Monday, January 04, 2016

Rightly Dividing God's Word: Christians Are to Serve Based on Our Giftedness, Not Our Gender

I find it stunning that anyone who professes to believe in Christ's teachings and the infallibility of the Bible refuses to allow women to teach men, or forbids women from leadership positions, or demands Christians serve (or not serve) their King and His Kingdom according to their gender instead of their giftedness. I am shocked because this is so contrary to the teachings and ministry of Jesus in the New Covenant He came to establish.

Some of my Christian friends, usually men, will respond to me saying, "Listen, Wade, I simply believe and teach the Bible! And as long as I believe the Bible, I can't have a woman be in leadership over men, or have her teach men, or allow her to hold any position of Christian servant/leadership because the Bible forbids it."

That's not accurate.

The Old Covenant religion of the Hebrews did forbid women in the role of worship priest. But of course the Old Covenant also forbad the eating of pork, made Sabbath-breaking (Saturday, not Sunday) a capital offense, and forbad a host of other actions that have "faded away and disappeared" (Hebrews 8:13). Jesus made the former covenant "obsolete" and instituted a New Covenant in His blood, and made us all proclaimers of this new Way of life which is led by the Spirit (II Corinthians 3:6). In this New Covenant age, men and women serve the King and His Kingdom according to their giftedness, not their gender.

But again, my friends who say they believe the Bible will challenge me by quoting I Corinthians 14:34-35.
"The women are to keep silent in the assembly; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to even speak in the assembly." (I Corinthians 14:34-35)  
They will then sit back triumphantly and declare, "There you go! As long as I believe the Bible, I can't ever have a woman in leadership. The Bible means what it says!!"

Not so fast.  My father has brilliantly pointed out the fallacy of this kind of thinking:
"Someone is going to say 'The Bible means what it says." But that may be the problem. I don't think the Bible means what it says as much as it means what it means and some interpretation must go into understanding its meaning. This would certainly indicate that we need to recognize the possible fallibility of our understanding of Scripture to stay away from the heat that sometimes happens in discussing it."
I want to prove that I Corinthians 14:34-37, in its entirety, derisively dismisses the Old Covenant Hebrew practice--a practice still in vogue in Paul's day among that Jews in Corinth--of forbidding women from even speaking in the presence of other men during an assembly. This I Corinthians 14 passage can only be understand in light of what happened to Paul when he visited Corinth (AD 50-51), the textual context of the passage itself, and the overall teachings of Christ and His apostle in the New Covenant. You may believe you know what these Corinthian verses say, but I'm asking you to discover what they mean.

Rachelle and I have personally visited Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Berea, Smyrna, Philadelphia, Sardis, Laodicea, Thyratira, Thessalonica and almost every other city or island where Paul traveled during his three missionary journeys. Paul was put on trial in the city of Corinth. He stood before a bema where the Roman pro-consul Gallio listened to the accusations of Paul's fellow Jews. These practicing Jews were not Christians, and they sought to convince Gallio that Paul was persuading people to worship God contrary to the law of God" (Acts 18:13) That's a serious accusation against a Jew; and Paul was a Jew. But the Roman pro-consul Gallio refused to make a judgment against Paul saying, "I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters" (Acts 18:15).

Gallio recognized that the conflict in Corinth was a Hebrew religious matter, not a Roman political problem. He did not even intervene as Sosthenes, a convert to Christ through the ministry of Paul as well as a leader in the Corinthian synagogue, was seized and beaten by the Jewish mob before the bema (see Acts 18:17). Paul was hurried out of the Corinthian market-place while Sosthenes was being beaten by the Jews. Paul was eventually secreted out of the city by fellow believers because of the Jewish threats against him (see Acts 18:18).

Many Bible-believing Christians pay little attention to the accusations Paul faced from the Jews in Corinth during his 18 month stay in the city (50 to 51 AD). The Jews sought to imprison him because of his influence among the people. When they failed to have him arrested, the Corinthian Jews beat Sosthenes for believing what Paul taught. The Roman pro-consul Gallio did not prosecute Paul under Roman law as the Jews wanted. Gallio was "unconcerned" with the Jewish religious matters, even allowing the Jews to beat those who believed Paul's religious message (Acts 18:17). Notice, again, the reason the Corinthian Jews gave to the Roman pro-consul Gallio for their anger against Paul - "he is persuading people to worship God contrary to the Law of God."  The Law of God is what we now call the Old Covenant and all the practices of Hebrew worship found in the Old Testament and Hebrew traditions. A simple principle regarding our worship of Jesus Christ during this New Covenant age can be logically derived from reading Acts 18 and Paul's time in Corinth:
The more our corporate worship looks like Old Covenant Jewish worship (i.w. "a holy building in which to gather, authoritative male priests who rule over others, and a sacrificial system of actions designed to please God, etc...), the more our corporate worship is unlike Paul's and early believers' worship of Christ. (Wade Burleson)
In one of Paul's earliest epistles, he clearly teaches that in the New Covenant there should be no difference between males and females in the ekklesia (Galatians 3:28), and he later writes to the Corinthian Christians and says all believers should serve one another as they have been gifted (I Cor. 12:4-11). Paul teaches the Corinthians that members of the assembly, both male and female (e.g. all of you), should participate in congregational worship (see I Cor. 14:31  and 14:39), and that women should publicly pray and gifted women should teach others in the ekklesia just as men should publicly pray and gifted men should teach others in the ekklesia (see I Cor.  11:5). The entire discourse of Paul's writings to the early churches in Greece and Asia Minor is saturated with the new instruction that God's new priesthood is composed of males and females, slaves and free, Jews and Gentiles. In the ekklesia (assembly) of Christ there is to be no separation of people by race, nationality, gender or color. Each of us has been made a priest (Revelation 1:5) and we all form a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9).  These principles radically alter service in Christ's Kingdom, making qualifications for Kingdom service the Spirit's giftedness, not the person's gender.
The Jews who were worshipping in the synagogue of Corinth, however, were greatly offended by Paul's teachings. They heard it with their own ears! Paul was "persuading people to worship God contrary to the Law."  This could not be allowed! After the Corinthian Jews dragged Paul before the bema to charge him with a crime and then beat Sosthenes in the public square, Paul escaped to Cenchrea and then Ephesus (see Acts 18:18). He later writes to the Corinthian church and was quite blunt about those Corinthian Jews and Judaizers who were infiltrating the church and causing him trouble. He calls them "false apostles" and "deceitful workers" (II Cor. 11:13), and he tells the Christians in Corinth to resist their false practices and to stand firm to the new "traditions" that Paul had taught them (see I Corinthians 11:2). Paul reminded them that the practice of empowering all followers of Christ to serve God as the Spirit gifts them--regardless their gender, economic status, or ethnicity--was precisely why the Jews zealous for the Law in Corinth dragged Paul before Gallio and why Paul had to escape the city. This is the context one should always have in mind when reading the letters of I Corinthians.

