How does the Bible depict the relationship between men and women?


Andrew Bartlett has written the outstanding study Men and Women in Christ: fresh light from the biblical texts which I think should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in this question. Here, he reviews another book on this subject, Men and Women in the Church: A Short, Biblical, Practical Introduction (Crossway, 2021) by Kevin DeYoung.


Looking at Men and Women in the Bible through Distorting Spectacles

Kevin DeYoung (KD) wanted to write a book “that explained the Bible’s teaching about men and women in the church in a way that the interested layperson could understand and in a size that he or she could read in a few hours”. 

Assessed in light of his objective, the book merits more than one star, because KD writes lucidly, he packs a lot of content into a short book, and there are some important things that he gets right. For example, we should not use the Trinity as our model for the marriage relationship [Ch 4]. 

But what we mostly get is not really “the Bible’s teaching”. Instead, it is the Bible as viewed through patriarchal spectacles. (I’m using ‘patriarchal’ in the sense that men are in charge—not in the sense that men are oppressors, which KD rightly condemns.)  KD wears these spectacles enthusiastically, for he is committed to men’s leadership of women in home, church and society. The spectacles make it very hard for him to see what God’s word actually says, where it contradicts his views. 

(Full disclosure: I’ve written a book on the same subject, in which I arrive at different conclusions from KD. I’ve also written some articles which you can find via Terran Williams’ website.)


The longest passage of teaching in the New Testament concerning men and women is in 1 Corinthians 7. But the spectacles are so blurry that KD does not consider this passage to be worth discussing in his book. That is remarkable. For KD rejects mutual submission in marriage, asserting that a husband is the decision-maker, with unilateral authority over his wife and sole responsibility for spiritual leadership [Chs 5, 8]. Yet 1 Corinthians 7 is the only passage which expressly teaches about the ‘authority’ of husband and wife and the only passage which expressly teaches how couples should take decisions on significant spiritual and physical matters such as joint prayer and sexual intercourse. 

Why might the spectacles prevent KD from seeing the significance of 1 Corinthians 7? Because if he perceived it, it would defeat his view. Paul teaches the mutual submission of husband and wife, whose authority is identical (see 1 Cor 7:4, exactly as we should expect from Genesis 2:24 ‘one flesh’). And Paul teaches that those significant marital decisions should be taken by mutual consent (see 1 Cor 7:5).

In Ephesians 5, Paul’s own indication of the meaning of his ‘head’ metaphor, as applied to the husband, is in Eph 5:23 (literally, “a husband is head of the wife as also the Messiah is head of the church, himself saviour of the body”). Addressing husbands, Paul spells out the practical content of the “saviour” idea in Eph 5:25-33a. It is all about humble, self-sacrificial love and care. Not one word telling a husband to exercise authority over his wife. But the spectacles screen this out. KD never quotes or even notices the critical words “saviour of the body”. He interprets the metaphor as if Paul’s explanation had been “lord over the body” [Chs 4, 5, 8]. Paul’s phrase “as to the Lord” (v 22) is not an instruction to husbands. If KD’s patriarchal viewpoint is correct, why is there no statement in Ephesians 5—or even in the whole of the Bible—that husbands ought to exercise authority over their wives?

Having missed Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7 on mutual submission in marriage, KD misunderstands the word ‘submit’ (hupotassō) in Ephesians 5:21, 24. He treats it as a synonym for ‘obey’. He claims that the Greek word is “always” used “with reference to a relationship where one party has authority over the other” [Ch 8]. But that’s simply wrong. In 1 Corinthians 14:32 the spirits of the prophets are subject to their own control. That is not a relationship where one party has authority over the other. And in 1 Corinthians 16:16 Paul urges the believers to submit to the household of Stephanas and to everyone who joins them in their works of service. That would include women, slaves and other people who serve as believers in a range of ways not limited to leadership, so Paul’s instruction does not indicate a relationship of one-way authority. So also in Ephesians 5:21. Paul wants all the believers to be filled with the Spirit (v 18) so that they will be singing praises to God, giving thanks, and submitting to one another (which is all in the same sentence). The word hupotassō is not a synonym for ‘obey’. It means ‘place below’. In v 21 Paul is urging all believers, including wives and husbands, to place themselves below others. That does not imply that the others are in authority over them. It means treating them as if they were in a higher position.


Readers who are already committed to a patriarchal outlook may read the book quickly without finding much to disagree with. But anyone who checks KD’s exposition against what Scripture says will find many more discrepancies and errors of reasoning. I’ll give some examples.

KD says that, in Genesis, Adam is Eve’s “leader” because Eve is Adam’s “helper”. He adds that in multiple places in Scripture God is Israel’s “helper” [Ch 1]. But he fails to notice that this fatally undermines his reasoning. Since God is Israel’s “helper”, by KD’s logic that means Israel is God’s leader.

KD says that Adam was the “designated leader and representative”. He says this is made “indisputably clear” in Romans 5 [Ch 1]. But that is a confusion, for “leader” and “representative” are two distinct ideas. In Romans 5, as in Genesis, Adam is representative of all humanity (in accordance with the meaning of his name, ‘adam’ = ‘humankind’) and nothing is said about Adam being either Eve’s leader or anyone else’s leader.

KD’s reading of the Old Testament through patriarchal spectacles results in elementary mistakes which downgrade the contributions of women. He says that the leaders of the Exodus were all men, even though the narrative shows Miriam among the leaders (see also Micah 6:4 “I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam”) [Ch 2]. He claims that Miriam ministered only to women (Exod 15:20) [Ch 8]. But the words “to them” in Exod 15:21 are masculine in Hebrew, which tells us that Miriam did not sing to the women in v 20 but to the whole people of Israel (Exod 15:1, 19). 

KD states that only men rightfully led Israel in any governing office [Ch 2]. But God raised up Deborah as the highest civic, spiritual and judicial authority (Judges 2:16-18; 4 – 5). In that period, the only person of comparable stature was Samuel, who prophesied, decided disputes at the highest level, and oversaw military victories (1 Samuel 3:19-21; 7:2-17). KD claims that Deborah possessed no institutional authority and judged in private [Chs 2, 8]. But she was Israel’s governing leader and Supreme Court, and she administered justice in public, “under the palm of Deborah” (Judges 4:4-5).

KD says that the “virtue” of the “godly woman” in Proverbs 31 “is primarily in helping her husband” [Ch 2]. But the text describes her as providing both for her family and for the poor, as a manufacturer, entrepreneurial farmer, commercial trader, and philanthropist.

Moving to the New Testament, KD continues his downgrading of women’s contributions. He says “there is no indication” that Priscilla “exercised teaching authority over men” [Ch 8]. But what does Luke’s narrative in Acts 18 show? A church-planting team of three arrived in Ephesus (Paul, Priscilla, Aquila). Paul’s message received a favourable reception but he promptly resumed his travels, leaving only Priscilla and Aquila to teach and care for the new converts. The learned and mighty orator Apollos arrived, preaching an incomplete gospel. Priscilla and Aquila corrected him. Why should he take any notice of anything that they said? Because they were Paul’s delegates, whom he had left in charge of the nascent church. As the first leaders of the new group of believers in Ephesus, they exercised their authority to correct Apollos. The point of including this story is to show that Paul’s ministry was continued through his female and male co-workers, whom he had trained well. This is underlined by Luke’s choice of words. The relatively unusual verb which Luke uses in Acts 18:26 to describe Priscilla’s and Aquila’s teaching (ektithēmi) is the same word which he uses of the apostle Paul’s own expository teaching in Acts 28:23, in the passage where he brings his whole narrative to an end.


KD rightly understands that the Jewishness of the 12 primary apostles chosen by Jesus was “linked to a particular moment in salvation history”, so that leadership became more diverse after Pentecost [Ch 3]. But he sees the maleness of the 12 apostles as of enduring significance, despite Peter’s plain explanation of the new thing which began at Pentecost, which was that the Holy Spirit was poured out abundantly on both men and women (Acts 2:14-18). He fails to see that the primary apostles were male for the same reason that they were Jewish and for the same reason that there were 12 of them. By choosing a group of 12 Jewish males, resembling the 12 patriarchs (sons of Israel), Jesus showed that he was reconstituting God’s people around himself. KD argues: Jesus came as a man, embodying “what true manliness was meant to be—saving, protecting, rescuing, leading, teaching and serving. So it makes sense that … he chose only men.” But Scripture shows no interest in Jesus’s “manliness”. Rather, it teaches that Jesus came to embody what humanity was meant to be (Hebrews 1–2), which is why the goal for both men and women is to be like Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:5).

KD believes it to be “likely” that the woman apostle Junia, who was commended by Paul in Romans 16, was actually “a man” called Junias [Ch 8]. Why, then, are there hundreds of other examples from antiquity of the female name ‘Junia’ and none of the imaginary male name ‘Junias’? And why did even Chrysostom, who believed in male leadership, admit (as something remarkable) that she was a woman apostle and explain that she was outstanding because of her achievements?

KD offers an interpretation of Paul’s discussion about heads and hair (1 Corinthians 11:2-16) which makes it all about male authority over women, especially wives [Ch 4]. But in Paul’s text the only actual mention of ‘authority’ is the authority that a woman ought to have (1 Cor 11.10 “because of this the woman ought to have authority over her head”). To maintain his patriarchal interpretation, KD reverses the meaning of v 10, so that authority is removed from the woman and given to the man. He does this by endorsing the ESV translation, which adds into v 10 some extra words which Paul did not write. These make it say that a wife ought to have “a symbol of” authority on her head (meaning, a symbol of her husband’s authority over her, and/or of her submission to it).

διὰ τοῦτο ὀφείλει ἡ γυνὴ ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους

In 1 Corinthians, Paul teaches about and encourages vocal participation in worship by both men and women from 1 Cor 11:2 to 1 Cor 14:33, and from 1 Cor 14:36-40. But in 1 Cor 14:34-35 he appears to prohibit all vocal participation by women. That makes no sense. And v 34 contains an untruth (“… as the Law also says”, though it doesn’t). So, either Paul is quoting opponents in 1 Cor 14.34–35, or, as the manuscript evidence strongly suggests, the two verses were not in the original letter but were someone’s marginal comment, which got incorporated by mistake (in two different places, after v 34 or after v 40). KD does not mention either of these solutions, though he finds space to dismiss four others. 

KD acknowledges that Paul allowed women to prophesy. His solution for 1 Cor 14.34-35 is: “The explicit situation in which women must be silent is where prophecies are being evaluated” [Ch 4]. But that proposal is in conflict with the words on the page. First, the ban is not explicitly on evaluating prophecies; instead, the words in v 34-35 are a comprehensive ban on all vocal participation by women, and it is given maximum emphasis by being stated three times in different words. Second, Paul says who should evaluate prophecies. In v 29 he instructs that it be done by “the others”, which in context refers naturally to the other prophets, who include women. (Just possibly, “the others” could refer to the whole congregation, but that again includes women.)


In 1 Timothy we come to what KD calls “the heart of the matter”. The biggest question for understanding 1 Timothy 2:12 is this: what was Paul concerned about, that gave rise to his instructions? Was it (A) the spread of false teaching in Ephesus, in which misguided and misbehaving women were involved? Or was it (B) when the church in Ephesus met for worship, faithful women (rather than faithful men) were teaching faithfully? If we read from 1 Tim 1:1 to 2:11, we find it fits (A) rather than (B), and chapter 5 of Paul’s letter confirms this. But KD doesn’t perceive the relevance of this context [Ch 6]. 

Paul’s supporting reasoning in 1 Tim 2:13-14 refers to the well-known story of Adam and Eve. KD’s explanations provide the crowning examples of the blinding effect of the spectacles [Ch 6]:

  • KD suggests that Paul is referring to the nature of women as being “more likely to acquiesce to doctrinal deviation”. But would any thoughtful person choose that story to demonstrate that men are more likely to take a firm stand? What did Adam do? He acquiesced. 
  • Perhaps half-aware that his first interpretation makes Paul look stupid, KD also offers “another understanding”, which involves what he calls “role reversal” (though there is no mention of that either in Genesis or in 1 Timothy). He says “Paul is pointing to the difference between the two guilty persons: Adam sinned openly, but Eve was deceived.” But this again makes Paul look foolish. How is it safer to be taught by a deliberate rebel than by a person who is merely deceived?

