28 August, 2011

1 Timothy 5 – “Older Women” or “Elderesses”?

My good blogging friend, Junkster, sent me this study after he was inspired by a comment of Dr. James Willingham's in this SBCVoices post, to take a deeper look at 1 Timothy 5. He gave me persmission to post it here:

In an interlinear translation of 1 Timothy 5:1-2, we have these interesting verses:

5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
(Presbuterw mh epiplhchv, alla parakalei wv patera, newterouv wv adelfouv,)

5:2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
(presbuterav wv mhterav, newterav wv adelfav en pash agneia.)

The context of 1 Tim 5:1-22 is a set of instructions for relating to various people in the church -- elder males, younger males, elder females, younger females, elder widows, younger widows, all summarized in the instruction in 5:21 to "observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." Thus the passage is providing instructions for fair treatment of all in the body, whether old, young, male, or female, while recognizing and acting according to the unique needs and circumstances of each. We may do different things with or toward different people, but we are not to elevate some over others just because of their gender and/or age.

Verses 1 & 2 give the instruction to entreat (rather than rebuke) various people. Verse one deals with entreating "elders" (presbutero, the singular masculine form of presbuteros, which we are to entreat "as a father") and then younger men ("as brothers"); verse two gives the same instruction for "elder women" (presbuteras, the plural feminine form of presbuteros, whom we are to entreat "as mothers"), and then younger [women] ("as sisters").

Given the parallel construction of these two verses, the appropriate translation should be consistent. One could either translate presbutero as "elder men" (referring not to the concept of a specific church function, but just to "old dudes") and presbuteras as "elder women" (referring to "old ladies"). Alternatively, one could translate the former as "male elders" (referring to the church function) and the latter as "female elders".

Well, now, that changes things a bit, huh?

The question of which way the words should be translated, either "old men” and “old women", or "male elders” and “female elders", cannot be discerned from those two verses alone. But the rest of the passage gives insight into the appropriate translation -- in instructions regarding "widows" (chera) in verses 3-16, and in further instructions regarding elders in verses 17-22.

The instructions regarding "widows" in verses 3-16 indicate some sort of formal recognition by the church of specific individuals that fall into that category. Reference is made to "the list" ("the number" in KJV), which is katalego, referring specifically to some sort of registry used to keep track of people (also used of enlisted soldiers elsewhere). In this passage, the list is to be used to keep track of who should and should not receive direct support from the contributions made to the church. Thus Paul uses "widows" to refer to individuals who have a specific designation within the church, including what functions those persons are to perform in the church (prayer, good deeds, service to others, etc.).

In verses 17-22, Paul comes back to elders, first giving instructions to provide "double honor" to those who "direct the affairs of the church" ("rule well" in the KJV, a poor translation) and then giving instructions on how to deal with an accusation against an elder -- not to be done except "before two or three witnesses". (The KJV translation, which, by the way, is a better translation in this case than the NIV, which says "brought by two or three witnesses." Translated correctly, the instruction is, if you are going to listen to someone making an accusation against an elder, there need to be others present to hear the accusation, not that the accusation has to come from more than one person. Big difference.) Also, verse 22 refers to the “laying on of hands”, the normal way of indicating that someone is being prayed over to be set apart for a specific task or function in the church.

So we see that both "widows" and "elders", in context, are specific designations, filling specific functions in the body. The overall context of the passage is dealing with relating to those who have those specific, designated functions in the church.

Thus, we can conclude that "elder' in verse one is not referring just to a man of advanced age, but to the concept of one who fills the church function of elder. And, if we use sound principles of translation, the correct translation in 5:2 should then be "elderesses" or "female elders".

One of the things we can see from this is that the KJV translators (and most since) had a vested interest in maintaining the hierarchical status quo, and they allowed their own cultural biases and assumptions to influence their translations.

There's no good reason to translate presbuteras in 5:2 as "elder women" unless you are trying to avoid the conclusion that the Bible indicates that both men and women can be elders.


Anonymous said...

This sheds light from a slightly different angle and makes clear sense. Thank you for sharing this. It will go in my archives. It adds weight to the growing pile of evidence that God actually has common sense in His way and not a stiff, unthinking legalistic sense.


