jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

a woman’s place in the cog

Some of the comments on the last post led me to start listing the things that a woman can and cannot do in the CoG as it currently stands. I suspect that a comprehensive list would be a provocative picture of how ludicrous our current position is. I can think of some, but it would help to see what else others could add. Here’s a short list to get us started:

Women Can:

Lead the body into the presence of God through worship
Lead the body into the presence of God through prayer
Lead the body into the presence of God through preaching
Lead the body into the presence of God through the offertory
Lead a Sunday school class
Lead a bible study
Seve as an usher
Serve as a greeter
Serve on committees in the church
Serve as a counselor
Serve in any capacity on the church staff
Serve as the church clerk
Serve as a missionary
Pastor a church
Plant a church
Hold revivals
Serve as an evangelist
Train ministers
Teach any post-secondary, graduate, and post-graduate course
Administrate educational institutions for the church
Administrate non-profit organizations for the church
Sing to the body in the Spirit
Intercede for the body
Speak in Tongues
Give an interpretation of tongues
Count the money
Write the checks
Audit the church

Women Cannot:

Serve on a Church and Pastor’s Council

Become an Ordained Bishop

i.e. God can do anything through a woman except church business.

What can you add?

21 comments on “a woman’s place in the cog

  1. Scott Uselman
    July 23, 2008

    Good post. I enjoyed reading it. It is amazing that God actually has limitations . . .hmm.

  2. Dale P. Combs
    July 23, 2008

    I am curious, in the scripture what woman is named at any of the churches that served as an Elder? I know about the deaconess. I want to know what Paul means when he said, an Elder is to be the husband of one wife… Why did he not say or the wife of one husband?

    Just curious.

  3. jonathanstone
    July 23, 2008

    Dale, are you really “just curious”? I think you and I both know there is no passage that specifically names a woman as an elder. Of course, there is no passage that names a male as a worship leader, a youth pastor, an usher, a clerk, and an infinite number of other ministerial positions in any given local church.

    As far as your second question I understand Paul to be operating within the context that he was given, which expected male eldership. Given that context, he was quite radical in his affirmation of female leadership (c.f. Romans 16:1-15; Phil. 4:2-3; Gal. 3:28 to name a few). Paul gave instructions for slaves trying to live out their faith in that system, does this mean that the bible advocates the system of slavery? I think not.

    In my humble opinion, you have to dismiss far more Scripture to justify an inequality in ministerial leadership than the other way around. If you have a genuine desire to hear a biblically based defense of women in ministry then I would recommend checking out this article that Don Warrington mentioned. Of course, if that’s not your interest then we both know we can debate in circles about this.

  4. Kindra
    July 23, 2008

    Also, if we strictly maintain this kind of logic based on gender exclusive language than I, as a woman, do not have to:

    Live according to the Spirit–because only brothers/males have an obligation. (Romans 8:12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. )

    Be knowledgeable about the mystery, but can remain ignorant and conceited as I am not a brother. (Romans 11:25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.)

    offer my life as a living sacrifice, only brothers are urged to do so. (Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.)

    be knowledgeable about spiritual gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.)

    be eager about prophesying and can forbid speaking in tongues–nor do I have to do anything in a fitting or orderly way. (1 Corinthians 14:39-40 39 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. )

    Seriously, this list could go on and on…but, I think, this kind of interpretation is petty and grossly underestimates and misrepresents scripture.

    Obviously, the scriptures above (and in fact, the other 226 references in the NT to the ‘brothers’) are speaking to every follower of Christ. Just as Paul’s instructions are also understood to be to every follower of Christ–male and female.

    Also, with all this talk about Junias…what about Mary Magdalene? Is she not the ‘Apostle to the apostles’? She is the first to see the risen Lord (which, btw, is Paul’s justification for his apostolic position 1 Cor. 9:1) and the first sent with the message (the literal translation of apostle) of Christ’s resurrection. Shouldn’t the actions of our Savior determine our ecclesiastical by-laws and credential qualifications?

    Just a thought!

