NEWSLETTER

 

 

Winter
2001

Vol. 2       Num. 2

 

 CONTEXT IS CRITICAL  

  by Pat Joyce 

Context is critical not only to Biblical passages or books but also within the overall Word of God.  Passages taken without considering all facets of  

 

WHAT'S THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT SUBMISSION?

 By Barbara Collins

context, can easily lead to wrong conclusions.  Context on a small scale which considers history, culture, custom, circumstances, etc. must be viewed in the light of the overall Word and the revealed character of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

An example relevant to our article on submission has to do with the context in which Paul was writing Ephesians.  During New Testament times, the most common form of marriage throughout the Roman Empire was one without commitment known as sine manu or marriage without hand. (1) Roman Law held that the oldest and most prominent living male of a family was held accountable for his extended family.  Both men and women remained attached to their birth family patriarch, and by law their first loyalty was to him.  Furthermore, a wife was not an official member of her husband’s household but legally was like a daughter.  She could be forced to marry someone else at the whim of her patriarch.(2)

In this context, when Paul quotes the Lord’s words from Genesis, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife,” (Eph 5:31) it is truly radical. The nature of domestic life and the status of women also sheds light on what Paul’s intended when he said the  “husband is the head of the wife as Christ also is the head of the church…”  For further discussion click here

1         Catherine Kroeger, Women, Abuse and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker 1996) p. 279.  One of his prerogatives was to establish and maintain the religion of the family.  Hence, the root of the “priest of the home” doctrine.

2         Susan Hyatt, In the Spirit We’re Equal (Dallas, Hyatt Press  1998) p. 251.  

 

What’s Happening on the Web?

We want to make you aware of “What’s New” on the website.  If you click on the title, it will take you to the article.  Enjoy!

 Release of Women into Ministry by Jackie Pullinger is a transcription of a teaching that you don’t want to miss.

Testimony of Bernice Menold whose tenacity resulted in the last republishing of God’s Word to Women.

The Perception of Equality by Kluane Spake encourages us to open our  spiritual eyes to see what really exists, not what our senses and feelings tell us. No longer should we strive toward equality -- it's not an issue -- it just IS.

Eve  by Darlene Austin is an insightful and delightful vignette on the first woman

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Two conferences that you may want to consider:
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The Global Celebration for Women—Houston-- Sept 19-21, 2001  www.globalcelebration.org 

    Christians for Biblical Equality International Conference —Dallas—June 22-24, 2001 www.cbeinternational.org 

The following quote is from Secret Sources of Power by T.F. and Tommy Tenney.  It is too good not to share!

THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

When Jesus said "Forgive...," the hordes of hell were bound, and satan felt the fit chill signaling his miserable defeat.  Within three hours the suffering was complete and the Lord Jesus announced to the Father that His job was done.  

 Unseen hands then grasped the heavy woven veil separating worshipers from the Holy of Holies in the temple and ripped it down the middle from the top to the bottom -- a feat impossible for any mortal man. 

Mercy danced out from the heavenly mercy seat, passed through the empty Holy of Holies and the rent veil of Herod’s temple to skip and twirl down the streets of Jerusalem and touch a repentant thief on one side of Jesus.  Then she reached down to transform the heart of the centurion directing the Roman soldiers at the foot of the cross.  She continued her dance of joy to Jerusalem’s silent graveyards to kick open several tombs, so certain departed saints could enjoy an early resurrection and revisit their shocked loved ones in the city.

 Finally mercy dove into hell and wrestled the keys from the devil himself and came out triumphantly shouting.  "I am He who lives and was dead and behold I am alive forevermore"  Can we comprehend what power was released in the universe when Jesus said forgive?

 We must all come into the presence of forgiveness, but why should we examine such basic truths?  Because it is possible--and probable that many of the people in church congregation around the world enjoy the "culture" of church without being changed by the experience of God.  Nothing we can say or write can typify the transforming cleansing power of God.  The only way to experience it is by receiving God’s forgiveness and then giving it to others. It’s there in God’s forgiveness, that we find the power of a new life, the power of new hope, and the power of new joy.”

