Much confusion still exists everywhere concerning the Christian service of women. It has often been stated that the Apostle Paul shows a certain attitude to women which they resent, in that he has forbidden all women to engage in spiritual teaching.
Let us begin by stating categorically that there is no ban in the whole New Testament upon the services performed by unmarried women. There are certain restrictions in the case of married women.
All the uncertainty and confusion have been caused through the fact that neither the Greek language nor the Hebrew has separate words for man and husband, or for woman and wife. This may seem very strange and awkward to us, even unaccountable. Yet even in Old English versions we find both the sexes called man, as at Mark 10:6, where God created them "waepnedman and wimman." That means weapon-man and wife-man. The word wife-man in the tenth century became wimman, or in the plural wimmen (which is still the sound of the spoken word), while later the word became wumman, then Woman.
In the Greek language, then, the word gunE has to take the place of both our wife and our word woman. This important fact is far too often overlooked, even by those who are aware that the Greek word gE has to do duty for our words earth and land. When does this little word mean the Land of Palestine, and when does it mean the whole earth? The context must decide. So with the word for wife or woman.
There is, however, One exception in the New Testament, at Romans 7:2, where Paul refers to "the underman woman"(hE hupandros gunE ), that is, the woman in wedlock. In this one case we do not require the help of the context.
Dr. Robert Young says the Greek word gunE is rendered in the British 1611 version as wife 92 times and as woman 129 times. The Concordant Version appears to use the word wife 89 times and the word woman for the rest of the occurrences. All versions, in fact, are obliged to use both these English words.
In order to prove this statement, we shall render a few occurrences in the wrong manner, or in a way which might be wrong:—
Matt. 14:21, about five thousand men, apart from wives and little children.
Matt. 19:8, Moses. . . permits you to dismiss your women.
Acts 8:12, they were baptized, husbands as well as wives.
1. Cor. 7:14, For the unbelieving man has been hallowed in the woman.
1. Cor. 11:7, Yet a wife is a husband's glory.
Eph. 5:25, the men: go on loving the women .
Anyone could quickly pick flaws in these examples if they were actual renderings. Every context must therefore be studied. In Some cases it would be immaterial whether we used wife or woman, as 1. Tim. 3:2, where the supervisor must be husband of one wife or woman.
What we must exclude rigidly from our minds in studying this question is the idea that a Greek-speaking person, when using the word gunE , had in mind the two English words, wife and woman. He was not thinking in English, but in his own language. This is one of the most difficult axioms for Bible students to learn.
In studying the matter of Christian service by women, it must be dearly recognized that the marriage bond implies a certain restriction of freedom, and a measure of discipline, on the part of both man and wife. In other words, the married woman has certain obligations which the unmarried has not. Paul is therefore quite in order in making a few rules which pertain only to married women, in order to preserve the dignity and status of herself and her husband. These rules are not merely Paul's own views or prejudices, as many foolish people think. They are divine principles, handed down to us for faith-obedience.
Much harm has been done, and too much prejudice has been created, by renderings such as that found in 1. Peter 3:1, where wives are told to be "in subjection" to their own husbands. There are various degrees of subjection, from drudging slavery to the idea which Paul here has in mind, of voluntary dependence, well expressed by the Middle Voice form of the Greek word. To a great extent the husband is dependent upon the wife, while the Wife is dependent upon him. Undoubtedly it is a distinct humiliation for a woman to read in 1.Tim.2:11, "Let a woman be learning in quietness, in all subjection." We may be sure this was not the thought in Paul's mind. The New World version reads "with full submissiveness," while Rotherham has, "in all submission." We suggest the true sense lies between submissiveness and dependence. No good woman wants to be in subjection to anyone. But if we mistake not, all fine women naturally love to be dependent more or less upon men.
In the whole of God's vast creation the principle of dependence reigns. The earth is said to belong to the Solar System, and it has been claimed that the Sun is pulling the earth through space in a certain direction, while the earth is said to be dragging the Sun towards itself in some measure. All through space there appears to be control and dependence. If the heavens are the work of God's hands, they cannot be controlled by anybody else. Science has reiterated that in the physical universe there is no independence; everything is dependent upon something else; the whole is dependent upon God. Everything moves in obedience to the influence of something else.
The glory of nature lies in her principle of universal dependence, with law and order throughout all.
We pause for a moment to consider the mighty Sun, upon which our earth is so dependent, the Sun which is said to control the earth. The Hebrew word for Sun is shemesh. There is no verb shamash in Hebrew, to show what the noun actually means. But in the Chaldee language it is found at Daniel 7:10, where we read, "Thousand thousands ministered-unto-Him." If the earth is utterly dependent upon the Sun, at the same time the Sun is minister to the earth.
Mankind would seek to reverse God's law. Men and women usually detest dependence and wish to be free. But what is freedom? Communism, euphemistically so-called, always means and implies lawlessness; freedom from law and control. But, we might ask, where can we find true freedom? We can discover it in two regions. In the world we may find comparative freedom only among barbarian nations. Or we may find freedom—perfect freedom, in God's Ecclesia. Civilization is not a transition from dependence to freedom, but a transition from comparative freedom to dependence.
Civilized peoples are hedged about by all sorts of restrictions and laws. Only a barbarian or very primitive people can know what the word freedom means. He is untrammeled by the written law. No need for him to wade through say two hundred paragraphs of an Act of Parliament, as I have had to do at times. Our perfect freedom is found in utter dependence upon God and upon His revelation. If we chase after any other "kind of Freedom", we are chasing after a phantom, and the result must be slavery. If nature abhors a vacuum, she also abhors freedom from law and order, and loves to follow law. Freedom in nature could only produce chaos and stagnation; while universal interdependence creates stability and progress.
There is no man who liveth to himself, however free or independent he may feel. This is notably true in the Body of Christ. Each stone is being builded into a temple for God. No stone can be wholly independent of another stone. Every one is required.
While He was on earth, God's Son was entirely dependent upon His Father. He became poor—totally impoverished, for our sakes, so that we might attain spiritual health. We do not consider His state of utter dependence as a gross injustice. Neither did He.
"Of every man (anEr) the head is Christ; yet woman's head (is) the man; yet the Christ's head (is) God" (1. Cor.11:3, literally). Paul does not state here that the head of humanity is Christ, though this is also true. Paul is dealing with the relationship between believing men and women. Verse 7 tells us that a man, praying or prophesying ought not to have his head covered, because, "all along existing God's image and glory." Paul does not use the word for human being (anthrOpos), but the word for man (anEr). Nevertheless he shews that woman also possesses her glory, literally, "Yet woman is man's glory."
Paul then explains that man is not out of woman, but woman out of man. "For why, (kai gar) man was not created because of the woman; but woman because of the man." Even more literally we might say that man was not created through the fact of woman, but woman through the fact of man.
If anyone is inclined to dispute these statements, we must decline to argue, as Paul concludes in v. 12 by saying "yet all (these aforesaid) things are of God." We dare not dispute the very plain statements he makes in Eph. 5:22-23 and Co1. 3:18 concerning the husband's headship of the wife, and the wife's submissiveness to the husband.
As Alford shews, the man, having been created first, is directly the image of God, while the woman is so indirectly, only through the man. It is quite wrong for anyone to teach that woman is the image and glory of God "in precisely the same sense" as man, or to teach that. "Christian women belong to Christ, . . . . not to their husbands." Husbands and wives belong to each other, being "one flesh," while Christian husbands and wives also belong to Christ, having one spirit with Him.
