Scriptures

The Blessedness Of Women

Introduction

By Funmi Glover

‘Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being’ Genesis 2:7.

‘The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Genesis 2:18.

‘So, the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man’. Genesis 2:21-23

We will come back to the Genesis story later but for now remember all the Old Testament woman who did great things for God and served Him wholeheartedly, women like Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Abigail, Ruth, Esther, and other noble women. This is who Peter is referring to in 1 Peter 3:5, ‘For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves’. Notice he calls them ‘holy women’, this was a huge complement to them, not sexism.

I understand that women were treated like trash during Bible times but Jesus came to change that attitude one and for all. The very first chapter of the New Testament foretells the status to be accorded women under the law of Christ, there, four women are spoken of in relation to the genealogy of Jesus.

Matthew 1:3 ‘Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar.’

Matthew 1:5 ‘Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth.’

Matthew 1:6 ‘David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.’

Matthew 1:16 ‘Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.’

The birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary was the turning point in human history for women. The Saviour openly defied the attitudes of His day in His frequent dealings with women. He conversed with the woman at Jacob’s well, a Samaritan at that! This shocked even the disciples, John 4:27

‘Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?’.

He refused to go with the flow of religious leaders of His day but allowed and accepted a sinful woman who anointed and kissed His holy feet, Luke 7:36-39

‘When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.’

Godly women were numbered among those who ministered to the Christ, Luke 8:3

‘Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.’

Some of them accompanying Him even to the foot of the cross, John 19:25

‘Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.’

When we think about men and women both are under the law of Christ and dependent upon each other. 1 Corinthians 11:11

‘Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.’

If people think that men are greater than women then this one verse would put an end to that thinking,

‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Galatians 3:28

The New Testament authorises woman a domain of authority within the home. Younger widows are advised to marry, bear children, and ‘rule the household’, 1 Timothy 5:14

‘So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes’.

This doesn’t indicate, of course, that woman’s authority in the home equals the man’s. He’s the head of the wife and she is to be willingly in subjection to him, Ephesians 5:22+23

‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.’

Yet, he should lovingly allow her the freedom to exercise authority in the management of domestic matters, for God has ordained it.

By divine design, man is to be the ‘head’ of woman, in society, in the church, and in the home, 1 Corinthians 11:3

‘But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.’

Ephesians 5:22-24 ‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything’.

This graduation of authority rests on two bases,

1. The original constitution of the sexes as created, and,

2. Woman’s role in the fall.

Note the following

1. Woman was made as a help for man, not the reverse.

Genesis 2:18 ‘The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’

Genesis 2:20 ‘So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.’

2. Paul wrote,

‘for the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man: for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.’ 1 Corinthians 11:8-9

3. And again,

‘For Adam was first formed, then Eve’. 1 Timothy 2:13.

As to the woman’s role in the fall, she believed Satan’s lie that she might become as God, and hence, was enticed,

Genesis 3:13 ‘Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’.

2 Corinthians 11:3

‘But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.’

or deceived, 1 Timothy 2:14

‘And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.’

Whereas Adam wasn’t deceived, 1 Timothy 2:14

‘And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner’,

but sinned due to his weakness for the woman, Genesis 3:12

‘The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’

Accordingly, woman’s subjection was increased after her fall, Genesis 3:16

‘To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’

These facts don’t suggest that women are inferior to man, but they do mean that she is subordinate in rank to man. It ought to be emphasised that as Christ’s subjection to the Father involved no deprivation of dignity, Philippians 2:5-11

‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mind set as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’,

so there is none deprivation of dignity in woman’s subjection to man.

New Testament women prophesied

Acts 2:18 ‘Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’

Acts 21:8-9 ‘Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.’

1 Corinthians 11:5 ‘But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.’

It’s assumed that prophesying was preaching, hence, women of the first century preached. The word prophesy is from two Greek roots, ‘pro’, meaning ‘forth’ and ‘phemi’ meaning ‘to speak’. It’s a very general term and may mean to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort, 1 Corinthians 14:3

‘But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.’

It can simply suggest the idea of giving thanks and praising God, 1 Chronicles 25:3

‘As for Jeduthun, from his sons: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah and Mattithiah, six in all, under the supervision of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied, using the harp in thanking and praising the LORD.’

The meaning of the word in a given situation must be determined by the context as well as other information in the Scriptures.

Paul limits the extent of a woman’s forth-speaking, teaching, etc. when he writes,

‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.’ 1 Timothy 2:12

Why does he say this? Let’s read on,

‘For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.’ 1 Timothy 2:13-14

Certainly, women may teach, Titus 2:3

‘Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.’