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 To examine this question in all of its realms, we must see our submission to--

1.  God.  Every time we have ever prayed the Lord's Prayer, we have confessed our desire to submit to God:  ". . . for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen." (So be it).  In all the kingdom issues of our life, are we serving the darkness by building our own kingdom, or by exercising our own power of the flesh in weak competition with the power of His Holy Spirit?  Also, because the pride of our heart deceives us, we have to be reminded that "he who glories, let him glory in the Lord."  (I. Cor. 1:31).  What will cure our unwillingness, work out our pride, and cause us to triumph over our archenemy, the devil?  One of Israel's main problems was their lack of submission to the righteousness of God.  Submission to God and His Word is what makes the rest of the areas of submission possible. 

2.  Jesus, the living Word.  When you "confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead," you are submitting yourself to His lordship in your life.  Often, our experience of confessing Jesus as Savior is not followed by a subsequent one of confessing Him as Lord.  To truly know Him as Savior is to yield to Him as "Lord Jesus."

3.  Conscience.  Admonishing the church in Rome, Paul wrote:  "When Gentiles who do not have {the divine} Law do instinctively what the Lord requires. . .they show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there; with which their conscience (sense of right and wrong) also bears witness. . ."  (Ro. 2:14-15, Amp.)  The more we know and understand the Bible, the more we develop our sense of right and wrong, our conscience.  When we are saved, the Holy Spirit is charged to lead and guide us into all truth.  He's the one who jolts us often in our conscience to show us the right way.  Our conscience will always bear us witness in the Holy Spirit.

4.  Civil Authority.  Paul set down the principles for submission to the governing authorities in Romans 13:1-7.  To resist civil authority is to resist what God has appointed and to invite judgment upon oneself.  Because civil authorities are God's servants to execute punishment on the wrongdoer, one must be subject not merely to avoid God's wrath, but also as a matter of principle and for the sake of conscience.  (v. 4-5).  Peter adds: "Therefore, submit yourselves to every ordinance of man (human institution and authority) for the Lord's sake." Then, he enumerated kings, and governors, and others sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers as well as encouragement for those who do good service "by showing respect for all men, loving the brotherhood, reverencing God, and honoring the king/emperor."  (I. Peter 2:13-17).  The balance comes when we consider, for example, that Peter and the other apostles responded to the Sanhedrin's command that they not teach in Jesus' name by saying, "We ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:22-42).

5.  Employer.  When Peter says, "servants be submissive to your masters," he might as well have said for employees to be submissive to their employers whether they are good and gentle or whether they are harsh.  Today, with "making a buck" pre-eminent in many businesses, some employees are asked to compromise their convictions and engage in practices that are dishonest or illegal.  Submission to an employer who is crooked does not allow you to partner with him in wrongdoing and dilute your integrity.

6.  Church.  The writer of Hebrews said:  "Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them-- continually recognizing their authority over you; for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as those who must give account."  (Heb. 13:17)  To submit means to "identify with," which implies neither "control over" nor "coming under." Certainly it should be easy to yield to one who has your soul's best interest in mind.  Should you find yourself in a church where the leadership possesses a controlling spirit, you would need to seek the Lord about another church.

7.  Husband/Wife Relationship. In Ephesians 5:22--"Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands. .."  the words, "submit yourselves" are not in the original but were inserted by translators as though they were a command.  Therefore, submission between husbands and wives is to be mutual, the same that was given to all Christians in v. 21. As Susan Hyatt writes in her book, In The Spirit We're Equal, "unilateral obedience and subjugation of the wife to the husband is not a biblical doctrine.  This idea of mutual identification and unity occurs in various other passages.  Consider, for example:  I. Corinthians 7:3-4; Galatians 5:13; Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 3:7.  Indeed, the thrust of New Testament relationships and of Christian marriage revolves around mutuality and interdependence, not patriarchy and authority over/subordination to others." 1  '