Discussing spiritual gifts, KD concedes, with seeming reluctance, “Women can even have gifts of teaching and leadership”—and they may be “powerful gifts”. But just as he downgrades Deborah (who led Barak and all Israel) and Priscilla (who taught Apollos), KD does the same to gifted women today: he insists they must not lead or teach men [Ch 8]. He offers no explanation for Paul’s urging of both men and women to eagerly desire the greater gifts of being apostles, prophets and teachers (1 Corinthians 12:27-31). I suspect Paul would say that KD’s view dishonours gifted women and deprives men who would benefit from their ministry. When men refuse the ministry of women leaders and teachers, simply because they are women, it is like one part of the body saying to another part, “I don’t need you” (v21). 

Dear brother Kevin, for your own sake, for women’s sake, for men’s sake, for the Lord’s sake, please take off the spectacles and look again.


Ian Paul writes: For an overview of the case for women exercising authority in ministry, see my Grove booklet Women and Authority: the key biblical texts.


DON'T MISS OUT!
Signup to get email updates of new posts
We promise not to spam you. Unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

If you enjoyed this, do share it on social media (Facebook or Twitter) using the buttons on the left. Follow me on Twitter @psephizo. Like my page on Facebook.


Much of my work is done on a freelance basis. If you have valued this post, you can make a single or repeat donation through PayPal:

For other ways to support this ministry, visit my Support page.


Comments policy: Do engage with the subject. Please don't turn this into a private discussion board. Do challenge others in the debate; please don't attack them personally. I no longer allow anonymous comments; if there are very good reasons, you may publish under a pseudonym; otherwise please include your full name, both first and surnames.

164 thoughts on “How does the Bible depict the relationship between men and women?”

  1. Should Kevin Bartlett and Ian Paul wish to upgrade from being critics of various peoples’ complementarianism to presenting their own theology of sexuality they would have to answer two fundamental questions relating to sexuality and sex differences – which so far I have not seen answered by any egalitarian.
    1. Why must biblical marriage be between a man and a woman?
    2. Why is homosexuality forbidden and a sign of not being saved (when other sin is not)?
    No-one is exempt from explaining differences between men and women which underlie these questions.
    I am of course not looking for an answer to either question which says “because this verse says so” – I am hoping that Kevin or Ian or both will explain the relationship of male and female to the character and therefore heart of God.

    Reply
    • ‘Wish to upgrade’? You mean, for example, like writing a 431-page book (Andrew) or a Grove booklet, chapters contributed to other books, and 63 articles (Ian)? That kind of upgrade?

      Why must marriage be between a man and a woman? Because of God’s creation of humanity as male and female, which includes absolute biological and physical differences and non-absolute (ranged) psychological, emotional and temperamental differences, none of which are inherently hierarchical.

      Why is homosexuality forbidden and a sign of not being saved (when other sin is not)? Er, you don’t appear to have read what Paul actually says: ‘Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.’ That is a long list—of, well I never, 10 things—which are salvation issues. We cannot persist in any sin, so I am unclear why you are picking out one or two from that list.

      In your last comment I think you mean ‘Andrew or Ian’. Recognising male-female difference is about recognising God’s intention in creating humanity in differentiated unity. But there is nowhere in Scripture where that differentiation is expressed as having different authority, and many places which reject that.

      Reply
      • Ian

        But gay people don’t deny the existence of gender or biological sex. Rather it is in part *because* of our biology that our nature is to find a relationship with the same sex. If you got 20 gay people of both sexes and 20 straight people of both sexes to stand at either end of a room, you would be able to accurately guess just by looking which was the gay group and which was the straight group. And as I have pointed out before Alan Carrs voice is not an affectation.

        We know that the Genesis creation narrative is not de facto law, because Jesus himself did not marry a woman.

        Reply
        • God’s creation intention as set out in Genesis is that man and woman come together in procreative marriage as a reflection of God’s creation of humanity as male and female.

          The testimony of Scripture, and the consistent view of Jewish and then Christians readings of Scripture, is that same-sex sexual relationships are a rejection of this pattern of God’s creation.

          Jesus was single as the first fruits of the new creation, in which fruitful testimony leads to new spiritual birth. Thus Christians have since seen male-female marriage (reflecting the first creation) and celibate singleness (reflecting this new creation in Jesus) as the two patterns of life to which God calls us.

          Reply
          • Ian

            Such a reading of Genesis has no place for gay people. Like Christopher claims, we cannot be natural – It presumably requires you to believe that we are lying about our life experience or chronically deluded since we were small children. Of course I can no more convince you that I am telling the truth than you can convince me I am lying to myself.

            You seem to contradict yourself by arguing both that male female marriage is Gods intention for all humans, but that actually he changed his mind (?) and now accepts celibate singleness as well. That seems to be a complete contradiction to the idea that Genesis style male female marriage is Gods only intention for every human.

            My belief is that Jesus is the Word through which God spoke creation and is not an afterthought or Plan B. I believe that Genesis tells us that our desire for relationship is not sin or weakness, but part of what it means to be created in the image of God and that we should seek a partner that is especially suited to us. I see no law requiring us to do this or prohibiting us from doing this.

          • ‘Such a reading of Genesis has no place for gay people.’ Not so. Such a reading has no place for same-sex sex. That has been the consistent reading of this text by Jews and Christians. It does not say there is no place for gay people—as plenty of my gay friends will testify. You appear to claim that ‘to be gay’ is inextricably linked with ‘to have gay sex’.

            Male-female marriage has in Christian theology been understood to be a sign pointing to the union of God and his people. When that happens, in the eschaton, then marriage will be no more. That future has been pulled into the present in the ministry of Jesus. it has nothing to do with God changing his intention; it is about the ultimate fulfilment being brought into the present.

            ‘Genesis tells us that our desire for relationship is not sin or weakness.’ Nope, that is not what Genesis tells us. Genesis is not about the validity of all desires; it is about God’s creation intention in making humanity male and female as the basis for marriage and family.

            Jesus was quite typical of as a first century Jew of seeing marriage as between male and female, and therefore same-sex sex being outside God’s intention. Paul takes this Jewish teaching and makes it explicit in a gentile context.

          • Ian

            You define same sex relationships as a rejection of Gods creation. If “gay” people are seeking to form relationships to reject Gods creation, rather that to follow their God given nature to desire relationship, then they cannot truly be gay can they? They aren’t naturally attracted to the same sex because, if they were, then they would simply be following creation, not rejecting it. I’m not saying all gay people must have same sex sex. I’m saying your account of Genesis denies that anyone’s nature is outside heterosexual (it also denies asexuality).

            You habe said two contradictory things. You have said that male female marriage is the (only) intention for creation and then conceded that singleness is also good. Either Adams “marriage” to Eve is de facto law for all humans or it isnt. Which are you going for?

            Desire for relationship is not “all desires”. Genesis says God said “it is not good for man to be alone”. He tries to find Adam a *suitable* partner. He doesn’t tell Adam he’s evil for being lonely – that’s not in the passage or anywhere in scripture.

            Jesus said nothing about gay people or same sex marriage.

          • There are several reasons not to speak of ‘gay people’ (as opposed to people that are so at a given time).
            (1) No doctor can diagnose it, which shows its level of reality or otherwise.
            (2) It increases wherever it is a meme or idea in the air.
            (3) It contradicts physical evidence.
            (4) It can often be a psychological reaction to specific family imperfections, rather than anything more objective.
            (5) It can solidify subsequent upon experiences well into a lifetime.
            (6) No baby can be described thus.
            (7) Children are not sexual – but by that time we have already got very far into the psychologically formative stage.
            (8) Adolescents are confused and rebellious, boundary-testing – more so (in both cases) than any other age.
            (9) The findings of Savin-Williams and Ream, which do no more than confirm (8), are well known.
            (10) There is no way that an essence can be something that holds true at any random point in a life; it can only something that holds true throughout a life. Now, things that are true at the start of one’s life may rightly be held to be of the essence of that person, far more so than things that emerge later and as a result of experiences which are by their nature contingent (might or might not have happened, but in this instance did).

          • (11) A lot of discourse assumes that the world is made up of people in their 20s-60s. This probably reflects the long hours workplace culture, and secondly the flight from family.
            Whereas real life is made up of children, grandparents, babies, aunts, cousins, parents, siblings, friends, etc.. Multi-age.

          • Christopher

            So what I think you’re saying is that we cannot define a persons orientation unless they had that orientation consistently from birth to death. And because we can’t do that therefore orientation doesn’t exist. And then you are claiming that babies and children (do you mean U13s?) have no orientation, adolescents are confused and people over 60 are all straight.

            I know a few gay couples who are over 60. Ian McKellen is in his 80s, Elton John is in his 70s.

            I think its fair to say that adolescents are notoriously difficult to pin down on orientation (especially pre 2014), but that doesn’t mean that all are or even most are. Its a time to experiment and discover the world and themselves.

            Younger children sometimes know, sometimes dont. I knew about age 12. I met a guy last week who said he knew when he was 7.

            There are lots of aspects of adult life that don’t appear as children. When I was a child I had more hair on my head and none on my body. No doctor would diagnose hairiness – therefore we should not talk about being hirsute and must pretend the challenges of additional nose hair don’t exist?!

      • Ian

        Re “practicing homosexuals”. I’d be interested why you think this is the best translation and not simply ” homosexuals” or “men who sleep with men” or “those who abuse themselves with males” or “lustful towards men” or “those who use and abuse sex”

        Reply
        • I don’t think that is a good translation. I was just cutting and pasting from the electronic text I had to hand. My point was that Philip’s claim was in error. There is a list of ten sins there; Paul says that all of them, if persisted in, are salvation issues.

          Reply
          • Ian

            Sorry for so many replies, but I’m asking *because* its vitally important to know precisely what is the thing that Paul says is sinful.

          • Ian

            Great.

            Can I then ask a favor, that you use “men who have sex with men” or MSM in your language and encourage other evangelicals to do so. “Homosexuality” is vague. It has led to abuse of gay people, even celibate single gay people and makes it harder to have a discussion if there’s no clarity on what is even being discussed.

      • Hi Ian,

        Thank you for your answer.

        You mentioned two things in your answer to question 1:

        1. Biological and physical differences.
        Are you saying that God wants only people who are biologically and physically different to share the same bed? If so I don’t see how that is a theological idea – I don’t see how it relates to who God is – and therefore to his glory. (To be blunt so there be no doubt about my meaning there would have to be something in God’s character that related to the interrelationship of penises and vaginas for that to be relevant).

        2. Non-absolute ranged psychological, emotional and temperamental differences
        Here little needs to be said – since you say that the differences are non-absolute – therefore they cannot be offered as a reason for the absolute teaching of scripture that marriage is between a man and a woman.

        On the second question – why homosexuality is forbidden I was asking you to explain what about homosexuality is in contravention to God’s character – and therefore breaks unity with God) – you offered no answer – you only pointed out that there were a range of sinful behaviours on the list in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

        I patiently wait for an answer to my two questions from Andrew Bartlett. I hope that Andrew does not consider my questions less worthy of a response than other posts he has responded to here. I don’t see how the fact that he wrote a 431 page book proves that he has an answer to my questions. What could possibly be the harm in his proving that the way in which he engages on sexuality is aimed – not to cast doubt on the meaning of the bible’s teaching on sexuality – but to find its most obvious meaning? I believe that it’s appropriate to assume that anyone who is actively engaging on passages in the bible to do with male and female – and has written a book – should have answers to the two most basic questions on male and female that I can think of. And I cannot think of any reason why such a person would not be willing to answer. (If there is a reason for his refusal to answer I would appreciate it if he replied to offer it instead of also remaining silent on why he chooses not to answer).

        Reply
        • 1. If you don’t see that as a theological idea, I wonder if you have Gen 1 and 2 missing from your Bible?

          2. You used patronising language of ‘upgrading’ of two people who have published widely. If you want them to engage, then you need to change your tone.

          My citation of 1 Cor 6.9 was to demonstrate that your opening claim was completely false.

          Reply
          • Ian, I’m completely lost.
            Yes, Genesis 1 and 2 shows that marriage is between a man and a woman – and it involves man and woman becoming one flesh.
            While offering that passage would be the perfect answer to a different questions – namely where in the bible is there proof that marriage should be between a man and a woman – and where is there proof that marriage is supposed to be a sexual union of opposite sexes? – as you know these are not the question that I asked you and Andrew to answer (if you were willing to answer).
            The question I asked you to answer is what sex differences WHICH ARE LINKABLE to God’s character – and therefore have THEOLOGICAL significance – are the foundation for marriage having to be between a man and a woman – and you offer me only sexual union as if everyone should automatically understand the theological significance of sexual union. To prove that you haven’t been specific enough I responded by pointing out that the physical union of body parts isn’t itself something which is linkable to God’s character and glory. But now in response you offer me the same thing again.
            On the second question about homosexuality and why it is forbidden – yes, I agree, Ian – there are other sinful attitudes/acts which are signs that a person will not enter the kingdom of God. But why are you returning to this point? I don’t even understand why you raised it in the first place – why does it matter that I didn’t raise the fact that other sinful acts are in 1 Cor 6:9-10 – to raise my question all I needed to do was point out that practising homosexuality is listed in 1 Cor 6:9-10 as a sign that someone will not enter the kingdom of God? The key point is that practising homosexuality must be in contravention of God’s CHARACTER in some way – not that all sin is a contravention of God’s character (though it is).
            And so I wait for an answer from you Ian.

