Biblical Eldership

Kurt Dahlin February 1, 2005

 

Strauch, Alexander. Biblical Leadership. Littleton, CO: Lewis and Roth Publishers, 1995.
 
Alexander Strauch has written a book titled Biblical Eldership. He believes there is an urgent need to “restore biblical church leadership.” His book is a popular guide to constructing a church structure that is all male leadership.

One of the fifteen chapters in his 337 page book centers on the issue of Male Leadership. He states, “A biblical eldership, however, must be an all-male eldership” (51). Strauch believes that “God designed male-female distinctions” for specific gender roles that preclude leadership to women (51).  He believes that modern women are deceived and exploited by the feminist philosophers. He states that the restriction of women from leadership in the church “is just and good for the welfare of the family, the local church, and the whole human race” (52). The restriction against women is “not discrimination” because it is “a part of Creator’s wise plan” (52). Strauch is clear, “My specific purpose is to show that Scripture excludes women from the church eldership” (56). As far as Strauch is concerned it is good for the entire human race that no woman ever has any valid leadership in the church. The next section will list Strauch’s reasons for the female exclusion.

THE MODEL OF MALE LEADERSHIP WITHIN THE APOSTOLATE

First, Jesus was male. He was the “Son of God, not the daughter of God. His maleness was not an arbitrary matter” (52). Strauch wrote, “Jesus could not be a woman because in the male-female relationship the male partner alone is invested with the headship-authority role (Gen. 2:20, 22,23; 1 Cor 11:3; 1 Tim 2:12)”  (53).

Second, Jesus chose, appointed and trained 12 men called apostles “as an affirmation of the creation order” (53). He concludes, “Thus these men were God the Father’s choice. Jesus’ choice of male apostles was based on divine principles and guidance” (53). Strauch contends if Jesus is the “hailed liberator of women” shouldn’t he have “chosen six women and six men apostles?” If Jesus was the “supreme egalitarian that some would like Him to be” he could have picked at least one woman apostle. Strauch views the choice of 12 men as proof that “Jesus ratified the Old Testament creation order of male headship” (53).  Strauch states, “Jesus Christ established an all-male apostolic office as the enduring foundation of His Church (Eph. 2:20; 3:5; Rev. 21:14)….There is no clear example of a woman apostle in the entire New Testament” (54).
 
Third, the apostles follow the example of Jesus and only appoint men to church leadership positions. Peter “taught both role distinctions and male-female equality” (54). Strauch boldly states, “Those who try to justify women elders find little help from the examples and teachings of Jesus and the Twelve” (55).

SOME REBUTTAL
 
First, the fact that Jesus was male does not by itself prohibit women from leadership. The fact that Jesus was male is an observation not a doctrinal statement about women in ministry. Jesus was also the Son of God—no man can claim that divine title, therefore no man can lead unless he is Jesus? Why focus only on his gender? Why not focus on his age, social status, ethnicity or martial status. Therefore, only 30 year old Jewish carpenters who are also the Son of God can be leaders in the church. Jesus wore sandals. Therefore only men who wear sandals can lead the church. The fact that Jesus was a male has nothing to do with whether or not a woman could minister effectively by the Holy Spirit.

Second, let us examine Strauch’s theory that Jesus picked only men—therefore only men can lead. Why is it that Strauch only focuses on their gender? Jesus did not choose any Gentiles for apostles. Let us re-write the Male Leadership Model by focusing on ethnicity instead of gender. Let’s change the formula by substituting Gentiles for women and see how the logic flows. I will rework the quotes from Strauch using Gentiles instead of women as the focus of exclusion.

Not only were the 12 apostles men they were also Jews. In fact the 12 men appointed by Jesus were only Jews. Jesus’ choice of Jewish apostles was based on divine principles and guidance. Therefore, the Jesus Model necessitates that all leaders in the church be Jews. This would follow the divine order for leadership as modeled in the entire Old Testament. Jesus is hailed as the liberator of Gentiles; shouldn’t he have chosen six Jews and six Gentiles. Jesus failed the Gentiles at a crucial moment. If Jesus wanted there to be a global mission to the Gentile world—he should have chosen one Gentile apostle.  Jesus could have appointed at least one Gentile if he was so ethnically sensitive. Yet he didn’t. Therefore, it was God the Father’s divine choice to preclude any Gentiles from leadership positions in the new Christian movement. Jesus ratified the Old Testament creation order by excluding Gentiles from leadership. The all-Jew apostolic office was the enduring foundation for the church. There are no clear examples of non-Jewish apostles in the New Testament. The apostles only appointed Jews to leadership positions. Even when Judas, one of the original Twelve, was replaced only Jews were considered for the job of apostle.

