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Bible verses about Women in Authority
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 3:16-17

Eve's curse has resulted in the virtual subjugation of women ever since. Until the Enlightenment in the 18th century, women had few rights, if any. Fathers sold their daughters into slavery or wed them to the highest bidder. Wives existed to give the husband pleasure and sons and to keep the house. Many societies insisted that women be veiled in public, and some considered it a criminal act for a woman to walk out of her house without a chaperone. In short, a woman was chattel.

Not every society was this strict. Because of God's law, Israel was one of the most enlightened in this area. Israelite women had certain rights of inheritance, and they could even own land and run businesses (Proverbs 31:16, 24), situations unheard of in other nations. Deborah, an ancient Margaret Thatcher, judged Israel and gave her people forty years of peace (Judges 4:4; 5:31). An Israelite woman's life has frequently been better than her Gentile counterpart's because of Israel's acquaintance with the Bible.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
A Woman's World


 

Isaiah 3:1-3

The prophet paints a picture of a society that, because of its rejection of God's way, has lost its ability to produce leaders in every sector. Someone must lead, thus the leadership positions are filled by children—immature, inexperienced, and self-involved adults who act like children—and women. These "women" can be literal women, or they can represent men who act like women.

The example Isaiah gives in verses 6-7 is quite picturesque. He imagines a group of people living amidst the crumbling remains of a once-proud city. One of them, unwilling himself to lead, implores his brother to take the responsibility of ruling those left after the repeated disasters that strike a wicked, disintegrating nation. The brother glances around and says, "Don't look at me! I've got nothing to offer! I have no idea how to even begin to fix this mess!" One is left with the impression that, since no one will stand up to lead, the desolation will continue.

God clearly points the finger of blame directly at the "women" who lead the people. They cause the nation to go astray in two ways: by implementing ungodly programs themselves or by weakly standing by as others do so. We have seen this happen in the nations of Israel over the past several decades, and the results are plain: They have rent the fabric of society and torn the nations' religious underpinnings to shreds.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Let Boys Be Boys!


 

Isaiah 3:12

This sounds condemnatory to women in positions of leadership, but this is only part of the story. Earlier in the chapter, God heaps most of the blame on the heads of men. Because men, whom God created and appointed to lead their families and the nation, abdicate their roles and positions in the home and society, women and "children" (the inexperienced and unqualified) take up the slack. In acting outside the bounds of their created makeup, God shows, women and children tend to hasten a nation's fall.

Obviously, exceptions exist. Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Britain, led her nation to regain much of its lost power and prestige in the 1980s. However, her accomplishments also prove the point. Britain's "Iron Lady" succeeded because SHE GOVERNED LIKE A MAN! Christopher Caldwell, in an article titled "The Feminization of America," published in the Weekly Standard, December 23, 1996, concurs:

[T]op leadership positions in any society typically go to the more aggressive, not to the smarter. . . . Women who do make it to the top tend to lead "male" lives.

Thus, it is not a matter that women cannot lead, but that, generally, women should not lead. From the beginning, God placed men in the role of leader and provider (Genesis 3:16-19) and women as partners with their husbands and homemakers (Genesis 2:18; 3:16). Paul's instructions in Titus 2:4-5 verify that these roles did not change under the New Covenant.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
A Woman's World


 

Isaiah 3:16-26

Isaiah 3:16—4:1 and Amos 4:1-3 paint rather uncomplimentary pictures of women in our time. Both predict captivity and great humiliation to the women who oppress the poor and needy, satiate their desires, and proudly vaunt their power. We need not be terribly observant to recognize that we have reached such a state in our society. It will not be long before God acts to correct it.