So, the startling prohibition of I Corinthians 14:34-35 seems discordant and unconnected to what Paul taught the Christians in Corinth as well as the entire first letter of encouragement he writes to the Corinthians.  Look at these two verses again:
"The women are to keep silent in the assembly; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to even speak in the assembly." (I Corinthians 14:34-35)  
There's a very good reason why this seems discordant and unconnected to what Paul taught Christians in Corinth and every other city he visited to establish the new Way-- it is! I Corinthians 14:34-35 is a quotation of what the Jews zealous for the Law taught about women in the assembly (synagogue), and not what Apostle Paul taught. Because Paul opposed the Jew' position in Corinth on women and worship, and because taught a new Way in the New Covenant - the Corinthian Jews and Judaizers brought Paul up on charges of blasphemy before the bema. So when Paul later writes to the Corinthian Christians (I Corinthians), he knows that all the Christians were familiar with the problem he had in Corinth, that they knew what the Jews taught about women, and they had heard him refute their teaching for 18 months. The Christians in Corinth were all very familiar with the the new "tradition" that Paul taught regarding the equality of women in the New Covenant, So he quotes what the Corinthian Jews taught about women in the synagogue (vs. 34-35),and then derisively dismisses it in the next two verses (vs. 36-37) just as he did during the 18 months when he lived among them and taught them the new traditions of the New Covenant in AD 50-51.

How do we know I Corinthians 14:34-35 is a quotation of what the Jews believed about women being silent in the assembly and not what Paul believed? And how do we know the very next two verses I Corinthians 14:36-57  are a powerful refutation from Paul regarding this tradition ? There are at least five solid hermeneutical reasons for holding to this view.

(1). As already mentioned, the two verses that contain the quotation of what the Jews believed about women (I Corinthians 14:34-35) are completely antithetical to everything Paul writes about women throughout the New Testament, especially his teaching regarding women in the rest of I Corinthians. These two verses (vs. 34-35) are jarring because they represent a position that Paul has already torn apart in his previous writings.

(2). The quotation of the Jews' belief in verses. 34-35 is extremely consistent with the Law of God in the Jewish practices and Hebrew traditions (e.g. "The Law"). The Jews in Corinth accused Paul of persuading people "to worship God contrary to the Law" (Acts 18:13). If women being silent in the assembly actually represented Paul's beliefs, the Corinthian Jews would have hugged and kissed Sosthenes and Paul, not dragged them before the bema in Corinth in order to imprison them and/or beat them.

(3). Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians in Greek. The written Greek language does not use "italics" like we do in our English to identify a quotation. To know being written something is a quotation:
a. The author must identify that what he is writing is a quotation (something Paul does elsewhere), or
b. the quotation must be so familiar to the audience that no identification of the quote is necessary, or
c. the author uses a Greek eta after the quotation to then refute it.  
I believe both b. and c. are precisely how the Apostle Paul identifies he is quoting someone else in I Corinthians 14:34-35.

(4).  The Jews in Corinth, like all orthodox Jews in Paul's day, believed women were not qualified to be learners in the synagogue, much less teachers, because the Law and the Talmudic literature forbade them from learning. A woman's presence in the synagogue was tolerated, but women were to be unobtrusive and silent, never interfering with the work of the men. The Jews believed when a woman desired to ask a question in order to learn, she was to maintain her silence in the assembly and wait to ask her husband after leaving the synagogue and returning home. The Jews believed the husbands were to be the source of their wives' learning. The Corinthian Jews were "zealous for the Law" and constantly opposed Paul's promotion of women as equal to men, including Priscilla and Aquila, the couple with whom Paul stayed in Corinth and who both later teach Apollo "the way of God more accurately" in Ephesus (see Acts 18:26).  The quotation in I Corinthians 14:34-35 is consistent to the law of the Jews in Corinth, but it is absolutely contrary to the teaching and the practice of the Apostle Paul and the new Way of worship.

(5). Paul REFUTES the Jewish quotation in I Corinthians 14:34-35 twice in the very next verse (v. 36) by using the Greek letter eta. Go look in your interlinear Greek/English Bible and find the stand alone Greek letter eta in v. 36. You will see the eta twice in that one verse. It looks like this: η   

The Greek eta has two possible markings that cause it to be translated with either the English word "or," or with the English equivalent of what we mean when we make a sound with our mouths  like "PFFFFFFFFFFFFT!" This means "That's ridiculous!" or "Are you kidding me?" or "Nonsense!"   This latter meaning, in my opinion, is precisely what Paul is saying (twice) in I Corinthians 14:36. In response to the Jewish quotation he has just given I Corinthians 14:35-36 Paul writes a Greek eta to illicit a sound from the reader "PFFFFFFFFT!" which is best translated "Nonsense!"

The original Greek text has no markings, so the translation of η must be made by translators based on other facts than the markings of the Greek letter. I believe the context, the culture of Corinth, and the radical nature of New Covenant worship taught by Paul (and resisted by the Corinthian Jews zealous for the Law) demands the η be translated with a "PFFFFFFFFFFFT!" instead of "or" (as is done in the NAS). Between the written evidences of Paul's exasperation with the Judaizers limiting the role of women, the same women Jesus came to set free, Paul derisively dismisses the Jewish practice by speaking to the Judaziers and making an appeal to the Christians:
"Do you believe the Word of God comes to you only? If anyone wishes to think himself a prophet or spiritual, let that person recognize that the things I HAVE WRITTEN TO YOU (not what the Jews zealous for the Law teach) are the Lord's (e.g. "the Lord Jesus Christ's) commandment." (I Corinthians 14:36-37) 
So, after reviewing the important historical, contextual, and grammatical factors that help get to the heart of Paul's meaning in I Corinthians 14:33-37, and using PFFFFFFT to translate the η, let's give a translation that is consistent with the rest of I Corinthians, Jesus' teaching and the Apostles' writings, and the New Covenant way of worship which is totally different than Old Covenant worship:
"For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the ekklessia of the saints. (Would you like an example?) "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. If women desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in the church." PFFFFFFT! Such nonsense! Do you Jews who practice this believe the Word of God comes from you only? PFFFFFFT! Do you believe the Word of God comes to you only? If anyone wishes to think himself a prophet or spiritual, let that person recognize that the things I HAVE WRITTEN TO YOU (not what the Jews zealous for the Law are teaching) are the Lord's commandment."
The Apostle Paul quotes the Pharisaical Jews in Corinth the same way he quotes the pagan poets when he was in Athens. In Paul's famous message on Mars Hill, he says:
"God is not far from each one of us; for in him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, "For we His offspring." Being the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man." (Acts 17:27-29)
 Are you familiar with the pagan poet Paul quotes from as he addressed the Athenians? Probably not. His name was Disoemeia, and he was a native of Paul's hometown of Tarsus. He was a Greek poet the Athenians loved to quote. He was also a worshipper of Zeus. I give you Robert Browning's English translation of Cicero's Latin version of Disoemeia's ancient Greek poem Divine Signs from which Paul quotes.
"From Zeus we lead the strain; he whom mankind
Ne'er leave unhymned: of Zeus all public ways,
All haunts of men, are full; and full the sea,
And harbours; and of Zeus all stand in need.
For we are His offspring: and he, ever good and mild
Gives favouring signs, and rouses us to toil.
Calling to mind life's wants: when clods are best
For plough and mattock: when time is ripe
For planting vines and sowig seeds, he tells
Since he himself hath fixed in heaven these signs."
Paul quotes both pagan poets and proud Pharisees in Scripture, and if you use these quotations as if they are the Word of God, you will make the same mistakes that pagans and Pharisees make in their religious practices.

Just because you quote a passage from the Bible does not necessarily mean you are revealing the mind of God. Serious, Bible-believing Christians recognize that no individual verse or passage of Scripture can be correctly interpreted outside of the textual context and an understanding of the cultural climate of those to whom the letter was initially written.

The issue of womens' function and roles in the church generates much heat in the evangelical church. Those of us who believe in the infallibility of the sacred text should be very careful before using one's views on this issue as the standard for Christian orthodoxy. There is at least the possibility, if I'm correct in my interpretation, that those who urge women to be silent in the church because they "believe what the Bible says" actually may have more in common in their positions with pagan poets and proud Pharisees than the teachings of the Apostle Paul and Christ Himself.

Let's be humble about our position on women and realize that those of us who believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God always should be careful to discover what the Bible means.


Anonymous said...

PSST - Wade, I appreciate the substance and tone (towards those who may disagree with you) in this post. Tis' a cryin' shame that almost four decades of my life in Christ were spent with the voice of the sisters silenced based on the Word of God. PFFFFFFT! How applicable! ken

T. said...

Amen to this!!

I had a guy on facebook argue like some of the guys you mentioned about who love quoting "I Corinthians 14:34-35"

But I have always thought, if God can use a donkey to speak to a man, how can he not use women to reach others? I follow quite a few #StopSexTrafficking and #StopHumanTrafficking accounts on twitter. I have also thought, with many teens and women forced into sex trafficking and abused and tortured by men. I would guess many women rescued from "the life" might have a harder time accepting "The Good News" from men and men pastors. I would guess some women rescued would not believe a word a man might say "Even if his tongue came notarized" as a favorite judge I like quotes. So if God relied solely on men to preach, some women would not be reached and thus perish. But doesn't it say that God is patient so that none should perish?

If a woman can't be reached by a man with the good news I would guess God would raise up a woman to reach this woman and other women like her with his "Good News", least these women perish without ever hearing the good news.
But thats just what I have always thought when men say women can't be preachers.


Pege' said...

Wade, I have a 20ish something friend who said to me..." men
really have more gifts and more ministry because they can stand up when they pee'? I know it sounds crass. This was from a young woman who's father made her cur her beautiful hair in college because her mom read an article saying girls with long hair have a higher incidence of rape. She was put under church discipline because she refused to go to Bob Jones University as her father demanded she do. She was 23 at the time. She has been restricted from seeing her brother and sister because they accuse her of being in rebellion. She simply wanted to make her own educational choices. This is not unique to my young friend.
One of my daughters resigned her church membership 2 years ago because the teachings and limitations put on girls and women were the ones you addressed in your article. She is considered in that circle of believers to be "head strong" and "opinionated". She has even had some one say she would have a very difficult time getting married because she is not submissive enough.
Another daughter who was off to school to earn her PHD.... she was told she also would have a difficult time getting married, because men do not like smart women.
I myself have lost some friends because I was going in a different way than them in my belief about women having the same freedom in Jesus as the men do.
I have so many situations. Not being able to attend outings with out wearing a dress as a single women. Being confronted about wearing pants to a singles group, because there were men there.After being married, Jeff was offered a position as a deacon and was told I had to stop wearing pants if he accepted. Being encouraged not to speak in church bible studies where men were present. I was even told to "go be with the women" in a discussion about doctrine Jeff and I were having with another man.
I have been labeled a "FEMINIST".
Even in addressing a problem I had, tried talking with some elders in a church , Jeff and I talked about together before I did, He was communicated with instead of me. I was never directly addressed. Lots more but I will spare you.
At 53...I KNOW what it is to live free in Christ. To use ALL of my gifts freely and unashamed. I know what it is to have an abundant life, not living up to others interpretations and expectations. I AM A FEMINIST....A JESUS FEMINIST!!!

There is no freedom outside of Jesus. I am free from the law and of death. I am free of the curse. I will never be placed in mans bondage again. Thank you for writing this article and others like it.
Be very very are in the minority.

Anonymous said...

Mr Burleson then why do you continue to support a denomation that for the most part is on opposite ends of the board as you are concerning this and other important subjects? Please don't tell me you are working to bring about change because you know that is not about to happen anytime soon or ever.

Christiane said...

some time ago, I tried to discern how evangelical people arrive at their understanding of what sacred Scripture verses tell them as regards whether the verse is to be taken literally, or in context of the whole of the Bible, or in the context of Our Lord Himself, or historically, or figuratively, or poetically, or as WADE has brought up here a reference to a quote . . .

I could never sort it out. But I do realize how it can be that some interpretations of sacred Scripture can be manipulated to serve certain agendas . . . and the submission of women in patriarchy is one, yes. I began to understand where this could lead when I saw the arrival of a new doctrine: the Eternal Subordination of the Son, which is used to serve the openly patriarchal community and shore up their power. When people go to lengths where they are willing to manipulate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in order to back up their control of others, they have lost their way.

I applaud any efforts to understand sacred Scripture that are rooted in the Person of Our Lord. But it is obvious that the people who developed ESS were doing it to serve their own ends. The traditional Doctrine of the Holy Trinity does not allow for such thinking as is taught in ESS. ESS is rooted in an ancient Christian heresy, as WADE once pointed out.

I am grateful for those who try to understand sacred Scripture within the context of the whole Church and the sacred mission of the Church to preserve and pass down the teachings of the Apostles intact . . . the Doctrines of the Holy Trinity and of 'Who Christ Is' are a part of that treasure that is guarded by the Church and defended against heretics. My appreciation to all who interpret the sacred Scriptures in a way that honors Our Lord. I hope for the best outcome, when Our Lord is kept as the lens through which all of sacred Scripture is to be examined. It is that very lens that is inspired by the Holy Spirit Who points only to Christ.

Anonymous said...

Denomination spelled correctly this time.

Pege' said...

Anon...We have gone to quite a few SBC churches across the country and they were at polar opposites of what Wade has posted in this article. Emmanuel is far from the common SBC church.
I thank God for a godly man and leader who is willing not only to live but speak these truths.
He is making a difference in one church, in one community, in one state in one denomination. He must be where the Lord would have him be and if the Lord has not lead him to leave this denomination, he must stay.
I for one and glad he has.

Donald Johnson said...

I am egal, so I agree with your conclusions on 1 Cor 14:34-35 being a quote from Corinth. However, I disagree that Paul is rejecting Written Torah (Tanakh), rather, he is rejecting the so-called Oral Torah of the Pharisees. I think this makes much more sense when considering all of Scripture.

The word “law” (Greek nomos) in the NT might refer to the Torah/Pentateuch of Moses, the entire Tanakh (or Written Law, the Old Testament) or the so-called Oral Torah of the Pharisees, which was later written down in the Mishnah about 200 CE. There is no command for women to be silent or in submission in the Tanakh, but there is in the Mishnah, which is how we can figure out which law is meant.

Mishnah sotah 3.4; B sotah 20a.
Out of respect to the congregation, a woman should not herself read in the law. It is a shame for a woman to let her voice be heard among men. The voice of a woman is filthy nakedness.

The key verse is 1 Cor 14:36 and it is important to see that the Tanakh includes contributions from both men and women who were inspired by God to prophesy and otherwise speak authoritatively in the most authoritative way possible, namely Scripture.

Also consider Acts 21:18ff (esp. v. 24) where James knows Paul follows Torah and so asks Paul to prove it by a very expensive process.

P.S. In my understanding Jewish priests according to Torah did not rule over people, rather they served people by offering sacrifices, which involved hard work at times. It is true that there were exclusions about who could be a Jewish priest, but the leaders were the prophets and judges/kings of which we have women examples.

Anonymous said...

Pege ,my question was directed to Mr.Burleson so I would like to get my answer from him personally. Thanks for your input.

Wade Burleson said...

"Mr. Burleson then why do you continue to support a denomination that for the most part is on opposite ends of the board as you are concerning this and other important subjects? Please don't tell me you are working to bring about change because you know that is not about to happen anytime soon or ever."

