Tag Archives: relationship

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.

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Was God known as Father in the Old Testament?

FatherChristians believe that calling the Creator of Heaven and Earth, with the title “Father” is only seen in the New Testament. Some believe and teach that God Almighty was distant to His people in the Old Testament, but came into a ‘Father-Son’ relationship only after the appearance of Yeshua (Jesus’ true name). Are these claims true? Was calling God by the title “Father” a new teaching?

Let’s look at the evidence in the Scriptures

Jer 31:9  They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Isa 64:8  But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Isa 63:16  Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.

Deu 32:6  Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?

1Ch 29:10  Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.

Jer 3:19  But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.

Mal 1:6  A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?

Mal 2:10  Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?

Pro 3:12  For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Psa 103:13  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

Not only is God Almighty known as the “Father”, He calls His people as “Children”

Hos 1:10  Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.

Isa 1:2  Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.

Exo 4:22,23  And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

Deu 14:1  Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.

Hos 11:1  When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

Psa 82:6  I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Conclusion
Calling God as “Our Father”, is not a new idea only seen in the New Testament. It is a recurring depiction of the close relationship between the Creator and His people, commonly seen in the Old Testament. Yeshua and the New Testament writers did not invent this idea. Rather they built upon the thought of having such a loving Creator, who was willing to call His creation “His Children”. Our Heavenly Father has, and will not change. He has always seen the ones who love Him as Children, and His people have also understood their Creator to be a loving Father from ancient times. I hope you are empowered with Scripture, to show the truth to people who say, that God has changed and that He came into a “Father – Son” relationship only in the New Testament.

Added on 25th July 2016
As there has been some objections raised against the view that “Our Father” was used before and after Yeshua’s Ministry on earth (even by Jews who did not believe in Yeshua as Messiah) – I present the following references. The reason for such is not to demean the ministry or teachings of Yeshua, but to remove the misconception that the Jewish people have never viewed or spoken of God as their Father.

“Our Father” is common place in the Jewish Extra-biblical writings. (references are also provided)

    • 1. Babylonian Talmud written in 3rd to 5th Centuries AD, Ta’anit 25b it says “Our Father, our King, we have no king but you! Our Father, our King, on your own account have mercy on us!”. This prayer was recited on the 10 days of Awe (leading to the Day of Atonement).

      2. The Mishnah which contains the teachings of the early rabbis, relates that before the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70AD Jews used to pray “Upon whom shall we depend? Upon Our Father who is in heaven”. (Mishnah Sotah 9:15)

      3. Another Jewish Prayer says “May it be the will of our Father in Heaven” (Midrash Psalms 25:13 – Buber edition Page 214)

      4. The Jewish sage Ben Sira, 200 years before Yeshua, prayed “O Lord, Father and Master of my life… O Lord, Father and God of my life” (Ben Sira 23:1,4). Also “Lord you are my Father; do not forsake me in the days of trouble, when there is no help against the proud” (Ben Sira 51:10)

      5. In a fragment of The Dead Sea Scrolls (written hundreds of years before Yeshua) was found the title “Our Father” (4Q511 fragment 127 line 1)

       

I highly recommend the reading of “A prayer to our Father – Hebrew Origins of the Lord’s Prayer” by Nehemiah Gordon & Keith Johnson, for further study on this subject.