THE WORK OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

By

Shelby G. Floyd

The denominational churches are now teaching that the overall scriptural evidence is against the view that women should be subordinate to men in the church. Therefore, they are appointing women to publicly preach, and to be members of the governing body of their respective denominational churches.

There are generally two extreme views concerning the woman’s work and place in the church. Some people would place no limitations upon the work of women in the church. On the other hand there are others who would penalize the woman, and say that she has nothing to do in the work of the church. According to the Bible, both of these positions are false.

Women definitely have a place in the work of the church. A woman may be a servant of the church like Phoebe was at Cenchrea (Romans 16:1-2); she may help preachers of the gospel like Priscilla helped Paul (Romans 16:3); she may labor with men in the gospel (Philippians 4:2-3); she may also diligently follow every good work (1 Timothy 5:10); she may learn in silence with all subjection (1 Timothy 2:11); she may pray (Acts 16:13; 1 Corinthians 11:5); and she may prophesy-teach (Acts 21:9). Women may also be…

“Teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:3-5).

While the Bible authorizes the woman to do all of these works, it does not follow that she is unbounded in authority or without any limitations in doing these works. The Bible does place certain restrictions upon the woman in the work that she is allowed to do. In reference to women teaching in the church, Paul wrote Timothy saying,

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:11-12 NKJV).

The prepositional phrase “over the man” modifies the two infinitives “to teach” and “to usurp authority.” Therefore, a woman may not teach “over the man,” neither may she usurp authority “over the man.” This passage does not condemn a woman in teaching or holding authority: but, if a woman is forward, and takes dominion over the man either in teaching, or in holding authority, she is in violation of the clear teaching of this passage. This scripture would forbid a woman preaching in public assemblies where she would be teaching over the man, and it would also forbid a woman being in the governing body of the church where she would be holding authority over the man. Therefore, these denominational churches are clearly wrong in their contention that the Scriptures do not give any evidence for the woman being in subjection to the man.

Paul assigned two reasons why the woman was not to teach nor usurp authority over the man: (1) “For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13). (2) “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 2:14). Man was created first, in the order of creation, and then the woman was made to be his help associate (Genesis 2:18). And it was the woman who was beguiled by this subtlety of the devil, not the man (2 Corinthians 11:3). Therefore, the woman was made for the man, and not man for the woman (1 Corinthians 11:9). Because the woman was deceived God said,

““I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.””
(Genesis 3:16).

The woman is equal to the man in many respects, but she is not equal to the man in authority. Paul said, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). The authority which Christ exercises over the church is compared to the authority of the man over the woman (Ephesians 5:22-24). Because of the creation, and the role of the woman in the fall of man, she is to be subordinate to the man. Any disposition on her part to be forward in the affairs of the church is not in keeping with the attitude of a faithful Christian woman (1 Peter 3:1-7).

In some places today, men in the church are teaching that women may preach, and lead prayer in public worship services of the church. They contend that the woman is not out of place as long as she is authorized to do this by the man. But no one has the authority to authorize anyone to do anything that is forbidden by the word of God, and since the Scriptures prohibit the woman to teach or usurp authority over the man, such practices are wrong.

Concerning women speaking in the church, Paul wrote to the church at Corinth saying, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also says the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). There was confusion in the church at Corinth because some persons were speaking at the same time. Paul admonished the prophets to speak, two or three, each one in turn; whereas, they had been speaking at the same time and causing confusion. It seems that the wives of these prophets were adding to the confusion by asking questions and generally disturbing the peace and order of the assembly.

There are times when a woman might even help teach a man, such as Priscilla did in helping her husband Aquila teach Apollos the way of God more perfectly (Acts 18:26). This she did in the context of being in subjection and association of her husband. This is the exception, not the rule!

Copyright © 2018 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved

Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142

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