Two passages especially must be closely examined to see whether the Greek word gunE stands for our wife or woman, namely, 1. Cor. 14:34-38 and 1. Tim. 2:12-15. In the latter passage, it is clear that Paul is referring to married women from his mention of the bearing of children, which should save her from any tendency to become unfemale and develop a spirit of independence or even domineering. It might possibly be that the whole of verses 8 to 15 refer to married people, but perhaps this cannot be satisfactorily proved. Verses 1 to 4 deal with petitions and prayers in general, probably "in ecclesia," while verse 8 might refer to husbands undertaking the praying in every place, in every home. Bloomfield (Greek N.T.) thought Paul had a message for women also On the subject of prayer, and suggested that v. 9 should read, "In like manner (I will, or intend) the women also (to be praying) in modest apparel, with modesty and sanity adorning themselves. . .." That is to say, Paul may have intended the husbands to pray, lifting up holy-kindly (hosios) hands, apart from any anger and disputations; while the wives were also to pray with modesty, apart from extravagance in dress or make-up.
Verse 12 is of great importance in our present study. "Now I am not permitting a wife to be teaching nor yet to be domineering over a husband, but to be in quietness." The emphatic words must be noticed, firstly, to be teaching, nextly in emphasis, a wife.
Much damage to exegesis has been done in this verse by rendering woman instead of wife. Yet worse damage has been done by inserting a comma after the word teach or teaching. The Greeks did not use special marks for punctuation, but broke up their statements by means of little words such as de (yet, now), ara (consequently), oun (then), gar (for), plEn (moreover), etc. It is quite erroneous to say that Greek manuscripts were devoid of punctuation.
Paul is not saying that no woman may teach: nor that no wife may teach. There are many women teachers, both lay and religious.
One might compose and write a letter at the same time. One might even eat and write a letter at the same time. But it would be necessary to state this thus, "I eat, and at the same time write a letter."
Paul uses the word oude (nor yet) to shew that both actions(teach and domineer) govern the same object, the husband.
Here is how Wiclif & Purvey rendered the statement in 1380-1388, "but Y suffre not a womman to teche nether to have lordschip on the hosebonde, but to be in silence." This shews that as early as Wiclif it was understood that the woman here meant the wife. Young (1862) reads, "and a woman I do not suffer to teach, nor to rule a husband." Dewes (1882) reads, "let a wife in quietness learn in all subjection; but I permit not a wife to teach, nor to lord it over a husband, but I would have her to, be in quietness." Bowes (1870) shews no comma, "But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to assume authority over man." Nor does Moffatt shew a comma, "I allow no woman to teach or dictate to men." Goodspeed is very similar, "I do not allow woman to, teach or to domineer over men."
The wife is to learn in quietness in all submission or "subjection." Subjection to whom? The general inference perhaps is that she must be in subjection to men. But might not Paul simply mean subjection to God? The previous verse speaks of her professing Godly-reverence.
If a wife set about to become her husband's teacher, it might be very easy for her to go a step further and domineer over him, especially if he shewed that he was ignorant. Human beings are all too prone to spend much time exposing the weaknesses and the ignorance of their fellows.
Quite apart from Scripture, nature tells us that it is wrong for a woman to domineer over her husband. It goes against all instinct and against all law. It is quite wrong for a husband to domineer over a wife. But it is much more wrong for a wife to do the same to her husband.
Paul does not make these statements without supplying very cogent reasons. "For Adam was (a) first one moulded, thereafter Eve." It was not alone that Adam was first in time to be formed, but he was a first one, in rank, and Eve was formed from him. Paul states this as a reason why the wife should be submissive and not overbearing. Then he gives another reason, "and Adam was not seduced, yet the woman, being deluded (or, extra-seduced), in transgression has come to be."
We must note the last four words, which are one in the Greek (gegonen, perfect tense). What does this mean? Rev. T. S. Green, in Critical Notes on the N.T., says, "The Perfect gegonen has its due force, there being implied the abiding condition and mark on the transgressor and On her sex, hE teknogonia" (i.e. the bearing of children). Green seems to think Paul is alluding to Gen. 3:16 and the increased grief of women caused by child-bearing, due to her transgression. Heinfetter's absurdly literal yet often useful version makes out that it was Adam who had come to be in transgression, through Eve having been utterly deluded. The word gegonen could refer to either Adam or Eve. Gilbert Wakefield (1795) seems to be of the same opinion, "and Adam was not deceived, but became a transgressor through the error of the woman." Alford renders thus, "But the woman (not now Eve , but generic. . . .) having been seduced has become involved in transgression." But she shall be saved through her child-bearing, saved in the sense in which some will be saved as through fire (1. Cor. 3:15). That is to say, the curse or penalty of Gen. 3:16 finds its operation in her child-bearing, yet she shall be saved through this, despite curse or any hindrance due to the curse. Wordsworth says woman "hath become, and still is, in (the) transgression". Dewes suggests that the woman "has become entangled in transgression," while Weymouth reads "and so became involved in transgression." (Weymouth thinks verses 11 and 12 may refer to the married woman and the husband).
Schaff's commentary may provide the solution of the strange perfect tense, "has come to be," or, "has been coming to be" in transgression. Woman "has come to be in the state of a transgressor. The implied thought, of course, is that that greater liability to deception continues now; and this was probably strengthened by what the apostle actually saw of the influence of false teachers over the minds of women (2.Tim. 3:6-7). The history of the fall seemed to him acted over again. Liddon says that "Eve's facility in yielding to the deceiver warrants the apostolic rule which forbids a woman to teach," also, "The experience of all ages that woman is more easily led away than man, is warranted by what is said of the first representative of the sex."
Paul is accordingly thoroughly justified in suggesting that married women, at least, will be saved from the dangers of delusion through the natural and God-given function of bearing children. The frequently made suggestion that "the child-bearing" refers to the incarnation of Christ is too ridiculous and out of place to be seriously considered. Had Paul meant this he would not have been so obscure. Farrar says the idea is a "far-fetched artificiality."
Eve was intended by God to be Adam's counterpart. Men and women should be complementary, the one supplying what the other lacks. It would be an insult to God to aver that one sex was inferior to the other. Both sexes have their dangers and their pitfalls. Paul is often attacked for being unfair to the fair sex. The following remarks are from a very reasonable study of "Man and Woman" by Havelock Ellis (Contemporary Science Series, 1904) "While women usually form the larger body of followers in a religious movement, as well as the most reckless and devoted, they have initiated but few religious sects, and these have had little or no stability. Women have usually been content to accept whatever religion came to hand, and in their fervour they have lost the capacity for cold, clear-sighted organisation and attention to details. They can supply much of the living spiritual substance, if a man will supply the mould for it to flow into." Even in trivial matters "the average woman more easily accepts statements and opinions than a man, and in more serious matters she is prepared to die for a statement or an opinion, provided it is uttered with such authority and unction that her emotional nature is sufficiently thrilled." Ellis mentions "women's tendency to be vividly impressed by immediate facts, and to neglect those that are remote." Women are more touched by the fact than by the law. Woman's mind is more concrete, the man's more abstract. Boys, if asked to say what is wrong, will reply that it is wrong to steal, fight, hurt, get drunk, gamble, swear; while girls would say it is wrong to be untidy, fail to comb the hair, climb trees, or to weep. Fright is stated to be far more common in women than in men, and Ellis says "all nervous diseases are in women largely due to emotional causes." Women are said to crave more sympathy, while they cannot often stand alone when public opinion is against them.
Paul recognized the dominant hold which unscrupulous teachers, who love self-gratification more than they love God, who put on a devotional make-up, though their lives deny the power of holiness, possess over weak, foolish females, into whose houses they worm their way, leading them into captivity, women sin-heaped, lust-led, ever learning, yet never able to enter into a fuller knowledge of truth (2.Tim. 3:4-7). Little wonder that Paul faithfully warns believing women to act with caution, so that they may not be seduced by that which tickles the ears or the senses or the emotions.