  5. Dale P. Combs
    July 23, 2008

    I appreciate your comments. And Yes I am desirous to know the answer. You all seem to have it figured out. Yet what you are saying is the Bible basically does not speak to our culture since Paul had to work within his and wrote to the church from a male orientation. Ouch! I am not speaking of being gender specific, I am speaking of those who are set to be in leadership role. The Spiritual leaders of the Church. There is no issue as to a who can lead a worship service, or a youth pastor or a Pastor, I am talking about those who are suppose to LEAD. Is there or is there not an order? If not then the church has been wrong for 1000’s of years and if they are wrong here then what about other decisions that had been made by a male dominated religion. I am absolutely convinced that women can serve in the office of deacon. The office of deacon and Elder are different (we do agree with that I hope). I am talking about the Elder. Don’t give me the argument you gave about Paul, The early church was new. It was not Jewish, it was a new organism. They change many things and moved away from the Jewish practices, yet why was Paul so specific about this? That is what I am asking. I really am open to this. I am not trying to be factitious about this. I have some wonderful women in my congregation who are well able to do much. However, I have seen the end results of missed placed authority. On a final note, there is no mention of Mary Magdalene in an apostolic position nor is she referred to as a leader. Help me please!

  6. jonathanstone
    July 24, 2008

    Dale, maybe you hear me saying that the bible does not speak to our culture, but I can assure I never have and never will say that! I appreciate what I hear to be a genuine desire to remain biblically faithful in you. I have the same desire. It sounds to me that we have a different hermeneutical framework.

    Cultural relativity and the adaptations that come with it is not a 21st century phenomenon. In fact, we see it in the bible itself. We see it as Israel transitions from nomads to agricultural settlers in Canaan. When they go from a theocracy to a monarchy. When they develop from a peasant economy into a mercantile/trade economy. When they go from a monarchal nation to an exiled nation. When the go from exile to restoration, and then adjust from Persian, to Hellenistic, to Roman rule and culture. We see the gospel move from Judaism to the Gentiles, from followers to house churches to missionaries…from persecuted to national religion, etc., etc., etc., all the way to our current time.

    Many things have changed over time including animal sacrifice, stoning, and the Holy Kiss. Some of these things were due to the new covenant, and some of them were due to cultural relativity and the adaptations that were considered acceptable by men and women seeking to be faithful to God. When the Apostles wrestled with opening up the Gospel to the Gentiles in the so-called “Jerusalem Council” in Acts 15 they finally decided to let them in, but with only a couple of requirements from Jewish tradition, that they, “…abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and fornication” (Acts 15:29). Yet, before the canon closed only fornication was still making the list.

    So, to say that we should not deal with the issue of slavery in the same way that Paul did is not to say that the bible is no longer relevant to speak to our culture. Neither is it the first step on a slippery slope that leads to moral relativism and personal subjectivity. Indeed, one of the most fascinating aspects of Scripture is its ability to stay culturally relevant AND absolutely true at the same time.

    You may not care what theologians and biblical scholars think, but you are in the minority by rejecting Emily’s reading of the curse. Even theologians who argue against women in ministry have conceded that women are no longer under that curse in Christ. And of course, there are a lot of very respected conservative theologians and biblical scholars (F.F. Bruce, Gordan Fee, and Stanley Grenz to name a few) who have written extensively on the issue of women, addressed the “problem passages” in a compelling way, and offered a consistent hermeneutical framework by which we can understand the shift away from partriarchal systems to egalitarian ones.

    I believe you mentioned on missionalcog recently (perhaps it was someone else, I honestly cannot remember for sure) not being able to see the forest for the trees. When I step back and look at the broad sweep and movement of Scripture I have absolutely no hesitations about women in spiritual leadership. From my discussions with my brothers and sisters who aren’t so sure it seems that they are unable to see this movement because of a very small handful of passages that keep them jammed up. If you honestly want to stay open and search this out I think it might help to read some of the many great resources out there that show this broad perspective. The article that I posted, which Don Warrington posted earlier as well, is a great place to start!