          • Sorry, I cannot follow your logic here. You seem to be claiming that unless I can explain things in the terms you demand, I have no theology of marriage. I have no idea where you get your, what I confess I find very odd, criteria.

          • Maybe this will help.

            We agree that the fact that a man whose penis has been cut off in a work accident and a woman who has vaginal atresia – a birth defect which results in the vagina being closed or absent – can be married – proves that biological and physical differences that enable sexual union isn’t a sexual difference which defines and differentiates biblical marriage from same sex marriage. (Unless you wish to argue that people in these circumstances cannot marry).

            What else have you offered other than biological and physical differences? – only non-absolute ranged psychological, emotional, and temperamental differences. Why can’t two men who have non-absolute psychological, emotional, and temperamental differences get married?
            If the answer is because they are not a man and a woman – and that Genesis 2 makes it clear they have to be – I ask – how does one person being a man and a woman (when one considers that men and women who cannot sexually unite can be married) have any relevance to God’s character being upheld – honoured? How is it THEOLOGICALLY relevant? (Simply saying that God just chose things to be this way isn’t a theological answer).

        • Hello Philip, you inquire why I did not respond to your comment of 6 December at 8:50am. There are two reasons. One is that Ian Paul responded, so I judged that I did not need to say anything myself. The other is that I cannot respond in a useful way without understanding your thinking. You write “Why is homosexuality forbidden and a sign of not being saved (when other sin is not)?” If by “homosexuality” you mean the practice of same-sex sexual relations, I can’t think of anything in the Bible that distinguishes it in that way, so I am not able to understand your line of thought.
          I don’t know if this may help with your question about biblical marriage, but in reference to Genesis 2 I wrote in my book (Men and Women in Christ: Fresh Light from the Biblical Texts, p83):
          “Both similarity and difference are God’s good gift. For man and woman to be fully united in marriage, similarity and difference are both necessary. It is through these gifts of similarity and sexual difference that God creates communities.”
          Blessings to you.

          Reply
          • Andrew,
            If you are content with Ian’s answers to my two questions I am content that my responses clearly show that he has yet to answer either question.
            I believe you summed up your views in the quote you chose to provide:
            “Both similarity and difference are God’s good gift. For man and woman to be fully united in marriage, similarity and difference are both necessary. It is through these gifts of similarity and sexual difference that God creates communities”.
            As an egalitarian you are happy to concede that there are sex differences between men and women – and that they are critical. What you aren’t willing to do is explain what they are (and therefore you never prove that you have a basis for claiming that the differences are critical). You sustain the perception that your theology is an alternative interpretation – or the definitive interpretation – of the bible – by offering no theological foundations for biblical marriage.

      • Ian, we have evolved from prokaryotes and protozoa. Sexual dimorphism is a very late adaptation. Your reading a divine intention in the male-female ‘differentiated unity’ makes you sound like a creationist.

        Reply
        • Good. I am a creationist. I believe that God Almighty is creator of heaven and earth. That is central to the catholic creeds.

          However late an adaptation, you might have noticed that, without the dimorphism of male and female, and what that leads to, the human race would quickly die out.

          Reply
          • I don’t doubt that G-d holds all things into being, as the catholic creeds do assert, but there was no ‘male and female’ ‘in the beginning,’ as the Book of Genesis claims; nor can you infer from the mere existence of sexual dimorphism that it is the divine purpose for all humankind.

          • If you think the Bible is just wrong, OK. But that is not the basis of our conversation here.

            I don’t infer from the mere existence it is God’s intention. I infer it from the creation accounts in Genesis.

          • Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal: you seem to be suggesting that human kind arrived on the evolutionary scene long before some of them developed a John Thomas and became men and others developed the other sort of equipment and became women. Not at all sure if that was Darwin’s idea ….

    • Hi Philip,

      ” I am hoping that Kevin or Ian or both will explain the relationship of male and female to the character and therefore heart of God.”

      Do you not think that the statement in Ephesians 5:31-32 which defines the relationship between Christ and the church (as in my comment below) has some bearing on your question?

      Reply
      • Hi Colin,
        Yes I do – however nobody is asking me the question (until now!) – I’m asking Ian and Andrew the question.
        (I am wanting to find out what specific male and female differences Ian and Andrew wish to point to – keeping in mind that the only difference between same sex marriage – which is sin – and biblical marriage – is the sex of the participants – to explain why marriage must be between a man and a woman. (The difference or differences they offer must be linkable to God’s character – and therefore glory – or otherwise be theologically irrelevant. So for example the fact that men don’t like asking people for directions isn’t a reason why marriages need a woman – because not wanting to ask for directions isn’t linkable – as far as I know – to the character of God!)

        Reply
  2. I find this a curious comment:
    (see 1 Cor 7:4, exactly as we should expect from Genesis 2:24 ‘one flesh’). And Paul teaches that those significant marital decisions should be taken by mutual consent (see 1 Cor 7:5).

    Genesis 2:24 ‘one flesh’ surely means one family (certainly the academic consensus among Hebrew Bible scholars) and thus Ephesians 5:31–32 applies that same relationship to Christ and the church—so I am not sure how that determines the argument one way or another.
    And 1 Cor 7:4–5 is about a particular issue, is it legitimate to project that principle more widely?

    Reply
    • Colin – I’d say that the most curious thing about it is invoking the words of the apostle at all – as if we need to read the Pauline epistles to understand good behaviour within a marriage, because without the wise words of Paul we might never have known.

      Reply
    • Hello Colin. According to Jesus, Genesis 2:24 means “So they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matthew 19:6). What does that tell us about authority in marriage? Outside the bonds of slavery, an adult human being has authority over their own flesh. If husband and wife become one flesh, it follows that the wife has the same authority as the husband over their one flesh. That is in line with how Paul sees it in 1 Corinthians 7.

      You ask whether it is legitimate to project the principle of 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 more widely. Paul there tells husband and wife how to make decisions about when to have sexual intercourse (the physical heart of the marriage) and when to spend time praying together (the spiritual heart of the marriage). They should decide by mutual consent.

      In the cultural context, where husbands normally had greater social, economic and legal power than their wives, Paul’s description of the husband’s and the wife’s authority as the same is revolutionary. If in those central physical and spiritual matters, Paul says that the decision should be by mutual consent, is it really credible that Paul believes in lesser matters the decisions should be made by the husband? I don’t think so. How could such important matters be an exception? The one flesh principle is not limited to sexual relations, as you point out. And Paul gives no indication that these central physical and spiritual matters are somehow an exception to a different principle for other aspects of the relationship.

      Paul’s use of Genesis 2:24 in Ephesians 5:29-32 is in full accord with the above. He uses it to emphasize the unity of husband and wife as one body. He does not say anything to the effect that the husband ought to take sole decisions or ought to exercise authority over his wife.

      Reply
  3. God’s curse on Eve and womanhood, following the Fall, includes this (Genesis 3:16): “You will desire-your-way [TSHUQAH] with your husband, but he will master [MASHAL] you.” This much mistranslated phrase means that the woman will desire to dominate the man, but will fail. In the Hebrew original, the same construction appears soon after in Genesis 4:7 when God says to Cain, “Sin desires-its-way [TSHUQAH] with you, but you must master [MASHAL] it.” The two words appear together nowhere else. So the Fall is the start of the unhappy ‘battle of the sexes’.

    What did God intend, before the Fall took place?

    Eve was made for Adam (as a helper: Gen 2:18), from Adam (2:21-2). Paul says: “The head of every man is Christ, and the head of woman is man… for man did not come from woman, but woman from man” (1 Cor 11:3&8). In this passage and Ephesians 5:21-4 you can discuss the meaning of hypotasso but you shouldn’t ignore the fact that the husband is to be to the wife as Christ is to the church. What implications does that have? OJf course decision-making is to be done together, but on the hopefully rare occasions when they don’t agree, what then?

    God intends authority to be male ands that is why he reveals himself to us as Father, not a mother. In 1999 a secular woman called Laura Doyle wrote a book called The Surrendered Wife. The gist is: obey your husband and don’t argue or nag, even if you want to, and see what happens. At her wits’ end, she tried this when all else had failed to restore her failing marriage and she had nothing to lose. To her surprise she found that the man she had fallen in love with deeply enough to marry reappeared. He again lavished love upon her. Her book advocates this way to desperate women. She does not recommend it with alcoholic or some other men; nor does she believe the man should do nothing to improve the relationship – but she is writing for women about what THEY can do. Reviews are polarised: feminists deplore the book, but desperate wives who have tried it express astonishment at the result and recommend it.

    Reply
    • Anton – all very interesting and well argued, but I’m left wondering how much of this is ‘theoretical’ – i.e. taken from books – and how much it chimes in with direct experience.

      Reply
        • Anton – as you wish, but it all looks to me like a discussion about theoretical marriages between theoretical men and theoretical women – and the applied context is missing.

          Reply
          • All exegesis is based on what went on betweeen people 2000 years ago! And historians today write without personal knowledge of the Napoleonic wars.

    • ‘What did God intend, before the Fall took place?’

      That is the right question to ask.

      ‘Eve was made for Adam (as a helper: Gen 2:18), from Adam (2:21-2).’

      The term ‘helper’ has no connotation of ‘under the authority of’. If it did, then it would mean that Israel has authority over God, because God is likewise Israel’s ‘helper’.

      ‘Paul says: “The head of every man is Christ, and the head of woman is man… for man did not come from woman, but woman from man” (1 Cor 11:3&8).’

      And not only does the Greek term kephale *not* have the sense of ‘authority over’ (in contrast to contemporary English use of the term ‘head’) this very verse confirms this. Man is the ‘head’ of the woman, in the sense that the woman came from the man. And then Paul immediately points out the symmetry, which for some reason you ignore, that every man comes from a woman.

      Reply
      • Decision-making by husband and wife is to be done together but, on the hopefully rare occasions when they don’t agree, I defy anybody to read the passages cited from Ephesians and Corinthians and conclude that the woman rather than the man should have the final say.

        Reply
          • That’s in bed, not in the (rest of the) world.

            If woman is to man as man is to Christ, what does that say about whre final decision-making rests?

          • ‘If woman is to man as man is to Christ, what does that say about where final decision-making rests?’

            The problem here is that you are (for some reason) drawing on the analogy to tell you something about decision making—when Paul does not even mention that. In a culture where men dominate women, he is asking: what did Jesus do? He gave his life up for those he saved. How much more than should men give themselves up for their wives, as their part of mutual submission.

          • Ian: Paul did not need to mention it, so obvious it is from the analogy. If he wanted an analogy that didn’t bring in authoity with it then he would not have mentioned Christ.

            I agree that men should be prepared to die to defend their family – that is one way in which a man must be willing to give himself up for his wife. Another is to slog his guts out in the fields (Genesis 3:17-19) for six days a week to feed them.

          • Hang on: you know it is there because Paul did not need to mention it…?

            How is that different from you just imagining it in the text when it is not there…?!

          • Ian: There is a legitimate discussion to be had about how far any analogy extends. Christ claimed all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18) and he is invoked here. Of all the many attributes of Jesus Christ, supreme authority is surely in the top few and comes immediately to mind. So at the very least there is ambiguity here.

          • Anton, what is then striking is that Paul makes no mention of Jesus’ authority—but of his self-giving and sacrificial love. The metaphor of ‘head’ here is about giving animating life.

          • As I said Ian, there is ambiguity in discussing the limits of the analogy. When I think of Christ I think of both his loving self-sacrifice and his authority, and I do not think to separate them. Exegesis routinely combines passages from differing parts of scripture, and I cannot see why I am not free to invoke Matt 28:18.

        • I’ve been married 34 years and my husband and I have ALWAYS managed to make joint decisions.

          I’ve been part of an elder board for 20 years made up of 12-15 men and women and we’ve ALWAYS been able to reach consensus and make joint decisions.

          Unresolved difference of opinion and conviction is simply not an inevitable aspect of Christian relationships. A commitment to prayer, humility, submission to Christ and mutual submission to one another – putting the other above self – naturally leads to joint decisions and consensus when all parties are doing these things.

          Reply
          • O, tell General Synod!

            I am delighted for you. You have a fine husband, and he has a fine wife. Would that it were so with all couples.