Paula said...

Good words. It really is a blatant case of deliberate inconsistency when the majority of translations make sure the male elders are authoritative and the female elders are just model housekeepers. I wrote similar thoughts here.

But I have to say I don't see the grammatical support for saying that the erring elders must be brought before 2 or 3 witnesses, rather than the accusation being brought by 2 or 3 witnesses. If the argument hinges on epi in v. 19, the range of meaning with the genitive case includes "on the basis of", not "in front of". The closest meaning I can find to that would be "near", but that doesn't seem to fit well in the context.

In either case, however, the witnesses are those who testify to the sin, not those who listen to the testimony. Paul only brings in others when the accusation has proven true and the elder must be publicly rebuked.

But yes, the main point is that there really are to be both male and female elders who were designated such on the basis of having achieved an ideal level of maturity in the faith, exemplary life, and insight into the scriptures... none of which depend on the flesh at all.

Junkster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Junkster said...

Thanks, Lin, for publishing this. I hope folks find it helpful and welcome any correction in my analysis.

Paula, I admit that my aside on receiving an accusation against an elder was not as well studied as the rest of the passage, and I would not insist on the interpretation I put forth.

I was indeed focusing on the meaning of epi, which I see as appropriately translated here as "upon" or "before", which is in the range of meaning for the genitive case. See this and this.

The phrase is epi duo h triwn marturwn, literally "on two or three witnesses". There's nothing in the grammar of the text on its own that would insist that epi must mean "upon" or "before", as I translated it, or "on the basis of" as you would translate it. There is also no basis in the words used to insist that the witnesses are present to testify to the sin rather than hearing about it. Marturwn simply means witnesses, which could be either those who observe something or those who testify about it.

With nothing in the immediate context to require one translation or the other, we have to look to other passages for possible clarification. I don't currently have time to look into similar constructions elsewhere for guidance. But I am reminded of the pattern in Matthew 18 of dealing with an offense by starting with an individual appeal and then bringing in others if needed. I know this is dealing with a different matter (the sin of an elder versus a personal offense), but the pattern of addressing the issues could be similar.

All that said, I can accept the potential validity of your translation. But, with some ambiguity in the translation options, I would caution against the common notion that the passage places elders in some special class or category that prohibits holding them accountable for sin when only one person happened to see them sin. We've seen this verse used to abuse the "position" of pastors and squelch those who had personal experience with a pastor's sin, just because no one else was around when the sin occurred.

My larger concern in this article, though, is with the appropriate understanding of the translation of presbuterav in verse 2. Do you have any feedback on my analysis in that regard?

Junkster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Junkster said...

Sorry, problem with the second link in my comment above. Can't get it to work as a hypertext tag. The URL is:


Lin said...

Paula, One of instances where I looked at 1 Tim 5 a few years back was when Paige Patterson referred to it when he told a victim of Darryl Gilyard that she must have 3 witnesses to his sexual perversion because he was an elder.

I had not given much thought to it before then but also wondered why Jesus said to take witnesses with you when confronting someone for the second time in Matthew 18.

It would seem this is a great verse for elders who commit adultery or other more private sins. Where are we going to find 3 witnesses? In the case of one elder who molested his own son (Bellevue Baptist church) there was only one witness. The son, himself. Who else could testify to the sin?

What are we to do with that biblically if it means there must be 3 witnesses?

It simply does not make sense and leaves elders in a special position as Junkster said.

I am racking my brain trying to remember where else I saw this exegeted the same way back when I was looking into this.

When I think of it, I will post a link to it here.

Paula said...

Lin and Junkster,

I think we need to deal with the passage on its grammatical basis before jumping to the conclusion that this gives errant pastors a blank check to abuse. Let me give some more argument on that first, and then I'll respond to Junkster's other question. (I'm hosting my older son's 16th birthday party and it's kind of hard to hear myself think right now.)