Dear Anonymous,

Answer: The same reason that you stay in a marriage with someone who has faults, or continue to work at a business that isn't perfect, or associate yourself with a club or movement that isn't perfect - you believe that not everything is bad, and in fact, you love the good in your husband, the blessings associated with your work, and the benefit of your club or movement. What the SBC does in no form or fashion affects my local church. We have gifted men and women who lead, teach and serve, but what we do in union with the SBC (missions, disaster relief, hunger relief, etc...) is far more than our church could ever do alone.

Hope that answers your question.

obadiah said...

Please furnish documentation on the use of the η to indicate that the previous material is a citation. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Do you sir ever think there might be a reason to sever relations with the SBC or are you in for the long haul regardless?

Anonymous said...

Should your church ordain a woman pastor,in all probability the SBC would most likely withdraw fellowship from your church. Would you agree with that?

Wade Burleson said...


We don't "ordain" anyone - men or women - for in "religion" the word "ordination" usually connotes "authority over" and the "power" to "perform the ordinances." In our church, men and women can baptize, men and women can serve the Lord's supper, men and women can teach, men and women can serve in any capacity to which they are gifted. We will "license" because the "state" (of Oklahoma) requires it, and we'd have no problem "licensing" men or women for "What has Caesar to do with the church!" - :)

Wade Burleson said...


I am not sure I understand your request, but I'll try to give some online resources. A few of the ancient writers I have read (prior to the 18th century) believed 34-35 to be an interpolation, not a quotation, but the point is they did not believe these words to be Paul's. I firmly believe them to be a quotation of what the Corinthian Christians were being told the law said. Of course, one could find more ancient scholars who believed that these were Paul's words. Don Johnson has written an excellent article on I Corinthians 14:34-35 Man and Woman: One in Christ. In this book you will find the original sources you desires. For a blog that comes as close to a scholarly approach to this issue as you will find, and gives both the interpolation and the quotation views, I would direct you to Marge at New Life. Hope that helps!

Victorious said...

If I may add to Wade's resources for that little PFFFFT! word...

A book entitled "Why Not Women" by authors Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton (copyright 2000) has listed 14 individual verses in 1 Cor. where Paul introduces questions with that expletive. Their reference states that there are actually 49 (according to the UBS third edition of the Greek New Testament.) But adds that there are a few discrepancies with the Textus Receptus but none affect the structural issue discussed and with the discrepancies, the total would be 52 occurrences in Corinthians though some translations, i.e. the NIV have left it untranslated which may be because it carries more emotion than intellectual content.

The authors said Greek scholars call it an "expletive of disassociation" and used by Paul at times as an emotional rebuttal.

Having read that book about 13 yrs. ago, that particular detail answered a lot of questions for me about Paul's epistles.

Pege' said...

Anon....He did answer this question... You missed it.
"Do you sir ever think there might be a reason to sever relations with the SBC or are you in for the long haul regardless?"

Answer: The same reason that you stay in a marriage with someone who has faults, or continue to work at a business that isn't perfect, or associate yourself with a club or movement that isn't perfect - you believe that not everything is bad, and in fact, you love the good in your husband, the blessings associated with your work, and the benefit of your club or movement. What the SBC does in no form or fashion affects my local church. We have gifted men and women who lead, teach and serve, but what we do in union with the SBC (missions, disaster relief, hunger relief, etc...) is far more than our church could ever do alone.

Ramesh said...

An interesting read of the origins of hatred of Corinthian Jews against Paul of his teachings of Christ insisting on equality of ALL. In hindsight one can see the hatred against women being equal to men.

Semitic nomadic herders who were the invaders worshipped a male God Yahweh. And the land they were invading the people were worshipping goddesses in the mountains. At that time as per the Jews the goddesses were the abomination.

Two thousand years later comes Christ elevating women.

But it is hard to overthrow male dominance even then and over time the teachings and practices reverted back to male dominance.

Another two thousand years have passed. Women were finally stopped being property or loot or booty. They won the right to vote though vigorously opposed by organized church, including big time by SBC.

NOW more women are getting college degrees than men and hence being more educated than men whose hormones prevent them from learning or studying while in college when women are doing exceedingly well.

If this teaching of equality is not made then MORE people will desert the church and all male dominated religions.

Sad that this is so given the teachings of Christ of equality of ALL.

In lot of ways this quote of Nietzsche make more sense through all this:

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Anonymous said...

Just a comment from a slightly different point of view.

Bear in mind I do not believe scripture teaches this ESS hoo ha OR patriarchal culture. I wore jeans to church Sunday and am wearing pants as I right this. The SBC churches of my childhood had women teaching adult SS, serving on committees and yes, gasp, chairing them. But they did not ordain or call women to preach.

I personally believe we do need to return to the gender roles the Bible lays out--which are neither the interchangeable ones of feminism nor the strict keep the women down of patriarchy.

Which is part of why we are currently in another denom than Baptist, one that while it does ordain women seldom has them as pastor, and which we will quickly leave if the local church calls one.

Yeah, I'm old fashioned, maybe an idiot, but we find the middle ground more to our understanding.

That plus we don't figure gender is an accident of birth. If God wanted to call me to pastor a church, and gifted me to do so, would he have forgotten to make me male as an oversight or accident?


Anonymous said...

And I can spell write "right" but my auto correct apparently cannot.

poetrudy49 said...

I have been called to "Men's Ministry," was is God's sense of humor. I was molested by several family members from 22 months to 16 years, and raped at 3 and 7. God has completely restored me, delivered me, and trained me in LOVE. I am going to get to feed His sheep in "Cities of Refuge" that the Holy Spirit through many, will set up, to provide food, clothing, and shelter to the naked, needy, and desolate without regard to age, sex, religion, politics, or opinion. No, it will not be a NON PROFIT. I will own all the "territory." This is what the church continues to miss. Territory is what the enemy is after. It can only be won through prayer, following Jesus through enemy territory, enduring whatever is required....when the battle is won, then territory is granted. I can see now, on this side, why the enemy has fought me so hard. Jesus gave me the KEY to the's LOVE, and Compassion is the reward.

Wade Burleson said...

"That plus we don't figure gender is an accident of birth. If God wanted to call me to pastor a church, and gifted me to do so, would he have forgotten to make me male as an oversight or accident?"

Linda, I think your question is a good one, but there seems to be some pre-suppositions in it that I would like to clarify before I can properly answer it.

"We don't figure genders is an accident of birth" - Correct!

"If God wanted to call me to pastor a church, and gifted me to do so..."

(a). Pastor is a 'verb' - not a noun. There is no "office" of pastor, like there is an "office" of the President of the United States. To pastor is to "shepherd, to guide, to protect, to guard, etc..." like a shepherd does to sheep.
(b). "The church" is not a building, but rather it is people. So, Spirit-gifted shepherds "shepherd, guide, protect, and guard" people - not a building. In my experience, gifted women are wonderful protectors, guardians, guides and shepherds of people - much, much better then men who grasp offices and have no "call" to shepherd people.

Now to answer your question:

"If God wanted to call me to pastor a church (e.g. "shepherd people), and gifted me to do so (shepherd people), would he have forgotten to make me male as an oversight or accident?"

You assume that the only ones WHO CAN shepherd people are males. The whole point I am making is that in the New Covenant and on the basis of the authority of New Covenant Scriptures and the teachings of Christ and the apostles, proper shepherding, teaching, leading, guiding, encouraging and loving "the church" comes from those "Spirit-filled and Spirit-gifted" men and women whom are called by God (and His people), and not from those born of a particular gender or from those who grasp authority and power OVER others.

Hope that helps!