“Head,” as used in this passage, doesn’t mean "authority over" or "superior rank," but rather it means "source of life" that nourishes and enables. Peter also taught that all believers are to be in submission one to the other.  (I. Pet. 5:5).  Paul wrote:  ". . .the head of the woman is the man. . ."  (I. Cor. 11:3).  Does that mean that the wife is subordinated to the husband?  No!  Not in the truest sense of the word.  To the Ephesians Paul said, "the husband is head of the wife." Do we understand what he meant by "head?"--"AS Christ also is Head of the church."  (5:23).  Christ is the cornerstone of the church--its support, Builder.  Christians are represented as growing "up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ.”  (Eph. 4:15). Neither this passage nor Ephesians 5:22 refers to Christ's authoritative rulership but represents Him as the support, nourisher, and builder of the Body, His Church.” 2   A husband is a wife’s matrimonial head but not her spiritual head, who only is Christ.  He is only a fellow-disciple and fellow-servant of the King along with his wife.3

To yield to the husband as head of the home does not mean subordination.  Women today are not living out the consequences of Adam and Eve's disobedience, and husbands do not have rule over their wives.  Not only have we been redeemed from the power, penalty, and presence of sin but also from the consequences as well, enabling us to be restored to the perfect equality of man and woman found in original creation.  God wants to restore man and woman to their pre-Fall condition where they served God as co-regents of the universe. Woman was not created after man, but she was "formed" after him.  "Formed" is a process in addition to creation, which speaks of development or elaboration.  Paul said:   "Adam was first formed, then Eve."  (I. Tim. 2:13).  To create is to call something out of nothing into existence.  Gen. 1 and 5 says both male and female were created.  Later, they were "formed," and Adam was formed first.  Woman was not created after man, but both were created together at the same time.  Man and woman are equals and complement one another.  They are equal in person as well as in position and are equally responsible.  

God never intended for the man to be superior to the woman and rule over her when He created them, nor did He intend it in the new creation.  "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."  Gal. 3:28.  Because man and woman were created equal, woman is not inferior to man. God created male and female as one.  Nowhere in the creation account do we see man ruling over woman, and woman functioning as one created to serve her husband.  Both were given dominion over fish, birds, and every living creature, but neither was given rulership over the other.  

Man and woman are redemptively equal in creation as well as function whether under the Old Covenant or the New.  The function of wife or husband is determined by the inherent giftings of each, not the static, rigid molds that we've been taught. Some wives, for instance, are more adept than their husbands in handling family finances.  The "husband-as-ruler" concept would never allow the wife's gifting in financial management to replace the authoritative control by the husband.

We've long heard that the husband is "priest of the home."  Where does it say that in the New Covenant?  The husband is no more of a priest in the home than the wife.  The New Covenant's holy and royal priesthood makes no gender distinctions.  The whole truth of the "priesthood of the believer" should inspire wives to function in priestly duties themselves as single moms already do. In the raising of children, the wife and mother takes on the primary role of nurturing.  God never meant for her to have to do it alone.  Some fathers are present in the home but absent in emotional involvement with the children.  A village can't raise a child, and God's ideal is that the mother and father both make their own unique contribution. 

In explaining the meaning of "subjection," Katherine Bushnell in her classic book, God's Word to Women says that it "describes the Christian grace of yielding one's preferences to another, where principle is not involved, rather than asserting one's rights."  4  The home is not a place for male rulership as taught by tradition. If only we could get this truth of submission straight in the home, the church could then be the "salt of the earth" in eliminating gender prejudice and abuse of women throughout the world. 
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1    Hyatt, Susan, In The Spirit We're Equal, Hyatt Press, p. 257.
2    Bushnell, Katherine, God’s Word to Women, God’s Word to Women publishers, p. 129.
3   Ibid, p. 131.
4   Ibid, p. 133;  see also p. 124 – 139
 

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