WOMEN IN MINISTRY & Reexamining 1 Corinthians 14, Context and Words Matter.

by Bill Rudd, CBE International, 9/29/21

For forty-five years I believed women should not be pastors. After changing my position, I wrote a book to describe my journey and to analyze every relevant Bible passage.1 Many of my friends refused to read it because they confidently asserted that “the Bible is unmistakably clear that women cannot be pastors.”

Their “unmistakably clear” evidence invariably included Paul’s stunning prohibition in 1 Corinthians 14:34–35: “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak . . . for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” Obviously, if women must be silent in church where it is disgraceful for them to speak, they cannot be pastors.

While there are multiple challenges in this passage, this article will focus on two: the context of the passage and the meaning of key words.2

Context Matters: Three Parallel Groups

1 Corinthians 14 is part of Paul’s extended teaching about the distribution, use, and abuse of spiritual gifts in the church.

All of the gifts identified in chapter 12 are given by the Spirit to believers regardless of gender. When Paul envisioned a church gathering (14:26) in which “each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation,” he did not exclude women from any of those speaking gifts.

Then, because “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (14:40), Paul immediately addressed disorderly behavior in churches where a few monopolized the gatherings by their continuous talking.

This involved three groups: tongues-speakers without interpreters, prophets not giving others a turn, and women talking nonstop. By addressing these groups, Paul did not assume that every tongues-speaker, prophet, or woman was part of the problem. It is likely that these three parallel scenarios involved a few people who needed to stop speaking so others could participate.

Paul did not command that no man or woman should ever speak in tongues or prophesy (14:39).3 Rather, tongues-speakers could resume speaking when interpreters were present, and prophets could take another “turn” after others shared their revelation.

Why then, in the third scenario, do many interpreters insist that women must not speak in church at all, rather than, as the parallel structure requires, that women were also to temporarily stop talking until others had opportunity to participate?

This leads to the second consideration.

Read more at … https://www.cbeinternational.org/resource/article/mutuality-blog-magazine/context-and-words-matter-reexamining-1-corinthians-14?

THEOLOGY & What to Say When Someone Says Women Are Not Permitted to Teach

by Chesna Hinkley, CBE International, 2/18/19.

1 Timothy 2 is a tricky passage to interpret well. Verses 11-15 alone contain four biblical “buzz phrases” often employed by those who oppose women’s equality in the church. Paul writes:[1]

1. Women should learn in silence (2:11).
2. I do not permit a woman to teach or dominate a man (2:12).
3. The woman was decieved and became a sinner (2:14).
4. Women will be saved through childbearing (2:15).

These troubling verses form, for many, the foundation of the case for women’s submission to men and against the legitimacy of women’s preaching and teaching in church and/or to men. Though it would appear those opposed to women’s equality in the church have the upper hand in interpreting “problem passages” like 1 Timothy, egalitarians are actually better equipped to explain why Paul, normally a strong supporter of his female ministry colleagues, would seemingly prohibit those same coworkers from carrying out gospel work. So the next time someone cites 1 Timothy to obstruct women’s gifts and leadership, here’s what you can say:

The Purpose of 1 Timothy

The major crisis in 1 Timothy is false teaching. This takes up most of the content of the letter, and 1:3 says that Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to “command certain people” not to teach falsely or continue in “myths and endless genealogies.” Some people have “turned to meaningless talk.” They want to be teachers, “but they do not know what they are talking about” (1:7).

So, what is false teaching? We know not all the apostles had exactly the same ideas. We also know that Paul didn’t want people fighting about less central ideas, because his primary concern was that the “one faith” be preached (1 Cor. 1:12-13). That means that the “false teachings” referenced here were outside the bounds of Christianity.

The Artemis Cult and Other False Teachings

Artemis of the Ephesians (see Acts 19) was the goddess who kept women safe in childbirth (2:15). If she wasn’t appeased, many Ephesians believed mother or baby would die. In Ephesus, Artemis worship was everywhere. There was an extraordinary temple to her there. Her cult was so deep in the Ephesian worldview that it would have been terrifying for women to give birth without offering sacrifices. The easiest way to soothe this fear would’ve been for women to continue worshipping Artemis on the side. They might’ve also brought elements of Artemis worship into Jesus worship.[2]

Further, some of the church fathers believed that an early form of Gnosticism was being taught at Ephesus. Later on, Gnosticism was a widespread heresy that preached “endless genealogies” of demigods and demons (1:4). It also taught that salvation came through “secret knowledge” (gnosis).

The Gnostics liked Eve because, as they saw it, she wanted to gain wisdom by eating the forbidden fruit. Sometimes, she took on a mysterious power as the spiritual Feminine. In some Gnostic creation myths, Eve was created first. According to church father Irenaeus, Gnostics taught that Eve brought “what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim 6:20-21) into the world.[3]

This context is crucial to interpreting this passage as modern believers. Knowing that Ephesian Christians were receiving false teaching, perhaps especially from women who would benefit from Eve’s high status, helps to explain why Paul is so concerned about how women were leading and teaching in church. Now, let’s look at Paul’s message to women within this context:

Read more at … https://www.cbeinternational.org/blogs/what-say-when-someone-says-women-are-not-permitted-teach?