          • Anton

            Isn’t that just the point though?

            An inability to come to consensus indicates a deeper relational problem that is not solved by one party being the default decision maker.

            If it is a non moral issue, then both parties should be happy to yield to the other. If not, there is a relational and spiritual problem.

            If it is a moral issue – one party forcing the other to acquiesce to what they consider to be immoral is not a solution.

            Is it not such difficulties that lead to divorces and schisms? Making one party the dictator over the other is not the solution .

          • Michelle: If it happens habitually then I agree with you. But I would not expect a couple to agree 100% of the time.

            I have learnt to do things I don’t want to do because I trust Jesus Christ. Looking back, I have never regretted it.

    • The use of the word ezer translated as “helper” to imply subordination is completely spurious if you look at the contexts where the Hebrew word is actually used. The reverse is the case.

      The word is used in 15 contexts, multiple times in some of those. In 11 of these, it is used of God, and always in the context of rescue or protection. See Psalms 115 and 121. Of the other contexts, one is Gen 2, of course. In Daniel 11:34 it is used non-personally to denote help received by those who have stumbled. In Is 30:5 the context is that Pharoah will not be the one who brings ‘help’, i.e. rescue and protection, to Zion. In Ezekiel 12:14 it is used as a word for soldiers with a prince. Perhaps these are to be seen as his bodyguard, i.e. to protect him – but they will be scattered.

      The cognate verb is also mostly used in the sense of rescue and protection.

      Perhaps an illustration will help. If you are out at sea in your boat and it starts to sink, you get your radio and you make a MAYDAY call. That word is from the French “m’aidez” which means “help me”. Then, you are taught what you have to say when you make contact with the coastguard. This should have the magic words “I require immediate assistance”. This language does use the words ‘help’ and ‘assistance’. However, I do not think that this means that the brave lifeboatmen (and women) who brave all kinds of weather are in any sense subordinate to you. Quite the reverse, you are dependent on them.

      So, Genesis 2 has absolutely no grounds for subordinating women to men.

      Reply
    • Surely, Gen 3:16 teaches us that patriarchy is the result of the fall. Should not those redeemed from its effect demonstrate this by denying patriarchy?

      Reply
    • God did not curse the woman in Gen 3:16, there is no word curse used. God did not even curse the man in Gen 3, we get to see what a curse on a man looks like in Gen 4. God did curse the serpent and the ground in Gen 3. Gen 3:16 is a commonly mistranslated verse, if you want to investigate further, I suggest starting at tru316.com.

      Reply
    • Hello Anton. You say: “you shouldn’t ignore the fact that the husband is to be to the wife as Christ is to the church.” I am not ignoring that. What I am doing is interpreting it in the way that Paul says it should be interpreted. He carefully sets out in Ephesians 5:23 that the comparison he is making is with Christ as saviour of the body. He then spells out at some length what he means in terms of practical instructions for the husband in 5:25-33a. In those instructions he says nothing about exercising male authority as lord over the wife. What he does talk about is loving, giving oneself up, feeding, caring, and the like.

      I was very struck by Kevin DeYoung’s inaccurate summary of Ephesians 5 in his book. He summarizes the instructions to husbands as “lead, sacrifice and care”. He then explains “lead” as making decisions. But that isn’t what Paul says in Ephesians 5. Sacrifice, yes. Care, yes. But Paul does not say the husband should lead by making decisions. That is culturally-driven imagination, not exposition.

      Reply
      • In those days women were regarded as in need of a male protector. Part of a wedding service was understood to be the bride’s father ceasing to be her protector and the husband taking over that role. Her father had parental authority over her, and for the husband to be able to protect her she must accept his role.

        You talk about whether the husband is ‘lord’ over the wife. Look at Deuteronomy 24:1: If a man engages [laqach, becomes engaged to] a woman and becomes her husband [ba’al, lord], but he finds that she displeases him… So, before it goes wrong (this passage is the start of an OT divorce law), he does indeed become her lord according to scripture.

        Even if some exegetes wish to dispute the meaning of the verb hypotasso in Ephesians 5, if we soften it to “treat” then we still have Paul instructing wives to treat their husbands as they do Christ. What implications does that have for authority?

        Reply
        • Husbands are to treat their wives as Christ as head treats the church, the body of Christ, but those functions are ALL serving functions for Paul, there is no leading function involved where ever Paul uses that metaphor. Test me on this if you do not believe me at first. That is, the “head of the church” metaphor means to serve. So a husband is to serve his wife.

          Reply
          • Husband and wife are to serve each other, yes. The question is how. Self-sacrifice is one form of service. Obedience is another form.

          • Please see my reply to Michelle on this thread. I ardently hope that husband and wife can always reach agreement. Christians ought to be able to, because Christ is not divided. But sometimes the flesh speaks. What then?

            I have found that obeying Christ is good for me even when I don’t ‘get it’. The testimonies of women – many secular – who have tried Laura Doyle’s way – suggest the same of the traditional exegesis.

          • At any point in a debated discussion, one spouse can decide to defer to the other; the point is neither spouse can claim the discussion period is over and make a unilateral decision. No one has a trump card or 51% of the vote or a different euphemism.

          • Many deadlines are artificial, to try to manipulate you. In any case, one rule that I have found helpful is when in doubt, don’t. In other words, unless both spouses agree, do not do the specific action under question, maintain the current position. Others are to both to pray for additional wisdom, both deciding to go to a neutral third party for their input, etc. And if you are thinking of an emergency situation, like a fire, one should plan what to do in advance and agree on it. For example, with 2 young kids in our house, I would make sure about one and my wife about the other in a rush situation.

          • Donald, what do you do (a) to avoid the incredible wastage of time this involves and (b) to cope with the fact that you mentioned that often urgent decisions are needed on the spur of the moment?
            (c) Methods that have blurred the distinctiveness of father and of mother have borne universally bad fruit anyway.
            Doesn’t (a)-(c) absolutely compel an advanced agreement that father always has executive power in certain remit areas and mother likewise? Not learning to compromise is actually the reason why most time-wasting disagreement would happen anyway.

  4. Thanks for this Ian,
    I have spent half an hour creating a diagram:
    https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/fox9q7eg31xvx1c38bgof/gardenxeden.png?rlkey=1i6k1o7lh1kkmrdx9ll3tpy0x&dl=0

    Eve is at the centre. The waters contain the things that have been worked on or need work.
    I havn’t put the tree of life in but imagine it rising from the centre. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be its reflection in the water.
    The serpent strikes at the centre where the work is done.
    I’m working on another large wood-art with this in mind.
    Does anyone object to the tree of knowledge being a reflection of the tree of life??

    Reply
  5. I hardly think that much can be added to this post Ian, and you’re your subsequent comments.
    The advice that I was given, a very useful and wise counsel, when about to be married, was
    “Treat her like a Queen and you will be treated like a King.” [and visa versa]. The whole of scripture attests to this, especially concerning the marriage covenant of God and Israel; and the
    Eventual position of Christ and the Church being joint heirs together.
    I feel that a woman greatly helps the husband to walk as He walked in deferring to His Father, where there is a mutual dependence. “I work and my Father works.”
    Of course, this not mean that we should refer to another man as a *queen*These psychological tropes are not doctrinal theology.
    1 Pet 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
    1 Pet 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.
    A Tale of Two Cities is an excelent treasis on this question of an abusive husband.

    Reply
  6. What a thorough dismantling. Bravo. And I say this as someone who actually rather likes DeYoung. 😉

    Just anecdotally, from my many discussions with a close friend in ministry with whom I disagree on this, I think the ‘interpolation’ argument about the verses in Timothy is the greatest obstacle to consensus. We are mutually prepared to see and respect the wider argument about the passages in Corinthians, the trajectory (or not) of scripture pointing back to Genesis, and the biblical examples of faithful female ‘leadership’ (however we see it), but any attempt to even broach the subject of scripture’s integrity (which is how he sees the suggestion that they may not be there) is regarded as fatal to the argument of the egalitarians.

    From my perspective, that betrays a lack of courage in the rest of his argument, but I suspect this may be a common dead end. While I cautiously agree that it’s likely an insertion, and feel that I do have significantly weighty scholarship backing that corner, I am nevertheless deeply discomforted by it.

    Not sure where I’m going with this…

    Thanks for the article.
    Mat

    Reply
    • Do you mean ‘the interpolation argument about the verses in 1 Timothy’ or ‘the interpolation argument about the verses in 1 Cor’?

      I agree that that is an issue. But the difficulty is that the ‘plain meaning’ of these verses appears to contradict not only the plain meaning of the verses that precede them but also the emphatic meaning of Paul’s whole argument in 1 Cor 11 about allowing women to pray and prophesy.

      Reply
      • Sorry, I meant the verses in 1 Cor 14. I agree with you, taken at face value they are destructive to the argument of the rest of the passage, which is primarily why I lean towards seeing them as an insertion too.

        The difficulty I was trying to highlight is that arguing this is all too often perceived, not as thorough and effective scholarship born from the desire to be biblically faithful, about this extremely specific case, but as an assault on scriptural inerrancy and indicative of a general trend toward discarding the bits of scripture we don’t like..

        Reply
  7. In his commentary on Romans, Cranfield is scathing about the hypothesis that “Junia” is a mispelling of “Junias”. To resort to this argument is sheer desperation…

    Reply
      • What are you suggesting, Ian? Are you doubting the good intentions and good faith of sisters and brothers who are also seeking to humbly come before Scripture and rightly interpret it? It sound like this, but I think you are more generous than this. So, forgive me if I have jumped to the wrong conclusion.

        Reply
        • I am noting that there are group dynamics and power issues at work here, and sadly I think some of my brothers and sisters in Christ can get caught up in this, perhaps without even realising it.

          I would hope that no Christian scholar would ever has his or her theological agenda distorted by vested interests. But when, for example, you know that your publishing contracts will be cancelled and even your employment terminated if you change your mind on this issue, then I can see why people are not always as free from these forces as they might hope.

          Reply
          • Thank you. That is a helpful clarification.

            On the other hand, there is also the pressure from those who hold more acceptable interpretations of ‘difficult’ texts. It is easy to feel the pressure ‘give in’ to the prevailing culture than to hold to a position that is increasingly ridiculed, laughed at or seen as ‘abusive’.

    • David, there has never been an issue about possible misspelling. The word is Iounian, and the question has been of which name it is an accusative: Iounias (m) or Iounia (f).

      Reply
      • In grammar alone, could it be either? And are both Iounias (m) and Iounia (f) known in extrabiblical writings in the Greek of the era? Surely those questions, not extrabiblical church tradition, are what count.

        Reply
          • My Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary gives:

            * Junia, sister of Brutus the assassin of Julius Caesar (Tacitus, Annals 3.76)

            * Junia Calvina, who was banished from Rome by Emperor Claudius (Annals 12.4)

            * Junia Silana, divorced from her husband by Messalina (Annals 11.12)

            * Junius Blaesus, proconsul of Africa (Annals 3.35)

            * Junius Brutus, assassin of Julius Caesar (his fuller name is not as well known as his actions)

            * Junius Lupus, senator (Annals 12.42)

            * Junius Rusticus, senator (Annals 5.4)

            * Junius Silanus, who committed adultery with Augustus’ granddaughter (Annals 3.24); of the Junian family which (see references stated in Lempriere’s entry on Junia Silana) is descended from Lucius Junius Brutus who overthrew Tarquin the last king of Rome in the 6th century BC and helped to institute the Roman Republic.

            Plenty of both!

        • The issues in Romans 16:7, for me, have never been as to whether it is Junia or Junias. I am perfectly happy to accept that the evidence shows that Junia is female. What I am less certain about is i) What is the point Paul is making about Junia’s standing? And ii) If Paul is commenting on Junia’s position, in what sense was she an ‘apostle’?

          On i), as Michael Burer and Daniel B. Wallace have shown, it is quite plausible that the Greek text should not be translated as ‘prominent among the apostles’, but rather as “well known to the apostles’. And, despite the rebuttals of Linda Belleville and Richard Bauckham (as well as Eldon Epp), have continued to show that this is a legitimate translation (see Burer, Michael. “ΈΠΙΣΗΜΟΙ ΈΝ ΤΟΙΣ ΆΠΟΣΤΟΛΟΙΣ in Rom. 16:7 as ‘Well Known to the Apostles’: Further Defense and New Evidence,” JETS 58, no. 4 (December 2015): 731-55.)

