You are hereFor They Are Not Permitted To Speak - Part 1

For They Are Not Permitted To Speak - Part 1

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By amie - Posted on 25 July 2005

by Amie May
In my opinion, the law of God was perfect. Mankind's interpretation of it was
flawed. Jesus fulfilled the law in Truth. He knew the righteous interpretation.
Things that humanity had perceived to be literal, they applied that way. Those
things however, were symbolic of the spiritual reality unveiled by the Words of
Jesus. Many things are still commonly understood to be literal, when there is a
spiritual understanding that can be applied.In my opinion, the law of God was perfect. Mankind's interpretation of it was
flawed. Jesus fulfilled the law in Truth. He knew the righteous interpretation.
Things that humanity had perceived to be literal, they applied that way. Those
things however, were symbolic of the spiritual reality unveiled by the Words of
Jesus. Many things are still commonly understood to be literal, when there is a
spiritual understanding that can be applied.1 Timothy 2

11 Let a woman learn in silence, in all subjection.

12 And I do not allow a woman to teach nor to exercise authority over a man, but
to be in silence.

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived has come to be in
transgression;

15 but she will be kept safe through the childbearing, if they continue in faith
and love and holiness, with sensibleness.




1 Cor 14

34 Let your women be silent in the assemblies, for it is not allowed to them
to speak, but to be in subjection, as also the Law says.

35 But if they desire to learn anything, let them question their husbands at
home; for it is a shame for a woman to speak in an assembly.




A wooden-literal interpretation of these Scriptures would condemn any woman from
speaking within the assembly, from teaching men, or exercising authority over a
man. They would have had to remain silent because they were the ones deceived,
they were the ones therefore in transgression, and not to mention, they were
made second. If they had any questions, they could save it for their husbands.
If this literal interpretation were wholly accurate, then we would be left with
some broad biblical contradictions.



The Plot Thickens



In Luke 8, verses 1-3 we find Jesus traveling in every city and village,
preaching and announcing the Gospel. Accompanying him where the "usual twelve",
and also women who had been healed. Mary Magdalene is names as one of them, as
well as Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's curator, Susanna, and "many others".
All of them gave their possessions in support of his ministry.



Certainly women contributing and following along would not be seen in modern
society as shocking or unexpected.



In Mark 7, a Greek woman is recorded to have reasoned with Jesus. Her daughter
had an unclean spirit and she fell at his feet and asked him to cast out the
demon from her daughter. Jesus replied "First allow the children to be
satisfied, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the
dogs". It was clear to them all that he was speaking of Israel, for he had come
for Israel (Matthew 15:24), and Gentiles would hear the news second (Romans
1:16, Romans 10:17).



She courageously continued with her plea saying "Yes Lord; for even the dogs
under the table eat from the crumbs of the children." Rather than treating her
as second class, rebuking her, casting her aside, or just ignoring her words,
Jesus then told her that because of "this word", the demon had gone out from her
daughter.

In Luke 7:36-50 Jesus is dining at a Pharisee's house. Grateful for her
forgivenss, she began to wash Christ's feet with tears, wiping them with her
hair and put sweet smelling ointment on them. The Pharisee "spoke within
himself" and thought that if Jesus was a prophet, that he knew who this woman
was, he most certainly wouldn't be allowing what he was allowing. He was
doubting that Jesus spoke God-given words, and was doubting it "within himself".
Jesus answered him (I love that part - Jesus answering a thought!) and tells him
a story:



"There were two debtors to a certain creditor: the one owed five hundred
denarii and the other fifty.

But they not having a thing to pay, he freely forgave both. Then which of them
do you say will love him most?"




The Pharisee rightly answers "the one whom he freely forgave the most". Jesus
continues in seemingly comparing the Pharisee to the debtor who owed less, and
the woman to the debtor who owed more. He spoke on the woman's behalf
proclaiming that she had been demonstrating greater love from the time that he
walked in and the Pharisee had not taken any such action. Jesus then confirms to
the already thankful woman, that her "sins are forgiven". She had faith in God's
love.

Jesus apparently visited the home of Mary and Martha often and taught and ate
with women as well as men. When he was arrested, women remained firm - even
accompanying him to the foot of the cross- while the majority of his male
disciples are recorded to have fled. Women were said to have been the first
witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus, chief among them, Mary Magdalene.



Women and the Gospel



After the death of Jesus, women continued to play prominent roles in the early
movement. According to Karen L. King, Professor of New Testament Studies and the
History of Ancient Christianity at Harvard University in the Divinity school,
some scholars have even suggested that the majority of Christians in the
first century may have been women.

 

In Paul's letter to the Romans, Chapter 16 verse 1, Phoebe is commended as a "Diakonos",
commonly translated "servant" in this Scripture. When referring to men, it is
typically translated "Minister" or "Deacon" (you can find examples of such in
Ephesians 6:21 and 1 Timothy 3:12).



