colossians 3:18).

Consider Jesus as an example.  Submission was the role appointed to Christ, the Son of God, but it did not make Him inferior to the Father. 

Philippians 2:5-11  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name…."

If Jesus was willing to accept the submissive role, then it should not be too much for God to ask it of us.  We are in no position to tell God He is wrong; we are not our own authority.

1 Corinthians 14:36, 37  Or did the word of God come originally from you?  Or was it you only that it reached? 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

Moreover, this is consistent with God's law concerning officers in the church.  The qualifications for bishops and deacons in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 require that they be "the husband of one wife."  God's word does not authorize women to serve as bishops and deacons.  These also are roles God has appointed to the man.

H.          Violation of the ordinance

The apostle Paul by divine authority declares a clear prohibition: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man," (1 Timothy 2:12) "for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive," (1 Corinthians 14:34).  This is not a suggestion or a recommendation.  The word translated "permit" is EPITREPO {ep-ee-trep'-o}, which is the same word elsewhere used to describe the rule of a high government official (Acts 21:40; 26:1; 27:3; 28:16).  If Paul by divine inspiration does not permit it, then to do so is sin. 

Regardless, some women today take issue with Paul's command for submission.  They claim that to place such restrictions on a woman is demeaning and degrading – it portrays her as less important.  They further argue that since there is no respect of persons with God (Acts 10:34), "neither male nor female" (Galatians 3:28), a woman should be allowed to lead in any capacity a man is allowed.  This reasoning reads more into God's words than what is actually there.  God is simply saying that men and women are on equal standing before Him.  Just because God does not regard one above the other does not mean He has no right to assign separate gender roles.  False teachers will also use this perverted reasoning to attempt to justify homosexual relationships, which is absurd.

Scripture reveals that women were also endowed with miraculous manifestations of the Spirit, such as the gift of prophecy (Luke 2:36; Acts 2:17; 19:6, 7; 21:9).  Therefore, some today argue that as these women would have surely had the authority to teach the same as a man with the same spiritual gift, so women today should have the same right.  The problem with this reasoning is that the conclusion is not forced.  It is fully conceivable that the early church women who possessed the gift of prophecy would have only prophesied in circumstances where they would not teach authoritatively over a man so as to not otherwise violate the Holy Spirit's instructions.  Remember, Paul states, "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (1 Corinthians 14:32), which means the prophets, men or women, were expected to demonstrate self-control and propriety in all things.

Even though a woman might not stand before an audience and teach from a position of authority, women sometimes still violate these principles of submission in the church today.  From her place in the audience, if a challenging position is taken by a woman, if she dominates the discussion, or if she blurts out commentary without being called upon, she is not demonstrating submissiveness but is usurping control of the assembly, which God has ordained for the man.  Women in the church need to guard against such violations of the divine ordinance.  This kind of dialog from a woman is to be done in a private setting, but even then with calmness and subjection.

This takes our discussion back to where we began.  We have no teaching, belief, or doctrine of our own.  Submitting to the authority of Christ requires us to rely solely on His word and put aside what we think, regardless of how dynamic, motivational, knowledgeable, or inspiring a woman orator might be.  Only by defiance to the word of God are there women today serving as so-called pastors.  This is not gender discrimination in the church; this is binding where God has bound and not loosing where God has not loosed (Matthew 16:19).  We need to accept in simple faith the things revealed by the Spirit of God in His word on this matter and abide therein.

As we continue, we will be confirming the activities that are ordained and prescribed as special worship, examining the direct instructions, approved examples, and necessary inferences revealed in God's word, and considering the special role of women, practical applications, and expediencies involved.  We will also discuss common controversies, traditional opinions, and some false doctrines surrounding worship.

Let us now begin to examine these actions more closely in scripture.



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