          On ii), the word ‘apostle’ is used in various ways in the New Testament. First, In a unique sense, Jesus is our Apostle and High Priest (Hebrews 3:1). Second, Jesus then appoints the Twelve, designating them apostles, and giving them distinguishing privileges and responsibilities. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the Eleven feel compelled by the Old Testament Scriptures to make up their number after the betrayal of Judas Iscariot. Third, Paul understands his own apostleship as on a par with that of the Twelve with regard to his call, his witness to the resurrected Jesus, his understanding of the gospel, and his authority.

          Fourth, at a far less foundational and universally significant level, Paul refers to Epaphroditus as an apostle, in the sense of being a messenger from the Philippian church (Phil.2:25). Titus, along with Paul’s co-workers are also designated ‘apostles’ in 2 Corinthians 8:22-23. If Paul is referring to Junia as an apostle in Rom. 16:7, it is hard to imagine him understanding her as an apostle in the first, second of third sense of its usage, and far more likely that he sees her at this fourth level – outstanding in many ways, but not in the salvation-historically significant role that the apostles and prophets play (cf Eph. 2:20).

          Reply
          • Thanks Andrew. I’m just reading the article you refer to. Granted, Luke refers to Paul’s co-workers Barnabas and Silas as apostles (I agree I didn’t include this – my mistake), but I can’t help feeling there’s a problem here in methodology. To read from Acts what Paul, in conjunction with Barnabas did, and to conclude that this constitutes what a pioneering apostle did, i.e. what Junia did, is surely to read far too much into the text? Barnabas does these things not on his own, but alongside Paul. As with Romans 16:7 I can’t help feeling far too much is being argued on the basis of very little.

  8. On a wider thought can anyone direct me to any short writing or info on the idea of Mary as ‘Mother of God’ as it relates to there being a completely male priesthood… It’s something that I’m quite ignorant about….

    Reply
  9. I suggest a few tweaks to the main post to improve it a little:

    1. Eph 5:18b – 21 are in the form of a small chiasm ABB’A’, where the outer lines are believers relating to each other in mutuality and the inner lines are believers relating to God. From this one can infer that “just as” any believer can sing/recite to another believer, any believer can submit to another believer (mutuality).

    2. 1 Cor 14:34 on the law/nomos: It is true that this cannot refer to the Torah of Moses (Pentateuch) or the Written Torah (Torah, Prophets, and Writings), but I think it refers to the so-called Oral Torah of the Pharisees. We know from Yeshua that when human tradition negates Scripture, we are to ignore the tradition and that is what Paul is doing here, I think, per Mishnah sotah 3.4; B sotah 20a.
    Out of respect to the congregation, a woman should not herself read in the law. It is a shame for a woman to let her voice be heard among men. The voice of a woman is filthy nakedness.

    Reply
  10. It is one thing to disagree, for good reasons, on the meaning of the biblical texts. It is another to disagree on the application of what we believe the texts are saying. KdY may be right on his interpretation of some of the biblical texts, but personally as a ‘liberal’ Complementarian I fear he goes further than the Bible goes in the way he applies the texts and in making assumptions which I do not think are warranted (as outlined by AB). By questioning the latter, one has not necessarily dealt with the former. The implication throughout AB’s article is that KdY and Complementarians read the biblical texts through ‘patriarchal spectacles’. Yes, that may well be true. But where is the humility that says that AB and Egalitarians might equally be reading the same texts in knee-jerk reaction to abusive patriarchy and through the spectacles of 21st Century sensitivities? Both accusations can be made, legitimately. Let’s have a bit of humility, please, instead of treating each side rather patronisingly and as though ‘our’ side is ‘obviously’ right.

    Reply
    • Hello David. I agree with you that some egalitarians sometimes read the texts in the manner that you describe. But my review above was of a complementarian book.
      My own book, Men and Women in Christ: Fresh Light from the Biblical Texts (IVP, 2019), was not written from egalitarian presuppositions. In it, I critique arguments of both sides in the debate by comparing them with what the biblical texts actually say, in their context. I also urge the obligation to live in line with John 17:20-23 and Ephesians 4:3.

      Reply
      • Thanks Andrew. A very fair point. I was commenting more on the tone and criticisms of people’s contributions in response to your article, as well as your last sentence and a few comments you make along the way. To be fair, although I have your book, I have not read it properly. So, I will now do so. Thank you. I love your emphasis on John 17:2-23 and Ephesians 4:3. Bless you.

        Reply
    • I’m learning new vocabulary all the time. I take it that ‘Complementarian’ and ‘Egalitarian’ are descriptors of the two sides in the debate overwho-wears-the-trousers and who-wears-the-kilt. There are technical terms for everything!

      Reply
      • Broadly yes, Jock. But as with all language about the classification of opinion, people resist and it’s hardly as neat as this. 😉 If you’ll forgive the extremely insufficient summary…

        ‘Egalitarian’ is used to broadly describe those who do not view gender as barriers to full service in ministry. I.e, those churches who ordain(accredit/call/invest) women would be egalitarian, though of course there is a scale…

        ‘Complementarian’ is used broadly to describe those who hold to ‘headship’ argument: those that would argue for equality, but who would maintain a difference in role and function between the sexes when it comes to the exercise of particular ministries in church. I don’t know how fair this generalisation is, but it seems to be strong feature of claimed identity in American evangelical theology, with people like Grudem, Piper and others being closely associated with the label.

        The problem of course is that the complementarians also want to emphasise equality, and so many would see themselves as egalitarians anyway, and the egalitarians don’t want to say there is no difference between the sexes, and so want to maintain at least some differentiation.

        It’s a big mess.

        Reply
  11. I sometimes think that there is a clear need for further research to elucidate the cultural mileau in which the early churches were operating in and how they interacted with the society they found themselves in. It may not be possible to get the level of detail necessary, but it might help in being able to resolve these questions of church behaviour definitively.

    Reply
  12. Is our postwar generation the first to question whether these scriptures mean that husband does not have authority over wife? If so, does it not suggest that a secular view (in this case, feminism) is influencing exegesis; and is this not reminiscent of another issue – treated extensively at this blog – in which an established exegesis is being discussed for the first time in our secular age?

    Reply
    • Anton

      I think I am right in saying that my parents generation was the first to have printed bibles widely available in the common tongue (the KJV is almost as unreadable to ordinary people as Shakespeare) and my generation is the first to have it as a searchable online resource, essentially free to everyone.

      With this comes a lot of questioning because people from different perspectives are able for the first time to read the Bible for themselves instead of merely taking on trust what the man from the establishment hath decreed.

      I think its also the case that the Bible contains a mixture of ancient culture and universal spiritual values and its not always plain which is which. Just as virtually no Christian now will question whether Christians should own slaves or not, in a few hundred years I expect that the same will happen with gender inequality

      Reply
      • Peter: I agree that the KJV is too antiquated for effective evangelism today (suffer little children?), but I don’t agree that the postwar generation was the first to have printed Bibles in everyday English, because KJV English was normal English in the 17th and 18th centuries and Wesley, at least, routinely sold study books at cost to his followers, starting with the Bible.

        In the USA the Darby Bible was immensely popular from 1890. One may deplore some of Darby’s footnotes but it was a 19th century translation.

        You write: “I think its also the case that the Bible contains a mixture of ancient culture and universal spiritual values and its not always plain which is which.” Yet All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness according to Paul writing to Timothy. Or is that sentence itself merely ancient culture rather than God-breathed?

        The argument from the Golden Rule cited by Jesus on the Mount was always decisive against slavery. Slavery took so long to stamp out in theBritish Empire and the USA because of the hardness of self-interested men’s hearts. It is one reason why I refuse to countenance the notion of a “Christian country”. To describe as Christian a place that had slavery as is an insult to Christ. Paul was walking on eggshells when he mentioned slavery in his letters. He did not want Christian slaves to be executed on the spot, as they would have been if he had spoken bluntly.

        Reply
        • Hello Anton. It is interesting that you mention the Golden Rule as a decisive argument against slavery. Among many other arguments, Katharine Bushnell (see my other reply to you) considered it likewise decisive against the idea of a husband ruling over his wife. She wrote:

          “’Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.’ We have never yet found the man who longed to be ruled by the will of his wife. All men led by the Spirit of Christ obey this Golden Rule …”

          Reply
          • The Golden Rule means: treat the other person as you would wish them to treat you if you swapped shoes (Matt 7:12). But in this case you’d have to swap not only shoes but sex, which complicates its application.

        • Anton

          I hope we can at least agree that for the majority of Christian history, a significant proportion of Christians believed that the Bible taught that God approved of slavery. We might not agree that modern opposition to gender equality is also an example of hard hearts!

          KJV English was still not the common tongue in the 17th century. The language was old fashioned from the outset and bibles would have cost the modern equivalent of several thousand pounds, certainly something many families could afford, but not something someone of casual interest would purchase.

          Reply
    • Hello Anton. The answer to your question is ‘no’. One example is Katharine Bushnell, who wrote at length about it in ‘God’s Word to Women: 100 Bible Studies on Woman’s Place In The Divine Economy’ (originally 1908).

      P.S. In a different comment, relevant to the apostle Junia, you listed examples of the male name Junius. Like the name Junia, the name Junius commonly occurred. But that is not the issue. The male name invented by certain interpreters of Romans 16:7, who were unwilling to believe that a woman could be an apostle, was Junias. Hope that clarifies it.

      Reply
      • Andrew: Junias in Greek, Junius in Latin, same man? I don’t know, I freely admit, but I want to know that I am discussing it with a Classicist fluent in ancient Greek and Latin in order to accept it.

        Thank you for the reference to Bushnell. Is this work the earliest? If so it comes after more than 1800 years of exegesis to the contrary.

        Reply
  13. Of the disputed passages in Timothy and Corinthians we are advised to, first ask ,what did these thoughts mean to the people first hearing them.
    Timothy was in fact appointed by Paul to oversee the Church of Ephesus; a church newly founded and guidance was required. 1 Tim 1:3
    Ephesus was the centre of the worship of Athena or Diana, and among the Romans as Minerva. [perhaps so known in Corinth.]
    [See Britannica https://www.britannica.com › topic › Minerva-Roman-…]
    As a strong minded [perhaps domineering] goddess and popular amongst women. [See.britannica.com/topic/Artemis-Greek-goddess]
    Perhaps reading these passages in their cultural context should inform our deliberations of the disputed passages afore mentioned.
    See Act 19:26
    As an aside there was the Gnostic Sophia and the Gnostic teaching that Eve was created first and Adam was the sinner.
    Given the wider Scriptures portrayal of godly women; there is a strong temporary cultural basis to Paul’s strictures.
    However given that some now believe that our God is part feminine we must be on our guard toward this Gnosticism/Idolatry when looking through our 21st century theological microscopes’.

    Reply
  14. For those engaged in the ‘Complementarian’ and ‘Egalitarian’ debate, I strongly recommend JAMES PRUCH for an indepth study of the cultural milau of Paul’s times at;
    /jamespruch.wordpress.com/2021/08/12/the-context-of-1-timothy-2/

    Reply
  15. It is suggested that Ephessians 5:13 is to be understood by all Paul sets out earlier and what follows.
    “Ephesians 1-3 sets out what it is to be “in Christ” and based on that, Paul goes on to describe how the chuurch and individual believers are called to live that mirrors and exemplifies that union.
    “He begins with marriage.
    “For Paul, Christ is at the heart of Christian marriage. It is marriage that is to display the relationship between Christ and the church.
    “First he speaks of the responsiblitlity of wives to their husbands and then vice-versa.
    “The first responsiblity of wives is to submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.
    “There is no verb submit in the text of verse 22. It is borrowed from the preivios sentence about mutual submission in verse 21.
    “Thus, a more literal translation would read:’submitting to one another in reverence/fear of Christ…the wives to their husbands in the Lord.’
    “For that reason it is sometimes suggested that the overarching principle in this section is that of the *mutual submission* of believers…
    ” Which is then viewed as taking different forms, dependind on whether one is a wife (‘submit’) or husband (‘love’), child or father, slave or husband.
    “In this interpretation, every exhortation Paul gives amounts to an expression of this mutual submission.
    ” Mutual submission is is indeed our calling as Christians.
    “But to regard that idea as tge controlling element interpreting what follows misreads the text- for three reasons:

    “1. The same exhortation to wives appears in the parallel passage in Colossians 3:18.. There the verb ‘submit’ id actually presentin the statement, but mutual submission is not mentioned in the broader context.
    “2. The model for the husband i is Christ’s ,*love* for the church, not His * submission to the church.
    “While Christ is God’s dervant to the vhurch, he never submits to it.
    “3. Ephesians 5:22 -6:9 describes three context for relationships (marriage, family, household) in which submission is called for in one party but not in the other. These are forms of submission to to God, not expressions of mutual submission to one another.

