Tag Archives: authority

Where two or three are gathered… About Prayer or Judgement? Misunderstanding regarding Matthew 18:20

Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Quoted by people in congregations around the world this particular verse is taken to mean that God is present in the midst of two or three people who are engaged in Prayer. But the context of the passage provides a different picture. At the onset I wish to say that I do not disagree that God hears the prayer of two or three people gathered in His name. But we would also agree that He also hears us when we are alone. So what then is the meaning of Yeshua‘s words in Matthew 18:20? Let’s look at the context of the passage.

Mat 18:1-4 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Our journey starts with a question that the Disciples ask. “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”. To which Messiah says that all must convert (Turn Around – Strepho – G4762) meaning repent and turn back to God as humble little children to be called great in the Kingdom of God.

Mat 18:5-7 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

Now Christ regards a believer who has turned to God as a “little child” and speaks of not “offending” (cause to stumble / lead to sin – Scandalizo – 4624) them, meaning leading them away from God. Yeshua bemoans such people who make others stumble. So far this passage sounds eerily familiar to what He said in Matthew 5:19 “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Here He explained who would be great in the Kingdom of God. In both places warnings are set towards those who lead His Children away from His word.

Mat 18:8-10 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Yeshua’s words continue in the same line of thinking. If a hand or foot meaning a fellow believer makes others stumble it is better to cut those limbs off, as otherwise the whole body could be in danger of missing everlasting life. He further explains that even if it is an eye meaning a person in leadership who is causing the body to stumble, it is better for the eye to be removed rather than the whole congregation being led away from His Kingdom. Yeshua expressly speaks to the disciples not to belittle/disesteem the new believers, calling them “little ones” as they are of great worth to God. This is an instruction from Christ to His Disciples to be vigilant of the body, so that no part or individual becomes a threat to the whole; especially those who could stumble easily. He would reconfirm this thought in verses 15-17.

Mat 18:11-14 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Yeshua brings the parable of the Shepherd to show how much He cares for the lone soul. He is still advising the Disciples how much they should care for even the newest of the believers – the “little ones”.

Mat 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

In the same thought as removing the limb or the eye, Messiah explains of how this task should be carried out. First the issue should be brought to light one on one. If the person refuses the counsel, then two or three witnesses should confirm it to the individual. If the person still refuses to change his/her ways, then it is brought forward to the whole congregation/assembly after which the person is cut off from the assembly if corrective measures are not taken. It is important to note that Paul gives the same advice to the Corinthians in two instances (1Cor 5:1-5, 2Cor 2:5-11).

Mat 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 18:18 speaks of “Binding” and “Loosing” which were the terms used in First Century Judaism for “Prohibiting” and “Permitting”. The power to prohibit and permit was in the hands of the Pharisees in the first century as per the writings of  Josephus:

War of the Jews Book I, Chapter 5, Section 2  …and became themselves[the pharisees] the real administrators of the public affairs: they banished and reduced whom they pleased; they bound and loosed at their pleasure….

There is further proof to say that the belief of God agreeing with earthly rulings were also prevalent in First Century Judaism as seen in the Talmud below:

Talmud Makkot 23b …There are three matters that the earthly court implemented and the heavenly court agreed with them, and these are they: Reading the Scroll of Esther on Purim, and greeting another with the name of God, and bringing the first tithe to the Temple treasury in Jerusalem…

In the case of the passage in question, Yeshua is giving this authority to His Disciples over His Congregation. They could prohibit or permit anything in the assembly according to God’s Word and it would be seen as valid before God. The greatest example for this would be Acts 15. The same teaching is seen again in the second epistle of Clement to James where it mentions that Peter had named Clement of Rome (35 – 100AD) as his successor giving him the power of binding and loosing, as seen below.

Clementine Homilies – Introduction – Epistle of Peter to James, Chapter 2 Wherefore I communicate to him the power of binding and loosing, so that with respect to everything which he shall ordain in the earth, it shall be decreed in the heavens. For he shall bind what ought to be bound, and loose what ought to be loosed, as knowing the role of the Church.

Upto this point we have seen the teaching revolving around the congregation, taking care of the new believers and how to manage believers who disrupt the assembly. Yeshua gives the authority of such decisions to the Disciples here, and moves on to say…

Mat 18:18-20 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

As we come to the verse in question, we see that Yeshua gives authority of communal life to His Disciples and says even if two of them agree on earth regarding such issues, the Lord Himself stands amongst their midst. Such requests/decisions will be agreed upon by the Father in Heaven, as they are made from the standpoint of God’s Word. The same idea can be seen again in Jewish sources:

Mishnah, Pirkei Avot 3:2 But two who are sitting together and there are words of Torah [spoken] between them, the Divine Presence rests with them, as it is said (Malachi 3:16): “Then those who feared the Lord spoke one with another, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for those who feared the Lord and for those who thought upon His Name.”

Talmud, B’rakhot 6a From where is it derived that three who sit in judgment, the Divine Presence is with them? It is derived from this same verse, as it is stated: “In the midst of the judges He judges,” and the minimum number of judges that comprises a court is three. From where is it derived that two who sit and engage in Torah study, the Divine Presence is with them? As it is stated: “Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with the other, and the Lord listened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that fear the Lord, and that think upon His name” (Malachi 3:16). The Divine Presence listens to any two God-fearing individuals who speak with each other.

It is for the “Binding and Loosing” (Prohibiting or Permitting) powers that Yeshua bestowed upon His Disciples that He says He will be in agreement in their presence for such matters whether two or three are gathered. Prayer or other sorts of fellowship is not part of the context of this passage.

Conclusion
So we see that the phrase “For wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” is speaking regarding judgement and making Godly decisions. In this sort of situation, God stands in agreement with the Disciples. The decision taken by James and agreed upon by the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 is a perfect example of this. There is no doubt that God listens to our prayers whether we are alone or with one or more in fellowship. But according to context, the passage in question is not about prayer but judgements made before God.

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Corinthian Prostitution, Headcoverings and Authority

In the Letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of the head covering. As most of Paul’s writings, it is important to look at the Historical evidence and the context behind what he is writing. Knowing the audience and their surroundings will help us get a better understanding of what Paul speaks of. Did Paul confirm that women should wear a head covering? Why was this matter even discussed? Let’s investigate.

1Co 11:1-2 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

Paul starts by commending the Corinthians on keeping to the traditions set forth by the Apostle. What he is about to speak of, had to be a new instruction as Paul praised them for remembering him “in all things” and keeping everything the way he had instructed.

1Co 11:3-5 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

In the above section, woman(G1135-Goonay) can be better translated as “wife” and man(G435-Anayr) as “husband”, as it is speaking of individuals who are bonded together. Because of this reason, Paul’s instructions are limited to the boundaries of marriage. The hierarchy which Paul provides can be summarized as per the below graphic:

A Husband has authority over a wife, while Christ has authority over both. God as the ultimate authority head, is in the top of the hierarchical structure, having authority over Christ, the Husband and Wife.

Verse 6, where it says “Every man praying or prophesying having his head(G2776-Kefalay) covered(G2596-Katah-on)”, can be better translated as “Every man praying or prophesying having anything on his head”… dishonors his head. In this instance, Paul is obviously speaking of authority as we saw in the previous verse, he said that a Man’s head is Christ. In other words Christ has authority over a man. Now he is saying that if a man has something on his “head” (which is Christ), it dishonors his “head” (which is Christ). Paul is obviously talking of something or someone superseding Christ’s authority over the husband. In relation to the previous verse, and as we will see in the verses up ahead, Paul is simply saying that if a wife usurps authority over a husband it can dishonor the rightful owner of that authority, who is Christ. Were there wives in the Corinthian congregation, which overuled their husbands publicly, leading to discord? Let’s read on.

Paul goes onto explain the exact opposite instance, where the wife uncovers her “head”(who is her husband) bringing dishonor to her “head”(who is her husband). Paul is simply saying if the wife does not recognize the authority of the husband, she brings dishonor to her husband. Paul equates such an act to being a woman who has her head shaved. The shaving of a wives’ head clearly is a picture of dishonor according to Paul. This is corroborated by Historians as there is evidence that women who had little to no hair were considered slaves, adulteresses or prostitutes.

Just so Cyprus too had its Demonassa, a woman gifted in both statesmanship and law-giving. She gave the people of Cyprus the following three laws: a woman guilty of adultery shall have her hair cut off and be a harlot — her daughter became an adulteress, had her hair cut off according to the law, and practised harlotry; Dio Chrysostom Discourse 64, section 2-3

But now that I see this maidservant, bearing a weight of water on her shorn head, let us sit down, and inquire of this slave girl, if we may receive some word about the matter,
Euripides Electra Line 109-110

Corinth was known to be a city run rampant with Prostitution. In Greek “I Corinthianise”(Κορινθι-αστής) was used to mean “I practice prostitution”. The 4th Century BC plays by Philetaerus, Ath.13.559a, and Poliochus, Id.7.313c were named Κορινθι-αστής “whoremonger”. Plato in The Republic 404c also equates “Corinthian girl” to a “Prostitute”.

After Antisthenes’ death he moved to Corinth, since he considered none of the others worth associating with, and there he lived without renting a house or staying with a friend, but camping out in the Craneion. For he observed that large numbers gathered at Corinth on account of the harbours and the hetaerae(“female companions.” The name was applied to a wide class of women, ranging from those whose marriages lacked legal sanction all the way to the lowest harlots), and because the city was situated as it were at the cross-roads of Greece. Dio Chrysostom – Discourses 8, Section 5

And the temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple slaves, courtesans, whom both men and women had dedicated to the goddess. And therefore it was also on account of these women that the city was crowded with people and grew rich; for instance, the ship captains freely squandered their money, and hence the proverb, “”Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth.””Source unknown Moreover, it is recorded that a certain courtesan said to the woman who reproached her with the charge that she did not like to work or touch wool: “Yet, such as I am, in this short time I have taken down three webs.” That is, “finished three webs.” But there is a word play in καθεῖλον ἱστούς “finished three webs” which cannot be reproduced in English. The words may also mean “lowered three masts,” that is, “debauched three ship captains.” Strabo – Geographika Book VIII Chap 6 Sec 20

Now Comana is a populous city and is a notable emporium for the people from Armenia; and at the times of the “exoduses” of the goddess people assemble there from everywhere, from both the cities and the country, men together with women, to attend the festival. And there are certain others, also, who in accordance with a vow are always residing there, performing sacrifices in honor of the goddess. And the inhabitants live in luxury, and all their property is planted with vines; and there is a multitude of women who make gain from their persons, most of whom are dedicated to the goddess, for in a way the city is a lesser Corinth, for there too, on account of the multitude of courtesans, who were sacred to Aphrodite, outsiders resorted in great numbers and kept holiday. And the merchants and soldiers who went there squandered all their money so that the following proverb arose in reference to them: “
Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth.” Such, then, is my account of Comana.
Strabo – Geographika Book XII Chapter 3 Section 36

He also mentions the following sayings of Gnathaeniŏn, who was the grand-daughter of Gnathaena(Athenian Courtesan): It happened once that a very aged satrap, Full ninety years of are, had come to Athens. And on the feast of Cronus he beheld Gnathaeniŏn with Gnathaena going out From a fair temple sacred to Aphrodite, And noticing her form and grace of motion, He just inquired “How much she asked a night?” Gnathaena, looking on his purple robe, And princely bodyguard, said, “A thousand drachmas.” He, as if smitten with a mortal wound, Said, “I perceive, because of all these soldiers, You look upon me as a captured enemy; But take five minae, and agree with me, And let them get a bed prepared for us.” She, as the satrap seemed a witty man, Received his terms, and said, “Give what you like, – Athenaeus Book 13 Page 581 section 44

Veiling of married women in public was common practice because of this reason. This may have been the reason Paul picked this particular tradition to explain the need for proper use of authority.

When someone inquired why they took their girls into public places unveiled, but their married women veiled, he said, “Because the girls have to find husbands, and the married women have to keep to those who have them!” – Plutarch Moralia 232c

So as we have seen with all of the historical evidences, Paul may have used the Covering/uncovering of the head as a metaphor because it was a common practice in places such as Corinth. With the heavy inclination towards debauchery in Corinth, Wives dressed modestly to show that they were unattainable. In this sense, the head covering acted as a sign of marriage (much like the wearing of a ring in our present time).

1Co 11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

As we saw earlier, shaving of the head was a sign of a slave, adulteress or prostitute. A wife who uncovered her head in public, uncovered her husband by showcasing that she could be unmarried. This surely brings dishonor to the husband. In this way, Paul’s metaphor is spot on! He is saying that a woman who does not regard that her husband has authority over her in a Godly marriage, brings shame to herself and her husband, becoming like the Prostitutes, adulteresses and slaves of Corinth.

1Co 11:7-9 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

If we use the same argument in the case of the man, A man who uncovers his head, or disregards Christ’s authority over him, dishonors Christ and in turn dishonors God. Paul mentions here that Man was created in God’s image, while woman was created in Man’s image, relating back again to the hierarchical structure he presented before.

1Co 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

This particular verse confirms the theory set forth in this study, by speaking of wives having power(G1849 – also translated as authority) on their heads. The reason Paul gives is, “because of the angels”. Many see the Angles mentioned here, to be heavenly angels, although the same word (G32 – Angelos) can be used as earthly messengers (see Mat 11:10, Mar 1:2, Luk 7:24,27, 9:52, Heb 2:2, James 2:25). The latter interpretation makes more sense, as and when messengers from other congregations come to the Corinthian congregation, they should see that wives submit to their husbands(Eph 5:22, Col 3:18) and not a show of dishonor towards authority and hierarchy.

1Co 11:11-12 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

Most of the time when hierarchy and authority is spoken of, people tend to think that the Husband can rule over the wife however he pleases. Paul quickly makes this clarification by showing that the wife and husband are equals before God, but only that the husband is responsible to care and lead the wife, while the wife is supposed to help the husband with their walk towards God.

1Co 11:13-15 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

A wife who prays to God with an uncovered head is a person who does not submit to her husband’s authority. How will a wife who cannot submit to her own earthly husband, ever rightly submit to her heavenly husband? Finally Paul uses a metaphor from nature, showing how women are naturally given long hair as a covering while men are not.

1Co 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

As Paul closes his argument he speaks to “anyone” who may dispute his claims. The word man is not present in this verse, denoting that maybe there are some women who may dispute the Apostles claims that the wife must be under the authority of the husband. Paul closes the argument saying such a practice where the woman disregards the authority of her husband is not seen in any of the congregations, putting an end to the debate.

Conclusion
Corinth which was known for it’s prostitution, led married women to keep their heads veiled and being modest thereby showing that they were unattainable. Among the many problems in the Corinthian Congregation, there seems to be one where some wives were acting out of term bringing dishonor to their husbands and discord to the congregation. Paul used the metaphor of the head covering which was known by all married women, to teach them about authority and the hierarchical system inside the congregation. While there is no law which states a wife or woman must cover their heads, Paul himself is not asking wives to cover their heads in the above passage. Women are free to dress as they please, as long as they are modest. Wives can choose to cover their heads or not, as long as they submit to the authority of their own husbands; and in turn Christ the head of them all.

Also read: Do men have authority over women according to the Scriptures?

Do men have authority over women according to the Scriptures?

silentMany Christians believe that the Bible proves women should be subordinate to men. These ideas have gone so far, as to obstruct women from serving God as leaders in some Christian Congregations, and even to be completely silent in others. Are these claims true? Does God treat women differently to men? Has He given authority over women, to the men? In this study, we will put these ideas to the test against God’s Word and try to uncover what our Heavenly Father thinks of the matter.

This study is broken down into the following sections:
1. Adam & Eve – God gives the husband authority over his wife
2. Husband & Wife – Dynamics of the marriage relationship
3. The Daughter falls under the authority of her father
4. Are women subordinate to men in anyway?
5. Women’s equal position according to the Scriptures
6. Questions regarding the writings of Paul
7. Conclusion


1. Adam & Eve – God gives the husband authority over his wife

Gen 1:27 records “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”. According to the above passage, God created the male and female, both in His image. When Adam was created, he contained Eve also in himself, as we read in Gen 5:2 “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created”. After Adam & Eve sinned, God punished Eve’s disobedience, by making the husband have authority over her, as seen in Gen 3:16  “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

The misunderstanding lies here. God did not allow all men to have authority over all women. But all husbands had authority over their own wives. (Please note: This does not mean that the Husband can act as he pleases, within the partnership of marriage. We will look into these dynamics in the next section of this study). Man has no authority over woman, until they enter into the covenant of marriage which was established by God in Creation.


2. Husband & Wife – Dynamics of the marriage relationship

As God had ordained in the beginning, a wife is under the headship of the husband, as we read in Eph 5:23 “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body”. This does not mean that the husband has complete power over his wife to do as he pleases, or that the wife is supposed to be a servant unto the husband. Husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies (Eph 5:28  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself), to the extent that they would even sacrifice their lives to save the life of their wives. (Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it). Both husband and wife should respect one another (1Co 7:3  Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband) knowing that they are bonded to each other till their death (1Co 7:4  The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife). 

In the relationship of marriage, according to God’s Law, the husband has authority to approve or revoke a bond or vow made by the wife (Num 30:13,14 Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void. But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them). This shows us that the wife has freedom to make personal decisions such as oaths or vows of her own, as long as the husband is in agreement with it.


3. The Daughter falls under the authority of her Father

Much like the wife is under the headship of the husband, a daughter who is still living under the Father’s roof, is also living under the authority of her father & mother.

Even though a daughter was under the headship of the parents, she could still accept or reject even a possible suitor that was set before her. We see such an instance in the case of Rebekah, when she was asked whether she would choose to go with Abraham’s Servant (Gen 24:57,58 And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth. And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go).

A daughter was given posessions from her father at the time of marriage, and it was possible for the daughter even to demand an increase of such property, as seen with Achsah – daughter of Caleb who asked that the springs be added to the land she received (Jdg 1:14-15 And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou? And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs).

According to God’s Law, a father has authority to approve or revoke a bond or vow made by the daughter as we see in Num 30:3-5 “If a woman also vow a vow unto the LORD, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her youth; And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand. But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her”.

Even though the father had authority over a young daughter who lived under his roof, she was never forced into anything. The children had their freedom, but the father was considered the head of the house, having the ability to make final decisions for the whole families’ benefit.


4. Are women subordinate to men in anyway?

As per section 2 & 3, we see that the Husband has authority over his wife, and that the Father has authority over his daughter. Other than in these relationships, a woman is not different to a man in God’s eyes in anyway. What we must understand is, that male and female are born equal before God. In the family relationship, a daughter as well as a son, is under the headship of the parents. When and if they leave the house of their parents as independent individuals, they are bound or subordinate to no one.

When a woman enters the covenant of marriage, she willingly enters a relationship, in which the wife places herself under the headship of her husband. The husband as the head of the family unit has the authority, but is also responsible to head the family according to God’s Word.

This was the fault of Adam. Adam had chosen to listen to his wife, rather than be obedient to God. (Gen 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life). When a Husband becomes a father, his responsibilities and authority extends to his children as well.

To put it in another way, this is how the headship/authority of relationships work
Our Heavenly Father

Father (Husband)

Mother (Wife)

Son/Daughter

When we accept Messiah’s sacrifice and receive God’s grace, all of us enter into a relationship where we place God over our lives. When a woman enters into a marriage covenant, she accepts the husband to have authority over her life. When they become parents, the children given to them by God are also under their authority, till the child chooses and is able, to leave their parents care.

The Father(husand), Mother(wife) & Son/daughter are all under the authority of God. The Mother(wife) & Son/daughter are under the authority of the Father(husand). The sons and daughters are all under the authority of their Father & Mother. These are the dynamics of the relationships God has created.

A woman and a man independent from each other, is not subordinate to one or the other in any way. Paul was correct to say “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” in Gal 3:28.


5. Women’s equal position according to the Scriptures

Let’s review both the Old and New Testament writings to see how Women were perceived both by people and God.

A. There were many prophetesses mentioned in both the Old Testament and the New Testament showing us that there was no gender preference to become a Prophet of God.

Exo 15:20  And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
2Ki 22:14  So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.
Isa 8:3  And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.
Luk 2:36  And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
Act 21:8,9  And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
Act 2:17,18 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:  (Quoted from Joel 2:28,29)

B. A woman could not only serve in the capacity of Prophet, but also of Judge, as seen with Deborah, who judged Israel – in the time of judges, when there was no King among the people of Israel.

Jdg 4:4  And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

C. A daughter would inherit the possessions of the father if they had no brothers, as seen with the daughters of Zelophehad.

Num 27:4-8 Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father. And Moses brought their cause before the LORD. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.

D. There were women who founded cities, as seen with Sherah – a daughter of Ephraim.

1Ch 7:24  And his daughter was Sherah, who built Bethhoron the nether, and the upper, and Uzzensherah.

E. Women and Men were both equally welcome to learn and be part of the congregation and to serve

Deu 31:12  Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:
Neh 8:2  And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.
Act 5:14  And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.
Act 17:12  Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
Act 18:26  And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
Rom 16:1  I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant(G1249 – διάκονος
diakonos – Deacon) of the church which is at Cenchrea:
Num 6:2  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD:


6. Questions regarding the writings of Paul

Many of the misunderstandings regarding this topic stem from the writings of Paul, as in many other cases. It is partly because of translation issues as well. Wherever “woman” is mentioned, if it should be translated “wife”, it would make quite a big difference. As you will see below, this is just the case. Most of the misunderstood teachings/sayings of Paul which are quoted by people as to prove women are subordinate to men, are speaking exclusively about husbands and wives, and not about male and female individuals.