In some ways the 14th chapter of 1st Corinthians is unique. It has special features of its own. Though related to the conclusion of chapter 13 it is distinct in that it deals chiefly with the gifts of prophecy and tongues or languages. Our special objective is to discover what Paul is trying to tell us in verses 34 to 38, regarding women.
General guidance may be obtained in the final two verses, 39 and 40, wherein Paul sums up the entire chapter. "So that, my brethren, be zealous to be prophesying, and to be talking languages do not be forbidding. Yet let all things be occurring respectably and in order." Briefly, we number Paul's chief points thus, (1) the superior value of prophecy; (2) the toleration of tongues or languages; (3) the great necessity of orderliness in everything.
Further guidance and illumination is obtained by noting that no less than twenty-three times does Paul utilize the word talk (lalO) in forty verses. . The word runs like a thread through the Whole chapter. Elsewhere Paul only uses this word about thirty-six times. Why so often here? And why does he not use the ordinary word for "speak" (legO)? Unfortunately almost every version lets us down here, through being inexact. LegO means the subject matter of speech, its purport, rational intelligent speech, the thought in the speaker's mind. LalO refers to sound and utterance, the noise made by animals, the chatter of children, loose, disconnected talk. LegO is never used in place of lalO. The Concordant Version Concordance states the meaning of legO as "lay down ideas, convey thought by articulate sounds, with the emphasis on the sense;" while lalO is defined as "make articulate sounds, with special reference to the utterance."
Only three times in our chapter does Paul use legO , in verses 16, 21 and 34, first where a brother giving thanks is saying something; next the Lord is saying something; finally the Law is saying something. In each case there is a definite pronouncement, while twice there is not even talk.
What a grand statement we find in the second verse of Hebrews, "At a last (stage) of these days, God TALKS to us in (a) Son." A whole gladsome sermon is contained in this statement. The Divine voice was heard, talking in human language. Rotherham has suggested that God was talking "sonly."
We note also in this chapter the use four times of the word for sound or voice (phOnE), in verses 7, 8, 10, and 11, while in three cases we find the word for hushing or keeping silence (sigaO), in verses 28, 30, and 34.
Another thread runs through the chapter—prophesying and talking in languages. When these two gifts are mentioned not only in the second verse, but throughout most of the chapter, and finally at the very end, the presumption must be that these two gifts were very much in Paul's mind all the time . This would make us ask ourselves whether verses 34 and 35 are in some way related to the two talk gifts. In other words, were women in the ecclesias not to prophesy or use languages? Always does Paul keep to his point until he is finished. Never is he erratic and never does he import what is extraneous. What is in his mind here is not his Gospel. That he leaves until the next chapter. Dr. Charles Hebert, in his version of six of Paul's Epistles, says that in verse 34 it may be only such women as were prophesying that are included. Prophecies and tongues were audible and outward manifestations of God or of God's truth; the former for the upbuilding or "improvement" (as some versions have it) of the saints; the latter for unbelievers as a significant sign to them.
Paul was not permitting these women in the ecclesias to be talking; it was a shame for woman to be talking "in ecclesia " (vv. 34, 35). Talking what? Chattering, or small talk? Certainly not; but the kind of talk Paul had been writing about throughout the whole chapter—prophesying and languages.
But of course, if these were only women in general, including unmarried women, it seems strange that Paul should advise them to enquire at home of their own husbands. Strange it is that almost every version here reads "husbands," yet reads "women" in v. 34.
Paul can only mean that the wives in the ecclesias were to keep silent. Any thinking person can see good reasons for this rule. Most expositors, of course, think in terms of a modern Church building with but one preacher, in which no other person talks, though all may sing. We must keep in mind that in Paul's day others could join in the service or discussion, and it would be a great benefit to-day if this could still be allowed, as it would destroy much of the spiritual stagnation which exists in Churches. If anyone says that Paul is here trampling upon the "rights" of women, we would retort, that modern Churches trample upon the God-given rights of the congregation, to play their proper part.
Beyond a doubt the Corinthians must have presented Paul with a very difficult problem. They seem to have been greatly in need of discipline and orderliness, not to mention correction for misdeeds. Emotional displays captivated many of them. Some explanation may be obtained from verse 12, If we may be permitted to read it without glossing it. Moffatt renders, "since your heart is set on possessing , spirits . . .." Stanley reads, "as ye are zealous of spirits (i.e. spiritual gifts)." Wordsworth paraphrases thus, "ye are zealous on behalf of'your own spirits, and covet power over other men's spirits." Darby translates here, by reading "since ye are desirous of spirits." In a footnote he explains that though in sum the sense is "spiritual gifts," this " deprives the phrase of its force here. As Gentiles, they were in danger of confounding demons' action with the Holy Ghost; and they did not adequately hold the unity of the Spirit, but looked for a spirit's power and action to distinguish them. Such is man. Hence the apostle was obliged to point out the difference between demons and the Holy Ghost." This would shew the eagerness the Corinthians possessed for outward demonstrations of God's power and presence, when they ought to have been walking purely in faith. In verse 1 Darby reads "spiritual (manifestations)," where the Greek has only "the spirituals" or "the spiritual (things)." The whole of chapter 12 is devoted to these spiritual grace-gifts, and in verse 7 Paul says these manifestations of the spirit were granted to each one with a view to benefit or profit. In verse 31 he appeals to them to be zealous for those grace-gifts which are greater, and he points out to them a way which is correspondingly more surpassing (ch. 13).
In these three chapters, 12, 13, and 14, Paul must have had one main theme in mind,—the various grace-gifts and something which completely outstripped them—faith, hopeful-expectation, and love. Yet he tells them to be pursuing, chasing after, (that) love. Then immediately, he tells them to be zealous for the spiritual (things).
It is not likely that many of the Corinthians could swallow the very strong meat found in ch. 15, or that they could climb the heights of ch. 13. They were too soulish and too carnal; too materialistic and too unruly. There are still many of the Corinthian type in God's Church.
Paul therefore recognized the condition of these former idolaters, bent upon the display of outward signs and wonders, and while he tells them in ch. 14:39 to be zealous to be prophesying, he does not tell them to be zealous for tongues, nor does he say he is in favour or against. All he says is that they are not to forbid or prevent the tongues. This was a safe rule for those who had found their first utterance of the spiritual life in tongues, so that their spirits might not be crushed or extinguished. At the same time Paul undoubtedly sets tongues lowest in the scale of the gifts, as belonging to the childhood of Christian life, not to maturity. With tongues there went the risk of disturbance (ch. 14:23). Moreover they tended to upset the equilibrium between the feelings and the understanding. For that reason prophesyings were of much greater benefit.
Paul had a profound respect for married women and the marriage state. He recognized that they acquired great dignity through bringing forth children and training them through childhood. But it was no dignified employment for married women to be involved in such childish immaturity as tongues. We should keep in mind that although in Acts 2 we find the apostles on the day of Pentecost suddenly talking in different languages, so that they could address the many foreign Jews then in Jerusalem, the talking in languages or tongues mentioned in 1. Cor. 12 and 14 seems to have been of an ecstatic character. In Acts 2 the apostles presented a sign to the foreign Jews, but it does not appear that the Corinthians used tongues in order to impress either Jews or outsiders. They might pray, or sing, or bless, in a tongue, but their understanding was unfruitful or in abeyance (1. Cor. 14:14). They were under the influence of a compelling power, and therefore their utterances were involuntary. They were not talking to human beings, or foreigners, but to God (14:2). They talked "secrets", which remained unintelligible to others until interpreted. The outstanding feature of tongues in the Corinthian epistle is their unintelligibleness; so different from the "own vernacular" or "dialect" of Acts 2:6, 8. Yet some, like Neander and Farrar, have claimed that even in Acts 2 the "tongues" were highly emotional utterances which were so thrilling and mighty that men of all languages who heard them were able to gather the import and be stirred to the very depths of their being. It is argued that if Peter addressed the Jews gathered in Jerusalem in the Greek tongue, there was no need to talk to them in their own foreign tongue, as most of the habitable world then understood Greek, and often Latin too. In other words, it is claimed that if the Greek and Latin languages were universally disseminated at that time, the gift of foreign languages was absolutely useless to the apostles.
