The question was raised after last week’s blog “What about Paul’s teaching on women?” This is an excellent question that I would like to take a few moments for us to consider. 1st of all, I don’t believe Paul’s teaching can contradict Jesus’ actions and model or vice versa. Therefore I believe Paul’s writings must be understood in light of Jesus’ actions that confronted a society that treated women as 2nd rate citizens. Jesus always treated women with dignity and respect and I believe raised the position of women in societies that have been heavily influenced by the gospel. But what about Paul?
There are 2 main passages of scripture that address Paul’s view on women in the churches, I Cor. 14:34 and I Tim. 2:12. First I will share my thoughts on the 1st passage as I think it helps us also understand the restriction in the 2nd reference. Paul says “women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says”. It is very important in this passage to keep this verse in its immediate context and then the broader context surrounding the whole passage. Chapters 12-14 of I Cor. are all about the misuse of spiritual gifts. Even the famous love chapter (13) is in the broader context of spiritual gifts and their misuse. Both the verses before this verse, and after this verse, are dealing with prophecy and tongues. I believe Paul is speaking about a spiritual problem being caused by the women in Corinth. He is not giving a blanket policy for all time and every church situation. I can support this conclusion by referring to how Paul views women in his other epistles, especially in the book of Romans. In the 16th chapter, Paul commends Phoebe whom he refers to as “a servant of the church”. The word servant is the same exact word translated deacon in other passages. He also refers to “Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ”. This couple served as a ministry team throughout the book of Acts and was used even in Paul’s life to be a blessing to him.
If we understand this restriction in chapter 14 of I Cor. to be limited to the area of prophecy and tongues, that also helps us understand I Tim. 2:11-12. In this passage Paul clearly states that a woman shouldn’t teach or have authority over a man. I believe this teaching is in the area of the ministry of the Word. This is not a political or business restriction but purely a restriction related to the ministering of the Word in the local church. The reason for that is found in the following verses (beyond the scope of this blog). This restriction would limit the role of women from serving as Senior Pastors and as serving as the ultimate authority figure in the church. Women serving in ministry roles should be under the authority of male leadership (topic for another blog entry).
Remember in everything God delights in using less than the best. He chooses to use men and women for His glory not because of our talents or abilities. More often than not His choice is based on brokenness. I know God uses weak and frail vessels because I am certainly one of them.
For His Glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo