Volume. XXII, No. 22
Sunday, 25 November 2007

From The Pastors Heart: Biblical Womanhood and Biblical Leadership (Part 5)

1 Timothy is a part of the pastoral epistles to teach the believers how to behave themselves in the church.  Women are not permitted to have authority over men in the church of God, which clearly bars women from being pastors.  This is the rule of the church of God, which should not be compromised.  However, our concern should not end at this point.  If women are not allowed to teach and to have authority over men, what can they do?  I think that there are lots of things they may do for the glory of God.  They can teach in Sunday school classes.  They may be active in choirs.  We have a lady choir director, who has been doing her job excellently.  We have a lady music coordinator in our church, who has motivated all of us to sing praises to God.  I wonder who will keep them from doing such a wonderful ministry.  I know that there are churches insisting that only men should be ushers and welcomers.  Only men should count church money.  I am not sure where they get such ideas unless they have overstretched the Scriptural teachings to that extent.  There is at least one more issue that I need to deal with from 1 Timothy 2.


One issue comes from a question whether the man in verse 12 refers to her husband or any man in the church.  Does it talk about marital relationship (husband/wife) or gender relationship (male/female)?  It is of course not easy to determine.  It is because the Greek work for man may mean both husband and male.  If we say that it must mean husband, then the women’s role is limited only in her marital relationship, but allowed to take a church leadership role.  The difficulty of this issue lies in the fact that we have to determine the meaning of the word from textual silence.  The text does not say anything about the matter, and it is our job to know the meaning of the text.  At this point, I may bring two arguments to defend my position against women’s ordination: one argument comes from silence, and the other comes from verses 13-14.


Concerning the first argument, I must point out that Paul could have said, “women should not be allowed to take authority over her man,” if this would be his intention.  We must pay attention to the way that Paul teaches in other passages.  For example, he teaches women to be submissive to their husbands.  Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  When their roles are limited in terms of their relationship to their husbands, Paul specifies the wives’ roles by saying to be submissive to their own husbands, not to all men in general.  If verse 12 refers to the marital relationship, Paul must have indicated it one way or another.


Another strong argument against women’s ordination comes from God’s creation and the fall of man.  This argument is important especially to us today.  Many proponents of women’s ordination say that the prohibition of women being pastors comes from cultural restraints.  It is an ancient mentality that women should not rule over men in church, but we have a different culture all together today.  Cultural elements in Christian practice are important, and I do believe that there is a room for cultural differences between the Biblical times and the present time to be discussed.  One of the most frequently quoted obsolete Christian cultures is probably 1 Corinthians 16:20, saying, “All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.”  If anyone tries to practice it in western society today, he or she may be booked for criminal offence or a sexual offence.  Did Paul anticipate problems to rise relating to women’s roles in God’s church?  I think so.  If not, he did not have to write such strong teaching in his letter.  Besides, as a ground for his argument, he did not use cultural practices but God’s creation and the fall of man, which is eternal truth.  The teachings of God’s creation and the fall of man are immutable facts.  Paul did not choose cultural agendas to prove his points, but God’s creation who should be understood the same regardless of cultural and time differences. 


1 Timothy 2:13-14 says, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”  Eve was created after Adam.  She was created as a help-mate for Adam.  It is noteworthy that Paul uses words like “first” and “then.”  He wants to make this creation order distinguished over all other arguments.  He tells us that Adam’s priority in the order of God’s creation indicates that he has the headship over Eve.  Thus, women are not permitted to exercise authority over men.  The fact that Paul uses creation order to defend his point simply indicates that this position (no women over men in God’s church) should not be compromised.  As long as the creation stands, this rule (against women’s ordination) must stand, too. 


There is one more thing I need to explain.  It is the most difficult part of my whole discussion from 1 Timothy 2.  1 Timothy 2:15 says, “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”  The use of the word “be saved” is the most unusual in the New Testament.  Is it talking about the salvation of soul?  Then, it brings a different doctrine of salvation to our understanding.  Besides that, the last part of the verse seems to add a few more qualifications for our salvation.  We know that salvation is not biological.  Some people try to resolve the tension by stating that the childbirth in verse 15 must be referring to the birth of the promised child in Genesis 3:15.  It sounds better than the previous choice, but it still gives us an impression that we are trying to make something out of this passage.  In other words, we are putting something into the text to justify our interpretation rather than understanding the text as it is.  Kent Hughs and Brian Chapell offered the following interpretation: “Most likely Paul references childbearing because it is a universal example of the God-given difference in the roles of men and women (men do not give birth to children, and most women in every culture do have children).  So when Paul says ‘women will be saved through childbearing,’ he means that by not seeking a man’s role they will more likely remain in the heart attitude that invites salvation and its attendant blessings.  Moreover, as Duane Litfin has pointed out, ‘Whatever one understands the first part of the verse to be affirming, it is contingent on a woman’s willingness to abide in these four virtues – ‘faith, love and holiness with propriety’” (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, 72).


Douglas Moo suggests the following interpretation: “This is not to say, of course, that women cannot be saved unless they bear children. The women with whom Paul is concerned in this paragraph are all almost certainly married, so that he can mention one central role – bearing  and raising children – as a way of designating appropriate female roles generally. Probably Paul makes this point because the false teachers were claiming that women could really experience what God had for them only if they abandoned the home and became actively involved in teaching and leadership roles in the church. If this interpretation is correct, then verse 15 fits perfectly with the emphasis we have seen in this text throughout. Against the attempt of the false teachers to get the women in Ephesus to adopt ‘libertarian,’ unbiblical attitudes and behavior, Paul reaffirms the Biblical model of the Christian woman adorned with good works rather than with outward, seductive trappings, learning quietly and submissively, refraining from taking positions of authority over men, giving attention to those roles to which God has especially called women.”  Geoffrey B. Wilson says, “Of course Paul is not saying that she will win salvation ‘through’ or by means of childbirth.  The preposition used here is the dia of accompanying circumstances, and the assurance thus conveyed is that she shall be saved ‘in’ her childbearing.  It is by accepting her proper sphere that she fulfils her true destiny.  This is the plain meaning of the words.  To take ‘the childbearing’ as a veiled reference to the Incarnation is fanciful, to say the least!” (The Pastoral Epistles, 46).  It appears that verse 15 must be understood in the light of the passage in context.  The passage is talking about women’s role.  Thus, childbearing needs to be understood as the sphere of women’s role as Wilson says.  


In conclusion of our studies from 1 Timothy 2:12-15, I must say that women are not to take up pastoral responsibilities.  Though there have been lots of excuses to ordain women to be pastors (women are better educated; Paul lived in his culture, and so many other excuses), we must know that this issue is not cultural.  Paul tells us about the creation order and sin committed by Eve, which are Biblical truths and trans-cultural.  Therefore, I oppose to any suggestion to ordain women to be pastors, and Hope church will take this stand till the Lord comes again.  Amen.


Lovingly, Your Pastor

More Lively Hope




Our ageing church van needs extensive repairs and the mechanic advises it’s replacement.

Volunteers required to assist with food & transport of senior citizens for their fellowship meeting on Tue, 4 Dec. If you can help please see Sis Peng Ha Yeo.  


Looking Ahead

Christmas Concert on Sat, 8 Dec. Please invite your family, relatives & friends.

National B-P Youth Camp, 11-15 Dec. Speaker: Bro Peter Blake. Theme: B.O.O.T. Camp. Please register NOW.

Christmas Worship Service on Tue, 25 Dec, at 10 am. Please note time.

Watch Night Service on Mon, 31 Dec, at 7:30 pm.


Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Ps Ki & family (S’pore/Phuket); Dn David Yeo & family (USA), Sisters Min Yen Chia (Adl), Shu Ai Cho, & Suzanne Lim (S’pore);  & all who arrived safely.

Holy Baptism of Andrea Sky-Anderson, Jayden Atijatuporn & Ruth Budiman last Lord’s Day.

Church activities: AFG, Christmas Concert practices, Ladies’, Men’s, Wed, Working Bees   & YAF.

University & high school students who have completed their exams.


Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Edward Paauwe, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam; Grandpa Ki; Sisters Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Sylvia White & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei & others in affliction.

Cambodia Missions - Ebenezer & Hope teams going to Cambodia in Jan 2008.

Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam.

India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

Kuching Missions - Teo family.

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim.

Journey Mercies - Ps Ki & family (Adl); Brothers Yick Ho Lam (S pore), Patrick Phua (Gold Coast), Sisters Charlotte Lin (S’pore) & Min Yen Chia (Ceduna/Adl); & all those travelling this week.

Full-time jobs - Bro Daniel Volvricht, Sisters Min Yen Chia, Rachel Scott-Pearson (UK) & Juanita Tong.

Year 12 student - Sis Amelia Tan.

University students – sitting for exams.

Christmas Concert rehearsals -  Sis Sally Teng and participants.

Drought to end & for much needed rain.

The Lord’s provision for a new church van.



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