But this would be to overlook the purpose of the tongues at Pentecost, which was not to enable the apostles to address the foreign Jews in their own languages, for there is no mention of teaching or discourse (for which the word legO would most probably have been used), but rather to shew forth the wonderful works of God; to invest the apostles with proper authority and their doctrine with the weight of inspiration; and to stir up in the multitude the spirit of enquiry. These foreigners listened to a band of plain Galileans" talking (lalO) in our very own (hEmeterais) languages the great things of God.�34; It was the miracle that amazed the multitude, the sudden acquisition of a strange new power. The suggestion that the apostles were overcome by wine could only have been made had they used excited utterance and gesticulation, in a more or less ecstatic state. It was the form of their talk, or perhaps better, their voice, that was the extraordinary thing, not the matter of their speech.
Elsewhere we never read in the Scriptures of other foreigners being addressed in tongues. In Corinthians, this tongue-talk was unintelligible to every one until interpreted (14:2). This could never be said of a foreign tongue. Would anyone want to speak to God in foreign tongues? Paul sets tongues in opposition, not to talking in vernacular, but to talking intelligibly (14:14-16). If he had foreign tongues in view, he would have made the exercise of them dependent on the presence of those by whom they were understood, not upon their bearing on the edification of the church.
We are now ready to discuss Paul's real attitude toward the tongues. Paul was both very sensitive and very artful. He wished to hurt no one's feelings, yet he had to teach a salutary lesson. Beholding the somewhat selfish competition among the Corinthians to exhibit their own special gifts,—which was as powerful a temptation to these zealous but immature believers, as the stately ceremonial of Hebrew worship became to Israel, to neglect the illustrious example of Abraham's faith and to forsake the true teaching of Moses,—he did not immediately forbid or dissuade talking in tongues. Yet Paul's entire argument could have had no other effect upon the Corinthian ecclesia than to teach them plainly that talking in tongues was making them seem like unto children, even like unto barbarians. His aim was to teach them that mere displays of divine might, and thrilling states of mind and soul, were greatly inferior to a deep knowledge of God-in-Christ, and to a life of service and usefulness to others. Were they to be allowed to become like modern Moslem dervishes, for whom nothing can be too wild in religious worship, and nothing too extravagant to be accepted as a miracle?
Bishop Wordsworth in his Greek New Testament (1861) makes a very fine summary of 1. Cor, ch. 14, as follows. The Corinthian Greeks, who gloried in their country and in their intellectual powers, and looked down upon other nations as barbarous, were really degrading themselves into barbarians, by talking, in ecclesia, strange languages or tongues which none could understand. The tongues were for a sign, not to believers, but to disbelievers. Thus, by requiring the use of foreign tongues now, in their own city, and indulging in their display, they degraded themselves from the rank of Christians to that of unbelievers. By their abuse of the superior gifts, they exposed themselves to the ridicule even of those who did not possess the gift, that is, the ordinary or plain or ungifted persons who might be present; and though the Corinthians were vain and proud as to their intellectual and spiritual powers, in effect, they shewed that they possessed less common sense than those who did not have these powers.
We can now see how Paul, without one word of blame or fault-finding, is gently chiding the Corinthians for indulging in tongues. The effect of this must have been to kill the movement entirely within a very short time. Tongues in the Corinthian Church and other Churches had no direct connection with the fate of the nation of Israel. There is no evidence that tongues continued to be talked right up until the time of Acts 28, or until the time when Paul, in writing, disclosed the secret of Eph. 3. We must keep in mind that so long as the Gentile Churches possessed the spiritual gift of direct prophecy, even though that was piecemeal, or by instalments only, it is not likely that any prophetical communication made by God's Spirit would go beyond what Paul later committed to writing in his epistles. But it is quite possible that the matter of Eph. 3 was divulged through some member of an Ecclesia, by means of his spiritual gift, years before Paul wrote to the Ephesians.
Perhaps we can now also better understand why Chapter 13 of 1. Corinthians is so strangely intercalated between chapters 12 and 14. Paul has suddenly interrupted his theme—spiritual gifts—to bring in. another theme, real spiritual Love. What he means is that chapters 12 and 14 cannot be understood without chapter 13, The three chapters form one whole. In a similar manner, but on a much smaller scale, the passage Romans 14:10-13 deals with one subject judgment. Sometimes it has been claimed that the word bEma in verse 10 does not mean a "judgment-seat," and that there will be no judging there at all. But this is wrong, as the entire four verses deal with judging. There is judging in verse 10, and judging in verse 13. If we have all to render an account of ourselves to God, we must pass judgment there upon the occasions on which we judged our brothers or scorned them.
Truth will flee from us unless we treat the Sacred Writings in a thoroughly logical fashion.
A few other points in 1. Cor. 14 must be considered. It has often been stated that verse 34 is wrong, where Paul instructs the "women" or wives to be subject, or in dependence, "as the law also is saying." It has been argued that the Hebrew Law says nothing about this matter. Or commentators refer to Gen. 3:16, "thy husband. . . . shall rule over thee." We must observe, however, that in 1. Cor. 14:21 Paul makes a quotation from Isaiah 28:11, and says this is "in the law." In John 10:34 the Lord quotes from Psalm 82:6 and says this is "written in your law." Dr. W. J. Irons connects "the law" with Numbers 30:3-7. Others consider that the whole Hebrew Scriptures are in a general sense "The Law." In Britain there is Statute Law, but there is also the very much older Common Law. Common Law is based upon ancient decisions and principles, and is the unwritten law. In a sense the whole Old Testament is the Common Law of the Hebrews, and it reveals, throughout, that from the beginning women were in a state of dependence upon men. This is also the law of Nature. It is natural for the wife to lean upon her husband, and leave decisions to him.
Most women shrink from making important decisions. In business, most women prefer to be free from heavy responsibilities. As being the weaker vessel and thus being in dependence upon the husband, women are to be accorded the more honour by the husband (1. Peter 3:7).
It has been claimed by quite a few commentaries that whereas Paul permits women in 1. Cor. 11 to pray and prophesy in a gathering, he appears to withdraw this limited permission in ch. 14. There is nothing, however, in ch. 11:1-15 to iudicate that Paul is referring to married women and men. Besides, we may be sure God never chose men to hand down to posterity His written revelation, who required to correct and adjust their words as they went along. Weymouth has a note on ch. 14:34 that ch. 11:1-16 "proves that Paul did not order all women to be silent at meetings of the church," as verse 34 only refers to married Women.
It has also been claimed that in some cases Paul is quoting what questioners or Judaizers have asked, notably verses 34 and 35 of ch. 14. It is averred that these Judaizers denied to women the right to talk in the ecclesias, because the Law forbade this. Let us test this claim. If verses 34 and 35 are advice given by objectors, what is the relevance and connection of verse 36? "Or from you (plural) did the Word of God come out?" If this is a statement by an objector, addressed to Paul, it reveals the height of rudeness. There is not the slightest hint that Paul has quoted the very words of an objector. An examination of verses 26 to 30 will shew that Paul says, "let all be occurring in view of edification . . . . let one be interpreting . . . . let him be hushing in ecclesia . . . . yet to himself let him be talking. . . . now let prophets two or three be talking . . . . and let the others be discriminating . . . .let the first be hushing. . .." Then verse 34 resumes, "let the women in the ecclesias be hushing. . . . but let them be subject. . . . let them be enquiring at home. . . .."Thereupon follows Paul's stern authority, "If anyone is presuming to be a prophet or spiritual, let him be recognizing what I am writing to you, that of the Lord it is a precept. Now if anyone goes on being ignorant, let him go on being ignorant!"