He goes on to greet Prisca, Junia, Julia, and Nereus' sister, who worked and
traveled as missionaries in pairs with their husbands or brothers. He tells us
that Prisca and her husband risked their lives to save his. He praises Junia as
a prominent apostle, who had been imprisoned for her labor. Mary and Persis are
commended for their hard work

In many translations, Junia is given a male name because she is called
"Apostle".



Common names in place of "Junia" are "Julius" and "Junias".



Of the approximate 29 of the co-workers in spreading the Gospel singled out and
specifically greeted by Paul in Romans 16, 10 were women.



Philippians 4:2-3 reads "I entreat Euodias, and I entreat Syntyche, to mind the
same thing in the Lord.



And I also ask you, true yoke-fellow, help those who struggled along with me and
with Clement in the gospel, and the rest, fellow-workers with me, whose names
are in the Book of Life."



The KJV reads "help those women which laboured with me in the gospel"
acknowledging that the "those" in the above instance is referring to the women,
Euodia and Syntyche.



The churches of old met in homes for the most part. Contributing to the need to
meet in more private places, was the fact that Christianity was not legal in the
Roman world of that day. Women played key roles within the home so it would not
be surprising to see them take leadership roles in house churches.



1 Cor 16:19 reads in part "Aquila and Priscilla greet you much in the Lord, with
the assembly in their house"

Acts 16: 13-16 reads "And on the day of the sabbaths, we went outside the city
beside a river, where it was customary for prayer to be made. And sitting down,
we spoke to the women who came together there. And a certain woman named Lydia,
a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, one reverencing God, listened, whose
heart the Lord opened thoroughly to pay attention to the things being spoken by
Paul. And as she and her household were baptized, she entreated Paul, saying, If
you have judged me to be believing in the Lord, entering into my house, remain.
And she strongly urged us."



Joel 2:28-32 foretells of a day in which women would prophesy, and Acts 2 speaks
of its fulfillment.



Acts 2

16 But this is that which has been spoken by the prophet Joel,

17 "And it shall be" in the last days, God says, "I will pour from My Spirit on
all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy;" "and your young men
shall see visions," "and your old men shall dream dreams;"

18 "and also I will pour out My Spirit on My slaves and slave women in those
days," and they shall prophesy.




According to Romans 12:6,7 prophecy was a gift of the Holy Spirit and according
to 1 Cor 14:1, it was a preferential gift.



In Acts 21: 8, 9, Philip the evangelist is said to have four virgin daughters
who prophesied and in 1 Corinthians 11, there are rules in place for those women
who did pray and did prophesy.



As prophets, women's roles would have included not only public speech, but
preaching, teaching, leading prayer, and perhaps even performing the breaking of
the bread.



For now, I leave you to ponder it. In my view, there is no contradiction. I pray
that you bear with me as I flesh that out.

DavidF's picture

Amie:

You said, “Many things are still commonly understood to be literal, when there is a spiritual understanding that can be applied.”

So did I miss your spiritual alternative for 1 Tim. 2 and 1 Cor. 14? I did not notice one in this article.

If Timothy and the Corinthians were not suppose to take Paul’s emphatic teaching about women as wooden-literal then I sure would like to hear how they interpreted it in an ethereal-spiritual sense and still retained a form of practicality and logic for the real world they lived in.

Maybe we have been interpreting other passages in literal error also, such as, Eph. 5:22-33 “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord… Husbands, love your wives… each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect [reverence KJV] her husband.” Does this new finding of yours actually free husbands from the duty to provide food, clothing and marital intimacies for their wives (Ex. 21:10) in observation of something else, something of the spirit world, something unrealistic?

It appears to me there is no interpretive spiritual substitute for these Scriptures that would make any practical sense for interactions between Christian men and women, and if that is the case then these inspired words from Paul’s writings cannot be ignored or bent into something they do not say.

There were women prophets and deacons in 1st Century Christendom, who could speak on the street and house-to-house, however, the Scriptures restricted their authority in the family and in the assembled ecclesia - these being the two social governments the Father has instituted for His kingdom.

Eds's picture

YES! I totally agree with THIS comment! I mean I also, as a woman, struggled with the silent woman thing, untill I understood what it meant. Silence doesn't mean we are retarded or substandard Christians! It jut means we have different roles under different contexts. In church women should keep silent in reverence to God and their husbands, but they can have other supporting ministries like they did in the Bible. All the women that Amy quoted were NOT in the "church assembly"...

jmarvin's picture

“There were women prophets and deacons in 1st Century Christendom, who could speak on the street and house-to-house, however, the Scriptures restricted their authority in the family and in the assembled ecclesia - these being the two social governments the Father has instituted for His kingdom.”