Wade Burleson said...


Powerful testimony! Thanks for sharing.

David said...

Regarding "PFFFFFFFFFFT!"... it's interesting to note that the first word of I Cor. 14:36 in the KJV is "WHAT?". I find it ironic that the one translation most probably use to quote the "silencing" of women would have one of the clearest uses of something like "PFFFFFFFFT!" Seems that "What?" would be obvious to most folks that some kind of reaction is taking place regarding what was just said.

Christiane said...

At the moment of the Incarnation, what became important wasn't being born a 'man' or a 'woman', what became important was that each of us is born 'fully human' as a person made in the image of God.

It is our human nature that Christ assumed. It is our broken humanity that He has the power to heal.

Loddie R said...

Wade, I think the issue is “does Paul mean what he says.” How about we let Paul tell us if he means what he says because he does just that.

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy he told him “I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth.”(1:3) He then warns Timothy about those in the church who “want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently.” (1:7) A confident speaker can still be one who is deceived. Then in verse 18 Paul tells Timothy, “my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier.” And thus Paul begins his instructions to Timothy with “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (2:1) First duty of an elder is certainly prayer.

He gives further instruction and begins in verse 8 “In every place of worship.” This would be all the churches Paul had started and visited. So what Paul wants in place in every church is clearly stated. So let’s read Paul’s own words and believe he is saying what he means about women in the Ephesus church services.

Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. (vs 11-14)

Wade, does this sound familiar? Do you think Paul means what he is saying here to Timothy or is he just again quoting the disgusting position of the Jews as you contend and confidently expects Timothy to respond with something like, “Yeaaaaah, right Paul. I will put the hammer to the women here in Ephesus. "PFFFFFFFFFFFFT!" I know what your real attitude is towards women so you can trust me to never put this charge in place in Ephesus. You really are the jokester.” Come on Wade, if Paul meant what you say he did in the Corinthian letter then he has to be writing this facetiously to Timothy. And yet….

Paul tells Timothy after further instructions, “I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (vs 14&15) Then in chapter 4 Paul tells Timothy to “explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed.” (4:6) These things certainly include the instructions Paul gave to Timothy. And once more he charges Timothy “Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them.” (v 11)

Paul’s final instruction to Timothy once again charges the young man with “Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth.” (6:2-5)

Sounds like the same rebuke Paul gave the Corinthians about contending with his stipulation on women in their services. He told the Corinthians they were refusing to recognize that his instructions were of the Lord and that is exactly what he saying about the Ephesians who would contend with Timothy over Paul’s instructions for their church. I believe Paul means what he says. Can't figure out why you don't.

Wade Burleson said...


It's obvious you've not read my many writings on I Timothy 2.

See here
as an example.

We may not agree, and you may not see as I see, but we can both affirm the Scriptures infallibility and our respective inability to fully comprehend veracity in its entirety.

Bill M said...

When dealing with discrepancies I try to use that which follows the clear and oft repeated intent. Jesus and his disciples continually emphasized the rules are changed, there is to be no hierarchy, in particular no male privilege.

So in this case, thank you for resolving one of the discrepancies, your argument makes sense.

RB Kuter said...


This post is very helpful in proposing an explanation as to the otherwise contradictions between this Passage and the way Paul seems to have actually functioned in his church planting work. Thank you for that and for providing the astute insights into the relative Greek script. That's very helpful to me.

Given your take on this matter of women in ministry, I wonder how many times you have invited women to preach in your Sunday morning worship services? Have you ever had, or considered having, a woman as your Associate Pastor who might likely be identified as the substitute "preacher" when you were absent? Have women ever pursued filling a role of pastor in any church in your Association?

If not, in the event that a woman did seek to fill that role would you endorse her in that role as a means of opening the doors for other women to serve as pastors in SB churches? I ask these questions simply to ascertain your actual functioning as someone who supports women in all church leadership positions.

There is one other statement you made in a response on this post that raises some questions, for me at least. You made the comment, "We don't "ordain" anyone - men or women - for in "religion" the word "ordination" usually connotes "authority over" and the "power" to "perform the ordinances." You went on to say that you "license" anyone as obligated to do by state law.

Do you have any standards or guidelines as to who is qualified to be "licensed" or is that simply done by completing a governmental form for that purpose? If you see that "licensing" as a matter of the "state" only, why would you have any other standards to qualify one seeking to be a licensed "pastor", so to speak?

Contrary to your perception of "ordination" as being a tradition of "religion" and meant to be used to control, or exert power over others, etc., Scripture clearly depicts a process of "ordination" in the earliest church although it was not labeled with the word, "ordination". It was a process of examination and confirmation of church leadership by others who had already undergone that process. It was meant to maintain the integrity of leadership positions and add credibility to those acknowledged as being "Biblically" qualified to serve in those positions.

This is an essential element in protecting the leadership roles of the church; pastor and deacons (or elders as one may propose). Sorry to hear that your church does not follow that Biblical standard.

Unknown said...

Hmmm ... interesting argument. The biggest hole seems to be in the Greek. 1 Corinthians has a lot of quotes attributed to Paul's opponents, for example, the two quotes "All things are lawful for me" and "food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food" in 1 cor 6:12-13 and another in 1 Cor 6:18. None of them contain the eta of "PFFFT". And most major Bible translations recognize them as quotes. No major translation recognizes 1 Cor 14 as a quote. I also don't see the argument made in any critical (even the liberal ones) commentary. In fact, BDAG's Greek-English Lexicon (which records every possible use of every word ever recorded in Koine Greek in any known document) is the standard for Christian and non-Christian scholars alike. Now, one can hardly say that the secular university of the late 20th century has a profound anti-feminist bias, but strangely enough, BDAG couldn't find a single example of the eta of "PFFFT" in all of Koine Greek literature. I imagine LSJ (the classic Greek dictionary) also doesn't find the eta of "PFFFT" in classical Greek literature. Eta seems to be used as "or", "rather", or to introduce rhetorical questions. It might be more accurate to call it the eta of "I didn't do well in Greek" or the eta of "sometimes I bend the facts to make a point".

Unknown said...

For your reference, BDAG on eta .... you'll notice that it is remarkable complete.