At this link the predominate understanding seems to be that "upon" has the intent of "on the basis of" rather than "in the presence/hearing of". Even at the link you gave re. grammar, I don't see the meaning you're using supported by the genitive case. According to this PDF,

Deut 17:6: epi dysin martysin e epi trisin martysin apothaneitai;
(”a person shall die on the testimony of two or three witnesses”)

Deut 19:15: epi stomatos dyo martyron kai epi stomatos trion martyron
stathesetai pan rhema;
(”by the mouth of two witnesses, or by the mouth of three witnesses
every matter shall be established”)

So if we understand the Deut. passages to mean that it took 2 or 3 witnesses to bring a charge against someone, this same grammatical construction would be likewise understood in 1 Tim. 5:19. I can't think of a passage that specifies the number of people hearing the testimony, and it is Paul's habit to have such matters handled by or before the whole congregation rather than any tribunal or board, as would be the case if this verse means the number of people at a hearing.

So does the Deut. passage give murderers or other criminals an excuse to keep committing crimes as long as only one person hears the charges against them, or does it instead try to discourage frivilous charges? In our courts today we try to get as many witnesses or testimonies as possible, as well as other evidence, because we presume "innocent until proven guilty". If we were the accused, would we consider it proper justice to be condemned on one person's accusation?

This is a two-sided coin between the rights of the accuser and those of the accused. But it depends upon a just judge and functioning, ethical judicial system. We get sworn testimony from victims, but still need a minimal amount of evidence in order to be confident that the accused is guilty. That's the function of trials, to determine the probability that the accused is guilty. On the other hand, if we presume "guilty unless proven innocent", the defense has a much tougher case: it's much easier to prove a person did something then to prove they did not. Again, if we were the accused, we'd not be as supportive of a system which presumed our guilt before the trial started.


Paula said...


In the case of the Baptist rapists and Paige Patterson, weren't there 40 women bringing charges? They qualify as plaintiffs under the law and would present a substantial witness by their sheer numbers. But even if there is just one victim, she would give testimony of the circumstances and any medical testimony, but if the rapist gets a few buddies to cover for him and agree to lie under oath, not even the secular courts would have a strong enough case to convict unless they discovered the conspiracy. In that situation the guilty party walks. But there is a Higher Court they will not escape. Humans can be fooled but not God, so one way or another there will be justice.

Personally, the real problem as I see it is not the requirement of 2 or 3 witnesses but the elevation of "pastors" to "offices" above their brothers and sisters, giving them power the NT never intended. The elders Paul is talking about are not authorities or rulers but guides and teachers. And if they were recognized as such according to their quality of character, we would not have any problem with serial rapists hiding behind "office" doors and wielding power with secular authorities to buy protection. Paul does require 2 or 3 witnesses against such people, but if found guilty, they get "double shame" so to speak: they are publicly rebuked. Justice is a double-edged sword whose purpose is to be reluctant to strike but deadly when needed. We saw an example of what false charges of rape did to those college lacrosse players, so it does happen.

But are Christian women whose character can be vouched for by others likely to make such a charge? I'd say no, as we all would. But this is a civil crime, not just a religious dispute, so I'd always use the civil courts to prosecute. At the same time, I'd publicly rebuke any professing Christian once convicted, and petition to have them expelled from fellowship until they repent and make any possible reparations to the victim. Patterson and the rapists he's protected would be no exception.

Paula said...

Re. presbuterav in verse 2, the part about the age requirement makes me lean toward the section referring to literal age and not spiritual gifting. Likewise for the issue of younger widows falling away; how likely is this to be a problem among female elders? The part about elders doesn't specify male/female, and we can't guarantee that vs. 17-22 are in the same context as the preceding verses, any more than we can make the following verses about drinking wine a part of that same context. So when I consider those parts of the passage, I think the chapter involves several different spheres.

bWe said...

All of you are way over my head. I tend to the more practical. I think Paul is simply giving some instruction to Timothy as to how to treat people. He was telling Timothy that he was going to come across all kinds of people. Some would be old and some would be young; some would be needy, and there would be widows with various levels of needs. Some would be church leaders. He needed to know how to deal with them. We certainly don't follow these instructions about widows today to the letter. What we need to take from this passage is a practical lesson in helping other people in that day and time, and use those same principles of today.

Junkster said...