    ” There is, of course, an appropriate mutual submission in marriage.
    “The exhoration of 5:21 is to be obeyed by all Christians within the context of their mutual fellowship! But that is not the only aspect to the Christian life.

    “Mutual submission no more obliterates the command in Ephesians 5:22 than it rescinds the command of Hebrews 13:7.

    “…Paul’s point is that wives and husbands give expression to different dimentionsof the relationship between theLord and his people…
    “… the husband’s calling is to love, care for and protect his wife as Christ does his church.
    “… the wife’s role in this domestic cameo of grace is to illustrate how fhe believer responds to Christ’s love with deep joyful submission.
    “In this context, Paul’s counsel to the wife is focussed exclusively on her marriage realtionship eith her own (emphatic) husband, *Not to men in general.*
    ………..
    “The calling is to submission.
    “Our primary and absolute submission is to the Lord Jesus Christ.
    “Here, in talking to Believers, Paul urges wives to express that in their disposition towards and relatioship with their husbands.

    “The reason for the submission…
    “is that the husband is the head of the wife. Ephesians 5:23. To be head in this context implies leadership (cf Ephesians 1:22)
    NB.
    “Contrary to this some writers have claimed that the word ‘head’ here carries the connotation of ‘source’ rather than ‘authority’.
    “However, earlier, when Paul is speaking of Christ as ‘head’, he os thinkink of his Lordship, not of him as source of creation.
    “He is head on the sense of King, not in the sense of source.
    The logic is that the reason for submission is the God given role of leadership and authority.
    “He is ‘head of his wife not because the woman was created out of Adam’s rib (‘source’) but because God has constituted the in this way for his purposes (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:3). It is not a matter of being bigger or stronger, but of the divine order and the divine mystery’.
    (The divine mystery as expounded in chapter’s 1-3).

    “The scope of submission is in everthing. Verse 24 .
    (That is how believers are to submit to Christ.)

    “The Manner of Submission is as to the Lord (verse 22; cf 1Peter 3:6

    “Here we come to the heart of the matter.
    “The reason for obedience is that in the marriage relationship * a gospel drama is being portrayed in a unique way through a human relationship*. The wife is expressing in her love for her husband how a believer responds to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    “This is Central to the mystery of Christ and his church, which is disclosed in Christan marriage.

    ….”not only a tremendous privilege, it is a challenge. Husbands and wives are sinners.
    Submission is not struggle free.”
    Comment, neither is headship.

    All quotations are from Lets Study Ephesians by Sinclair B Ferguson. (Banner of Truth). Formatting is mine from my phone.
    Ferguson goes on to set out an important strand of Biblical teaching that runs from creation through the fall into salvation.
    1 Creation.
    2 Fall. ( with a brief discussion of Genesis 3:1 ff: Genesis 3:16 -17 NB. Same language appearing in Genesis 4:7.
    3 Salvation.

    The next chapter! in the book is ‘Husbands and their Wives’.
    Ephesians 5:25-33.

    “Did God give the wife or husband the more demanding role in marriage? It seems to be assumed automatically today that Paul demanded wives play a more difficilt role.
    “But now the words are set in an altogether different light. Husbands are to love their wives ad Christ loved the Church!…
    …”The model foranmeasure of a husband’s love is to be- Jesus Christ…
    “If there were any suspicicion that Paul was placing tooheavy a burden on viwes this dissolvesit immediately.”
    ……
    could be continued.

    Reply
    • Hello Geoff. For Sinclair Ferguson to present a convincing exposition of Ephesians 5, he needs to address some questions that arise.
      1. Why does Paul in 5:23 explain his head metaphor, in its application to the husband, not by the phrase ‘lord over the body’ but by the phrase “saviour of the body”, which is in line with the metaphor in 4:15-16 and with the instructions in 5:25-33a (which are about care rather than about authority to lead)?
      2. Why is it impossible to read the intended submission of wife to husband as voluntary (treating the husband as if higher than the wife) rather than as compulsory (submitting because the husband is ordained by God to be in authority over the wife as her leader)? Voluntary submission would be exactly like the voluntary submission in v21 of all believers to one another. Does the word submit change its meaning from v21 to vv22-24, which are all in the same Greek sentence?
      3. If Paul is thinking of the husband as having God-given leadership authority over his wife, why does verse 24 start in Paul’s Greek with the word “but” (Gk: alla, denoting a strong contrast)? If the husband has God-given leadership authority, verse 24 should not be a contrast to verse 23; it should logically follow from it (just as the KJV translators thought, when they replaced ‘but’ with ‘therefore’).
      4. If Paul is thinking of the husband as having God-given leadership authority over his wife, why does he choose a different verb for his instructions to wives (submit) and his instructions to children and slaves (obey). If the husband is the leader, shouldn’t he be issuing instructions for his wife to obey? Why does Paul not have that scenario in mind?
      5. If the husband has a God-given leadership authority over his wife, why is there no statement or instruction in Ephesians or anywhere in the Bible that a husband ought to exercise authority over his wife? I’m sure Sinclair does not believe that husbands are so virtuous that they don’t need to be instructed in that duty.
      6. The word for ‘submit’, hupotassō, means ‘place below’. Why is it inappropriate to say that Christ placed himself below the church as saviour? Isn’t that exactly in line with how his work is described in his own words (Mark 10:43-45) and in Paul’s (Philippians 2:7-8)?
      7. If Paul’s point is about the leadership authority of husband over wife, why does he choose to support it in 5:31 by referring to Genesis 2:24 (‘the two will become one flesh’). That is about union, not leadership authority, and it looks forward to Christ’s union with his church.
      8. Regarding Sinclair’s point about the briefer instructions in Colossians 3:18-19, does Sinclair believe that Tychicus, who carried the letter from Paul to the Colossians (Col 4:7) is unlikely to have explained Paul’s views to the Colossians in person at greater length when the letter was read (4:16)? If Sinclair disagrees with the work of Peter Head and others on the functions of Paul’s authorized letter-carriers, what are his reasons?
      I don’t have Sinclair’s book, so I don’t know whether he addresses these questions.

      Reply
      • Hello Andrew,
        I have just seen your comment in the cascade of comments, scrolling the ‘foot to the head’! Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my comment full of typos and other errors due to my keboard ineptitude.
        I dont have the time now to look at Ferguson’s book on Ephesians, that may be able to treat your questions with any degree of justice.
        What I find a little intriguing is the title of your book. One key theme I’ve encountered Ferguson’s teaching is the centrality of a believer’s union with Christ, “in Christ”.
        And in the first 3 chapters of Ephesians he draws out this emphasis.
        I don’t know if your teaching on being ‘in Christ’ would align with his in substance.
        Hope some response of some substance can be furnished tomorrow.
        You will be aware that Ferguson’s book it not aimed at the academy, scholars, but as you will know also, he is a Dr of some systematic and biblical substance and experience and depth who in my experience has held the room preach/teaching for an hour without notes.
        That may be old school, but is rare in any era or field.

        Reply
  16. Biblical authority is having responsibility FOR someone.
    It starts with God.
    Does God have authority ‘over us’?
    No. God only ever makes decisions consistent with serving us in a totally self-giving way – and therefore whether or not God has authority over us is never a question. God’s authority is ONLY his self-accepted responsibility for us (whereas with human beings it is both a self-accepted responsibility – and a God appointed responsibility – such as when a man chooses to marry a woman). God’s authority doesn’t arise from his occupying the position of God – it is the RESULT of his exercising responsibility for us PERFECTLY – in a total self-giving manner. This makes him alone worthy of all glory and honour. To the extent to which human beings exercise their God appointed responsibility for others with the same heart – God chooses to share his glory with them.
    So then Ian is right in pointing out that there is no such meaning of ‘authority over’ in any Greek word (I don’t know Greek – I just know based on what the whole bible says about the way in which God relates to us that there won’t be any Greek word which implies this!) If I must quote a passage that proves that God does not exercise authority ‘over us’ see Phil 2:3-11 which lays out the nature of how God earns and uses authority – instead of grasping it.
    However the fact that there is no sense of ‘authority over’ doesn’t prove that relationships have no spiritual order. The spiritual order – instead of being authority over – is appointed responsibility for. Is someone going to tell me that God is not at the top of the spiritual order because he doesn’t exercise authority ‘over us’? Just as we should not ignore passages of the bible which show that God is at the top of the spiritual order by virtue of he alone accepting responsibility for us and outworking that responsibility in a way that is total self-giving we should not ignore passages of the bible which show that there are types of spiritual order in human relationships (whenever there is there is appointed responsibility for) – passages which show that men and women were made for differing purposes.
    The fact that God makes decisions only to be utterly self-giving puts a very different perspective on the question of what happens in marriages to do with decision making. We shouldn’t talk about men having the last say because this confuses what men are supposed to be doing. The key point isn’t that men have the last say – the key point is that men cannot set aside their God appointed responsibility to serve their wives in a totally self-giving manner when a man’s wife does not want the man to obey his conscience in how to best serve his wife. Nor can a man do this when exercising guardianship teaching responsibility for the local church. What some people are calling men having the last say is in fact men having no choice in a particular circumstance but to act according to their good conscience in serving like God serves. (Of course the opportunity often exists to explore options in how to proceed which are all consistent with acting with the same heart as God’s – and the most godly men will recognise every time consideration of options is possible/helpful/wise/necessary).

    Reply
    • I should have mentioned that therefore authority in the family and in the church is not a positional thing – it exists PER ACTION. It isn’t just that no woman is ever REQUIRED to obey her husband when his actions are contrary to the character/will of God – it is that a woman MUST NEVER submit to her husband – or any member of a local church submit to their elders – at such times.

      Reply
      • That is a remarkable admission PJ – that the Triune God of Christianity doesn’t have authority over you.
        (Even Ephesians1:18-23 doesn’t encompass you it seems.)
        Not King of Kings, not LORD of and over all, to whom every knee will bow; not sovereign over all.
        If you respond please don’t start shouting.

        Reply
        • Hold on.
          Authority returns in your comment @ 7:21am.
          I could be wrong but the article assumes that readers will be aware of the theological spat over the doctrine of the Trinity being employed to support understanding of m+f headship, with, in a simplistic summary, the doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son, ( in contrast to those propounding Eternal Generation of the Son) being engaged by those subscribing to what was dubbed as complementarian ( m+f roles are complementary). This complementarianism extended into roles in the church and outside, in society, beyond m+f Christian marriage.
          (Others could encapsulate this more succinctly and clearly.)
          In that regard, both KD and AB agree that the doctrine of the Trinity plays no part in determining m+f relationships.

          As for m+f relationships Ian P returns to the topic every now and then as he does lauding AB’s book and giving a platform for his critique of KD’s book.

          To me as far as the Christian church is concerned, the CoE in particular an an unanswered, perhaps unasked question is, is there a correlation, even causation, between declension in the church, the pursuit of revision, and the accession of women into ministerial, leadership, positions of authority in the church?
          To be specific to the CoE, how did men and women vote in all houses of synod over the question of doctrine of ssm and ssb?
          Personally, I do hope the whole question of the application of the doctrine of the Trinity in the of matter m+f relationships is not reopened, revisted as there is so much available elsewhere.
          For one, I never thought it was biblically nor theologically relevant, but I’m merely interested laity.

          Reply
        • Hi Geoff,
          Thank you for your reply.

          I tried to explain as clearly as I could how I understood God’s authority.
          The main point – which I believe HAS to speak to whether God has “authority OVER us” – instead of as I claim – that God’s authority arises from his unchanging perfect servant hearted behaviour – is this – that if every time God decides and acts he only ever decides and acts to serve and bless – to self-give – what is his authority “over” us in THAT context – in PRACTICAL terms? Note that I said that God has authority – and greater authority than we do – I was only questioning describing that authority as authority OVER us.

          If you believe there is freedom left in the context of God only ever acting to serve our best interest for God to in some way do what he likes with us because “he’s the boss” – then I need you to explain where the freedom is.

          It’s the same with how we think about God’s power. If when we say that God is all powerful we mean that he has limitless capacity to act in accordance with his character – we are correct. But if instead we think of God’s being all powerful as God being able to behave in any way (as if not limited by his character) then we aren’t correct.

          Reply
      • Again I don’t understand Ian.

        The post to which you are replying specifically argues that God earns authority – instead of uses authority “over” people (the latter being the wrong idea that authority is the right to behave how one likes due to occupying some position).

        Therefore I don’t understand why you ask where in scripture God intends that men have “authority over” women. The answer is nowhere.

        I do however believe that God has chosen to make husbands responsible for serving their wives and children by establishing an environment of justice through humility and service. I believe that men are supposed to EARN authority as they do that.

        Reply
        • ‘where in scripture God intends that men have “authority over” women. The answer is nowhere.’