Surely the continuous use of the words "let him," "let them" proves that the entire passage gives Paul's own words.
Who would be so presumptuous as to affirm that 1. Tim. 2:11 or 12 was a statement by an objector? This passage is confirmation that it is Paul's voice which is heard in 1. Cor. 14:34-36. Verse 34 does not commence a new topic, because in verse 39 Paul recurs to prophesying and tongues. The whole chapter is closely and regularly integrated. It is not a collection of odd memoranda, but a treatise dealing with the somewhat demonstrative but temporary talk-gifts. The word TALK in verses 34 and 35 must be invested with the same atmosphere and contents as it bears all through the chapter. Paul was insisting on commonsense and orderliness "in church." All things ought to be done with decency and in order. The reference to the Law in verse 34 implies this in a general way, for law is always connected with order.
Husbands and wives ought to be much more confidential to each other at home than they might be to outsiders. It is right and seemly that they should discuss spiritual matters together, in private. They should learn as much as they can from each other, rather than from outsiders. Being one flesh, they ought as far as possible to be of one mind. The married woman who indulged in tongues and prophesyings would not be likely to put her family first.
Just one more small point. Were the wives to "keep silence" or "be hushing" (C.V.) in 1. Cor. 14:34? We meet with the same Greek word (sigaO) in verse 28, where the talker in tongues should "hush" or keep silent in ecclesia, if there is no interpreter present, yet he is to go on talking to himself and to God. How could there be strict silence when the man was engaged in talking? Is not the proper sense that he was to be comparatively silent, while thus talking to himself and to God? That is the usage of the word in Modern Greek, to "talk in a low voice" or to "move slowly and quietly." Other three terms are used in the New Testament which are rendered by silence, be still, hold peace, or the like. But when we find that the term used thrice in 1. Cor. 14 (sigaO, originally swigaO, and identical with Old English swig and German schweigen, all meaning comparative silence) is used in Romans 16:25, it makes one wonder in what sense the secret Paul there revealed and made known unto all the Gentiles for faith-obedience, was "kept secret" or "hushed" as regards (or, in) times eonian. Perhaps it might be more true to say that secret had been kept dark, or muffled up throughout these times.
One of the peculiar products of the present age is a feeling of malignance towards the Apostle Paul, especially among certain women, due very largely to what is supposed to be his attitude towards women. The result of this has come to be a strong feeling of prejudice against anything that Paul has written. His teachings are set against those of the Lord, with the further result that his writings are treated as unreliable.
Such an attitude is nothing if not Devil-inspired. It might suit the great mischief-maker better to prove the Scriptures to be very faulty, rather than get them obliterated altogether.
We are persuaded that the Apostle Paul must have been one of the finest characters in all history. The late Dr. A. T. Schofield of London said that sensitive people were the salt of the earth. The Apostle Paul was extraordinarily sensitive. He was interested in everybody of whom he heard, or met, and sympathized with all and prayed for all. If anyone was broadminded, it was Paul. Paul's heart was set on fire because he realized the infinite heights and depths of the love of God made known in the Good News, that old-time religion that "makes me love everybody."
"Christ or Paul?" is the title of a booklet published in the year 1946 by a clergyman in the South of England. The writer has nothing good to say of Paul, who is represented as being the chief cause of many of our present day evils. To him Paul did not seem to possess a single virtue. "Everything he does and says revolves round himself." Paul is "one of the most inconsistent of men." Paul, having never been in the company of Jesus, is "a mere interloper." The writer digs many a pit for his own feet through his gross ignorance of the Greek of the New Testament. This is notably so when he discusses "The Pauline Attitude to Women." Paul had a "violent prejudice against women," and "regarded them as definitely inferior to men, and refused them any place or part in the Christian ministry." Paul "pours scorn on all women in general" and has "low views of marriage." Quoting 1.Cor.11:3, "the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is man; and the head of Christ is God," he claims that Paul here teaches woman's inferiority to man. Strange to say, however he does not insist that Christ is "inferior" to God because God is His head.
Such reckless teaching, based largely upon reckless translation has undoubtedly caused some women to become antagonistic to Paul. The same writer claims that because there were "women priests in the temples of Egypt, Greece and Rome," there ought to-day to be priestesses in the English Church. What he fails to state is that in every non-Christian system of religion, throughout the ages, priests and priestesses have almost invariably been far from chaste. The same is true of the Roman Church. Never has there been, in any age of this world, a generation of which more than a very small fraction has been righteous or chaste.
If for the last nineteen centuries, God has been calling out from the Gentiles a people for Himself, it is very likely that He has been choosing out very much the same number of people each century, whatever may be the special characteristics of each age. The age of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, if they ever existed, and the age of the Crusades and the resulting age of Chivalry, were not likely to have been any more Christian than other ages.
Another writer, a lady, is sure that woman is not only not inferior to man, but decidedly superior, in some ways. Adam was the "chief offender," and because Eve was "thoroughly deceived," she is not nearly so culpable, even though she was just as disobedient as Adam was. Eve was not held accountable for the Fall, and in fact, we are told, God elevated her to an honourable position as being the enemy of Satan and the progenitor of the Messiah. We are even told that Eve Obtained "eternal life," and therefore there was no need for her to be kept from the Tree of Life! Also, because of her confession and faith, she found favour with God, and excellence was found in her, although she had fallen. Then, because we are told that God drove the man out of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24), it is implied that Eve remained there. From this method of reasoning, we might infer from verse 19, "unto dust shalt thou return," that Eve never returned to the soil or dust!
It has been claimed too, that Adam wanted to subjugate Eve to his rule, but God warned Eve against this arrangement. In spite of this, Eve in her affection for her husband, "turned away" to Adam and yielded to him. Therefore it is averred that the lordship of the husband over the wife is Satanic in origin. 1. Tim. 2:14, however, tells us very clearly that while "Adam was not seduced, yet the woman, being deluded (or over seduced), in transgression has come to be." Adam evidently decided to stand by his wife, out of his affection for her.
That Adam was the individual to bring sin into the world has been maintained by the claim that he fell, or was beginning to fall, ere Eve was created. Scripture, however, is destitute of any such teaching. In fact, every claim that woman is generally superior to men runs counter to the clear statements of Scripture. One such claim is based On the fact that in four cases out of six, the name of Prisca or Priscilla is mentioned before that of her husband Aquila (Acts 18:18,26; Rom. 16:3; II. Tim. 4:19), while in only two cases is Aquila mentioned first (Acts 18:2; I. Cor. 16:19). The implication is that Prisca was pre-eminent or of more importance than her husband. There may be, however, two very simple and human explanations of the order of the names. Prisca may have been very prominent in possessing "the gift of the gab," and using her tongue more fluently than Aquila. All of us have known people like that. There is also a linguistic reason for the order of the two names. The Greeks did not care for a word ending with a vowel when the next word began with a vowel. For the same reason, in the southern half of England, it is easier to say "the Indian Office" than to say "the India Office." In the four cases where Prisca is named first, her name is more easily sounded after a preceding vowel than her husband's name would be. Speakers generally find the smoothest and easiest way to make their statements, and do so unconsciously.