Verses 1-21 form a natural unit, all relating to proper behaviors toward various categories of people in the church, with verse 21 summarizing the overarching theme of the section. Verse 23 begins a new thought.

As I stated in my analysis, I am persuaded that the context clarifies that the categiries of persons in view are filling distinct functions in the church, and that the reference to elders in verses 1 & 2 a reference to the same concept as in verses 17 and following.

You don't have to agree.

Re: young widows falling away, the female elders are a separate categoty from widows, and a young widow would not likely be a female elder.

Junkster said...

As to epi and the genitive case, in the links I provided, "on" (same meaning as upon) is a proper translation. Such would also be the case in the other examples you provided. The question of what "upon" means is soley one of interpretation, not anything indicated by the literal grammatical construction. The fact that most translators follow the interpretation that in this text it likely means "on the basis of" could easily be due to the cultural bias that assumes a special, elevated role for elders. Kinda my point.

Also, there's nothing in the text to indicate that Paul was (or was not) referring to the witnesses performing the same role as those in the Deuteronomy passages.

Thanks for sharing your opinions.

Lin said...

"Personally, the real problem as I see it is not the requirement of 2 or 3 witnesses but the elevation of "pastors" to "offices" above their brothers and sisters, giving them power the NT never intended."

Funny how we can see things differently. I think needing 3 witnesses to make an accusation against an elder does just that...elevates them above others naturally because we do not see this requirement for others in the Body.

Junkster said...

Your example of Patterson and Gilyard is one of the main situations I was thinking of.

Giyard was accused of various forms of inappropriate conduct, ranging from flirtation to suggestive comments to physical contact of varying degrees. Patterson was aware of these multiple instances, but he claimed that 1 Tim 5:19 disallowed each claim, as there were no witnesses present at each incident.

However, even if one holds to translation that Paula supports, that would not support Patterson's absurd position. The witnesses doen't have to be persons present to view the event, they could each give separate testimony of their own experiences. So, regardless of the proper translation, Patterson was misusing the passage.

Lin said...


Some of us enjoy this stuff way too much! Thanks for chiming in. In fact, today many "widows" are some of the pastors biggest financial supporters. A far cry from NT times. (wink)

Junkster said...

You're certainly right in the main point of the passage.

Nonetheless, if we believe that every word of the Bible is God inspired, and if we want to rightly understand its meaning, sometimes we have to dig into the details a little. Especially when mistranslations have been used to justify mistreatment of others in the body of Christ, such as denying our sisters in Christ the right to exercise the giftings God has given them.

Lin said...

Junk, I agree Patterson was way off and really twisting it to protect his protege. That is why doing the analysis is so important. Lots of people believe and follow Patterson.

In any event, we see many singlular accusations when we read Christa's Brown's blog. I agree with Paula these are for the civil authorities. But read them through the lens of the first century. Some elders might beat their wife. There is only one witness there and in that culture, her testimony alone means nothing in the civil sphere.

Who would decide what is frivolous in those situations? Needing 3 witnesses would seem to me to take a lot of time spent building a case against the bad elder. And it does seem to elevate them to a special status since we do not need 3 witnesses for the one who prophesies in the body.

So, would Jesus say in Matt 18, take witnesses with you when you confront if they don't acknowledge their wrong doing against you the first time and then Paul say...elders are special so they need 3 witnesses to their wrong doing? I realize Matt 18 is for personal offenses but we can see that there would likely be no witnesses TO the personal offense in Matt 18.

The witnesses in Matt 18 were there for another reason. to bring balance, to hear the accusation, to make sure the one confronting did it properly and act as witnesses to the confrontation to the whole church.

No where are we told who the witnesses have to be before we take it to the church.

I an also see a ton of problems if the "witnesses" to the bad behavior of the elder are from outside the Body. Which a serious accusation would probably have outsiders as witnesses.

Were they going to bring in Ali Baba the souk thief to testify he saw Elder Diotrephes sneak in the back door of a brothel as one of the witnesses?

btw: The KJ renders it this way, surprisingly,

19Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Paula said...

Funny how we can see things differently. I think needing 3 witnesses to make an accusation against an elder does just that...elevates them above others naturally because we do not see this requirement for others in the Body.