The saddest part about this horrible caricature is that there were many at the time of Jesus in the legalistic Pharisaical party that would agree with the exclusion of Gentiles from significant leadership positions in the church. There was a huge debate over the inclusion of Gentiles. Fortunately the Pharisaical legalists lost the debate and Gentiles were given full access to all spiritual gifts and positions of leadership in the church. Yet, the inclusion of Gentiles found no precedent in the ministry of Jesus. The full inclusion of Gentiles into church leadership goes beyond the Old Testament, Jesus, the synagogue and Judaism. The inclusion of Gentiles was a break from the past and any pattern established by the Old Testament codes.

Please note that Jesus didn’t pick any Blacks, no Reformed White Europeans, no Mexicans, no Italians, no Greeks, no Russians, no Southern Baptists, no seminary professors, no German theologians, no Calvinists, no one by the name Strauch: only Jews. The majority of the apostles were also fishermen. Therefore, the leadership of all churches everywhere should only be male Jewish fisherman and one tax collector. Strauch said, “Jesus is Founder and Lord of the Church, and we must follow His example and teaching” (52).

Please realize that the selection of the 12 Jewish men does not limit, restrict or prohibit the Holy Spirit from choosing other ethnicities for full leadership in the church. If we relied only on the Old Testament Elder Model and the Jesus Model—no Gentile would ever be incorporated into eldership or pastoral leadership. However, it is clear in the teaching of Peter that the Holy Spirit is no longer the exclusive property of one race or ethnic tribe (Acts 2:17). What happened to bring about such a radical change in leadership structure? Pentecost happened. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost changed the old rules on leadership allocation. It is not a part of the “Creator’s wise plan” to restrict leadership to only Jews. It would be discrimination and an affront to Bible-believing Christians to prohibit ministry by non-Jews. As wonderful as the OT is as an exemplar—there was a remarkable change that occurred at Pentecost. The radical inclusion of Pentecost reached out beyond old ethnic boundaries to embrace and empower all genders, ages and social categories. It is no longer a part of the “Creator’s wise plan” to restrict, prohibit or exclude Gentiles or godly women, youth or social outcasts from meaningful ministry opportunities.

Jesus prophesied that there was much more truth to be revealed after he ascended to the Father. The Holy Spirit would come and guide into all truth. The Spirit will speak of things to come. 

John 16:12-13
 
12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. NKJV

Jesus was looking toward the future—not the past. The Spirit would come and reveal many things that the apostles could not bear at that time. Future revelation had to do with the full incorporation of the Gentiles, women, youth and slaves: male and female into Spirit appointed ministry.

Eph 2:18
18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. NKJV

There would come a big change that would supersede the Old Testament. No longer would the church be only Jews and no longer would ministry be allocated by gender. The old structure would become obsolete (Heb 8:13).

Acts 2:16-18
16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
 
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,

That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

Your young men shall see visions,

Your old men shall dream dreams.

18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants

I will pour out My Spirit in those days;

And they shall prophesy. NKJV

Gender differences, gender roles, ethnicity and youth do not exclude full access to spiritual gifts. On the other hand, full access to spiritual gifts for women does not negate male headship, gender distinctions or the created order of things. The new system does not overturn roles or gender distinctions. Men will always be expected to head the family. Women will always have the babies. Yet, God can choose to use godly women to build the church if he wants to.

Pentecost incorporated and empowered Gentiles, Samaritans, women, slaves and the young for Spirit gifted ministry (Stronstad, Luke 26,58).  The Holy Spirit outpouring on Pentecost marked a new Mt. Sinai.  Acts 2 is the new kingdom of God model for the Spirit structured church (Fee, Gospel 112).  Pentecost marks the initiation of the New Covenant not merely a repetition of the Old (2 Cor. 3:6).

In Acts 2:17,18 the various classes of people that were formerly excluded from the religious life of Israel, under the old pre-Pentecost order, were now being slated for incorporation into “the Father's Promise.”  The ministries once restricted to Jewish male elders before Pentecost now become expanded and available to all races, genders and classes of people.  Moses’ dream that all God’s people would be Spirit filled is realized at Pentecost. The Spirit of prophecy will no longer be restricted to old Jewish men, nor given in conformity to the old norms of Israelite society.  Instead, the Spirit will be bestowed universally both in extent and status.  The Spirit will be poured out upon those formerly considered outcast, unclean or outside the kingdom of God in the pre-Pentecost system.


     1) all flesh,

     2) sons, daughters,

     3) young men, old men,

     4) male slaves, and female slaves. 

In the new charismatic church structure, there would be no more barriers between races and cultures, genders, ages, or clean and unclean that typified Judaism.  No longer would a person's ethnic background, gender, age or social status be the reason for exclusion from the kingdom of God and access to spiritual gifts.  Pentecost inters caste distinctions.  Pentecost takes the excluded and makes them ministers of the New Covenant (1 Cor. 12:7; 2 Cor. 3:6; 1 Peter 2:9,10; 4:10; cf. Fee, Gospel 126).  Jesus ministered to Gentiles, women, children and slaves.  He afforded them dignity which was a revolutionary advancement over Judaism.  In Pentecost, the ministry of Jesus would be carried out not only to those formerly excluded classes of people, but also through them. 