We must now examine the statement in Gen. 3:16 regarding the husband, that "he (emphatic) shall rule over thee." First, however, we must look at the previous part of the verse, "thy desire (shall be) to thy husband." The RS. Version reads, "yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." Dr. Young (Critical Comments) suggests, "thy desire is still towards thy husband for more sons, and in the midst of all this he is thy master." Rotherham reads, "Yet unto thy husband shall be thy longing, though he rule over thee." The Greek Version reads, "and toward thy husband thy turning-away (apostrophE), and he will-be-lord of thee." Charles Thomson's rendering of the Greek Version is as follows, "to thy husband shall be thy recourse, and he shall rule over thee."
The word "recourse" seems very attractive for the, Hebrew word (theshuqah), which is allied to the word which means to tread or tramp back and forwards; a street, as trodden (shuq); the leg (as the tramper or treader). The woman was to have recourse to her husband, to turn away or turn back to him, not to the seducer. Now this is quite in line with the statement that he in turn, would exercise some kind of rule.
Just what kind of rule is the important point here The Concordant Version renders thus: "Yet by your husband is your restoration, and he shall rule over you," but shews that literally this should be "And to (or unto) your husband. . . . and he shall rule in you."
If the wife is to have recourse to her husband (and every normal and truly human wife does so), it follows that the husband's "rule" (or advice, opinion) will exercise a certain sway within her.
Here it must be pointed out that the Hebrew word for "rule" (mashal) is sometimes followed by the preposition which means on or over (Ol), and sometimes by the preposition which means in the letter. Occasionally no preposition follows the verb, as in Gen. 1:16, where God makes two great luminaries, the greater for ruling the day, and the smaller for ruling the night. But in verse 18 these are "to rule in the day and in the night," as the Concordant Version rightly renders. Why then should we not render similarly in ch. 3:16, "he shall rule in you?"
If the sun rules or regulates in or during the day, what is the meaning of the husband ruling or regulating in the wife?
Jehovah Elohim had just passed sentence upon the woman, for being too easily seduced, too ready to yield to her soulish desires. By having in future recourse to her husband, first of all, her conduct would in any emergency be swayed or regulated by his opinion and guidance.
A meaning must be found which is germane to the passage, and congruent with the context.
It may help us to compare I. Cor. 11:3, where we learn that "of every man the head is the Christ, yet head of a wife the man (or husband), yet head of the Christ-God." But the head rules or regulates within or throughout the body, not necessarily over it. The head directs the members.
Probably the thought we are searching for is akin to the idea in Col. 3:15, "let the peace of God rule in your hearts," which in the Concordant Version is rendered "let the peace of Christ arbitrate in your hearts." Goodspeed renders "Let the ruling principle in your hearts be Christ's peace." Other versions read, act as umpire, preside, control, govern, be paramount.
Such a principle works from within outwards. No grounds are stated in Gen. 3:16 for a husband ruling over a wife by domination or force. But there were strong reasons for Eve in future seeking the guidance of Adam, who was not so easily deceived.
A few more examples of the Hebrew word mashal will help us to understand its usages. The Proverbs of Solomon are Rules or Regulations or Directions, for the purpose of inculcating wisdom and instruction and understanding (Prov. 1:1-4). These are not Laws, but merely Regulations. They are intended to benefit and direct the reader, not to place him in any form of subjection.
Prov. 16:32 states that he that rules his spirit is better than he that takes a city. The Hebrew says, "he that rules in his spirit," or "within his spirit." That is to say, he that controls his spirit.
Joseph's brethren were naturally very jealous and indignant because of his dream, so they said to him (Gen. 37:8), literally, "Reigning wilt thou reign over us, ruling wilt thou rule in us (or, among us) ?" This brings out clearly two different thoughts, which we might distinguish roughly as subjection and interference. They assuredly did not wish their whole lives to be directed by Joseph.
Psalm 59:13 is correctly rendered, "let them know that God ruleth in Jacob." The thought is very different from ruling over Jacob.
Micah 5:2 correctly reads "out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel." The Lord will not only reign over Israel, but He will rule and direct within Israel, and in their hearts. This verse is quoted in Matt. 2:6, but somewhat differently, "Who shall shepherd My people Israel." Now the Shepherd directs his flock, and controls it.
It is most unfortunate that scholars who have dealt with the place accorded to women in Scripture have failed to observe the niceties of the Hebrew language in Gen. 3:16. A case in point is "The Bible Status of Woman" by the Rev. Lee Anna Starr, D.D., LL.D., published in U.S.A. in 1926, covering over 400 pages. This is quite a learned book and the authoress is proficient in both Hebrew and Greek, but apparently falls short of the highest standard of concordance exactitude. Two chapters, or 27 pages, are devoted to the words, "he shall rule over thee," and large parts of the whole volume are taken up with the wrongs which have been throughout the centuries inflicted by men upon women. It is also lamentable that the late Dr. Katharine Bushnell did not observe the point we emphasize, in her book, "God's Word to Women."
Jehovah Elohim never told Eve that Adam would rule over her. Nor did He tell Cain that he would rule over Abel (Gen. 4:7).
Basing her arguments upon this false rendering at Gen. 3:16, and thereby strongly biased against the superior position supposed to have been granted to Adam, or to man,
Dr. Starr writes as follows :—
"Much has been made of the fact that the tempter approached Eve rather than Adam. Ellicott says: 'According to rabbinical writers, Eve was addressed because it was very doubtful whether man would have yielded.' Eve, the 'weaker vessel,' accomplishes the downfall of the stronger. The Serpent could not subvert Adam; Eve had apparently little difficulty in this regard, thereby proving herself stronger than the Arch-Tempter." Then she quotes Milton's "Paradise Lost," as attributing "Adam's lapse to conjugal love. Devotion to Eve impelled him to share her downfall. A poet's fancy! Adam's charge against his wife immediately after the transgression was by no means symptomatic of undue affection on his part: 'The woman Thou gavest to be with me, she gave to me, and I did eat.'"
We must protest against this form of argument, which seems to shew how the feminine mind can be led by feelings instead of by facts. We quote again, "What was there in the behavior of Adam on the occasion of the Fall that merited sex exaltation? Was he less culpable than Eve? We have the Pauline assertion that he was not deceived (1.Tim. 2:14). Eve, on the contrary, was beguiled. Is the high-handed transgressor to have precedence? Is the deliberate wrongdoer to be rewarded with supremacy? Also, the stress of temptation must be taken into consideration in meting out justice. Eve yielded to the assault of a supernatural being; Adam, on the other hand, succumbed to the solicitation of a 'weaker vessel.' Again, Adam's demeanor when confronted by Jehovah, borders on defiance. We are startled at the daring of his answer: 'The woman that Thou gavest to be with me, she gave to me, and I did eat.' He responds with a counter-charge, and poses as being himself aggrieved. God and woman are joint-authors of his downfall. His arrogance is rewarded with sex Supremacy. Before he sinned, he shared dominion with his wife; now he is empowered to subjugate her, and to rule henceforth as sole sovereign 'over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.'"
We sincerely hope it is not the learned authoress who pours defiance upon the accepted Divine statement found in Gen. 3:16.
It should be evident that both Adam and Eve were equally guilty, as both disobeyed God. It was through the disobedience of "the one human" that the many were constituted sinners (Rom. 5:19).
We cannot assert that one was more disobedient than the other. Eve hearkened to the voice of the Serpent, and Adam was sentenced "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife." In other words, Adam was sentenced and "punished" because he had obeyed the voice of Eve. The Hebrew word for "hear," " hearken," and "obey" is one and the same, shmo, occurring over one thousand times (rendered by obey or obedient 88 times; and by hear, hearken, be heard 962 times).