This is a good point. But then what did Paul mean? We know from the bulk of his writings that he never taught hierarchy. I think the key is knowing the kind of people these elders were supposed to be in the first place.

We've had squabbles among my relatives, but the things that hurt the most are when people I grew up with act like they don't know me at all. They presume the worst and treat me like a stranger, assuming I'm guilty without a trial for things I have no history of doing. When people who know you presume the worst like that, it cuts deep because they've denied you the dignity of your known character.

In the same way, I see Paul presuming that the vast majority of elders are quality people who don't deserve to have their hard-earned reputations trashed over some flippant accusation or rumor. And just as I claim no authority over my siblings but have earned at least a right to a fair trial, so also qualified elders should be afforded the courtesy of being presumed innocent until proven guilty.

bWe said...

Junkster, that is true, but I believe the Bible was written so people like me could understand it. I have given myself to working for women's equality for the past 3 years. What I have come to realize is that we are in a rut with the scriptures, ping-ponging them back and forth. Look to what Jesus said when the religious Jews tried to pin him down on the scriptures. He always brought it back to how they were to treat their fellow human being.

I think we egalitarians can continue to argue the scripture over and over and never get anywhere, but we need to bring it out into the open that it is people who are affected by this mistreatment of women. When one woman is denied a place of service simply because she was born a woman, all women are denied. When one woman can't walk into her church and feel that her church holds it against her that she is a woman, all women are denied.

I know that you weren't expecting me to say these things on this blog, but on the SBC voices there were over 182 comments arguing about whether or not a woman can preach. That is wrong. It is also the wrong argument.

The argument is not whether or not a woman was an elder or not in the first century church, the argument is how women today are treated.

The Bible is a living Word to us today. I have more education (except for the Greek) than a first century woman had. I don't share a husband with 3 other wives, I don't have a houseful of kids, I can drive, and I can do lots of things that this poor woman could not do.

The main thing is that I live in the 21st century. As such, my responsibilities and gifts are different from the Bible days.

As a SBC person, that scripture about drinking a little wine doesn't apply to me, so you see, we pick and choose what what we follow.

I would like to see people like you and all the others on this blog and even my blog, stand up for women's equality, not because a woman might have been an elder, but because it is what is right in the 21st century.

Junkster said...

I hear ya, The focus needs to be on the big picture of treating others with love and justice, just as we would have them treat us.

If it is right for women to be able to serve in any form of ministry in the body in the 21st century, it was right in the 20th, and all the way back to the 1st. And vice versa.

The question of what God allows and /or commands in his Word is central to the matter. If we aren't going to base our beliefs on the Bible's teachings, it doesn't much matter what we allow or don't allow in our churhes, we're just making things up as we go. If the Bible isn't the standard, I suppose a fish could be a pastor. Some fish are very nice people, you know. :)

I know some things can seem esoteric, strange, or complex when we aren't familar with them. But the Bible really isn't that difficult, and neither is learning a little Greek or Hebrew, or learning to use the tools available on the internet. Just takes a little time and study -- a worthwile pursuit when considering the very Words of God.

Blessings in your efforts to strive for fair and equal treatment of all in the body of Christ.

Paula said...


I see parallels in this with the debate on origins: we need to be able to win the battle on any turf. That's why this is a Body: when all the parts do their specialty, when we use individual gifts to work together, we are invincible.

And as in the origins debate I came to learn that the best way to win is to aim at the foundation and refuse to let them off it till they answer some unanswerable questions (learned that tactic from Capt. Kirk), so also we egals need to keep the comps on the foundations of the faith: humility, service, and following Jesus' example of laying privilege down for the good of those thought to be beneath us.

Male privilege has at its foundation a grave violation of those principles; it clings jealously to power, tries to cover up its greed with flowery adjectives, and proves by its actions that it is outside the upside-down kingdom Jesus described, where the first are last and the greatest are the least. It so hates humility and servitude that it projects the lack thereof upon those who know it all too well.

The day male privilege sees how it violates everything Jesus came to establish, is the day we are free.

bWe said...