Unless my understanding is wrong I thought that the 1st century Christians when they met as the “assembled ecclesia” did so from house to house (assembly that meets in their home, Romans 16:5) as well as other locations such as down by the river in the Acts (where two or three are gathered in my name)? Also if women were restricted to speaking only on the street and in the assembled ecclesia, then what did Paul have in mind in 1 Corinthians 11, where Paul states that women were praying and prophesying in the assembly gatherings. (Prophesying is a form of teaching: “You can all prophesy one by one, so that all may be instructed and encouraged” (1 Corinthians 14:31) Women prophesied freely in early Christianity (Acts 2:17; 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5) because regardless of gender the Holy Spirit had been poured out on men and women alike and prophecy was one of the results (Acts 2).
Why in the assembly in the city of Thyatira that was rebuked by Christ with these words: “You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and eating foods sacrificed to idols” . . . (Revelation 2), do we find that Jesus’ anger against what she was teaching that led to sinful practices and not against the issue of her being a teacher. It seems the leaders of this assembly would have had ample time to deal with her if following literally what Paul admonished in I Corinthians 14 about women being silent and I Timothy about women not usurping authority. Yet her teachings had permeated the assembly.

Just some continued thoughts on the subject. I too look forward to a more detailed explanation of the meaning of this statement: “Many things are still commonly understood to be literal, when there is a spiritual understanding that can be applied.” Paul was definitely dealing a “literal” reality of two problems within two different local assemblies.

Paul certainly writes from the standpoint of apostolic authority stating that what he says comes from the Lord and one’s obedience directly relates to the person’s spiritual maturity. "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." Again I think what is interesting to me is that if these issues as Paul details them in I Corinthians and I Timothy are to be followed with a wooden literalism then most church groups according to Paul’s own definition would be considered to be less then spiritual/mature.

I would like to cite this source article as helping me formulate my thoughts.
Sources: A Look at Women in Redemptive History by Jon Zens, Restoration Ministries.

JM

DavidF's picture

jmarvin:

I guess I was not clear about the house-to-house issue. When I said they speak house-to-house it was not house assemblies I had in mind but rather house evangelism and Acts 5:42; “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” I should have included this citation. My apologies. The Christians practiced this method of evangelism and women likely also participated. The Scriptures do not restrict women from evangelizing in public.

You said: “Also if women were restricted to speaking only on the street and in the assembled ecclesia, then what did Paul have in mind in 1 Corinthians 11, where Paul states that women were praying and prophesying in the assembly gatherings."

I think if you re-read what I said, my words stated that women were restricted “from” speaking in the assembly, not restricted “to” the assembly. Also, I cannot find in 1 Corinthians 11, where Paul states that women were praying and prophesying in the assembly gatherings. What verse did you notice this in?

When I read Rev. 2, I cannot see where it says Jezebel was teaching in the official assembly, but she was teaching and misleading servants into fornication. She could have been doing that anytime and anywhere outside the scheduled assembled ecclesia.

I also look forward to see if there is some trustworthy way to interpret women’s human authority beyond the apparent literal familial and ecclesiastical submission they have been assigned.

jmarvin's picture

DavidF,
Thank you for your interaction on this subject. Thank you also for clarifying the house-to house issue. I also see after re-reading your comments, which I did understand (restricted “from”), and my post in which I did not clearly express the thoughts I wanted to, I muddied the water. My mistake.
The specific place in I Corinthians 11 that states that women were praying and prophesying is verse five. I do realize that this verse alone does not indicate whether the “praying and prophesying” was done within or without the assembled gathering. However, at the conclusion of Paul’s treatment of head-coverings he states in verse 16 “But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.” In verse two of the same chapter Paul commends the Corinthians for holding firmly to the traditions that he had delivered to them. Paul associates the head-covering issue in which we find verse five (praying and prophesying) with the traditions that he had handed down and then concludes in verse 16 that he had been talking about what was practiced by the churches of God. It appears to me that the “praying and prophesying” was done within the assembled gathering. Also the backdrop of the book of I Corinthians at least in part, which is very corrective in nature, deals with issues “within” the gathered assembly such as: head-coverings, orderly service, nature and proper function of the gifts, the Lord’s supper, etc.
I want to also comment on Rev. 2 but my works calls. I’ll have to wait until this evening. A quick question if I may? In the fellowship you participate in are the women completely silent in all of the assembly gatherings? I mentioned in my first post on the subject that in my life-time of attending many different forms of Christian churches I’ve only encountered one, a Plymouth Brethren closed fellowship, that practiced the “silence” principle.
Well for now blessings to you.

JM

DavidF's picture

Jmarvin:

That’s a good point about 1 Cor dealing with many assembly issues but 11:5 still appears too inconclusive for me to hold a rigid pro stand about women prophesying in the meeting.