    If you’re at a place where you have 2 or 3 passages that you’re using as a litmus test, saying if someone can come and explain these three passages to me then I’ll listen, well, I don’t think you’ll ever truly open yourself up to seeing that forest from behind those trees. Again, we could argue in circles about it. I respect your opinions. But the arguments are tired in my estimation. I would rather point you to some things that I consider to be “helpful reading” on this issue than to argue all the same old points with each other. With that said, I’m sure if you keep asking questions and making points about it that I will continue to counter with my thoughts. 🙂

  7. Dale P. Combs
    July 25, 2008

    I appreciate your handle on the word. I do understand the changes of culture. Allow me to address something; Paul did not come to change the law of the land. He worked within it. Slavery was a part of everyday life. His concern was that if you were a slave and a believer be the best slave for your master. I am well aware of the time in our history when scriptures on slavery were used to support the practice in England and the US. that did not make slavery right Yet, It was the Scripture that helped bring about the change PTL. This and other cultural items were suppose to change. I agree with you, you will not get an argument from me. Again that is not the issue.

    On the topic of being under the cures, I very much care what theologians have said about this (By the way there are many theologians that hold very strongly to this view as well (Morris, Henry, Walton to name a few) and If I follow your logic then what I hear, is that the curse only applies to unbelievers who are married and bear children. Single non-believers and or single believers have not been, nor will ever be under that curse as long as they remain single. On the other side what of man’s plight? He takes the blunt of the curse. His is fourfold; sorrow, pain, suffering, sweat (or tears), the last time I checked we are still working by the sweat of our brow. Does that mean that believing man is under the curse and believing woman is not?The Book of Genesis is there for a reason. It tells us of our origin. It reveals how we arrived in the condition of sinfulness and it reveals the answer for the curse. It also clearly reveals that Eve and all her daughters would have to deal with the issue of desiring to rule not just the husband (Paul speaks of the proper role of a wife and a husband) but over the man, because of her sinful act, she would desire to have dominance. This was not to be the case in the beginning.

    I agree, we are not under the curse of sin and death because of Christ. Again, that is not the issue.

    The issue at hand is can a woman serve in the capacity to Govern the church such as; an Elder? The issue is not; is she capable of serving? I know many women who are capable, some far more then I. Being capable is not the issue.

    What does the Bible say concerning the role of a woman holding the office of Elder? Again, I am aware of the women in the Bible who were deacons, teachers, and as Tom pointed out even apostles (although I believe that Paul referred to her with her husband for a reason perhaps she they were a team and she taught which is part of the apostle). In the New Testament church all of the women came under the Leadership of men who served at the Jerusalem Council. Why do we not see scriptures concerning the appointment of women to the position of Elder? Why did the Early church chose 7 men from among the body and not 3 men and 4 women? It was good to the Holy Spirit to do what they did. There was nothing hindering them from doing this or was there? Paul used women many times. Why did he not appoint a woman to oversee the Church Timothy was pastoring when he ran into difficulty ( there were some there no doubt). Why is there absence of Paul instructing wives as to the proper qualifications of an Elder when he instructed them on how to love their husbands? He instructs Husbands and those who would desire to be an Elder. I am sure that the Holy Spirit was well aware of the difficulty this issue would raise within the body, or perhaps he knew that the order of things was well established and was not to be tinkered with.

    The early church was in its beginnings. Why then, since they were already making changes, such as; the day of worship, healing on the Sabbath, circumcision etc, why didn’t Paul address the issue of women in leadership? I am not being hung up on 2 or 3 scriptures as a litmus test (it would only take one to do that). I am 100% for women being involved in areas of teaching and ministry, even pastoring or prophesying etc. I want to see their gifts and talents shine for the Glory of God. You shared that many things in the church have changed over time and I agree. One change that has come in recent years is Feminism in the church.

    The issue I see deals with the Governing of the Ecclesiastical Body. This does not have to do with a woman preaching. It deals with governing. Is it Biblically correct for a woman to hold a governing office in the Church? I have yet to find scriptural evidence, not even vague evidence that I have found to date (unless you or someone else can help me) that gives reason that a Woman be it how capable or learned she is, is to sit in the seat to govern the Church. I have read the article yet it still does not clearly address this issue.
    I commend you for your eloquence in writing on this topic, You have shared your honest opinion and I respect that. I do however take issue with the fact that you seem to think that I or others who feel as I only have 2 or 3 scriptures for our basis of thinking, I would like to see one that speaks to your point of view. That is what I am asking for. I want sound Biblical basis for this decision, not cultural mandates. I am not concerned with being politically correct or even culturally relevant if it means violating a biblical position. I know that you feel the same way as well. Calling for change in some areas are necessary (slavery, women to be silenced etc.) However there are some issues that we need to walk carefully in and this is one of them.