THE REDEMPTION MODEL

Strauch countered his critics, “Other critics contend that Jesus’ work of redemption abolished all male-female distinctions. Yet if Jesus intended to abolish all male-female role differences through His work of redemption, the choosing of the Twelve was the crucial moment in history to act and appoint women to the apostolate” (53).

REBUTTAL:

Strauch forgot that the redemption by Jesus took place on the cross. If there were to be a new model of inclusion it would occur after his resurrection not before. The choosing of the Twelve male Jews was prior to redemption and prior to Pentecost. The choosing of the Twelve did not represent the new era of redemption and the Holy Spirit but the old era of the law, the Temple, the synagogue and Judaism. The choosing of the Twelve by Jesus was pre-redemption and pre-Pentecost.

If the scripture is our guide then we can see the immediate effects of the post-redemption model. The first people to learn of the resurrection were women. The first gospel messengers were women. The first to see the resurrected Jesus were women. The angels were excited to teach the women about the resurrection and commanded the women to go and tell his male disciples the incredible news. The post-redemption change is profound and instantaneous, “And Go quickly and tell his disciples.” The women were not forbidden, restricted, limited, banned, silenced or lectured about male headship, submission, the order of creation, all male eldership, gender distinctions and male-female roles. The angel of God said, “Go tell the men.”

Matt 28:5-8

5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you."

8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. NKJV

The women were filled with joy. They couldn’t believe that the angel from God had entrusted them with such an important mission. First they were shocked, “Are you talking to us—mere women?” Second, “You mean us—you want us to go and tell the men—mere women? You want us to go and speak?”

They went out quickly with great joy. When was the last time your theology brought joy to women? The women were on their way, obedient to the angelic vision to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to men. Could you imagine how free they felt? How happy the women were to be empowered to speak and trusted to speak such important news? They were bringing the word to his disciples. Word (NT:518 apaggello ap-ang-el'-lo) in Greek means to bring news; bring word; to announce, to proclaim, declare, report, to inform, to publish (Thayer's Greek Lexicon; Strong’s Concordance; Greek-English Lexicon; Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). The women were asked to bring the word of God to men.

However, here is the way it would look at the tomb before the resurrection in the all male pre-redemption order. The women went to the tomb and the angel ignored them. Jesus stopped them and forbade them saying, “Since women are not to teach or lead men. Wait here until a man comes, any man even the gardener. I don’t want to overturn my own divine order by allowing you to speak or teach.”  However, here is the new post-redemption model from the Bible.

Matt 28:9-10

And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."  NKJV

The cultural, religious and traditional prohibition against women was over. Jesus encouraged them and commissioned them to preach, speak and declare the core doctrine of Christianity to the male apostles. The mandate from Jesus to the women was to rejoice and go tell the men the good news. Why were the women so joyful? They were overjoyed because they had never been asked to do something so important before. They had been asked to prepare and cook food for family and guests, grind the grain and bake the bread. They had been asked to carry the water for the household, guests and their animals, gather the wood, spin the wool, weave clothes, do the shopping, birth and nurture kids. Jesus was asking the women to step out of their traditional gender roles as dictated by Judaism and culture. Jesus was asking them to go and instruct, inform, announce, declare and proclaim the most important doctrine of the Christian religion.

Can you imagine how happy these women were to be entrusted by their risen Christ to disclose the most significant event in the history of the world—to men? The women were overjoyed with the opportunity to show their faithfulness, devotion and reliability.  The joy of finally being seen as capable, trustworthy and morally responsible for so much more than culture and religion allowed. Then their euphoria turned to fear. Jesus said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell the brethren.” Why would the women become so quickly afraid? They feared men and the traditional restrictions on women. They were raised in fear, taught to fear men. They were controlled by fear. They feared talking to men. They feared what the men would say and do to them. They feared mocking and ridicule. They feared rejection. They feared being silenced, dismissed and belittled by the men. Yet, their fears were overcome by the mandate from Jesus. They had the authority of Jesus with them. The Lord and head of the church had commissioned them to go and disclose the glorious resurrection. The doctrine of the inferiority of women that excludes women is embedded in religion as a cultural value but it is not embedded in Christ. Jesus told them to rejoice, don’t be afraid and go tell the disciples the good news. The new post-resurrection freedom for women modeled by the incarnate word of God should take precedent over the old traditional system of inferiority, restriction and limitation.  The message of Jesus needs to be spoken to women today, “Rejoice. Don’t be afraid. Go and tell the brethren.”

The male reaction to the women was typical disdain and disregard. Jesus later rebuked the men for their hard hearts toward the women. The rebuke of Jesus continues today toward those men who silence godly women from proclaiming the gospel.