That Adam laid the blame for his aberration upon Eve is utterly false. He was not endeavouring to clear himself by blaming another, any more than Eve was seeking to lay the blame upon the Serpent. Both of them honestly pled guilty. They stated the plain and simple facts in a manner perfectly straightforward. My reasons for saying this are as follows. Adam had so far had only one experience of sin. Not yet could his whole character have become thoroughly debased and selfish. A child which first commits a fault may continue largely guileless and innocent for a considerable time. Adam did not become suddenly a totally wicked and depraved and selfish man. Although he disobeyed God, in hearkening to his wife, he was sufficiently conscious of his Oneness with his wife to stand by her honourably, and face the judgment each must receive by God. Various expositors have thus understood 1. Tim. 2:14, and the Concordant Version note thereon agrees. For Adam to hearken to his wife seems a lesser crime than for Eve to hearken to the Serpent.
In our next part we hope to examine several other interesting and important points found in the Rev. Dr. Lee Anna Starr's book, chiefly points from ch.11 of 1st Corinthians, including that very disputed matter of women having power or authority on their heads "because of the angels." As this authoress wisely writes, we must never find Paul inconsistent with his own teachings. Let us have a firm faith that all the masterpieces of divine revelation contain the solution to our problems, if only we will handle the records with sufficient caution, consistency and reverence.
It is very interesting to study a person's mentality, whether male or female. Can we judge in which direction someone will think, under certain circumstances? Perhaps the most interesting person will be he or she whose process of thought we can never foretell.
No one could fail to realize that "The Bible Status of Woman" by the Rev. Lee Anna Starr, D.D., LL.D., was written by a woman. And, indeed, she certainly champions the cause of women in no uncertain style. Like other ladies who have written on similar subjects, she maintains that Women are a finer and superior creation of God than are men.
Taking, however, a broad and comprehensive view of the general Bible teaching regarding all mankind, we consider that no case can be made out for either sex being better or worse than the other. Probably as many women as men were swept away from the earth by the Flood. The argument that in the Christian churches women outnumber men in attendance by two to one proves nothing. "Women preponderate numerically in all branches of the church. They are more active in philanthropic and eleemosynary enterprises. Even in heathen lands they are more responsive to the appeals of religion. While the Bible makes no such distinction, men in all ages have set the moral standard higher for women than for their own sex. This is tacit admission on their part of the moral superiority of women."
As the Bible makes no such distinction, it would be wiser not to make such assumptions as the above. Many fine women think the men are superior morally.
Arguments against the superiority of man are thus arrayed: (a) The order of man's creation militates against such claim. The order of creation was ascending, not descending. The lower orders first. Each successive creative act brought forth higher; (b) The substance from which his body was formed—"The dust of the earth"—was inorganic. Woman, on the other hand, was built of organic substance;(c) Man physically is of coarser mold. The beard and hirsute cuticle ally him, in appearance at least, more closely to certain members of the animal kingdom. Darwin is quoted as having incautiously admitted that "hairiness denotes a low stage of development." This is false. The hairs of the body are relics of primeval halos, lost at the Fall.
Let us not become unconsciously irreverent through overlooking that the Lord Jesus Christ was Man—not Woman.
Regarding man's attitude towards woman in the world's history, our authoress writes: "From the hour of his apostasy man felt it incumbent upon him to supervise woman; to see that she underwent in fullest measure the penalty imposed upon her. He rebuked every attempted evasion as rebellion against the Almighty. So intent has man been in this effort to supervise woman that he has at times overlooked or ignored the terms of his own sentence." Moreover, "Woman's strong religious instinct contributed to her subjugation."
What did primeval man understand by the primeval prophecy? Did he read the sentence passed upon Adam and Eve in a corrupt or defective modern English version? How would he understand that Adam was to rule in Eve? There was nothing to teach him that man was to rule over woman.
Admittedly there has been much subjugation of women by men, and of women by other women, from the earliest times, But not in fulfilment of the primeval prophecy.
Dr. Starr admits that in the patriarchal age no subordination of women was taught or implied in Scripture.. "The freedom and independence of the married woman in the patriarchal period puts to shame much of modern jurisprudence. Her property rights were assured to a degree scarcely equaled by our most advanced legislation." Of the Mosaic legislation she writes, it was "noteworthy in that it assigned to woman honorable position in the home, church and state," and cites Proverbs 31 as proof. The Mosaic Code was "singularly free from sex discrimination." "Under the reverberations of Sinai, Hebrew womanhood was elevated to a status approaching that of Eden." But the Captivities wrought change, and "close contact with the laws and customs of other nations effected revolution in the popular mind."
In various other lands women have occupied positions of high honour ever since the times of the Queen of Sheba, who came out of the ends of the land (of Sheba) to hear the wisdom of Solomon (Luke 11:31). Esther attained the same high rank (Est. 2:17), while in Ethiopia Candace was Queen (Acts 8:27). Europe has seen some famous Queens, since the time of Boudicca, Queen of the Ikeni in Britain in the first century A.D., whose army routed the Romans. These facts will help to correct false ideas about the age-long subjugation of woman by man. No One can measure the influence of the 64-year reign of Queen Victoria on the status of women, not only in Britain, but in many other parts of the world.
Dealing with the Greek word which is used of wives submitting or subjecting themselves to their husbands (hupotassO; which we understand in the sense of being in dependence, literally, under-set), Dr. Starr observes that this term is never used in the N.T. in relation to children and bondservants. This, however, is not the case. The word is so used at Luke 2:51; Titus 2:9; and 1. Peter 2:18.
While the authoress rightly admits that the subjugation of the husband would be to her as repellent as the subjugation of the wife, the trend of her mind is revealed in her treatment of 1. Tim. 5:14, where Paul expresses the wish that the younger widows marry, bear children, and manage the household. The last expression, "manage the household" is one word in Greek (oikodespotein), part of which gives us the word "despot." She says this verb is the strongest word in the Greek language for "rule." In Modern Greek the word means to control or have dominion. The mistress of the house is called despoina. DespotEs means master or ruler, and is also applied to a bishop (or overseer) as one who controls. This word does not mean "despot" in our modern English sense.
"Who are included in this household, over which the wife is to hold despotic sway?" asks our authoress. "Is the husband himself a member, or does he stand without the pale? There would be no difficulty in determining the matter if the Apostle had conferred despotic authority on the husband."
Objection is taken, also, to the Greek word "deacon" (diakonos) being rendered only once in Paul's epistles as "servant," in the case of Phoebe (Rom. 16:1). Elsewhere, out of 22 occurrences in all, it is rendered three times by "deacons," and by "minister" in all the other cases. Apparently it is considered that the term "servant" in the case of Phoebe is humiliating and derogatory. This, however is not really so. The root meaning of the word is service. Where Paul uses the word he never means a minister in the sense of a clergyman, but One who performs a ministration or service on behalf of the Gospel. The root of the Greek words is between-serve . The idea of dispensing, or a dispensation, is quite erroneous, and very misleading. The Concordant Concordance puts it very correctly as "work done for the welfare of others, that which is served out." To dispense means in English not only to administer, but to distribute, while to dispense with means to do without. We could not translate, at Matt. 20:28, "as the Son of Mankind came, not to be dispensed, but to dispense and to give His soul a ransom for many." He came to minister or to serve, not to be ministered to or serve.
At 2 Cor.3:7 the New World version renders, "Moreover, if the code which administers death and which was engraved in letters in stones came about in a glory. . . ." while in verse 9 it is found to be "the code administers condemnation." Rotherham reads, "But if the ministry of death—in letter-engraven in stones—was brought into existence in glory." That code served out death and condemnation, and the servicing was engraven or chiselled in stones.
