Don’t just take our word for it . . . take His! We would encourage you to spend time examining the following Scriptures that shaped this sermon: Gen 1:26-28, 2:18-25, 1 Tim 2:8-15.
From Genesis 1 and 2, we learn that men and women together, in partnership, are called by God to bear his image and carry out his purposes in the world. They are equal but have different, complementary strengths and roles.
Two interpretations of 1 Timothy 2:12 – “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”
- This is a universal teaching for the church in every place and every time. It restricts women from serving in positions of leadership which exercise authority through teaching and preaching (typically a pastor/sr. pastor).
- Strengths – straightforward reading of the text, even if unpopular. Emphasizes the complementarity of men and women from Genesis 2.
- Weaknesses – hard to be consistent in application. Some churches are overly restrictive, going beyond the Bible’s teaching. Others are minimally restrictive – only restricting women from serving as a senior pastor or a bishop.
- Further reading on this interpretation: Kathy Keller, Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles; Robert Yarbrough, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, Pillar New Testament Commentary
- This is a localized teaching for the church in Ephesus. It does not apply to all churches in every place. Therefore women can serve in positions of leadership, including as senior pastors who preach and teach. This interpretation is reached by examining the cultural situation in Ephesus.
- Strengths – emphasizes the equality of men and women from Genesis 1. Takes cultural background research seriously.
- Weaknesses – hard to reconstruct cultural situation. Conclusions can often be speculative. Sometimes this interpretation applies the background of the text, rather than the actual words. Background study is not normally meant to overturn the plain reading of the text, but to provide nuance and depth.
- Further reading on this interpretation: Michael Bird, Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Haircuts; Philip Towner, The Letters of Timothy and Titus, The New International Commentary on the New Testament
Side note on 1 Tim 2:15 – “she will be saved through childbearing…”
- Paul is NOT saying that a woman receives eternal salvation by having a baby! We know this from numerous other passages where Paul clearly teaches that salvation is by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ.
Paul may be referring back to Genesis 3 and the consequences of the fall for Eve/women which was pain in childbirth. He may also be responding to false teaching from the ancient sexual revolution which devalued marriage and motherhood.
- Further reading: see Yarbrough and Towner commentaries referenced above
Application 1 – we need to allow Scripture to critique and correct our culturally generated perspectives. Whether we come from a more traditional perspective or we have been influenced by the feminist movement, the Bible offers a more beautiful and profound story about men and women as an expression of God’s creative glory.
Application 2 – God’s mission requires that men and women served together in partnership to advance the kingdom. Even if there is a restriction on women from serving in particular leadership roles (and there may not be depending on interpretation), the contributions, gifts, and leadership of women is essential for the mission.
- Explain equality and complementarity between men and women from Genesis 1&2 in your own words.
- What is your background with women serving as pastors in the church? Has your mind changed over time? Where do you base your beliefs?
- What does it look like to treat other churches with a different interpretation than yours with charity and humility?
- Has your gender kept you from offering your gifts and leadership in the local church?
Do you have a question about today’s sermon? Email Randy Forrester (RForrester@StAndrews.Church).
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