Mark 16:14

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. NKJV

Jesus could have appeared to anyone he desired. He walked with the two men to Emmaus. He appeared to the apostles at will. Yet, he first appeared to women as a statement that a new redemptive era had begun which radically incorporated women. The curse no longer applied to godly women.  Strauch said, “Jesus is Founder and Lord of the Church, and we must follow His example and teaching” (52). I agree. Let us disciple men and women and release them to speak, teach, and proclaim the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Let there be joy and rejoicing for women in the new era of redemption and the Holy Spirit. Let the era of fear be over. Let men give back the control of the Church to the Lord and head of the Church: Jesus Christ.

FEMALE APOSTLES

Alexander Strauch writes, “There is no clear example of a woman apostle in the entire New Testament” (54).

REBUTTAL:

Rom 16:7
 
7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.  NKJV
Junia was a female apostle. She was in prison as a missionary witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ along with the apostle Paul. Her ministry as an apostle is only repudiated by those men threatened by women in any leadership position in the church. This is only “no clear example” to those theologians already resolved and committed to restrict and prohibit women from church leadership. Instead of using the Bible as our authority, commentators strip this remarkable passage of any power to profit doctrinally, to instruct, reprove and correct. The predisposition to ignore prominent Christian women is not Bible-believing but Bible-blindness. It is not correct to defrock the honorable apostolic ministry of Junia for the sake of an anti-female bias. Junia is not prone to deception, morally inferior and incapable of defending truth. She is honored in the canon of scripture as an apostle. God chose Junia to be an apostle. Why not celebrate her gifts, courage, devotion and sacrifice as a disciple of Jesus Christ? Why not release the Junia’s in today’s church to reach the lost for Christ?

2 Tim 3:16

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, NKJV

FEMALE ELDERS

Alexander Strauch writes, “Those who try to justify women elders find little help from the examples and teachings of Jesus and the Twelve” (55).

REBUTTAL:

Again, Jesus used the old pre-Pentecost model in choosing the apostles. However, we would expect to see some change after Pentecost that included women. The women of Crete are an example of female elders. Titus was sent to ordain elders in Crete. The honorable women of Crete are called female elders. Strauch simply overlooked the biblical fact that there were female elders appointed by apostolic mandate.

Titus 1:5

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you — NKJV

Elders (NT:4245 presbuteros pres-boo'-ter-os) is the comparative or relative of presbus  for elderly or older. In this Pauline epistle Titus is given the order to appoint elders. Some of those elders are godly women. Could these godly women be trusted to teach and disciple other women the cardinal principles of the word of God—sure? However, could these mature female saints with advanced years and advanced doctrinal training teach a new male convert the same biblical truth? Some commentators would reject godly women elders on the basis of 1 Timothy 2:11-12. In order to do so they must ignore Titus 2:3. Not surprisingly, Strauch does not ever quote Titus 2:3 or discuss the female elders of Crete in his entire book. In fact he does not mention any biblical female in the General Index. He summarizes the meritorious women of Romans 16 and Philippians 4:2-3 in a small parenthetical note that they “did not violate male leadership in the home and church (59). He mentions Prisca and Mary in a brief footnote in the back of the book on page 303. Acts 18:25-26 is only cited once in parenthesis (60).

Titus 2:1-5

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things —  4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. NKJV

Older Men (NT:4246 presbutes pres-boo'-tace); aged, old man, an adult male advanced in years; from the same as presbyter or elder (NT:4245 presbuteros pres-boo'-ter-os); a term of rank or office, members of the great council or Sanhedrin. An elder was a person of responsibility and authority in matters of socio-religious concerns, both in Jewish and Christian societies. Among the Greeks, presbutes conveys the suggestion of gravity, significance and importance.

Older Women (NT:4247 presbutis pres-boo'-tis) is the feminine form of NT:4246 presbutes. It means the same thing for a woman that the male form means for a man: an older woman, an adult female advanced in years. Elder women/presbutis is used in the plural in Titus 2:3(Strong's Concordance; Thayer's Greek Lexicon; Greek-English Lexicon; Vine's Expository Dictionary).

These good women were female elders with specific responsibilities and authority in the church.  They were to teach biblical truth to strengthen the family and protect the word of God. It is a major oversight to ignore the vital role these elder women preformed in the church for the kingdom of God. These were godly women who learned in submission and quietness and were appointed with authority to teach biblical doctrine. I’m sure the female elders would use their authority properly at home especially if their husbands were unbelievers. Their role as teachers should not be minimized simply because they were instructing lowly second class women. All teaching positions prior to Pentecost were male positions. If a woman is assigned a teaching position in the church—she occupies a male position. It was not below Jesus to teach women. The end result of teaching women is that they might become teachers like Jesus. These female elders sit in the seat of Jesus as teachers of women.

It is interesting that Strauch forgets to mention these female elders in his quote of Titus 2:1-5 on page 57. On page 55 he writes that there are no examples of female elders in “teachings of Jesus and the Twelve” (55).

In the section on Headship and Submission he mysteriously omits Titus 2: 2-3 which clearly mentions the female elders. The way he deletes the two verses from his Bible reference makes it read as though the male elders are the teachers of doctrine to the younger women in Crete. The Bible mandates, “Elders who rule well are worthy of double honor:—this scriptural injunction should also apply to the female presbutis.