Regarding 1.Cor.11:4-16, Dr. Starr makes some very pertinent and useful remarks, which we shall summarize. Greek custom decreed that men should uncover their heads in worship. At Corinth this was a very live issue. Women, however, must be veiled during prayer or prophecy. Greek and Roman custom required that women veil when in public, because, in the East, it is only public prostitutes that go without veils. The unveiled head was therefore a proclamation of harlotry. Paul never urged the wearing of veils on the ground that they symbolized subjection. Commentators say that man should uncover his head because he is God's representative, while woman should hide her face because she is man's. Dr. Starr says that here Paul's reasoning is not only ingenious, but logical. The point to be stressed is not the lordship of man, but the dishonour shewn Christ by an act of irreverence. To unveil the head was to recognize His Divinity; to omit this homage was to degrade Him to the level of a human being, and so the Greeks would interpret. Hellenists always bared their heads in the presence of their deities; this they deemed an act of worship. The Greeks did not deem it an act of irreverence on the part of women to pray or prophesy with their head covered. But doing so they did not dishonour Christ. Her uncovered head would signify harlotry. The punishment meted out to an adulteress was to have her head shorn.
No doubt some of the above is quite true. The authoress, however, seeks to make out that Paul invariably sought to fall in with local customs. Can it be that Paul's instructions were only local and temporary? Surely not. In verse 14 Paul appeals to age-long natural human instinct, in the matter of long hair.
The statement in verse 10, that "the woman ought to have power on her head" is explained as "power over her head," that is, that the woman should have the right of self-determination in the matter of veiling or unveiling.
There are, however, two reasons against this interpretation. The context does not permit of such an explanation, while verse 5 has already clearly disposed of the matter of woman's head being covered or uncovered. Woman is denied the power to decide which she will do in prayer or prophesying. Ten pages are devoted to proving that woman should possess this power over her own head-whether it should be covered or not. Dr. Starr waxes very sarcastic over the errors and efforts of translators. Then she deals with the remarkable and important words which terminate verse 10, "because of the angels," Here are her words, "Here is a clause that has nonplussed commentators. Through the centuries they have wrestled with it, and at times have brought discredit on themselves and on the angels. The question is not of vital moment here, so we pass it by without discussion."
"Not of vital moment"? Others think the clause is an integral part of the argument, and very vital. Angels ought ever to be welcomed even though they come in disguise. Will their presence here not help us to explain the passage?
To assert that in the centre of verses 8 to 12, dealing with the relative position in nature and "in the Lord" of man and woman, verse 10 means that woman ought to have the right to deal with her own head as she thinks fit, is completely out of order. Surrounded by a context which deals with man and woman, verse 10 must somehow be connected with man. Paul is not dealing with the independence of women, but with the dependence of women upon men and the dependence of men upon God. Man's headship is based on the account of the creation, which shews him as the direct reflexion of God, and woman as derived from him. In these human relationships it appears the angels have some interest. As Godet puts it, Man, by his sovereignty over the terrestrial creation, visibly reflects the sovereignty of the invisible Creator over all things. Man is, and has been all along, God's image and glory, glory shed upon God from the visible image He has formed, especially when man voluntarily renders Him homage for his high position, and casts at God's feet that crown which God has put on his head. In 2.Cor. 8:23 Paul's associates are called ,"Christ's glory," because they made the Lord's work in their ecclesias to shine before the eyes of those to whom they were delegated.
Man, therefore, ought not to veil this dignity in public. He must not veil "God's image and glory" (1. Cor.11:7) by veiling his head. By the same rule, woman ought to cover herself. Logically we might read in verse 7, "For a man, indeed, ought not to be covering his head, image and glory of God existing-all-along (huparchOn). Yet a woman (ought to have her head covered, for she) is man's glory." Paul omits to say here that woman is made in God's image, as she is not man's reflexion, but his counterpart. Woman partakes, through man, in the image of God. As Prof. G. G. Findlay says, "That which in our common nature is most admirable—faith, purity, beauty—man sees more excellently and proportionately shown in hers. It follows that he who degrades a woman sullies his manhood, and is the worst enemy of his race; the respect shown to women is the measure and safeguard of human dignity."
Noble Christian women ought to derive great satisfaction from these facts. In fact, the position God has given women must be as satisfactory to them as man's position is to him. It is often stated that the position of the Church now being called out by God will in the ages to come be vastly more glorious than that of Israel during the Thousand Years. Be that as it may, Israel will assuredly never think themselves in any position inferior to the Church, and probably will think they have been more highly blessed.
Verse 10 develops the statement found in the former part ,of verse 7. Verse 9 says "man was not created on account of the woman, because of the woman" or even more literally, "through (the fact of) woman." Verse 10 continues, "On account of this, the woman ought to be having (or wearing, as some put it) authority on the head," because her nature is derived and auxiliary. Just as a soldier under the colours of the King or Queen might be said to "have authority over his head."
Dunbar's Greek Lexicon says regarding the Greek word exousia (authority or jurisdiction), that it signifies a veil used as head-dress, not because it was emblematical of woman's subjection to a husband, but as being a badge denoting rank or dignity.
Unfortunately Dr. Starr's whole argument from 1.Cor. 11 has been spoiled through a small grammatical blunder. While she correctly renders verse 9, pointing out that the Greek preposition dia, when followed by a word in the accusative case, means "on account of," in verse 12 she has failed to observe that this word dia is now followed by a word in the genitive case, which makes the sense to be, "the man (is) through the woman." She would wrongly render, "So is the man also for (or, on account of) the woman," thus totally upsetting Paul's argument, and making the sexes equal.
Now what about the angels? Why are they brought into the discussion? And why in verse 10, which is concerned with women? All the commentaries will inform us that for centuries there has been much doubt regarding the meaning of the statement, "because of the angels." As Paul has given no further explanation, it may be that there is no mystery after all. The solution may be perfectly simple and straightforward. For various reasons I use the word "angels" here not "messengers," which is apt to be ambiguous, as some expositors have sought to make out that human agents or intermediaries are meant.
Are angels interested in human affairs? There is much evidence of this in the Scriptures.
Luke 12:8, Whoever confesses Christ in front of men, the Son of Man will confess in front of the angels of God.
Luke 15:10, There comes to be joy before the angels of God over one sinner changing his mind.
1.Cor. 4:9, We become a glazing-stock (Greek, theatre) to the world, and to angels, and to mankind.
Heb. 1:14, Are they not all (the angels) ministering spirits for service commissioned on account of those about to be inheriting salvation?
1.Tim. 5:21, Paul conjures Timothy before God and Christ Jesus and the chosen angels to guard the truth.
Eph. 3:10, The multifarious wisdom of God is even now being made known to the sovereignties and authorities in the heavenlies, and no doubt to angels also.
1.Peter 1:12, Angels appear to be very eager and curious to learn about matters of prophecy
Principal Edwards says angels are examples to women of holy creatures that keep their place of subordination. Alford thinks of angels as spectators, viewing the decency and order of the servants of God. Godet thinks "The woman ought to have on her head a power," that is, a sign of power. A note in the Concordant Version to 1.Cor.11:7 is appropriate, "It would seem that the messengers, or angels, realize these various headships (i.e. vv. 7-12) and the signs which should acknowledge them. Hence though men have lost all appreciation of their significance, it is still due to these unseen observer to comply with a custom which is in accord with both nature and revelation."
Finally, I quote from Stanley's Paraphrase of the passage in 1. Cor.11: "whilst man represents the nature and the majesty of God, woman represents the majesty of her husband. It is from the uplifted open countenance, the 'as sublime,' of man, that God is to receive glory; it is from the covered head and veiled face of woman created from his side, and for his companionship, that man is to receive glory. Therefore his authority is to be seen visibly resting on her head in the covering which shrouds her from the view of those angelic beings, who were the first. . . . to entice her from that subjection to which God had appointed her. It is not meant that in Christianity either man or wife is independent of each other. Each by the very fact of their origin is dependent, one on the other, and both on God."