I’ve never been to a gathering where women are completely silent.

chrisliv's picture

Hey, DavidF,

Here's a pretty good, brief exegeses of Rev. 2:18-29, which may be helpful:

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/5951/thyatira.html

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

jmarvin's picture

C. Livingstone,
I too will read the exegeses of Rev. 2:18-19. Thank you. I have found your comments on issues discussed on Planet Preterist to be very insightful.

Blessings,
JM

chrisliv's picture

Great,

I wish the exegeses was my own.

It seems pretty obvious that "Jezebel" was not the actual name of the woman, much like "Sodom and Egypt" was not the actual name of Jerusalem.

I suppose a woman named "Jezebel" in the early Asia Minor Church would be about as likely as seeing someone on the 700 Club named "Lucifer" or "Judas" giving an alter call.

But, the the sarcasm is clearly instructive.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

amie's picture

DavidF,

This article is "part 1"...

Amie

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

Temujin's picture

I am with you as well on this one, Amie. Great article. A fantastic read to be sure.

Real Eyes Realize Real Lies

Jamie's picture

"According to Karen L. King, Professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient Christianity at Harvard University in the Divinity school, some scholars have even suggested that the majority of Christians in the first century may have been women."

Of course, men might like to think they are in charge, but the backbone of the Church is made of women that pray, practice patience and hard work every single day.

Good job on this article Amie :)

vinster's picture

Ohhhh, Let me get this straight! There's no men that "pray, practice patience and hard work every single day."

The Backbone of the church is "Women and Men" working together under the power of the Spirit to further the Kingdom.

Yes, it is a very good article. And I agree. But let's not get on a power trip which seems to eminate from the above comment.

We need each other, there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus.

Vinster

Virgil's picture

There's no men that "pray, practice patience and hard work every single day."

Yes, Vinster, that's exactly what I said..you quoted me almost down to the letter.

amie's picture

Thank you to all of you for your supportive and informative comments.

I look forward to learning more from you, and getting to know you all better.

Also, thanks to the folks here at PlanetPreterist for welcoming me into the little family of columnists.

Amie

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

A worthy subject: Is Christianity sexist or was Paul just a hardline ex-Pharisee recommending his preference in that instance, i.e., when Paul says, " I do not permit a woman to teach..." Does that mean Peter and James (and us today) must also follow Paul's preference?

In Romans 14, Paul seems full of lattitude regarding food and calendars:

"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."

In 1 Corinthinians 7:12, Paul declares fidelity in marriage, and then states that this imperative was spoken by Christ (and it was) or has continuous Old Testament authority:

"And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband."

Paul then states his mind about virgins in the same chapter, and mentions that there is no imperative from Christ or the Bible:

"Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful."

So, when Paul states in 2 Timothy, that he does "not allow a woman to teach" and that "the woman (Eve) being deceived" is his rationale for such a position, is Paul just stating his old Phariseeic attitude?

Or, where's the imperative from Christ directly for this? And, does it really follow that all women under the New Covenant are spiritually retarded and not to be trusted, since the first woman, Eve, was "deceived"?

Of course not; those were attitudes Paul held for most of his life as a Pharisee, and which were held by religious Jews, and still are in many cases, even today.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

the_prophet_whiteboy's picture

Amie,
Great article ! But in all seriousness women have played a imporant part in the bible, look at eve for example.

John : )

jmarvin's picture

Good article. I have pondered this issue and I'm mindful of Paul's authoritative words in the following verse at the conclusion of the I Corinthians 14 passage that says: (37) "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." If taken "literally" that women are to keep completely silent in the church and if this is a universal command to all Christians of all times then it seems that almost all churches (I have attended one fellowship {Plymouth Brethren} where this "silence" is literally followed, women do not pray nor make any comments during the service)are in disobedience to the Lord? This has interesting implications due to the tendency for each Christian denomination/group to state either explicitly or implicitly that it has the truth; many times the absolute truth. The contribution and participation of women in the New Testament can't be denied. Were there women who disrupted the orderly service in Cornith? Probably. Were there women who usurped authority in Ephesus? Probably. But no more than the examples of men that we read about in the Scriptures or what we have seen throughout Christian Church History. Learning to be silent and letting another speak his/her mind or learning that seeking authority for authority's sake is very deceiving is not exclusive to either men or women. Well enough said. Again good article.

JM

Paige's picture

Good points, JM. One has to wonder that with all of the time that women spent following Christ, soaking up His wisdom, and witnessing the things He did; how was it that He would never have them open their mouths and speak about it? Wouldn't a witness speak those things about which they witnessed? In the process of witnessing, wouldn't one be TEACHING those who had not witnessed? I'm with Amie. There is an apparent contradiction between what is recorded by Paul on these FEW occasions, and what actually went on during the transition of the ages. There has to be something we are missing. Can't wait for Part Two.

Paige

mazuur's picture

Bearing with you, Amie. :)

-Rich

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