Junkster, I hate to be the one to tell it like it is, but we are making things up in the church right now. This weekend I learned that some churches don't allow girls to take up the attendance pads on Sunday morning, and that women can't teach boys who have been baptized, no matter what their age.

That is made-up theology in our churches already. You are not going to find that in the Bible. And yet scripture is used to justify it.

When a church tells a woman that she CAN'T, then they set the bar as to what CAN'T means. It doesn't matter what scripture says. They decide.

We already know that some women were deacons in the church, but that hasn't helped our cause any.

I sincerely believe that we must approach this on a human level of today. These pastors must see this as affecting women today. As long as they can talk about some first century woman they can have blinders on to the women in the 21st century sitting in their pews. It eases their conscience.

I've enjoyed this discussion with you and I know that you are surprised that an egalitarian blogger would speak this way.

I am with you and others who speak out for women's equality.

Lin said...

"In the same way, I see Paul presuming that the vast majority of elders are quality people who don't deserve to have their hard-earned reputations trashed over some flippant accusation or rumor"

This is how the hierarchy that slipped in early on has so distorted everything in the Body. When people read .that verse with their authoritarian filters it becomes an alibi for bad behavior

Lin said...

bWe, I ditto everything that Junkster and Paula have said on this issue. I think we all have different strengths and should support one another. But I have a different view on how we change things.

You wrote:
"I sincerely believe that we must approach this on a human level of today. These pastors must see this as affecting women today. As long as they can talk about some first century woman they can have blinders on to the women in the 21st century sitting in their pews. It eases their conscience."

I agree with Junkster. If it was allowed in the 1st Century Body of Christ, it is allowed today. And it WAS allowed in the 1st Century Body of Christ. We CAN make that case. In fact, we can make the case it was never prohibited in the NC because it was never prohibited in the OC.

Most pastors today in the SBC (and elsewhere) are not going to accept the cultural arguement no matter how it is put to them. Most of the celebrity guru's use "culture" as their reason FOR comp/patriarchy. In fact, the majority of pastors think the world is going to hell in a handbasket precisely because women do not know their place in the Body and marriage.

The case for spiritual gift equality in the Body can be made from scripture from Gen 1-2 to Deborah/Huldah to Pentecost.

But even then, I have to ask why waste time with trying to convince pastors? Their whole livihood is wrapped up in many of these issues. They claim to study scripture and have the same resources we have. Most of them have made up their minds. If they are in the SBC, they look at the BFM and see women cannot be ministers or teach men. How many are willing to hurt their careers for this issue?

And, we have the problem that many of them have elevated this issue to salvic status. That is why it is a waste of time to try and convince them with anything but scripture. They are more interested in the authority aspects of this issue. I am not interested in having position or authority over others in the Body. None of us should be. men or women. It is a huge sin trap. Only Christ is the authority. The rest of us, no matter the function in the Body, are lowly servants to one another.

I am not really interested in being allowed in the all male clubhouse, anyway. I am more interested in encouraging both men and women in the Body to study this issue with all the free resources at their fingertips. To pray about it and take ALL of scripture into considertion on this topic.

But most importantly, we must encourage people to be led by the Holy Spirit when they study. The translators made some very bad word choices in some instances that totally change the meaning for women in the Body. Or even women in general from Genesis on. The translators were not Inspired, btw. We live in an exciting time tht we have so many resources for free to study things deeply.

I would highly recommend you read Katherine Bushnell's Gods Word to Women as a starting point. I think you will find it a huge blessing. The work she put into this study is amazing.

And don't forget, this issue would have no traction at all if many women did not support hierarchy within the Body and marriage. Women make up the majority of Christendom.

Lin said...

"That is made-up theology in our churches already. You are not going to find that in the Bible. And yet scripture is used to justify it."


This only works because people do not study on their own with the indwelling Holy Spirit illuminating truth to them. They allow a few people to interpret scripture for them. This has been the problem throughoutthe church age and a big reason why must encourage people to study.

Paula said...


You know how I feel about authority in the Body of Christ. And I had hoped my previous comment conveyed the idea that respect for people we personally know and can vouch for is not any kind of authority but the kind of consideration we should all have for each other. I really don't know how else to say that.

