How Do You Solved a Problem like Maria

April 14, 2019 | Speaker: Pastor Jurem Ramos

1Timothy 2:11-12

  For many years The Expositor’s Academy (or TEA), a ministry connected with the The Master’s Seminary where John MacArthur is president, has been offering an Expository Preaching program in several countries to help men to become better equipped to accurately interpret Scripture and clearly proclaim God’s Word. The work of TEA is complemented by seminars conducted by Dr. Steve Lawson, President and founder of One Passion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors. One of the things that is unique about these ministries is that they train only the men in their  preaching programs.   And the question that many churches ask is why female pastors are not allowed to attend the TEA’s Expository preaching program and Dr. Lawson’s preaching seminars.   To add to that scenario, a few years ago, in a Women’s conference in Manila conducted by Martha Peace, a biblical counselor who conducts seminars on issues related to Christian women and also to counseling concerns, a question was raised by one of the attendees to find out what Martha’s view is regarding female pastors. Martha’s answer was quite blunt and from what I heard, her first statement was, “Women pastors are committing sin.” I am sure if there were female pastors or feminist groups in that conference, they would be disappointed or even shocked to hear those words from a woman.   What does the Bible say about this issue regarding the role of women in the church? Can they serve as pastors or elders in the church, preaching God’s word regularly in an authoritative manner to a congregation composed of adult men and women? This is one of the most controversial questions that Christians ask today and we want to find out what the Bible says regarding this issue.   Some of you may have recognized my title, “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” It’s from the 1964 classic musical drama film, The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews played the role of Maria, one of the main characters in the movie. Maria is a free-spirited young woman studying to become a nun. Her love of music, youthful enthusiasm and lack of discipline cause some concern among the nuns. And in one of the scenes, the nuns discuss how to deal with her singing the song, “How do you solve a problem like Maria.”   I am using the name “Maria” to represent all of the Christian women in our worship gatherings who have caused disturbance in church worship because of their adornment and misunderstanding of their roles in the church. I am not singling out any “Maria” in particular. I could have used the name Anna, Barbara, Deborah, Josefina, Julia, Marissa, but I chose Maria because of the song.   How do you solve the problem of those types of Marias in church? I already answered that question partly when we looked at the adornment of women in the church, 1Ti 2:9-10:   9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.   From this passage we learned three things about how women are to adorn themselves, particularly when they are in a worship service:  
  • Women should dress modestly and sensibly.
  • Women should not dress to draw attention to worldly wealth.
  • Women should adorn themselves with good works.
  Today, we are going to look at another aspect of the answer to the problem of women who cause disruption in the church particularly in connection with their roles. Could women be pastors or elders in the church?   Now, I will not pretend to have arrived at conclusions because of an independent study of this issue. I will be standing on the shoulders of very able teachers of God’s word who have spent so much time researching relevant Scriptures in the original languages, and history and culture and arrived at the view called complementarianism, which means that “The Bible teaches that God has created men and women equal in personhood and value, but have different yet complementary roles and functions with male headship in the home and in the church as part of God’s created design” (The definition in Piper and Grudem’s Recovering Biblical Manhood).   This is the opposite of the term called egalitarianism. Egalitarianism (derived from the French word égal, meaning equal) is also known as “biblical equality” or “biblical feminism.” It holds that the Bible teaches that all men and women are equal in fundamental worth and moral status. On the basis of the teachings that all humankind were created in the image of God (Gen 1:27) and that in Christ there is neither male nor female (Gal 3:28), egalitarians deny that there is any unique male leadership role in marriage or in the church.   Before we get into our text to find out what Paul has to say about this issue, let us again review what was happening in Ephesus when Paul wrote this letter.  