1 Tim 5:17

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.
NKJV

No one is opposed to male leadership. Yet all male leadership is only possible if certain scriptures are ignored or glossed over. Why is that the godly women in Crete are not honored for their service to Jesus?

APOSTLES AS FOUNDATION FOR THE CHURCH

Strauch writes, “the fact remains that Jesus Christ established and all-male apostolic office as the enduring foundation of His Church (Eph. 2:20; 3:5; Rev. 21:14)” (54).

REBUTTAL:

A closer look at the scriptures chosen by Strauch to prove his all-male point of view reveals a small oversight. The foundation of the Church was not just the all-male apostles but apostles and prophets. Let us review his first biblical reference from Ephesians 2:20.

Eph 2:19-22

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,  21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. NKJV

The apostles and prophets are the foundation of the early church. The reason this is important is because in Acts 2:17-18 women are twice called to receive the Spirit of prophecy. If prophets are also a vital part of the life and structure of the Church—then women must be included as a part of the prophetic foundation of the Church, as scripture dictates. There are many godly women whose words and actions form a large part of the New Testament record. The gift of prophecy was not restricted to only men. Therefore, according to scripture, the apostolic and prophetic foundation of the church is not all-male.

Eph 4:11-14

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
NKJV

The foundation of the church is the apostles and prophets. Prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are also instrumental in equipping Christians for ministry, edification and maturity. Strauch forgot that in his biblical paradigm for church structure women were also included as prophets, teachers, evangelists and pastors. These key ministry and leadership positions are not an all male domain. 

 

Eph 3:1-7

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles —  2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. NKJV
 
Rev 21:14

14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
NKJV
 
Women were scheduled for prophetic gifts in Acts 2:17. I cannot think of any reason why God would give a prophetic ministry to a woman unless he meant for her “to speak” authoritatively.  Prophecy is a speaking gift. The Greek word for prophecy means to publicly expound divine truth (Stouffer 13).  Does the prophetess of God proclaim the Word of God with authority, as the oracle of God, or is she merely a channel or mindless instrument such as Balaam's donkey?  Those interpreters of scripture who theorize that Paul forbids authoritative speaking, teaching and ruling to women must devalue the gift of prophecy.  For example, concerning women as prophets, George Knight III declares: 

The one prophesying is essentially a passive instrument through which God communicates, (this) does not necessarily imply or involve authority or headship over others (compare, if we may be permitted a hopefully inoffensive note of humor, Balaam's ass) [Num. 22:22 f.f.] (Role 46). 

When Knight states that prophecy does not necessarily imply a position of authority or leadership he refers only to women.  When a man of God speaks prophetically it is always authoritatively. Yet, when a woman of God speaks the same revelation of God she is merely a passive instrument likened to a mindless donkey. Why does Knight think it humorous to compare the godly use of the prophetic gift to Balaam’s ass? What does Knight’s association of God’s use of women to Balaam’s donkey have to do with objective Biblical scholarship? The Word of God states, “your sons and daughters shall prophesy” not “your sons and donkeys.”

True prophecy is inherently authoritative.  Prophetic authority is an absolute authority over the entire community of God's people, that is, unless the word of God need not be obeyed.  The kind of prophecy that sons will expound is the same kind that daughters will speak forth.  There is no difference made between male and female spiritual gifts. There is not a blue prophetic gift for men and a pink prophetic gift for women.  There is not the “real thing” for men and a mere “toy” for women.  The “same gift” that was given to the Pentecostal Jews was also given to Gentiles and to women, youth and slaves (Stronstad, Luke 58).  The changes that Pentecost made for Gentiles and slaves it also made for women (Gordon, “Women” 911). Why won’t these men allow a Pentecost for women?

THE DOMINION MANDATE

Strauch quotes David Gooding, “God made the woman out of the man and designed her role to be that of a partner, help and companion for the man, to complement the man in his God-given tasks” (63).

REBUTTAL:

As nice and cozy as this sounds it is not the complete picture. What specific tasks were given to the man by God? In other words, what are the exact God-given tasks that woman was designed to partner, help and complement the man? The man was given the particular and singular task of sweaty toil in the earth.

Gen 3:17-19
17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it':

"Cursed is the ground for your sake;

In toil you shall eat of it

All the days of your life.

18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,

And you shall eat the herb of the field.

19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread

Till you return to the ground,

For out of it you were taken;

For dust you are,

And to dust you shall return." NKJV

 Woman was not ever asked by God to assist, accompany, partner, complement or help man plow his sweaty dirty fields. However, if Strauch meant the God-given task of fulfilling the dominion mandate to rule the earth—scripture clearly records that the command was given to both of them equally.  