          Thanks for the honest admission. I don’t understand what your comment about ‘earning authority’ means, or where you get that idea from.

          Reply
          • It’s an honest admission because I am honest.

            I have agreed with you Ian for a long time that what others term “the created order” (1 Cor 11:3) in the bible isn’t about who gets to boss others around when they feel like it.
            However when agreeing with you I have always clarified where that belief fits within my views. While I already have done elsewhere on this page – I quote what I wrote elsewhere on this page below as well:

            “However the fact that there is no sense of ‘authority over’ doesn’t prove that relationships have no spiritual order. The spiritual order – instead of being authority over – is appointed responsibility for. Is someone going to tell me that God is not at the top of the spiritual order because he doesn’t exercise authority ‘over us’? Just as we should not ignore passages of the bible which show that God is at the top of the spiritual order by virtue of he alone accepting responsibility for us and outworking that responsibility in a way that is total self-giving we should not ignore passages of the bible which show that there are types of spiritual order in human relationships (whenever there is there is appointed responsibility for) – passages which show that men and women were made for differing purposes”.

            You said Ian that you weren’t sure where I get the idea that authority must be earned. Let me give you a two part answer to that.
            Firstly I believe that it is plainly observable that people’s authority in leadership increases the more that people behave in a way that is consistently self-giving. It would be strange to argue that the bible speaks against that recognised reality.
            But (the second part of my answer) Phil 2:6-7 also gives biblical support to the idea.

  17. The article isn’t right in saying that we should not use the trinity as our model for the marriage relationship. Let me explain why EACH MEMBER of the trinity is a part of rightly defining marriage.
    Marriage is Christ and the church – and Christ and the church is the God human man JESUS eternally married to the God human woman church (with the church being God due to the in dwelling HOLY SPIRIT).
    Therefore the relationship of the Spirit to the Son is part of rightly defining a marriage relationship.
    But it doesn’t stop there – every member of the trinity is essential in rightly defining God’s purpose for male and female – including the FATHER.
    Without Christ’s giving of the kingdom to the Father we never find out the eternal place of male and female in the purposes of God. Only when we find out that Jesus is handing all submission to his Father do we find out that male and female is supposed to be consummated in our COMMON submission to the Father WITH CHRIST.
    1 Cor 15:24 ESV
    Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

    It very matters that HUMAN maleness not be seen as some kind of ultimate end – whether within marriage – or outside it.

    Reply
  18. Here are my responses to some points raised by Anton.
    Anton inquires if Katharine Bushnell’s work is the earliest exposition that contradicts the idea that men should have authority over women/wives. It is not. Another example is Margaret Fell in 1666, with ‘Womens Speaking Justified, Proved and Allowed of by the Scriptures’. If you want to go further back, we could cite Tertullian. While he wasn’t always consistent, in about AD 200 this is what he wrote in ‘To His Wife’, expounding Paul’s vision of Christian marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, resting on Genesis 2:24:
    ‘What kind of yoke is that of two believers, of one hope, one desire, one discipline, one and the same service? Both brethren, both fellow servants, no difference of spirit or of flesh; nay, truly ‘two in one flesh’. Where the flesh is one, one is the spirit too. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining. . . . Between the two echo psalms and hymns; and they mutually challenge each other which shall better chant to their Lord. . . . These are the things which that utterance of the apostle has, beneath its brevity, left to be understood by us…’
    This is a vision of mutuality, not of the husband as leader who exercises authority over his wife.
    Anton says the Golden Rule means: ‘treat the other person as you would wish them to treat you if you swapped shoes’. But that is not what Jesus says. He says ‘whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them’. So, if you want your wife to relate to you by loving you, without ruling over you, then you should relate to your wife by loving her, without ruling over her.
    On the topic of the apostle Junia, Anton is interested to know whether ‘Junius’ in Latin and ‘Junias’ in Greek are definitely different. The answer is yes. Male names ending in ‘-as’ keep the ‘a’ in both languages, as with Artemas, Zenas, etc. But male names which have the ending ‘-us’ in Latin are rendered in Greek as ending with ‘-os’, not ‘-as’. So, Andronicus is (Gk) Andronikos, Gaius is Gaios, Aristarchus is Aristarchos, Crispus is Krispos, Pyrrhus is Purros, Tychicus is Tuchikos, Trophimus is Trophimos, etc.

    Reply
    • Thanks Andrew,

      I too believe that women may speak in congregation, and my exegesis is here:

      https://church14-26.org/the-role-of-women/

      Tertullian is saying here what believing husband and wife have in common. He is not discussing where their roles might be complementary.

      I take the golden rule to mean “If I were the wife and he were the husband…”. In that case I would want protecting and am batter able to be protected if I am obedient.

      Thank you for settling the Junia(s) name. I accept that the person named in Romans is a woman.

      Reply
  19. In regard to Junia, David Gibb wonders if we are arguing for too much on the basis of Romans 16:7. It is a good question. I suppose there at least two further questions that need to be considered.
    (1) In the context, is it credible that Paul is commending Andronicus and Junia for being outstanding among couriers, rather than outstanding among pioneering apostles? Theodoret understood Paul to mean that they were notable “not just among the disciples, but among the teachers, and not even among the common teachers, but among the apostles” (PG 82:220)
    (2) Why is it that the Greek Orthodox Church, despite its disapproval of women’s leadership, has a tradition that Andronicus and Junia were pioneering apostles who converted pagans and founded churches? A tenth century calendar of saints days describes Junia as Andronicus’s “consort and helper in godly preaching”. Theophylact wrote: “Moreover, it is great that they are apostles, especially since Junia is a woman. But it is much more important that they should be distinguished. Moreover, they became distinguished by their works.” (PG 124:551)

    Reply
    • I’m sorry, but I’m still not at all convinced. On (1) Why might it not be credible that Paul is commending Andronicus and Junia for being outstanding among the apostles in the sense of being a brilliant, serving courier? He refers to Epaphroditus (who was a ‘courier’ from the Philippians, but also one who came to take care of Paul’s needs) in glowing terms. Paul says the church is to ‘honour people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.’ (Phil. 2:29-30).
      On (2). I’m sorry but a 10th Century calendar’s reference to Junia is really very flimsy evidence.

      Reply
  20. What I find odd is if Paul really meant by all his metaphors of ‘head’ etc, that men and women are truly equal in the church and marriage, whether it comes to authority/decision making/teaching or whatever, why did he not just say that?!

    Why make a distinction between men and women, Christ is the ‘head’ of the man, but the man is the ‘head’ of the woman; man is the ‘glory’ of God but woman is the ‘glory’ of man etc.

    Ian and Andrew seem to be arguing that, for example, both men and women are effectively the glory of God because we’re all ‘equal’, but that is not what Paul says.

    Confused.

    Peter

    Reply
    • ‘why did he not just say that?!’ Er, he did!

      1 Cor 7.4 says exactly that. ‘Submit to one another’ says exactly that. ‘The Spirit gives gifts to whom he wills’ says exactly that. Paul’s list of women and men without differentiation of rank in Rom 16 says exactly that. The pairing of women and men in Jesus’ teaching in Luke’s gospel says exactly that.

      The language of ‘head’ as a metaphor is about life-giving origin, and Paul counters the idea that women are derived from men in 1 Cor 11 by pointing out the converse: all men come from women.

      So he seems to me making that all pretty clear.

      Reply
      • That idea of headship as being of life giving origin, source, is countered by Sinclair B Ferguson in his exegesis of Ephesians, so far as it relates to m+f marriage, (above).

        Reply
        • He doesn’t ‘counter’ it; he asserts it on the basis of no evidence and against the sense of the text.

          ‘Head’ was not a metaphor for ‘rule’ in the first century.

          Reply
          • Disagree. That is a mere assertion in itself, and doesn’t address the points he makes. Ferguson more than merely asserts but draws out an exegesis. He sets it in the context of Ephesians, as he lays out, led in by a 3 chapter preamble of indicatives with Christ being Lord and having authority over all such as Ephesians 1:17-23.
            Are you really saying that Christ as head of the Church his bride is only or primarily to be equated to Jesus Christ being its source and nothing about Christ’s authority, Kingship and Lordship over all spheres in the lives of a Christian m or f married or unmarried.
            To be clear, in this part of his book he is only considering the m+f marriage of Christian believers.

          • Hi Geoff, this is what I wrote about this verse on an essay on this chapter earlier this year, admittedly with the footnotes removed as they don’t paste across.

            3. “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

            And so immediately we come to our major issue with this text. Paul lays the foundation for what he is about to say concerning head coverings, but it is anything but clear prima facie. Much has been said about Paul’s meaning over the centuries and consequently we must define our terms. What do κεφαλὴ (head) and παντὸς ἀνδρὸς (every man), the problematic words, mean in this context and what point is being made by Paul’s use of them?

            The most common use of κεφαλὴ in the New Testament is that of a literal human head (i), and that is how it is used in the verses immediately following. But κεφαλὴ also has two metaphorical uses, the more common ‘source’ or ‘origin’ (ii) and the rarer, but not unknown, ‘authority’ (iii). Plainly (i) cannot be meant, as this would make no sense in either Greek or English, so we are left with the metaphorical options. Both make grammatical and logical sense in the sentence, so we must look to the wider context.

            I will argue strongly that Paul cannot mean the man holds any more authority than the woman, or that this statement reveals a power structure of some kind. I present three reasons for this. First, in verses 8-10 Paul draws on the example here to demonstrate the opposite of a hierarchical order, arguing that women in fact have authority over their own heads. The apostle cannot use a single metaphor to justify two contradictory conclusions in a single chapter. Second, there is the conspicuous absence of the word ἐξουσία(ν) (authority), which does not occur until later, in verse 10, and which Paul would surely have used had he intended that meaning, as he does elsewhere. And third, Paul has already rejected this earlier in his letter, back in 1 Corinthians 7:4.

            So we are left with (ii). Christ is the source of man, man is the source of woman, and God is the source of Christ.

            But what of παντὸς ἀνδρὸς (every man)? This is more complex, but less critical to Paul’s argument as a whole. The most logical reading of the phrase is that Paul means explicitly ‘christian men’ here, rather than a more general sense of humanity, as this is consistent with the rest of the argument in 1 Corinthians; we are one new humanity in and through Christ, the ‘we’ being the church. This verse is not a demonstration of a hierarchical order, but that of origin. The Christian church was born out of Christ, who was born out of God. This is the foundation that Paul will build the rest of this chapter on.

            I’ll be interested to know what you think?

        • There is not a single mention of head as the one with authority in Ephesians. Paul draws on the head metaphor to show how husbands should be submissive to their wives by giving themselves up in love.

          Reply
          • The word for authority need not appear. Christ is the head and Christ is understood by every believer as having supreme authority.

          • Anton, you are sidestepping the problem that ‘head’ is not a metaphor for authority.

            Christ is the lamb who was slain, and is understood by every believer as having supreme authority. That does not mean that the image of ‘a slain lamb’ is an image of authority.

          • Hi Ian. Do you think that Paul explains what he is thinking of as the ‘function’ of a ‘head’ in Eph 4:16 — nurture, growth, source? ISTM that we rarely hear about 4:15-16 in the discussions of ‘head’ and ‘authority’ — maybe because ‘authority’ doesn’t quite ‘fit’ there??

          • @Anton

            But Christ is also He who through all things were made. Christ is also He who made the ultimate sacrifice. Christians were not called “little Christs” on account of their authority.

          • I’m not ignoring it, Ian; I’m disputing that the analogy is as limited as you say.

            Paul’s analogy for the relationship between husband and wife invokes not only Christ, but also the word ‘head’. My KJV Concordance lists several hundred entries for ‘head(s)’. Of those entries that do not refer to the material head of a person, a valley, an axe etc, the remaining 36 all mean ‘ruler, governor’. The function of a ruler or governor is to wield godly authority.

          • Hmm. Not sure of that Ian. I thought Wayne Grudem put the whole debate about ‘kephale’ meaning ‘source’/’authority over’ to bed years ago, with an exhaustive study of the usage of ‘kephale’ in antiquity.