The Occasion

The church at Ephesus was having a problem with false teaching.
  • It is likely that the false teachers have arisen from within the church and some of them may even be elders (1Ti 1:3-4; cf. Acts 20:17, 29-35).
  • These false teachers also seemed to prey on women (2Ti 3:6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions. Perhaps it was because of these false teachers that many young widows in Ephesus are described by Paul in this way in 1Ti 5:13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.). This may explain why Paul addressed the adornment of the women. They were immodest and costly and causing distraction in their worship gatherings.
  • In light of the prohibition in 1Ti 2:12, I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man,” it is also possible that some of the false teachers were women.
  • These false teachers were misusing the Law and emphasizing “myths and endless genealogies” that caused them to think that salvation was only for a particular group of people, those who are connected to Abraham. This caused controversies and quarrels and divisions among the members of the church. This is the reason why Paul had to address the men in the church because during their prayer meetings they were angry and were quarreling one another.
  • The false teachers also promoted asceticism which included forbidding marriage and abstaining from foods (1Ti 4:3).
  • They seem also to have devalued family roles which could be seen in Paul's desire for young widows to remarry and have children (1Ti 5:14, So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. Now this may have resulted in one of the problems Paul had to deal with which was the problem of the roles of women in the church.
  Paul already dealt with the adornment of women as we learned last week. Now we are going to look at the role of women in the church. And Paul deals with this issue in 1Ti 2:11-15.   Let us look at vv. 11 and 12 first.   11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.   Word Biblical Commentary: This is the most discussed passage in the Pastoral Epistles today. Interpretations range from seeing Paul as a liberator and champion of women's rights to dismissing Paul as wrong and irrelevant in today's culture. George Bernard Shaw [a famous 20th century playwright and political activist], called Paul the "eternal enemy of women.”   What is Paul saying here? We find here three instructions that I have borrowed from Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary.  
  1. Women should listen submissively to the biblical instruction of overseers. (2:11)
  2. Women should not TEACH as overseers in the church. v. 12a
  3. Women should not LEAD as overseers in the church, v. 12b

1.         Women should listen submissively to the biblical instruction of overseers. (2:11)

  In verse 11, Paul says, “Let a woman learn” but his emphasis is not on learning as such but on learning in a certain way — “quietly and with all submission.”  
  • “Quietly” does not mean absolute silence here but that they are to receive instruction with a quiet demeanor.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
  • It is parallel to the “quiet spirit” mentioned in 1 Peter 3:4, “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” This does not see women literally being silent at all times. Perhaps “quiet spirit” refers to an attitude that is gentle and respectful and not agitated, argumentative, ready to debate in order to overpower the husband by her good arguments.
  • learn quietly” is qualified by the phrase “with all submissiveness.” Just as Paul elsewhere calls wives to submit to their husbands at home, he here extends the principle to the church’s male leaders in the church. 1Ti 3:14-15 … I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God.

2.   Women should not TEACH as overseers in the church. v. 12a

 I do not permit a woman to teach …     Some feel that Paul's use of "I do not permit" suggests that this is not a binding command but an opinion that may or may not be followed. But the word "permit" in the NT can be a strong term. For example, it is used of the permission that Pilate gave to Joseph of Arimathea regarding the body of  Jesus (John 19:38). The word is also used in Paul's request of permission from the tribune (Acts 21:39, 40), from Agrippa (Acts 26:1), from a centurion (Acts 27:3), and from the Roman authorities (Acts 28:16). All these show that permission implied a binding command.   There are also others who raise the issue of tense. There are those who argue that because the present tense is used, the command of Paul should be translated "I am not presently allowing a woman to teach." But Grammarians tell us that the Greek present tense may be used to express a timeless fact (gnomic). For example: “God loves a cheerful giver.”  This does not mean that God is presently and only today loving a cheerful giver. The present tense does not indicate when God’s action will end. "I do not permit," therefore, represents the apostle's binding command for all churches.   Paul specifies that he does not permit "a woman," to teach." In this context, the word used is “woman” and not “wife.” But if the Greek word refers to wives and not to women in general, then that meaning should be applied in this section. It means that only the wives are being addressed by Paul in 2:9-10, when he refers to their dressing modestly and sensibly and not drawing attention to costly attire and doing good works. It also means that the command of Paul to the men is limited to husbands.   Is Paul prohibiting women to do any kind of teaching?   When we compare Scripture with Scripture, we realize this cannot be what Paul means. Consider these passages where we see women teaching in different settings:  
  • In the book of Proverbs, mothers taught their children (Pr 6:20, My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. In Pr 31:1-9 we read of the words that the mother of King Lemuel spoke to him and taught him.
  • When Timothy was younger, he received Biblical instruction from his mother and grandmother (2Ti 1:5; 3:14).
  • In Titus 2:3-4 Paul instructed that older women are to teach what is good and so train younger women.
  • In some instances, husband and wife helped explain the ways of God more accurately to zealous but misinformed preachers. We see an example of this in Acts 18:26 and the reason perhaps that Priscilla is mentioned before Aquila is because she is more gifted than her husband in the area of teaching.
  So all of the above examples prove that Paul is not issuing a blanket prohibition of women teaching. Let me just add one more note.   The teaching here does not imply any negative connotations, meaning, there is nothing inherently negative about the content of the teaching or the manner of teaching. Paul is not saying that he is not allowing to women to teach because the content of their message is heretical or that the manner they teach is offensive because it was domineering. If the teaching that Paul is forbidding contains these negative elements then this must only be temporary, meaning, if these  negative elements are removed then they may teach men with authority, as long as they are not heretical and as long as they are taught gently.   So, if 1Ti 2:12 is not saying that Paul is issuing an absolute prohibition for women to teach nor is Paul saying that he is only prohibiting teaching that is done in a domineering manner or that contains heresy, then what is Paul saying?   When we study the Pastoral Epistles (1Ti, 2Ti and Titus) and the context of 1Timothy and we look at the task of “teaching” we discover that it refers to the positive teaching of the gospel or the expounding of Scripture often by a person in authority in the public assembly of the church which would include men in the audience.  
  • In chapter 3 Paul talked about the qualifications of overseers or elders. Teaching and leading were the main responsibilities of the elders/overseers. (The overseer must be able to teach (3:2), and he must manage or care for the church (3:5).
  • In 1 Timothy 5:17, we read that double honor is to be given who “rule well … especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
  Therefore, when Paul said that he does not permit a woman to teach, what he was saying is this: Women should not teach as elders (or pastors or overseers) in the church.   This is the reason for Paul’s qualifier at the end of the first clause in v. 12, I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man. The phrase “over a man” qualifies both the teaching and the exercising authority. Paul is saying women are not to occupy positions that include permanent authoritative teaching or ruling functions that places a woman over a man. These functions are reserved for men.    

3.   Women should not LEAD as overseers in the church, v. 12b

  12… or to exercise authority over a man;   Teaching and leading as Elders is not the role God intended for women in the church.   “to exercise authority over” (only here in the NT) points to being in charge of an entire congregation by holding the office of overseer (3:4–5; 5:17).   As I said a while ago, the phrase “over a man” qualifies both the teaching and the exercising authority. Women are not to occupy positions that include authoritative teaching or ruling functions that place a woman over a man.   "to exercise authority," does not mean "to domineer" in a negative sense, or else it is only prohibiting a certain type of authoritative teaching, one that is administered in a negative, domineering, coercive way, thus leaving the door open for women to exercise teaching authority in a proper way over men.   Finally, the clause, “rather, she is to remain quiet.” Again, this is not saying that once a woman steps into the gathering of the church, she should go mute. We know that because at other parts of the New Testament we see women praying or prophesying when Christians gather (1 Cor 11:5). “This text is simply saying that a woman should listen attentively with a teachable spirit to the God-ordained leaders in the church when they are teaching the Word.” (CCEC)   From Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary:   Does that mean, then, that a woman can never be in any type of leadership position in the church? [This is not what] Paul was saying at all. Based on the rest of the New Testament, women should lead in various positions of the church under the authority of elder leadership. In other words, when they submit to elders, women are free to lead in a variety of different positions.  When you look throughout the New Testament, you see women teaching, helping, serving, equipping, and spreading the gospel.   So, here are Paul’s instructions again to women in the church who are confused regarding their roles in relation with men:
  • Women should listen submissively to the biblical instruction of overseers.
  • Women should not teach as overseers (or elders/pastors) in the church.
  • Women should not to lead as overseers (elders/pastors) in the church.
  For lack of time, we are going to continue our study next week. But for now, let me just give you a preview of what we will be looking at in more detail next week, the Lord willing.   Having stated his rule for the roles of women, Paul now gives two reasons why his rule is valid.     13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.   “for” is a conjunction that shows the connection of these two verses with the previous verse.  
  1. 13 and 14 give two reasons for the instruction and prohibitions of v.12:
  • Paul’s first reason is the Adam’s priority in the creation of man and woman.
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;  
  • Paul’s second reason for his instruction and prohibition in v. 12 is the deception of Eve.
14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.