    I am not trying to change your mind on this topic, I am seriously searching this as the time approaches to address this issue.

    God Bless you all and I am looking forward to reading any response to this. Please hear my heart. I truly want what is best for the church. I am reaching out to get solid biblical insight and a strong basis for how I will vote on this and other issues.


  8. Joel W. Clackum
    July 25, 2008

    I believe, if we are in search of scripture that supports women in “governmental authority”, that we might want to take note of Deborah who was a judge who helped to govern the people of God prior to the establishment of a monarchy. I’m not going to go any further than that with examples, because it doesn’t seem to be necessary since you have only requested one example. I feel that we have, to quote you, “walked carefully” in this issue and its now time to move forward in the power and leading of the Spirit to honor the gifts and callings of the women in our church.

  9. jonathanstone
    July 25, 2008

    Your articulation of Paul’s attempt to work within the system of slavery instead of overthrowing or revolutionizing it is exactly my point in bringing the issue of slavery up. I consider Paul’s treatment of female leadership to be very much a parallel. He was working within a patriarchal system, not trying to revolutionize it. As far as your question about why would he revolutionize Hebraic civil regulations and ceremonial rituals but not women in leadership…well, I think the answer to that would be the same answer as why he did not take on the system of slavery and/or indentured servants. Obviously we don’t know for sure, but my guess is that it lies within the fact that the issues of circumcision, Sabbath, and feasts were strictly Jewish customs that were being dangerously forced upon believers by certain opponents, such as the so-called “Judaizers” that Paul takes on in the book of Galatians. However, both slavery and patriarchy were deeply embedded societal norms within Roman rule and culture, they pervaded the whole empire, indeed, the whole world, during this time.

    I am not even sure that it occurred to Paul to take on those social norms (though I suspect it did because of some of his more radical egalitarian statements such as Gal 3:28), but even if it did occur to him I assume he recognized it was a battle that could not yet be won. So, because I view patriarchy and slavery as parallel social institutions, and see Paul as deciding to work within both of those systems instead of challenging them, none of your questions about female Elders, female overseers, female authority etc. have any bearing whatsoever on my view of female leadership. I know that may not help you. But I’m just explaining my view here.

    I’m glad you have clarified that you view women as fully capable. Really, it is helpful to hear, especially I think for the women who read this and want to understand your position. So, I hear you on that.

    I understand that my statement about 2 or 3 passages might have sounded a bit snarky. I honestly did not mean it that way. I think that anytime we are genuinely wrestling with an issue such as this one it will often, for either side of the argument, come down to a few passages, or perhaps at least a few principles, that make it difficult to feel good about embracing the other perspective. For you I mainly hear the issue of Elders, a limited number of biblical examples of women in a position of authority, and the curse. I hope that you can see that those first two are not an issue in my mind because of my view of the patriarchal social institutions of both the Ancient Near East in the OT and the Roman Empire in the NT. So, that leaves me to respond to your questions about the curse.

    You mention the other elements of the curse, childbearing, pain, the sweat of our brow, etc. I understand the work of Christ to be finished, but not yet fully realized. Certainly something is different since Calvary! Yet, as you pointed out, we are clearly still waiting for the full realization of the promise. However, it sounds like you view the curse as being a little less broken than I do. You said something along the lines of, “the last time I checked we were still working by the sweat of our brow.” But I understand that aspect of the curse to be broken as well. Not work, for work was there before the Fall and work will be there for us after the Parousia. But rather the curse brought us “toil.” Yes, I still work hard as a Christian, but my relationship in Christ keeps me from toiling. I am able to rest in Him, even in the midst of hard work. And I suspect that you are able to do that too!

    I hear your heart, and appreciate what I hear. I do not know if what I am saying will be so convincing to you as to cause you to feel that you can in good conscience and with confidence (con fide, with faith) vote in the affirmative on Agenda Item # 13, but I hope it at least gives you a clearer understanding of how I have arrived at my position.