Misunderstood verse 1: 1Co 14:34,35 Let your women(G1135-Gooney-wife) keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands(G435-anayr-husband) at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

The Corinthian church, to which these words were written, had many issues that Paul was worried about. One of these issues were that they were disorderly, as seen by his instructions in Chapter 14. Reading the above verse, most jump to the conclusion of “women should be silent in the church”. But reading it in context, we see that this has to do with wives and not all women – and not all wives even, as this was directed at an unruly congregation with many divisions(11:18), disputes(1:11), sinfulness(5:1), legal petitions(6:1) and such controversies. The verse itself proves that this instruction is not directed at women, but at wives, as Paul asks that “they ask their husbands at home” – “they” referring to the women spoken before, which should ideally be translated “wives”.

It is obvious that many wives at Corinth were acting contrary to what God had ordained, and were not subjecting themselves to their husbands, engaging themselves in divisions, disputes and the like, mentioned above. This is why Paul spoke in such harsh words asking them to subject themselves to their husbands and voice their concerns at home rather than in the presence of the congregation, as to be seen respectful. (The word translated as “Woman” in the above verse is a Greek word called “Gooney” which means “wife” as seen in this example:- 1Co 7:34  There is difference also between a wife(G1135-Gooney) and a virgin(G3933-parthenos).

Misunderstood verse 2: 1Ti 2:11-14 Let the woman(G1135-Gooney-wife) learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman(G1135-Gooney-wife) to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man(G435-anayr-husband), but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he speaks of authority again between “woman” and “man” as seen in our English Translations. In the original Greek text, the word “Woman” reads as “Gooney” which means “wife”, and the word “Man” reads “Anayr” which means “Husband” as seen in 1Cor 14:35 discussed above. Further proof that Paul’s whole discourse is on the husband-wife relationship, can be seen in the next verse, where he explains this concept of authority by connecting it to Adam & Eve, who were husband and wife.

The usurping of authority over a husband, by his wife is what this instruction is all about. As discussed before, when Adam sinned against God, he did so by listening and putting the words of his wife before God’s word. It is absurd to think that just because Eve was deceived, that all women can be deceived. Instead, it is my belief that Paul was instructing Timothy on how the congregation should operate – where no wife would try to act authoritative over their husbands, trying to teach the man the right way (This is not to say, that wives could guide husbands from a wrong path towards the light. The context of this particular verse is that a husband who is already righteous and obedient to God’s word should not be subjected to correction by a wife who “thinks” she is right, especially in front of the congregation). It is likely, that Paul is speaking of a case which Timothy had brought to his attention, of a particular woman who was exacting authority over the husband in one of the congregations he was part of.


 

7. Conclusion

I hope that you have seen adequate proof to understand that women are not subordinate to men, and that men carry no authority over women. Throughout the Scriptures, women are given equal importance to men, having been viewed and treated by God the same. From creation itself, God gave authority over a wife to her husband, as seen with Adam & Eve. Even though authority over the wife was handed to the husband, it was more of a responsibility than a power. The husband was to guide his family with the help of the wife, while focusing on God who had authority over all.

The only authority a man would carry over a woman, would be in the covenant of marriage and in the parental bond between a father and daughter. Two independent male and female individuals would always be equal in front of God’s eyes and it should be no different when it comes to our own principals.

Even the misunderstood verses of Paul, which are regarded as saying “all women should be silent in the churches” refer only to some wives who were misusing the freedom they had, by putting their husbands to shame in front of their congregations. Most of these verses have even been translated incorrectly, as “woman” should read as “wife”, and “man” should read “husband”, leading to a lot of confusion.

The sum of all that was discussed is this: If you are a man, you have no authority over women. If you are a husband, you carry authority over your wife. If you are a father, you are the head of your whole family. When you are given authority over a wife or child, you are responsible for all that they do. You are to guide all who are under your wings towards God, all the while remembering that you yourself is under the headship of Messiah and our Heavenly Father. Just because a wife or daughter is under the headship of husband or father, does not mean that they should act as servants. They are to help and guide the husband/father, while the husband/father is to take care of them and do all that he can to steer them towards God Almighty.

My prayer is that all Christian men, start looking at their fellow sisters as equals, not looking down on them or restricting them from serving God, to their full extent. We must change our personal attitudes and the traditions handed down through generations of misguided teachings, towards the Word of God, and how God perceives the same situations – thereby serving and obeying God, to our best ability.