But here again, the point is that scripture will always be abused by those who clearly have no clue what the kingdom of God is like. Just as the pro-slavery preachers took an inch of scripture and ran a hundred miles. so also the anti-women preachers will always find a way to make scripture say what they want. That will never change.

But what we have to be careful about is that we don't react to this by trying to deny scripture when it says something very clearly, as it does here: Christians of exemplary character should be given the benefit of a doubt, but the flip-side is that once convicted they get double the shame. That's all I'll say about this.

Paula said...

PS to clarify:

By "benefit of a doubt" I don't mean blithely dismissing a lone woman who says she's been raped by an elder. What I mean is that we don't immediately condemn the accused without a fair trial.

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion. I'll throw in my two cents(probably all it's worth). The problem seems to be that no matter male or female in the Body of Christ, we are called to be servants and to humble ourselves. If pastors were busy doing what the Bible describes their postion as being, they wouldn't have time to elevate themselves. Today, it seems that most pastors are nothing but celebrity speakers and don't have time for the marrying and burying and shepherding the flock they were appointed to do. Quite humbling when it's done the way the Scriptures portray them to be.
As the Body of Christ, we are all to work together and no one should want to be considered more special than another, no matter what the postion. Love seeks the other persons higher good.
Since we all fail(humans have that problem), I guess we need lots of grace. I think that the Apostle Paul said that God is no respecter of persons and therefore, in order to protect women, then or now, we should treat each other with respect. No one is better than another and the higher the postion, the more the attitude should be of a servant. As far as women being elders or pastors, I don't see that in Scripture and why is it necessary that women have those positions? There are certainly enough positions in the church that need filling. We are all out here to preach the Gospel and it can be done without a heirarchal position. We are all equal at the foot of the Cross.
Like I said, just my two cents worth.

Paula said...

marrying and burying...

As far as women being elders or pastors, I don't see that in Scripture and why is it necessary that women have those positions? There are certainly enough positions in the church that need filling. We are all out here to preach the Gospel and it can be done without a heirarchal position. We are all equal at the foot of the Cross.

Scripture doesn't say anything about "pastors" marrying and burying. It also says nothing about "positions" in the Body of Christ.

But if you agree there's no authority in these alleged positions, then what's the fear of having women hold them? If we're all equal at the foot of the Cross, then why bar women from the "shepherding" of the flock? What is it about women that caused God to keep us from leading only adult males, and what is it about adult males that allows them to lead everyone?

"Not so among you" and "no lording over" cannot be turned into "(except when women are involved)" and "benevolent lording over". We're either in Jesus' upside down kingdom or the world's; we can't serve two masters.

Plenty women can do? Same for men; let them build things and pave driveways while the women do the nurturing and management. That's just as reasonable and scripturally justified.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Paula, soorrry!! Marrying and burying.... just a saying, for crying out loud(also a saying).
1Tim3 gives the description of and elder or pastor as being a he. Also, 1Tim2:11-12 gives the position women are to take. As far as this being unegalitarian(probably didn't spell that right) I'm just sayin' what the Bible says. But then again, I'm no expert. I have studied the Bible for over 25 years and know a little(a smidgen) of Greek and Hebrew but still feel quite small in the scheme of things.
I appreciate your cause(hey, I'm a woman, too) but, yes, there may be no designated postions in the Body of Christ but God is a God of order and for some reason He has decided to give instructions in church life. Does it really matter? I mean, I know some women know more about the Scriptures than some men and they can sure use that for the benefit of the Body but God still seems to differentiate on who leads the flock.
Just saying......

Paula said...

Hey Pam, my comment about marrying and burying was just an FYI, for crying out loud. What's the problem?

As for the usual male privilege proof texts, please read up on egalitarian literature so we don't have to keep reinventing the wheel. "Not so among you" was never overturned for any reason or anyone. And I'm "just sayin' what the Bible says". You've studied it for over 25 years? Shall I brag about my 40 years of study? Would that make me infallible? You're also not the only one familiar with Greek, and yes, it does matter when a woman gifted by the Spirit is denied or restricted simply due to her flesh. Belittling the plight of women who are denied full access to the kingdom of God here on earth is not some trifling thing.