            With regard to Ephesians, Paul states his point of mutual submission in 5:22, but then in a series of relationships where one party is considered to exercise ‘authority’ in some way over the other party, explains what that submission looks like. In each case it is not asymmetric, and in each case he addresses the ‘weaker’ party first. Thus, in the context, it is inconceivable that Paul does not consider husbands to, in some sense, have authority over their wives. Granted, the husbands must exercise that authority with sacrificial, other-centred love, but it is still authority of a kind. Much as Christ’s authority over us is not domineering or coercive, but loving and kind.
            1. Wives and husbands (5:22-33) – Wives are to submit to husbands, but husbands are not told to submit to wives. Instead, they are commanded to sacrificially love their wives, laying down everything for them (as Christ did for the church). Paul makes the parallel between Christ and the church, and points out that ‘as the church submits to Christ’, so also wives should submit to their husbands (v24). If submission there does not denote a recognition that the other party has authority, I do not know what Paul can mean?
            2. Children and fathers (6:1-4) – children are told to obey their parents. Fathers are not told to submit to their children, nor to obey them, but instead are told not to exasperate or provoke them to anger.
            3. Slaves and masters (6:5-9) – slaves are told to obey their earthly masters as if in their service they were obeying the Lord. Masters are told to treat their slaves in the same way, ie to adopt the same kind of attitudes and actions that he’s just told slaves to adopt. Which includes such things as “whole-hearted sincerity” (verse 5), “not just serving to be seen, as people-pleasers” (verse 6), “doing God’s will from within” (verse 6), and having a “good attitude” (verse 7). Paul is reminding masters—and, by implication, any one of us with authority over others—that our authority is not there to serve ourselves.
            All of this is means that ‘authority’ is not a bad word. Authority is needed in any organisation of people in family, workplace or society at large. For things to work some people need to lead and direct and take responsibility, others need to follow and submit and seek to follow and contribute helpfully. None of this means the ‘stronger’ party is more important or valuable or superior, and nor does it mean the ‘weaker’ party is less important or valuable or inferior. Just as the Son submits to the Father’s will but is still equal to the Father in substance/essence/significance so it is with human relationships.

          • To David Gibb (10Dec 6:45pm). Hi David. I wonder if a problem here is that we are trying to understand the meaning of a text from individual words not from whole statements? I suggest that this is a real problem with Grudem’s ‘exhaustive’ listing.
            So you say: ‘Wives are to submit to husbands, but husbands are not told to submit to wives.’ But in Eph 4:21 Paul DOES tell husbands to submit to their wives. So hasn’t the question of ‘authority’ between the groups of people Paul is talking about (an inference you have made) been critically altered?

          • Sorry,the reference should be Eph 5:21 not 4:21. But my point remains that yes you could say that a cultural assumption to be made from wives-husbands, children-parents, slaves-masters is that one submits to the other (as you have inferred, David). But specifically in 5:21 Paul excludes that as an assumption to be used to understand/interpret what he is saying about these groups of people.

          • Replying to Bruce Symons (December 11, 2023 at 6:44 am). Yes, I agree that in Ephesians 5:21 Paul tells each person to submit to the other. But what does that mean? We only find out by the subsequent expounding of the three relationships (each different from the other, but each requiring authority and responsibility to be exercised by the ‘stronger’ party over the ‘weaker’ party, and for the ‘weaker party’ to respond). It is not equal and opposite or, as I said, asymmetric. As ever, it is context that gives meaning to the word ‘submit’.

          • David, you say:
            ‘each requiring authority and responsibility to be exercised by the ‘stronger’ party over the ‘weaker’ party, and for the ‘weaker party’ to respond’.
            But that is an *assumption* that you are bringing to the text. And my point is that Paul has taken *that assumption* (notions of ‘authority’, ‘responsibility’, ‘stronger’/’weaker’ (i.e. hierarchy)) *out* of the context for understanding what he goes on to say about wives and husbands. He does this when he says that Christians ought to ‘submit to *one another*’. Else *why* did he write 5:21?
            The ‘instructions’ to parents, children. masters, slaves call for the same *attitude of mutuality* (‘love’ if you like), regardless of the particular words involved. (Or are husbands not to ‘respect’ their wives (5:33))?

  21. On authority, Headship, Leadership, I believe that Paul was dealing with a local issue in Ephesus. He plainly took authority in this temporary situation as spiritual director; at other times he considered himself a slave or prisoner.
    Jesus spoke on carnal and spiritual authority viz a viz
    MATT.20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
    20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
    20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
    Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
    His authority was recognized widely.
    The encounter with the Centurion shows that he recognized the authority of Jesus, Luke 7:8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. He reverenced Christ.
    Or Paul’s view of authority 2 Cor 10:8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction,
    For the Church/Believer a call to pray , 1 Tim 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority;
    [Bishop or synod?]
    that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
    Tit 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
    That he wrote to male church leaders is immaterial. Walk as he walked is the proper exercise of authority and submission. Clegy and laity will be required to give account of their ministry.
    Jam 3:1
    My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
    Prov 29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked bears rule, the people mourn.

    Reply
  22. I find that egalitarians, and those leaning towards that position, tend to agree that ‘of course, men and women are not identical in every way’, yet seem reluctant to spell out what they think the real differences might be. They are simply sure that sexual differentiation has nothing to do with authority. I suggest that this is one area where the debate might helpfully be moved forward.

    Reply
          • Ian (and Jonathan),
            I have explained the reason why something must be said that has yet to be said – about male and female differences – in a reply to you elsewhere on this page which begins with the words “Maybe this will help” (please search the page to find that reply). I don’t mean to cause our conversations to unite – only to provide a reason why this conversation deserves to continue).

        • Jonathan Mason – I clicked on your web page and on the article ‘Church membership not optional’. Based on this, I’d say that your approach to the whole business of ‘authority’ is suspect – and it’s probably more important to firstly get a clear understanding of what the role of the church is, before wondering about male/female differentiation and how this applies to church leadership.

          You write: ‘Church membership is a commitment to come under the authority of the leadership of the church.’ It should be pointed out that, by this criterion, Eve was the perfect church member, when she listened to a sermon on the commandments of God and hearkened to it. The sermon was given by the smooth-talking serpent, who sounded good, Holy and erudite about the commandments of God.

          I really have no idea what you mean by ‘under the care and pastoral ministry of the church’ – but it sounds nasty – after all, Eve was under the care and pastoral ministry of a smoothie. So it doesn’t conform even slightly to what I’d understand the role of the church in a believer’s life to be; for a Christian 1 John 2:27 is operative.

          The reason why church membership is important is based in Hebrews 10:25, which is the nearest thing we find to a commandment on this matter – and it is based on mutual encouragement, between people for whom 1 John 2:27 applies.

          Reply
  23. I feel that we need to recognize the cultural situation in Corinth and Ephesus and the differentiation between Greek wisdom and Jewish wisdom and of course the wisdom of God in Jesus Christ.
    I feel that just here is the ages long battle of what God thinks as in both Old and New testaments; His revelations of Himself in giving new eternal life and the, predominant now, Greak thinking in the 21st Century where man tries to define a psychologically * good life * without any reference to God. Or what justice is without same reference.
    In the Bible I find no reference to equality, nor in the kingdom of God; except perhaps Satan’s desire to be “as God” which of course was his temptation in Eden where he suggests than man can become “as God.”
    Obedience was a key thought in the Old Testament and a key feature in the life and actions of our Lord. Obedience being a large part of Submission which Paul develops in mutual submission.
    On The Difference Between Greek Thought and Hebrew Thought see
    /edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2010/12/22/on-the-difference-between-greek-thought-and-hebrew-thought/

    Reply
  24. “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church”?
    How did he do it? By submission to the purpose of God that He might obtain a bride /church which would be acceptable to the Father? Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of Jesus’ life on earth is that as the Son of God, and our Lord and Savior, he lived his life on earth by the discipline of submission.
    Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

    Submission is the way of life for citizens of the kingdom of God, for those who live their daily lives under the rule of Christ.

    Submission is quietly choosing to let another be in control. We’re to submit to the Lord in all things and we’re also to submit to authorities, elders, and others as unto Christ.
    Submission is “abandoning outcomes to God” (Dallas Willard)

    Reply
  25. Ian at reference psephizo.com/biblical-studies/is-impartiality-the-heart-of-the-gospel/
    I am not sure Ian if you are confusing or conflating Equality with Equity on that post.
    The term “equity” refers to fairness and justice and is distinguished from equality: Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances. Shalom.

    Reply
  26. The comments are getting complicated to follow. This is a response first to Philip Benjamin’s question to me on December 8 at 12:32am and then to PC1’s comment on December 7 at 1:07pm.
    Philip – in my first response to you (Dec 7, 11:54am), I said:
    “You write “Why is homosexuality forbidden and a sign of not being saved (when other sin is not)?” If by “homosexuality” you mean the practice of same-sex sexual relations, I can’t think of anything in the Bible that distinguishes it in that way, so I am not able to understand your line of thought.”
    You have not explained what you mean by your very puzzling statement (which to me seems an obvious misreading of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, though you still maintain it). The result is that I still do not understand what you are driving at. If you are not willing to explain it, then we cannot make any progress.
    I cannot assess whether Ian’s answers to you are sufficient or not, because I do not understand your question.
    You have now added another puzzle. You challenge whether I have a basis for claiming that “sex differences” are “critical” (“critical” is your word; my word was “necessary”). I am struggling to understand what is the issue that you have in mind. Without sex differences, no human beings would be born. As I wrote: “It is through these gifts of similarity and sexual difference that God creates communities.” Without men’s and women’s shared humanity and men’s and women’s sexual difference there would be no people and no communities. God takes delight in having made male and female in his image (Genesis 1:27-31).
    There must be something in your mind that has not been addressed to your satisfaction, but I have not yet been able to understand what it is.
    In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Paul says that persisting in sinful behaviour is not compatible with inheriting the kingdom of God. Your query, expanded in a comment addressed to Ian, uses the emphatic expression “LINKABLE to God’s character – and therefore have THEOLOGICAL significance”. Perhaps it would help if you explained what you mean by this emphatic expression by reference to a different example from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, such as “drunkards” or “swindlers”.
    By the way, your comment describes me as an “egalitarian”. That is not a description that I identify with. It covers too many different ideas, some of which I agree with, and some of which I don’t. When I wrote my book (Men and Women in Christ), I received pushback from egalitarians because I stated that Paul’s head-and-body metaphor and Christ-and-Church analogy in Ephesians 5 were asymmetrical and non-reversible.
    Peter PC1 – You say that you are confused. “… if Paul really meant by all his metaphors of ‘head’ etc, that men and women are truly equal in the church and marriage, whether it comes to authority/decision making/teaching or whatever, why did he not just say that?!”
    But I have never suggested that the meaning of Paul’s head metaphor in 1 Corinthians 11 or of his head-and-body metaphor in Ephesians 5 is that men and women are truly equal in the church and marriage. And I can’t think of any commentator on the Bible who has made that suggestion in regard to the meaning of the metaphors.
    That Paul regarded men and women as equal in marriage is apparent from the whole of 1 Corinthians 7.
    That Paul regarded men and women as equal in the church is apparent from quite a few places in his writings. As regards the basic principle, it seems clear enough from Galatians 3:26-29 and 4:6-7. As regards leadership and teaching, it seems clear enough from 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, where Paul names apostles, prophets and teachers as the three greater gifts, then urges the congregation (who are men and women) to earnestly desire those gifts. Both Paul and Peter mention spiritual gifts in a number of passages. They never say or imply that some gifts are for men only.
    If the heart of your question is about how to understand 1 Corinthians 11, that is too big a question to answer in a brief online comment. Please see chapters 7 and 8 of my book.

    Reply
    • Hell Andrew,
      Agreed, it is difficult to keep track of the comments.
      Yesterday, above, I said I’d look to respond to your questions, asked really about Sinclair’s Ferguson’s position on the scripture you cited.
      Having just returned home a quick look at his study book on Ephesians shows that it doesn’t have a scripture index. In each exegesis of scripture passages, he does make cross scriptural references.
      The references to Galatians are in respect of salvation and inheritence of all believers in Christ, where there is no difference (in their union with Christ, – expanded and exemplified in Ephesians chapters 1-3). The references have nothing to do with m+f roles in church.
      So far as 1 Corinthians is concerned, I think both KD and SF are cessationists which will have a significant influence on their reading an application of gifts.
      There are non-cessationist, such as Dr Sam Storms (now retired I think, but his web site is extant?) and Dr Andrew Wilson who see leadership, preaching/teaching ministry in church as male, who may see women having words of knowledge and prophecy in church gatherings.
      All of this involves authority granted, permitted, express, implied and its scope and structure, governance in church.

      Reply
    • PS Andrew,
      If you would like Ferguson’s response, perhaps you could seek it by sending him your book asking for a review.
      I think you may be able to track him down through Trinity Church, Aberdeen, Scotland.

      Reply
  27. My diagram shows woman at the centre of the created order. This shows that God’s intention was to have the bride of Christ as the centre. Out of Jesus side came the river of life. This says nothing about male/female relationships but a lot about Christ and the Bride. If you can’t find anything interesting to say about the wonder of God’s plan then I’m out.

    Reply

Leave a comment