ἤ particle (Hom.+).
① marker of an alternative, or, disjunctive particle (B-D-F §446; Rob. 1188f)
ⓐ separating
α. opposites, which are mutually exclusive λευκὴν ἢ μέλαιναν Mt 5:36. ἰδοὺ ἐκεῖ [ἢ] ἰδοὺ ὧδε Lk 17:23. ψυχρὸς ἢ ζεστός Rv 3:15. ἐξ οὐρανοῦ ἢ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων from God or fr. humans Mt 21:25. δοῦναι ἢ οὔ to give or not (to give) 22:17; cp. Mk 12:14. ἀγαθὸν ποιῆσαι ἢ κακοποιῆσαι 3:4. Cp. Lk 2:24; Ro 14:4; 1 Cor 7:11 (cp. Ath. 2:4 ἀγαθὸς ἢ πονηρός).
β. related and similar terms, where one can take the place of the other or one supplements the other τὸν νόμον ἢ τοὺς προφήτας Mt 5:17 (JosAs 2:11 ἀνὴρ … ἢ παιδίον ἄρρεν; Just., D. 93, 4 φιλίαν ἢ ἀγάπην; schol. on Soph., Oed. Col. 380 Papag. ἢ ἀντὶ τοῦ καὶ ἐστί) πόλιν ἢ κώμην 10:11. ἔξω τ. οἰκίας ἢ τ. πόλεως ἐκείνης vs. 14. πατέρα ἢ μητέρα vs. 37. τέλη ἢ κῆνσον 17:25. οὐ μὴ ἀποκριθῆτέ μοι ἢ ἀπολύσητε Lk 22:68 v.l. πρόσκομμα ἢ σκάνδαλον Ro 14:13; cp. vs. 21 v.l. εἰς τίνα ἢ ποῖον καιρόν 1 Pt 1:11. νοῆσαι ἢ συνιέναι B 10:12. Cp. Mk 4:17; 10:40; Lk 14:12; J 2:6; Ac 4:34; 1 Cor 13:1; AcPlCor 2:26.
ⓑ ἤ … ἤ either … or Mt 6:24; 12:33; Lk 16:13; AcPlCor 1:7f. ἤ … ἤ … ἤ either … or … or (Philod., οἰκ. col. 22, 41 Jensen; Just., A I, 28, 4 al; Mel., P. 36, 246f) 1 Cor 14:6 (ἤ four times as Libanius, Or. 28 p. 48, 15 F and Or. 31 p. 130, 7; Just., D. 85, 3). Eph 5:4 v.l. ἤτοι … ἤ (Hdt., Thu. et al. [s. Kühner-G. II 298]; PTebt 5, 59; PRyl 154, 25; Wsd 11:18; TestSol 10:28 C [without ἤ]; Philo, Op. M. 37; Jos., Ant. 18, 115; Just., D. 6, 1; 100, 3; Ath. 8, 1 and R. 52, 26) either … or Ro 6:16.
ⓒ In neg. statements ἤ comes to mean nor, or, when it introduces the second, third, etc., item ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ Mt 5:18. πῶς ἢ τί how or what 10:19; cp. Mk 7:12; J 8:14; Ac 1:7. οὐκ ἐδόξασαν ἢ ηὐχαρίστησαν Ro 1:21. διαθήκην οὐδεὶς ἀθετεῖ ἢ ἐπιδιατάσσεται Gal 3:15. ἵνα μή τις δύνηται ἀγοράσαι ἢ πωλῆσαι so that no one can either buy or sell Rv 13:17.—Phil 3:12.—Likew. in neg. rhetorical questions; here present-day English idiom, making the whole sentence neg., requires the transl. or Mt 7:16; cp. Mk 4:21; 1 Cor 1:13; Js 3:12.
ⓓ Gener., ἤ oft. occurs in interrog. sentences
α. to introduce and to add rhetorical questions (Just., D 2, 4 al.; Ath. 8:3 al.) ἢ δοκεῖς ὅτι; or do you suppose that? Mt 26:53. ἢ Ἰουδαίων ὁ θεὸς μόνον; or is God the God of the Judeans alone? Ro 3:29. ἢ ἀγνοεῖτε; or do you not know? 6:3; 7:1; also ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε; 11:2; 1 Cor 6:9, 16, 19; cp. 10:22; 2 Cor 11:7.
β. to introduce a question which is parallel to a preceding one or supplements it Mt 7:10; οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε …; ἢ οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε …; have you not read … ? Or have you not read … ? Mt 12:(3), 5; cp. Lk 13:4; Ro 2:4; 1 Cor 9:6 (cp. Just., D. 27, 5 al.; Mel., P. 74, 541 ἢ οὐ γέγραπταί σοι …;)—Mt 20:15; 1 Cor 11:22; 2 Cor 3:1.
γ. in the second member of direct or indir. double questions: πότερον … ἤ (Aeschyl., Hdt. et al.) whether, if … or J 7:17; B 19:5; D 4:4; Hs 9, 28, 4. ἤ … ἤ … ἤ … ἤ whether … or … or … or (Hom.; Theognis 913f; oracle in Hdt. 1, 65, 3; Theocr. 25, 170f et al.; s. Kühner-G. II 530, 12) Mk 13:35. Usu. the first member is without the particle Mt 27:17; J 18:34; Ac 8:34; Ro 4:10; 1 Cor 4:21; Gal 1:10; 3:2, 5.
δ. used w. an interrog. word, mostly after another interrog. sentence ἢ τίς; Mt 7:9; Mk 11:28; Lk 14:31; 20:2; J 9:21; Ro 3:1; 2 Cl 1:3; 6:9. τίς …; τίς …; ἢ τίς …; 1 Cor 9:7. τί …; ἢ τί …; what … ? Or what? Mt 16:26; 1 Cor 7:16.—ἢ πῶς: ἢ πῶς ἐρεῖς; or how can you say? Mt 7:4; cp. 12:29; Lk 6:42 v.l. (cp. JosAs 6:2; Tat. 17, 3 al.).

William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 432–433.

Unknown said...

and here's the rest.
② a particle denoting comparison, than, rather than
ⓐ after a comparative before the other member of the comparison ἀνεκτότερον … ἤ more tolerable … than Mt 10:15; cp. 11:22, 24; Lk 10:12. εὐκοπώτερον … ἤ Mt 19:24; Mk 10:25; cp. Lk 9:13; J 4:1. μᾶλλον ἤ more, rather … than Mt 18:13; J 3:19; Ac 4:19; 5:29; 1 Cor 9:15; 1 Cl 2:1a; 14:1; 21:5. For numerals without ἤ after πλείων and ἐλάσσων, e.g. Mt 26:53 (πλείους ἤ v.l. and var. edd.), s. B-D-F §185, 4 (cp. comp. Ath. 16, 8 μηδὲν πλέον [ἢ corr.] ὅσον ἐκελεύσθησαν).
ⓑ also without a preceding comp. (Kühner-G. II 303; B-D-F §245, 3).
α. w. verbs without μᾶλλον (Job 42:12) χαρὰ ἔσται ἐπὶ ἑνὶ ἢ ἐπὶ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα there will be more joy over one than over 99 Lk 15:7. λυσιτελεῖ … ἤ it would be better … than 17:2 (cp. Andoc. 1, 125 τεθνάναι νομίσασα λυσιτελεῖν ἢ ζῆν; Tob 3:6 BA). θέλω … ἤ I would rather … than 1 Cor 14:19 (cp. Epict. 3, 1, 41; BGU 846, 16 [II A.D.] θέλω πηρὸς γενέσται [= γενέσθαι], εἲ [= ἢ] γνοῦναι, ὅπως ἀνθρόπῳ ἔτι ὀφείλω ὀβολόν ‘I had rather become maimed than know that I still owe someone an obol’ [1/6 of a drachma]; Hos 6:6; 2 Macc 14:42; Jos., Ant. 18, 59; Just., A I, 15, 8. βούλομαι … ἤ I had rather … , than as early as Hom., e.g. Il. 1, 117).
β. after the positive degree (as early as Hdt. 9, 26) καλόν ἐστιν … ἤ it is better … than Mt 18:8, 9; Mk 9:43, 45, 47; 1 Cl 51:3 (Gen 49:12; Ps 117:8f; Sir 20:25; 22:15; Jon 4:3, 8; 4 Macc 9:1. Cp. Polyaenus 8, 49 καλὸν ἀποθανεῖν ἢ ζῆν; Philemon Com. no. 203 θανεῖν κράτιστόν [=far better] ἐστιν ἢ ζῆν ἀθλίως).
γ. ἤ is used in comparison, w. the idea of exclusion (Ps.-Callisth. 1, 37, 4 μέμφεσθε τὸν ἑαυτῶν βασιλέα ἢ ἐμέ=‘blame your own king, not me’; Gen 38:26 δεδικαίωται Θαμαρ ἢ ἐγώ; 2 Km 19:44; Just., A I, 15, 8 on Lk 5:32 θέλει ὁ πατὴρ τὴν μετάνοιαν ἢ τὴν κόλασιν) δεδικαιωμένος ἢ ἐκεῖνος rather than (=and not) the other man Lk 18:14 v.l.
ⓒ οὐδὲν ἕτερον ἤ nothing else than (cp. X., Cyr. 2, 3, 10; 7, 5, 41; Jos., Ant. 8, 104; Tat. 15, 2; cp. οὐδὲν ἄλλο … ἤ Just., A I, 33, 6 al.; Ath. 18, 1 μὴ εἶναι … ἕτερον τρόπον … ἢ τοῦτον) Ac 17:21. τί … ἤ what other … than (X., Oec. 3, 3; TestJob 42:5; s. Kühner-G. II 304, 4) 24:21.
ⓓ πρὶν ἤ before (Ionism, very rare in Attic wr., but common in the Koine [e.g. Nicol. Dam.: 90 Fgm. 130, 14 p. 397, 9 Jac.; Diod S 1, 64, 7; 1, 92, 4; Jos., Ant. 8, 345; Just., A I, 12, 10 al.; Tat. 6:1 al.]: ATschuschke, De πρίν particulae apud scriptores aetatis Augusteae prosaicos usu, diss. Bresl. 1913, 31; 33. S. also πρίν a).
α. w. aor. inf. foll. (Aelian, VH 1, 5; Herodian 2, 3, 2; Wsd 2:8; Sir 11:8 al.) and accompanying acc. (Nicol. Dam.: 90 Fgm. 128, 14 [Βίος] p. 397, 9 Jac.; Aelian, VH 1, 21; PSI 171, 25 [II B.C.]; Sir 48:25; Tob 2:4; 3:8; 8:20; TestReub 1:1) Mt 1:18; Mk 14:30; Ac 7:2.
β. foll. by aor. subj. and ἄν Lk 2:26 (without ἄν Jos., Ant. 4, 10).
γ. foll. by pres. opt. Ac 25:16.
ⓔ used w. other particles
α. ἀλλʼ ἤ s. ἀλλά 1a.