The genie is out of the bottle. Radical feminism will not go away until Christ returns to usher in true cooperation and proper balance between men and women. When He sets up His government, "the times of restoration of all things" will begin (Acts 3:21), and He will declare the eternal end of the battle of the sexes. Then it will not be a woman's world—or a man's world—but God's world!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
A Woman's World


 

Amos 4:1-3

"Cows of Bashan" (Amos 4:1-4) is a figure or symbol for the Israelite women in Samaria. Amos implies that these women are the trendsetters and leaders in Israelite society, a course Judah also took before she fell (Isaiah 3:12). Apparently, when nations degenerate, leaders of society, who should be setting the standards, are replaced by women and children (or the immature), who, Isaiah says, "cause [them] to err, and destroy the way of [their] paths."

In the United States, women have traditionally been the guardians of moral standards. In general, women have had high standards, while many men have held double standards. Amos, however, shows that the women of his day had slipped so far that they were "leading the pack" in immorality. And in America, the same is true: Women are becoming just as immoral as men. Between 1990 and 1991, according to the Uniform Crime Reports for the United States, the female crime rate increased 15.2 percent while the male crime rate increased by 17.4 percent.

Apparently, God built safeguards into women to ensure that some measure of right ideals, standards, and practices are passed on to the next generation. This gives a measure of stability to a society. Men, with their mind-set of aggressive ambition and their desire to compete and conquer, tend to focus on achievement, often at the expense of morality and ethics. In general, women are not designed for this role, and when they begin to fill it, a nation is on its way down very rapidly.

Besides this, a growing number of women today pursue full-time career positions for reasons of "fulfillment," personal ambition, and social advancement, diminishing their high calling as wives and mothers. Womanhood, marriage, and homemaking (Titus 2:5) have become subservient to the selfish accumulation of things. Unfortunately, many women have to work these days just to make ends meet. Primarily, Amos is speaking to the selfish, power-hungry, ruthless women we often see portrayed on television and in movies.

Amos impolitely calls them a very demeaning name: a bunch of well-fed cows. Like cows, they are just following the herd. They are content with an animal existence; that is, they are completely carnal in their outlook (Romans 8:5-7). Their concern is only for the beautification, care, and satiation of their own bodies. They live only for themselves, not for God. Isaiah captures their attitude in a word—complacent (Isaiah 32:9-11).

Like their husbands, these cows of Bashan oppress the poor and crush the needy. By demanding more things, they push their husbands to succeed—at the expense of the weak. With the attitude shown in this passage, though, they probably did not care as long as their "needs" were met.

The word translated "fishhooks" (verse 2) is quite obscure in the Hebrew, but it suggests that these lazy women will be ignominiously herded into captivity. Some have suggested it means carried away on the shields of their enemies or pulled on a leash.

In any case, those who formerly lay on the beds of ivory and on plush couches, pandering to themselves, will be led in humiliation through Samaria and into slavery. Isaiah also describes the same scene in Isaiah 3:16-26. Because of their oppression and their haughty self-concern, their riches and beauty will be stripped away, and they will be left with nothing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

1 Timothy 2:12-15

Paul comments on the woman's curse in this passage, a section of Scripture that has come under a great deal of scrutiny in recent years. What is immediately striking about Paul's reasoning and conclusion on Genesis 3:16 regarding the church is that he upholds it! Modern theological thought would reason that the effects of "the Fall" are nullified under Christ's blood, but Paul says, "Not so!" They may be diminished, but not eradicated.

Paul cites the fact that God created Adam before Eve as his proof that God intended the man to lead. He backs this up by showing that while Eve proved subject to deception—thus, she was the "weaker" of the two—Adam, whose sin was sheer disobedience, did not. Thus, Eve's sin establishes that woman should not take the lead from man; that route, by the biblical example of our first parents, generally leads to problems. The apostle concludes that a woman, formed by God as a helper to Adam and more inclined to being deceived, should not teach or lead men in the church.

On the other hand, as Ephesians 5:25-29, 33 plainly shows, Christian men must no longer "rule over" their wives. Loving authority is not domineering or despotic, but humble, caring, gentle, kind, and patient. In the same vein, Christian women should submit to and respect their husbands (verses 22-24, 33). Submission is not manipulative or grudging, but done in faith, respect, and humility.

How, though, is a woman "saved in childbearing"? The word Paul uses for "saved" (sozo) can be used for both physical deliverance from danger and spiritual salvation. How does faith, love, holiness, and self-control prevent or nullify the physical dangers of pregnancy? Conversely, is not salvation by grace? Which salvation does the apostle mean here?

Neither. A third explanation fits the context better. Paul's main concern in this section is proper order within the church. Men, he writes, should pray and teach. Women should adorn themselves modestly and do good works, but they should not be teaching publicly or leading men. Verse 15 explains what their primary concern should be: "childbearing." Thus, it means that much of God's judgment of women will be based on how well they perform their God-given role in bearing children.

To us, this sounds quite misogynistic, but to the Greek speaker "childbearing" (teknogonia) covers a great deal more ground than just "popping out babies." The Strong's Concordance definition shows that the extended meaning is "maternity (the performance of maternal duties)." W. E. Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, agrees, writing that it "impl[ies] the duties of motherhood" (p. 190). The Twentieth Century New Testament translates this clause, "But women will find their salvation in motherhood."

Paul's exhortation aims to bring marriage and family back to what God intended of men and women before Adam and Eve's sin. Just as God will judge men according to how well they fulfill their roles as husbands (leaders) and teachers, so He will judge women by their performance as wives and mothers. Since salvation, particularly the period of sanctification, is a process that covers our entire converted lifetimes, how well we fulfill our God-given responsibilities within our families will make a difference in God's judgment. Paul says we must perform these duties in faith, love, holiness, and self-control—just as we must do everything else in our Christian lives.

To summarize, then, the apostle simply states that God will judge and reward a woman according to her growth as a Christian within her appointed sphere of influence: her family. God Himself has drawn the lines between the sexes, and we should do our best to fulfill our roles with excellence, not rebellion or complaint. In this way, we will make progress in reversing the effects of the curses in the Garden of Eden.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Two)


 

1 Timothy 2:12

At the end of the heretical Gospel of Thomas appears this bizarre statement:

Simon Peter said to them, "Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life." Jesus said, "Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven."

If we ever encounter someone who teaches that a woman must become a man to enter God's Kingdom, the source of his doctrine should be apparent!

Ironically, despite this incendiary verse, the modern feminist movement actually leans heavily on various Gnostic texts to substantiate their ideas. While they do not care much for this line in the Gospel of Thomas, they typically pass it off by saying that, as an allegory of the inner transformation every woman must go through in order to find herself, it should not be taken too literally.

However, feminists who try to find their roots in ancient "Christianity" draw heavily upon the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Eve, and the Pistis Sophia (variously translated Faith Wisdom, Wisdom in Faith, Faith in Wisdom or Faith of Sophia—the Gnostic "divine counterpart of Christ"). From these texts springs the idea of the "divine feminine" (or "feminine divine"), and many liberal Christian churches rely on them as historical "proof" of female apostles, supporting the argument that women can and should hold any church position. This is in direct contradiction to the apostle's words in I Timothy 2:12.

Philip Jenkins, in Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way, notes: "Gnostic believers practiced 'equal access, equal participation and equal claims to knowledge,' to the extent of allocating clerical functions by lot at their ceremonies" (emphasis ours). This can be seen not only in the ordination of women, but also in the attitude of some Christians who argue that, since "we all have the Holy Spirit," we do not need any authoritative teacher or leader.

Satan convinces those with Gnostic leanings to disparage the God-ordained roles and hierarchy within the church of God (see Ephesians 4:11-16). While this egalitarian idea might appear on the surface to contain utopian goodness, the result is confusion, as doctrine becomes subjected to the lowest common denominator. Not surprisingly, such individuals typically believe that they know better—or more—than the rest of the church and particularly the ministry. God's pattern is to establish doctrine and leadership through those He chooses (see, for instance, I Corinthians 12:18 and I Timothy 2:7).

David C. Grabbe
Whatever Happened to Gnosticism? Part One: False Knowledge


 

 




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