Gen 1:26-28

26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." NKJV

The dominion mandate was given to both Adam and Eve. The command to rule the earth was not a male gift only. The mandate to rule was never just his God-given task. It is a major oversight to read the Bible as if God’s command to rule the earth was only given to Adam. Why does Strauch write as though Eve had no real role to play in fulfilling the dominion mandate? It was their mandate not his. It is not Bible-believing to ignore Eve’s divine authorization to rule. The mandate to have dominion was not king and female servant but king and queen. If Eve were given the mandate to rule she was also endowed by her creator with the gifts, intellect and authority to rule.

Gen 1:29-31

29 And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food"; and it was so. NKJV

Gen 5:1-3

This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. NKJV

God’s original intention for women was to equally share the leadership responsibilities with men to rule over the earth. They were created to be co-regents. Therefore, the removal of the curse of the fall in Christ restores not only men to full partnership with God but also women. Christ became a curse for all of people not just men. Women are full heirs with Christ not partial heirs. Women receive a full promise of the Spirit not half a promise.

Gal 3:13-14
 
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. NKJV
Gal 3:26-29

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. NKJV

 Eph 3:4-6

4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, NKJV

Rom 8:16-17

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. NKJV

 

However, in Strauch’s world women are still cursed by the fall, redemption is not complete and Pentecost is at best a limited and restrictive event. It would be essential for full spiritual formation to allow women to reach their full redeemed potential. It would also be essential for the complete and proper functioning of the body of Christ—since women are a major part of that spiritual body. Women were created to share leadership beside men. They were not the footstool for men. The church cannot function in proper coordination if the half body is bound, restricted, and prohibited from moving as God intended. When new life poured into the dead body of Lazarus, Jesus commanded that the grave clothes be removed. It would be ridiculous to retain the bindings—not one shred from the grave should remain. Why do we insist on binding women in grave clothes?

We believe that humans were created in the very image or likeness of God.

Both male and female are equally good, of equal worth and neither sex is more or in greater likeness of God than the other. It is argued that since God is revealed in male terms that somehow men are better, superior, and more suited to represent God. However, it clear from the scripture that both are to represent God on earth in cooperation with his good purposes. The five responsibilities or mandates of Genesis 1:26-28 were given to both not to only the man. There was not a To Do list for men and a different To Do list for women. Partnerships often list names alphabetically. The fact that a partner is listed second or third doesn’t make that partner less, inferior or subordinate. Male and female were created by God as equal partners in the great enterprise of life.

The equality and harmony within the Trinity, which is the image of God, is to be reflected in the husband and wife relationship. The entire context of the Bible is family. Even the redeemer is to come through family (Genesis 3:15). Sexuality or gender distinctions are not a limiting or restrictive aspect of dominion. Sexuality and dominion are equal components necessary to fulfill the mandate to rule and be fruitful. Male sexuality does not restrict or prohibit leadership neither should female sexuality prohibit leadership. The scripture specifically lists them as male and female and includes fruitfulness in the equation to show that innate biological/sexual differences do not preclude but precede leadership. Leadership and dominion for both flows from biological diversity. The mandate for dominion follows the mandate for fruitful relationship.

 Gen 1:26-28

 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." NKJV

 

Of course, there are certain impossibilities that result from sexual differences. For instance, only women can have babies. Men will never be able to carry and birth a child for at least two reasons:

1.     Physically we are limited and incapable of having babies.

2.     Psychologically we are wimps.

However, the dominion mandate was given with full knowledge of those gender distinctions. Gender differences do not preclude, prohibit or restrict the royal mandate simply because gender differences are an integrated part of the divine mandate.

If female sexuality, as Strauch supposes, prevents, excludes and disqualifies women from leadership—why wouldn’t male sexuality exclude men from leadership? Why is it that only female sexuality limits women and male sexuality releases men? Instead, the Bible explicitly decrees that the mandate to rule was given to both: male and female.

What we discover is that male and female sexuality is not a disqualifying factor for leadership but a necessary part. I am glad that female is recorded in the Bible in Genesis 1:27. Could you imagine if the scripture said, 

Gen 1:27-28

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him male 28 Then God blessed him and God said to him, "Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Not Inspired Version)

However, this male first paradigm is the way most scholars read these verses. The mandate to rule is his God-given task. Strauch wrote, “the man uniquely reflects God’s image and glory in headship and the woman uniquely reflects the glory of the man by her submission...” (63). Then Strauch hurries over to Genesis chapter 2 and points out that the woman was taken out of the side of Adam.

Gen 2:21-22

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. NKJV

This descriptive narrative becomes eminently prescriptive theology for many.  Instead of observing what God did and how God did it—Genesis 2:21-22 becomes a rule and regulation governing the place and position of the woman in the church. As a conclusion Strauch wrote, “that the woman…was created to directly reflect the man’s God-created headship authority by submitting to and supporting his leadership;” (62).

Strauch quotes David Gooding as his authority,

The man was made first….He was, moreover, made direct and not out of the woman. As he stood alone, fresh from the hand of God, he was, says the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 11:7) the image and glory of God,…his official representative. The woman, on the other hand, says the Holy Spirit (11:7-9) is the glory of the man. He is referring to the fact that God made the woman out of the man and designed her role to be that of a partner, help and companion for the man to complement the man in his God-given tasks (63).

Since Eve was made from the rib bone of the man she is reduced to helper and companion to man in his God-given tasks. Strauch wrote, “she is the man’s vice-regent” (Strauch 62). Vice-regent means a deputy for the regent of a country. A regent is somebody who rules on behalf of a monarch. A deputy is somebody who has been authorized or appointed to act on behalf of somebody else with full authority; an assistant who is authorized to act in a superior’s place (Encarta 2003). Strauch and others believe that woman is created as an assistant to her male superior. Notice is she not co-regent with man but man’s little deputy. The conclusion from their observation of Genesis 2:21-22 is that all women are therefore subordinate and under the authority and supervision of men. The application of their interpretation: women should not teach, influence or lead men. All of this doctrine on the inferiority of women is based on the simple observation that the woman was made from the man’s bone. Apparently women are subject to the substance from which they were made.

Let us apply the same reasoning to the creation of man that is applied to women. Let us go back and review the creation of man in Genesis 2:7.

Gen 2:7

7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. NKJV
Man was made from dirt. What kind of grand theology can we draw from this observation? Man is subject to the substance from which he was made. Since man is made from dirt he is subject and subordinate to the soil. The man is the vice-regent of dirt. Dirt was created before man. Dirt is first and man is second. Therefore, dirt is leader, head and regent over man. Man is deputy and assistant to his superior: dirt. Gooding waxes eloquent about Adam, “As he stood alone, fresh from the hand of God…the image and glory of God, God’s viceroy in creation, invested with God’s own glory as his official representative” (62). Viceroy means a governor who represents a sovereign in a province, colony, or country (Encarta 2003). This description of Adam is poetic—it almost brings tears to my eyes.

Was man made from the hand of God? Yes, but from what substance—according to the story line? He was made from ordinary soil. Eve was made from living bone. If made from male bone means subordinate, submission, unsuitable, deputy, assistant and subjection—what does made from dirt mean? Why is it better or so superior to be made from dirt? Both Adam and Eve were made from the very hand of God: one from dirt the other from bone. Does the substance matter to such a great extent or does the hand of the creator matter more? Both were hand crafted by God. Both received the breath of life from God.

However, If we go back further and review Genesis 1:26-28 we discover that both the male and the female were given dominion over the earth. The divine mandate to rule is as much hers and it is his.  Both were blessed by God. Both were created by the hand of God.

1 Cor 3:21

 21 So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, NIV

There is absolutely no hint of inferiority or superiority in Genesis 1:26-28. The concepts of inferiority and superiority are demonic. Inferiority and superiority do not reflect the image of God. Male supremacy is as bad as white supremacy or other forms of ethnocentricity.

Phil 2:1-4

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. NKJV

Mark 10:42-45

42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."  NKJV

John 13:12-17

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?  13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.  15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.  NKJV

Woman as Man’s Little Helper

Gen 2:18-20

18 And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." 19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. NKJV

Helper (OT:5828 `ezer (ay'-zer) means aid, to help, to succor, comfort, relieve, one who helps (Strong's Concordance; Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon).

Helper/Ezer is not a subordinate status. Ezer is used 21 times in the Old Testament. 16 times ezer is used of God as our help. It is not used in relation to a servant, assistant or subordinate.

SOME EXAMPLES OF EZER
 
Ps 33:20

20 Our soul waits for the LORD;

He is our help and our shield. NKJV

 
Ps 70:5

5 But I am poor and needy;

Make haste to me, O God!

You are my help and my deliverer;

O LORD, do not delay. NKJV

 

Ps 115:9-11

9 O Israel, trust in the LORD;

He is their help and their shield.

10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD;

He is their help and their shield.

11 You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD;

He is their help and their shield. NKJV

 

Ps 121:2

2 My help comes from the LORD,

Who made heaven and earth. NKJV

 

Ps 124:8

8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,

Who made heaven and earth. NKJV

God has made his help known to Israel as shield, refuge, mercy, strength and deliverer. God as helper is a part of the image of God. Ezer is a revealed name of God disclosing one of his beneficent attributes. Eve would be ezer to Adam. God would make his help known to Adam by creating Eve.

Eve would be a Help Meet. Meet is generally translated as comparable to, counterpart or suitable for. However, the Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:18,20 (OT:5048 neged neh'-ghed) is translated; in the presence, before, next to, across from. Neged means in front of, in sight of, what is conspicuous. This Hebrew word is used 150 times in the OT and is never used for counterpart, mate or subordinate assistant. The Hebrew root word basically denotes "to place a matter high, conspicuous before a person" (Strong's Concordance; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament; Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon).

Eve would be in front of Adam, before him, conspicuous, face to face, next to him as God’s agent of help. There is no hint of subordination, subjection, vice-regent or submission in help meet. She would not be his little helper to assist him in his important God-given task. Adam is not the CEO of the world and Eve the pretty admin assistant.

The fact that a woman should be in submission to a good husband like Adam does not preclude her from teaching or leading. All the sons of Eve would learn from Eve and honor her as the one uniquely formed by God and in intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe.

 
STRAUCH ON GUNE, ANER AND HUPOTASSO

Strauch has a special section in chapter 3 on MALE LEADERSHIP dedicated to HEADSHIP AND SUBMISSION ROLES IN THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP. He then works hard to show that a wife’s role to submit to her husband means prima facie that she cannot teach or have any meaningful authority in the church. Yet, Christ is the head of man and every man should submit to Christ and also to those in leadership over them. However, the headship of Christ over men is a good and positive relationship. A man’s submission to Christ and other leaders does not forbid ministry but releases ministry. Headship and submission are all about the release of ministry and the proper channel to access and express spiritual gifts. Headship and submission are not a restriction or limitation except for women. Let us review Strauch’s rendition of submission.

Paul exhorted Christian wives to submit to their husbands. The bas is for his exhortation is given most compellingly in Ephesians 5:23: "For the husband is the head of the wife." If there is any question as to what is intended by the phrase, "the head of the wife," Paul adds the analogy of Christ's headship over the Church, "as Christ also is the head of the church." The word "head" (Greek, kephale) is used figura tively to mean, as is its constant use, "authority over" and "leader ship," not "source" or "origin," as biblical feminists assert.
 
Colossians 3:18 also states the principle found in Ephesians 5: "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." Com menting on the Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 passages, George Knight, III, biblical commentator and New Testament professor at Knox Theo logical Seminary, observes: "this particular exhortation to the wife to submit to her husband is the universal teaching of the New Testament. Every passage that deals with the relationship of the wife to her hus band tells her to 'submit to' him, using this same verb (hupotasso): Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1; Titus 2:4f."

According to Ephesians 5, the manner in which the wife is to sub mit to her husband is, "as to the Lord," and in Colossians 3, "as is fitting in the Lord." This means that the wife is to submit to her hus band as she would submit to the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Peter 3:6). Using the analogy of Christ and the Church, the wife is to submit to her husband "as the church is subject to Christ." Knight adds: "She should submit to her husband as she submits to the Lord. The com parative 'as to the Lord' conjures up what should and does character ize the godly submission a Christian renders to the Lord Jesus. This one qualification says it all." (57)

The Greek word for submission is hupotasso. The Biblical concept of submission/hupotasso is much broader than simply the husband and wife relationship. Hupotasso is used 40 times in the New Testament and in the following samples of scripture.

JESUS WAS SUBJECT TO HIS PARENTS

Luke 2:51

Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. NKJV

DEMONS WERE SUBJECT TO THE APOSTLES

Luke 10:17

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." NKJV

CHRISTIANS ARE SUBJECT TO LOCAL AUTHORITY

Rom 13:1

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. NKJV

Rom 13:5

 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. NKJV

Titus 3:1

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, NKJV
1 Peter 2:13-14
 
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. NKJV

THE SPIRITS OF THE PROPHETS ARE SUBJECT

1 Cor 14:32

32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. NKJV

ALL THINGS ARE SUBJECT TO JESUS

1 Cor 15:27-28

27 For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. NKJV
 
Eph 1:22-23

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. NKJV
 
Heb 2:8

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. NKJV
 
CHRISTIANS ARE TO SUBMIT TO THEIR LEADERS

1 Cor 16:15-16

15 I urge you, brethren — you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints —  16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. NKJV

 

1 Peter 5:5

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
"God resists the proud,

But gives grace to the humble." NKJV

CHRISTIANS ARE TO SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER

Eph 5:19-21

20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. NKJV

WIVES ARE TO SUBMIT TO THEIR HUSBANDS

Col 3:18

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. NKJV

1 Peter 3:1

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, NKJV

 

SLAVES ARE TO SUBMIT TO MASTERS
 
Titus 2:9-10

9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. NKJV

1 Peter 2:18-19

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. NKJV

 

CHRISTIANS ARE TO SUBMIT TO GOD

James 4:7

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. NKJV

THE CHURCH IS SUBJECT TO CHRIST

Eph 5:24

24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. NKJV

Submission/hupotasso is more than one thing and applies to all Christians not just wives. Submission is a normal biblical requirement for all irrespective of gender. No one should be unsubmitted or unruly or doctrinally deviant. If submission is interpreted to mean no ministry and no authority—than no one can work since we are all under authority. It is selective and myopic to view submission as a restrictive limitation for women and submission as an empowering authority and full access to spiritual gifts for men. Strauch believes that submission means one thing for women and a completely different thing for men.

CHRIST AS HEAD OF MAN

1 Cor 11:1‑3 (NIV)

1        Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

2        I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

3        Now 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.

Eph 5:23-24

23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. NKJV

Eph 4:15

15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ —  NKJV

Rev 19:7

7 Let us rejoice and be glad

and give him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come,

and his bride has made herself ready. NIV