Gordon said...

Should women be ordained to ministry in the Church ? Wrong question ! Should men be ordained ?. In our gathered church we believe in and practise the New Covenant standard of the priesthood and prophethood of ALL believers.
Jesus is present with us as LORD, leader , teacher and instructor by His holy spirit and through the Scriptures. Within our fellowship everyone is ordained, everyone is licenced, everyone is called to worship, to teach , to witness and to serve according to their giftedness, experience and training. We recognise them by accepting their gifts and not through any process of apostolic succession . We try to get everyone engaged and so minimise unemployment in our fellowship.

We decline to make a distinction between clergy and laity....ALL are one in Christ Jesus. Some people are chosen to head up specific tasks for a specific time, but we don't 'ordain' the preacher/teacher anymore than we would the treasurer or secretary . The practise of sacramental ordination of men or women sets up an unhelpful operating structure for the church. It also places such an unmanageable burden on the Priest/Pastor/Minister that almost every week a shipwreck is reported.

We consider 'leadership' to be a function of purpose. Anyone in the congregation who actively promotes our core purposes is seen as showing qualities of leadership. Here the men are trying hard to keep up with the good work of the women and young people. We are blessed !

poetrudy49 said...

We could argue all day long over religion, what's biblical, but have any of you fought God over NOT having authority. A long time friend of mine, defriended me on Facebook for the third time. I told her I was no longer open to being "friends" on Facebook. She IMed me back saying, "Do you know WHY I defriended you? You speak with authority."Immediately, I began arguing with Jesus, siting, "I didn't sign up for that. I don't want any type of authority, Jesus." My heart is to LOVE people. I didn't know authority or power was required for that. As I was driving out of a women's shelter, the Holy Spirit says, "Trudy, do you want to know what authority accompanies love?" Intrigued, I asked, "There's an authority that accompanies love?" He answered, "Yes. It is WISDOM. You know Him as Jesus. You've had it for quite a while now, but you just see the operation as 'Opportunity.' No one can argue with Truth that touches the hurting root of another individual." Wow! All authority is given by God. It is not earned or rewarded; it is granted....for the sole purpose of growing UP saints of God. It is not for the promotion of self, rather the crucifixion of the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.

Victorious said...

Trudy, while I agree with your comment that arguing about authority is not where we should be focusing, I do think the focus is stated in the title of this post of Wade's...."Rightly Dividing God's Word."

That, unfortunately, does involve some debating, strong opinions, and diligent efforts to expose erroneous interpretations of scripture. False teachings that seem to reflect a God who is partial/biased based on gender need to be examined and corrected.

To that end, Paul's teachings appear to contradict those of Jesus and that's why they require some in-depth, careful attention.

As I see it....

poetrudy49 said...

God is always after the heart. Is your heart to KNOW Jesus or to see where He has placed you in His Kingdom. When I was 11 years old, my Mama took me to prayer meetings at the Pentecostal church we attended. Most of the time, I endured, but this one time, I asked, "Jesus who loves you no matter what?" The Holy Spirit answered, "No one (only God is LOVE)." I prayed the deepest prayer from my heart, "Jesus, I know what that feels like...people always giving to get. I want to love you with all of me, not wanting anything in return." He has been answering that prayer ever since. We are children of His Kingdom. We can have anything we want. Daddy God gave His only son to pay the price for sin so that when we desire, it can be our true desire. Unfortunately, fear and sin cover our souls to obscurity and we accept the false self as truth...then get mad at God for His "NO!" If we want to know WHO we are, we, the true us, loving without fear, that can only be found in Him. When He is the whole focus, all arguments are silenced.

Wade Burleson said...

To RRR (Part One),

"Contrary to your perception of "ordination" as being a tradition of "religion" and meant to be used to control, or exert power over others, etc., Scripture clearly depicts a process of "ordination" in the earliest church although it was not labeled with the word, "ordination""

You make two excellent points.

(1). Indeed, my "perception" is that "ordination" has turned into a sense of "power" and "authority" over other people - in both conservative circles where only "men" are ordained, and in what some might call "liberal" circles where "women, men, homosexuals, etc..." are ordained. In both cases, ordination is to an "office" of pastor - or an "office" or "position" of authority over (similar to "President of the United States"). No where in Scripture do I see the "Position" of pastor or the "Office" of pastor. Pastoring is a verb - serving, guiding, protecting, empowering, and loving others in their walk with Christ. So I concede that I'm giving "my impression" but it seems to me this is the state of religious "ordination."

(2). You are spot on when you note the Bible does not even use the word "ordination." There is a setting a part of different men and women, according to their giftedness, for ministry and service to the body of Christ. We don't call this "ordination," we call it "laying on of hands" and "commissioning."

We do this for missionary service. We do this for pastoral service. We do this for member service, etc... What's the process? We examine a person's life and walk with Christ, we get to know them and identify their gifts, we listen to their vision or calling to serve in particular ministry to the body of Christ, and then we set them aside to that ministry through simply acknowledge those gifts and calling as from the Lord. IF the ministry to which they are called potentially involves any kind of marriage counseling or if the service performed is to a body of people who gather on a regular, weekly basis (ie. "the church") then the state requires a license to perform weddings and a license for certain tax code provisions for "pastors." We will license because the state requires it, but truthfully, there would never be any paperwork done by us when we lay on hands and challenge those gifted and called unless the state required it.

Wade Burleson said...

