Sunday, February 20, 2011

Women’s Role in the Church

One of the more controversial issues facing the church today is that of women in leadership. It does not matter which church you belong to, they have a view, and they are either for it or against it. The places that are most debated over are that of deacon and elder. The word for deacon in the Greek is diakoneō, roughly meaning “to serve”, and the Greek for elder “presbyteroi” usually referring to an overseer. While the qualifications for both found in 1 Tim 3 are not exhaustive they give us a good understanding of what leaders should be like. Elders should be above reproach, husband to one wife, sober-minded, self controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own house well, with dignity keep his kids submissive. He should not be a new convert. He should also be well thought of by outsiders.

Deacons likewise should be dignified, not double tongued, not addicted to drinking, not greedy for dishonest gain. They should hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. Their wives should be dignified and not gossips, sober, and faithful in all things. Deacons should also be the husband of one wife and manage their homes well.[1]

When it comes to the leadership of the church, I personally lean more toward a complementarian view, not the more liberal egalitarian or the more rigid hierarchal view. John MacArthur offers a very brief yet succinct opinion on what I believe the complementarian view says, “While both men and women can serve in a variety of ways under the general and broad category of deacon (vv. 8–13), Paul makes it clear that the leadership of the church is limited to men.[2] We do have one solid source of a woman being a deacon in the New Testament and that is in Romans 16:1, where Paul mentions Phoebe. Even though I have no problem with women being deacons because there is some if limited biblical support there is no support for a woman actually being an elder.

Most commentators agree that women are inferior to men by no means, but however due to natural order women are not to be over men. As for 1 Cor.14:34-35, Paul writes to them because the women there were prone to emotional outburst and disrupting worship[3]. In 1 Tim. 2:11-15 Paul does not say that women have no authority; he merely is saying that they are not permitted to teach men (primarily in public). Warren Wiersbe says, “Women are permitted to teach. Older women should teach the younger women (Titus 2:3–4). Timothy was taught at home by his mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15). But in their teaching ministry, they must not “lord it over” men. There is nothing wrong with a godly woman instructing a man in private (Acts 18:24–28); but she must not assume authority in the church and try to take the place of a man. She should exercise “quietness” and help keep order in the church.[4]

Some will try and argue in 1 Tim 3:11 the word wives can only mean the word wives while the word that is being used there could also refer to woman. In allowing for the alternative view we do not hold so tightly to the translation of wives. While limitations do exist in the home and church where women have authority, it does not ring true for all areas of her life. Elwell states, “Similarly, the submission required of wives in Ephesians 5 could not be interpreted to include anything that lies outside of the home realm.”[5]

When we view the church as a whole there is no doubt in my mind the valuable role they play. When God created man He created them male and female (Gen 1:27). Mark Driscoll in his book Vintage Church sums up beautifully what I believe about women in ministry,

A complementarian church should encourage women to use the spiritual gifts and natural abilities that God has given them to their fullest extent. This includes anything from teaching a class to leading a Bible study, overseeing a ministry, leading as a deacon, speaking in church in a way that is not preaching, leading worship music, serving Communion, entering into full-time paid ministry as a paid member of the staff, and receiving formal theological education—basically every opportunity in the church except what the Bible and the elders deem elder-only duties.[6]

This is my understanding of the role women should play in ministry. Until the Lord convicts my heart and I am given a different understanding this is what I shall hold to.

Word Count: 856

[1] For further information on the requirements of leadership read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9

[2] John F. MacArthur, Jr., Different by Design (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1997, c1994.), 113.

[3] Elwell, Water A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. (Grand Rapids,MI: BakerAcademic,2001)1284.

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996), 1 Ti 2:9.

[5] Elwell, ed. Evangelical, 1284

[6] Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Vintage Church. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008) 67.

A Short Synopsis of Romans 3:21-4:25

Whether Jew or Gentile, Romans 3:21-4:25 is a very challenging piece of Scripture to wrap your mind around. Modern society has tried to make God out to be some evil sorcerer in the sky who wants to make our lives miserable unless we attempt to appease him with sacrifice. However, if you’re a Christian, Paul tells us he has already been appeased because of the atoning and sacrificial atoning death of Jesus Christ (3:25).

Paul starts off his explanation of it all with verse twenty-one “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it[1]” The righteousness of God is Jesus Christ himself, and He is the only true righteousness of God. You can do nothing to earn this righteousness, and the Law and the Prophets have been pointing to this time for years. The very next thing Paul tells us is that the righteousness of God is attainable by faith for all who believe in Jesus Christ (my paraphrase). He spends the rest of chapter three explaining how we are justified by faith alone and then in chapter four gives us the example of Abraham’s faith.

In continuing to expound upon our own unrighteousness, Paul adds verse 23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [2]” proving that we are not worthy to be in the presence of God. Leon Morris says, “This clear statement of universal sinfulness is basic to Paul’s understanding of the human predicament and also of the salvation Christ brought. Were it not for our sin there would have been no need for Christ’s redemptive activity; because of our sin there is no possibility of achieving salvation by our own efforts.”[3] Paul goes on to strengthen his argument in verses twenty-eight thru thirty. He is telling his readers yet again that only faith apart from the Law will justify them, no matter if they are Jew or Gentile, since God is one he justifies all by their faith. “For if, as Jews proudly confess, there is only one God, then this God must be equally God of Gentiles as well as Jews. Rightly understood, this demolishes any ultimate difference between Jew and Gentile before the Lord.”[4]

Paul begins to conclude his argument by using Abraham as the greatest example of justification by faith. Chapter four lays out how Abraham trusted the Lord and in doing so showed his faithfulness and it was credited to him as righteousness. But in doing so, many people will say that there is a contradiction in the Bible, because Paul says that justification is from faith alone while James say that faith without works is dead. How can this be? R.C. Sproul explains that when James is referencing Abraham he is quoting from Genesis 22 and Paul is referring to Genesis 15.[5] They are both arguing for justification, and they are each referring to different aspects. Wayne Grudem explains, “Here we must realize that James is using the word justified in a different sense from the way Paul uses it. In the beginning of this chapter we noted that the word justify has a range of meanings, and that one significant sense was “declare to be righteous,” but we should also notice that the Greek word δικαιόω (G1467) can also mean “demonstrate or show to be righteous.”[6]

Understanding these things should allow us to live out our faith with a greater enjoyment knowing that there is nothing we can do to merit our justification.

[1] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ro 3:21.

[2] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ro 3:23.

[3] Morris, Leon. The Epistle to the Romans. (Grand Rapids: Edermans, 1988), 177.

[4] Moo, Douglas J. The NIV Application Commentary- Romans. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 139.

[5] Sproul, R.C. St. Andrew's Expositional Commentary-Romans. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009),111.

[6] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994), 731.