Just saying...

Anonymous said...

Paula, I don't have a problem. You brought it up.
Made it clear that I wasn't bragging but didn't want you to think that I was completely Biblically illiterate.
You didn't address the Scriptures I mentioned. I am not trying to belittle anyone, just stating what the Scriptures say. I'm sure you could make me look really stupid with your level of knowledge.
You are certainly entitled to your opinion and I respect your over 40 years of Bible study.
I pray that God will use that for His benefit and that He will get the glory!

Anonymous said...

Paula, by the way, your blog looks really good. I bet we would find that we agree on a lot of things. I guess I just never gave women as pastors or elders that much study.

Lin said...

"You didn't address the Scriptures I mentioned. I am not trying to belittle anyone, just stating what the Scriptures say. I'm sure you could make me look really stupid with your level of knowledge.

Hi Pam, Welcome! I am a bit late in responding, sorry about that.

One thing I hope you notice about this blog post is that many of us consider it a good thing to delve into scripture and it is perfectly ok to test the "translators" and their word choices within the context. That is important in our study and many times the Holy Spirit leads us to question things and dive deeper into them.. that appear to be contradictions but are not if we take the time to really study.

I believe Junkster makes a good argument for this post. (In fact, ironically, the KJ tends to translate it closer to what Junk is saying.)

Paula disagrees with it. That is ok...iron sharpens iron.

Paula has addressed the scriptures you mention in depth on her blog. Over and over. I can relate that it gets old rehashing "authenteo" and Kephale over and over to people.

There are so many things to take into consideration when we make blanket statements that women cannot be pastors. For me, I go back to the very model of the NT church in scripture and ask: Who were the pastors of the Corinthian church? The Philippian church? Do you get my meaning? We have made a huge deal of something that is a verb in scripture. We have made it an institutional office where it is not in scripture.

Scripture teaches us that no gift is better than another. All are needed. But as humans and like the Jews of old, we demand a king. When Jesus is our king.

I would really encourage you to study "authenteo" in 1 Tim 2 and analyze 1 Tim 3. In the latter, we know that if "anyone" and the Greek is "tis" means both men and women. The "husband of one wife" and references to children would mean that single men would not be qualified as elders. Paul would not be qualified.

When it comes to polity, we tend to be legalistic. But we should put our focus on the fact that if we are saved, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides us. Jesus Christ is the boss of the Body. Not a mere human who is saved by the same grace as me.

In fact, if we bring this down to a very gut level, we have to admit that with such thinking we are basing the practice of some spiritual gifts on the basis of sexual organs and not spiritual maturity.

The bottomline is this: There is NO prohibition to women teaching men in the OC. There is no law against it. (1 Corin 14 is referring to the Oral law where there is a prohibition) In fact, if it was wrong then Deborah and Huldah were the biggest transgressors.

But some want us to believe this is a sin for the NC. That there is a prohibition in the NC to women teaching men. This is legalism run amuk. It is silly but it is also deadly for the Body of Christ. I predict the day when persecuted Chinese will come here as missionaries and show us how very ridiculous and legalistic we are. Many of them are women who go to prison for preaching the Gospel to anyone regardless of gender. They do not have the luxury of discriminating.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Lin, thanks for the welcome and the comments.
I haven't really put a lot of study into the issue(monday morning quarterbacker).
I really enjoy your blog and look forward to your next post.
Always love learning something new and revisiting some old things as well(didn't realize the in-depth dialogue that obviously has taken place here).I will do my homework next time.
Thanks again.

Lin said...

Pam, You don't have to do homework to comment here. We are so used to being called liberal nazi feminists, we can jump to conclusions when it comes to certain types of comments. And it is frustrating because I am about as conservative both politically and spiritually as you can get.

I just simply do not believe the Bible is teaching that over half of the Body has to discriminate in who they teach or tell truth to. Pentecost was for the church age. Therefore we have to dig deep on the few badly translated proof texts that are used to deny that women have the same FULL inheritance (including spiritual gifts) as men do. (See Galatians)

To give you an example of such bad interpretations: Do you believe you are saved in childbirth?