To RRR (Part Two)

So, to answer your question, "Do you have any females who have ever been invited to teach or preach?" All the time: We have small group teachers who are female, women have read Scripture, exhorted others from Scripture and prayed during worship services. If there was a gifted female communicator of God's word (like Billy Graham's daughter) who was available and willing to come to Emmanuel Enid for a Sunday morning service, she'd definitely be allowed to teach from Scripture. "Do you have any females who serve in the pastoral role at Emmanuel?" Yep. We have some very gifted females who shepherd others in various ministries at Emmanuel (pastors) - of course the Southern Baptist Convention says you can't "ordain" them, and since ordination is never a question for us at Emmanuel (we don't ordain anybody), this isn't an issue. However, we do license males and females to ministry if the ministry involves shepherding - for remember, shepherding is a verb, not an office.

Gordon (above) makes an excellent point - one that resonates with me and summarizes our practice at Emmanuel Enid:

"We decline to make a distinction between clergy and laity....ALL are one in Christ Jesus. Some people are chosen to head up specific tasks for a specific time, but we don't 'ordain' the preacher/teacher anymore than we would the treasurer or secretary . The practice of sacramental ordination of men or women sets up an unhelpful operating structure for the church. It also places such an unmanageable burden on the Priest/Pastor/Minister that almost every week a shipwreck is reported. We consider 'leadership' to be a function of purpose. Anyone in the congregation who actively promotes our core purposes is seen as showing qualities of leadership. Here the men are trying hard to keep up with the good work of the women and young people. We are blessed !"

Of course, 75% of the people who attend our church come from traditional churches and not everyone understands New Covenant roles of leadership. Even worse, the government requires an institution (unfortunately) and so the line is often blurred when speaking about government matters compared to organic, spiritual church matters.

Good discussion.

RB Kuter said...


Thanks a lot for your thorough thoughts, explanations and descriptions of how your church functions. I also appreciate your openness to my questions and the trust indicated toward my motives which is apparent in your response.

I imagine that we basically agree on the definitions of most principles even though our preferred applications might be of a more diverse nature.

Loddie R said...

Wade, I read your article on 1st Timothy and something became very obvious to me. I don’t think you are even aware of it. But it has to do with perspective. I believe many people in the body of Christ struggle with the issue of perspective. Let me try to explain.

One definition of perspective is the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it. An example of this is found in Isaiah 53. This was a human perspective, “He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him…we [ignorantly] assumed that He was stricken, struck down by God and degraded and humiliated [by Him].” Even the Law, God’s Word, could have been quoted to prove this perspective true (Duet 21:23). But God’s perspective was different. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness; the punishment for our well-being fell on Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” This can only be known in the heart of man by a divine revelation. God only can open our eyes to His perspective.

This is also true when dealing with the circumstances or people involved. For instance in Exodus 16 “The whole congregation of the Israelites [grew discontented and] murmured and rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.” From the human perspective the Israelites saw Moses and Aaron as the ones to blame for their miserable condition. But God was the one who had brought them to the hard circumstances they were in. So Moses tells them, though they are venting their anger at he and Aaron, they are in fact, from God’s perspective, striving with their maker.

After reading your two articles it dawned on me that you are addressing this issue from a human perspective. How do I know? You are making Paul the issue. Does he mean what he says or does he mean what he means? Then you proceed with historical narrative to cleverly massage Paul’s words to be really refuting the Jewish tradition of suppressing women that was happening at Corinth or stopping a particular bullish woman in Ephesus from teaching error. Even the title of your article “Christians Are to Serve Based on Our Giftedness, Not Our Gender” is from the human perspective.

I take Paul at his word. “As [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people).” It is not two isolated cases but what Paul established in all the churches he started. “Let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.” This is the crux of the matter. It is in reality from God’s perspective, the doings of Christ, not Paul. Jesus has set this requirement in place for HIS Church and Paul was simply the hand of Christ to bring it about.

Wade, doesn’t it make sense to go to Christ with a teachable heart and seek him for understanding as to why he set this requirement for women in place in his church? I did and when the Lord started to open my heart to his perspective it cleared up some of the misgivings and questions I had about Paul’s instructions. What Christ revealed to me has nothing to do with stifling or hindering women in the body of Christ. It is not about gifting, calling or service but about the heart. Our focus is most often on doing or accomplishing things for the Christ. But with the Lord it is always about the heart. I would suggest starting with reading 1 Corinth 11:1-16 again and see where the Lord might take you from there.

Anyway I thank our Lord for the light of his glory that shines brightly in the lives of you and your family. May that light ever grow brighter and be such a blessing to all those Christ will touch through your lives.

RB Kuter said...

Loddie, you do open another can of worms.

Gordon said...

The good news is that men and women have been set free to minister and serve the Living God in all aspects of the Gospel.

Gender equality in ministry should be understood in the light of the wider teaching and practise of the New covenant church. On the Day of Pentecost the ministry of the Word was opened up to all persons and genders. Joel had predicted in ch. 2:16-18 that the time would come when both men and women will take part in the ministry of the Word. Peter confirms that with the coming of the new order the time for change has arrived.

As with any major cultural changes, it takes a little time for this to sink in and to be accepted as the normal situation under the New Covenant. Some are still fighting the change today but the war is over since grace arrived through Jesus Christ. A few die-hard women may still wear hats to church to prove a point for mild conscience's sake but they do know that God looks on the heart rather than the head. It is not what goes on the head that matters but what comes out of the heart, mouth and behavior of all of us.

Not many women have husbands to whom they can turn for explanations of the sermon. In fact, I have often turned to my wife in the car going home to get her take on what the preacher was talking about.

As for women's long hair being a natural sign of them being second grade, this is purely a cultural matter. It has no significance as an analogy of principle for the millions of women in Africa where men and women all have the same length of hair by creation.

The Scripture teaches we are All one in Christ Jesus....equal but not identical. (The French would say: Viva la difference !)

God created mankind (Adam) both male and female...with Eve inside Adam. They were of one essence, undivided even when separated.
The new Adam, Jesus Christ, has restored that essential understanding of equality, oneness and cooperation in the relationship between men and women.

" In the Lord, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
For as woman came from man , so also is man born of woman.
But everything comes from God." ALLELUIA !

1 Corinthians 11: 1-12

Wade Burleson said...


Thanks for your comment and your spirit in disagreement. May followers of Jesus always be as charitable. Of course, I disagree with your assessment that I address Scripture from a "human perspective," for I believe the Scripture is God's word, infallible, and when rightly divided, "profitable for instruction, reproof, doctrine, and equipping." It is the rightly dividing where we disagree.


Yep. Yep. Yep.

RB Kuter said...


Thanks for your comments. We frequently hear people deal with those Biblical contents that contrast to today's culture as you have done. You "might" be correct. I personally am uncomfortable with explaining these things (as women functioning in roles traditionally filled by men, head coverings, etc.) by proposing that it represents the culture of the times of the early church and therefor not valid in today's society. That is very subjective and could be a basis for arguing against all sorts of Biblical positions written in black and white.

Societies, traditions and cultures do change, but often it is not due to God's acceptance of the position of contemporary society and cultures; i.e., "the world". Often the changes are in direct contrast to God's will as defined in His written Word.

I'm not arguing against your position. My wife doesn't cover her head at church. Her hair is short. I'm just saying that to defend our cultural traditions that directly contrast the Biblical writings by saying that "things change" is a very weak basis. We all know that God's Word, His will, His plan, and His standards are timeless and do not shift with the winds of cultures and societies. True that the New Covenant introduced an entirely new perspective, but its application is not so easily interpreted.