They may, in certain ways, even teach men. There is a reciprocal teaching in singing, Colossians 3:16

‘Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts,’

and privately, in conjunction with her husband, Priscilla was involved in teaching Apollos, Acts 18:26

‘When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.’

But a woman may not assume the position of teacher, with the man subordinated to the role of student, without violating a New Testament command.

If Paul or any other writer of the New Testament was sexist, then why would he give so many different women a great deal of praise?

Romans 16:1-15 ‘I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.’

Look at all the women there and read the wonderful praise Paul gives them, starting with Phoebe. With the Jews women weren’t highly regarded by the men although they thought they were useful. Men weren’t allowed to speak to them on the street. You needed a dowry to marry the woman. You could marry your cousin but this needed approval from the woman’s father. Rabbis said,

‘It’s better to burn the Word of God than to teach women the Word of God.’

The Gentiles treated their woman just about the position of a slave. The way Paul praises these women was very unusual. This is what Christianity did for women.

1. It elevated them.

Galatians 3:28 ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Christ has done all this.

2. The intermingling of all races.

Colossians 3:11 ‘Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all’.

Christ has done all this.

People were bilingual, Peter spoke Greek and Aramaic. The Romans were the organisers, the Jews were the religious and the Greeks were the scholars. And so here in Romans 16 we find all these women and all these races sending greetings to one another. Christianity is very powerful.

Acts 17:26 ‘From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.’

God doesn’t want us to destroy our own culture even though He brought us all together. Christianity can bring nations together but not by persecuting people or by forcing them to convert.

Look what he says about the two women in Philippi named Euodia and Syntyche, he says they worked with him on the gospel.

Philippians 4:2-3 ‘I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.’

Now remember when Paul is speaking about

‘the role of women in worship’

he’s speaking about the divine authority and order of things, he doesn’t appeal to culture, he appeals to creation.

1 Corinthians 11:7-12 ‘A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man, did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.’

In other words, if you go back a few verses to 1 Corinthians 11:2-3

‘I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.’

We read here the thrust of Paul’s point. Everything has a purpose for a reason. Women are just as equal as men but they have different roles within the church, this is simply because of what happened in the garden.

Look at what it says, God says to Eve,

‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labour you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’ Genesis 3:16

Look what he says to Adam,

‘Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’ Genesis 3:17-19.

Because of this one event, because of what Adam and Eve did, God punished them and we’re still paying the consequences for this today.

In worship

The New Testament makes it clear that the men are to lead the acts of worship in assemblies of mixed sexes. In 1 Timothy 2:8, Paul instructs that

‘therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing’ Now, woman may certainly pray, 1 Corinthians 11:5

‘But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head—it is the same as having her head shaved’

and it would hardly be denied that she could pray in every place, however, there is a sense in which only males may pray in every place. Obviously, it’s the leading of prayers in mixed groups that is confined to the man.

In the four major contexts where Paul discusses male-female relationships.

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 ‘I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man, did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.’

1 Corinthians 14:33-35 ‘For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.’

Ephesians 5:22-23 ‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.’

1 Timothy 2:8-15 ‘Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.’

The principle of subjection, as well as its application to specific situations, are grounded upon historical facts of Old Testament history, and not upon culture. I think it’s really sad that people only read a few verses in the Bible and call Paul sexist, if Paul was representing Jesus who sent him, then that would mean that Jesus was sexist then God is sexist.

The New Testament is filled with examples of godly women who, consistent with their assigned roles, served their Master with dignity and honour. Yes, women whose names will still be mentioned with admiration long after the many other women have gone and are forgotten!

God’s women make a vital contribution to the kingdom of Christ on earth. Whether they are continuing steadfastly in prayer, Acts 1:14

‘They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers’.

Doing good works and giving, Acts 9:36

‘In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor’.

Showing hospitality, Acts 12:12

‘When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.’

Acts 16:14 ‘One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.’

1 Timothy 5:10 ‘Well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.’

Teaching the word in harmony with divine authority, Acts 18:26 ‘When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.’

Titus 2:3-4 ‘Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children.’

Being good wives, Proverbs 31:10-31

‘A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand, she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.’

Rearing godly children, 2 Timothy 1:5

‘I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.’

2 Timothy 3:14-15 ‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’

Or accomplishing various other commendable tasks, let us

‘rise up and call them blessed.’

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

John 16:33

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