  10. Tom Rosson
    July 25, 2008

    Dale and Jon,

    There is yet another obscure formulation. This time in 1 Tim 5:1-2.

    Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. (KJV)

    In the Greek it does not say “older” (as an adjective) “women (as a separate noun and subject). Instead, Paul uses the female form for “elder”, i.e., he uses the noun presbyteras. This same chapter uses the term “elders” as those who lead the congregation.

    Granted, the term “presyteros” can simply mean “a person of age” and is not always restricted to an office. But that does not seem to be the context in 1 Tim 5.

    But I have a bigger question for Dale. If I understood you correctly, you are equating “elder” not with a leader of a local church or pastor, but the leader of several churches. Have I understood you correctly?

    There is no issue as to a who can lead a worship service, or a youth pastor or a Pastor, I am talking about those who are suppose to LEAD. Is there or is there not an order?

    If that is your intent, then perhaps we should look at the term “overseer or bishop” (episkopos).

    Another open issue, to what degree was church polity beyond the local church developed in the NT? Although it affects this discussion, that should really be a thread of its own.

  11. Dale P. Combs
    July 25, 2008

    That verse is a really stretching it. As you have answer the question yourself. Contextually, Paul is referring to the elder women as those of age not one in a Governing leadership roll.

    I want to know if in your opinion, there is a divine order with the home and or the church. Did God establish an order and if so what is it?

    Agreed there is another item at hand. Again, if it is scriptural permissible for a woman to hold a governing office within the church then the whole item would be moot. The issue is once a woman is seated in the position of Elder (old term: Pastor’s council) then we Ordain then as Bishops giving them the opportunity to sit as the Administrative Bishop, they then govern is that Biblically permissible or is it violating God’s order?

    Continue, I am very interested.


    I appreciate what you shared this time around it was much less stingy. I do agree that what we have experienced in Christ will be fully understood in the day of His appearing.

    The issue for me is Order. Order in the home, who is to govern it under the authority of God? The Church, who is to govern it? Are you saying that the patriarchal system found in scripture was simply social and not founded by our Creator? Does the idea of an Egalitarian system trump it simply because we think that it better fits our culture since we are not living in the same framework a Paul?

    Paul willingly confronted both, social and ecclesiastical issues, even to the point of his death. I am not going to conjecture that he did not want to deal with this simply because it was not socially acceptable. Paul’s attitude toward slavery was not one of floundering, his desire was that one who was in that system continue to serve the Lord since all is done in word or deed unto Him. That is the attitude that I take if this measure passes, and I would believe you would do if it fails.

    God Bless,
    I truly enjoy the dialog.

  12. Dale P. Combs
    July 25, 2008

    Deborah became Judge at a time when Israel was experiencing a spiritual and moral decline, partly due to the loss of their national leaders, Moses and Joshua. “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was proper in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6; 21:25

    Deborah was already well known as a prophetess and respected for her godly character. As a prophet, she did not formulate rulings in the traditional manner, but was Yahweh’s spokesperson. For this reason, she was considered an exception to the ruling that a judge be male. Her feminine character was appropriate for leading that particular generation, as Deborah herself stated: “I arose as a mother to Israel.” Judges 5:7

    If we can say that our time warrant God to raise up a Deborah as he did in Israel then I would be one of the first to join the ranks with her.

    However, since we are talking about the New Testament Church and since only God can change His established order then perhaps we should wait for a Deborah to rise.

    Thanks for the example.

  13. Joel W. Clackum
    July 26, 2008


    I believe if we are talking about the role of women today, we are talking about the post-New Testament Church and I am certainly not willing to discount the value of the Old Testament as scripture that is profitable for our churches today. Neither do I want to address new Testament issues without considering how God is speaking to us today. For instance, it seems unlikely to me that the church today is going to hold all things in common and clearly we no longer advocate the validity of slavery. Nevertheless, it can be offered from scripture that the NT church endorsed both of these. As to my example, while Deborah was perhaps an exception (one which provided the people of Israel with 40 years of peace), she offers us the example that God, unlike so many men in our patriarchal oriented church culture, is not afraid to choose the best person for the job. Changing the language to be more open does not install women in these leadership positions. It only opens the door for God to lead the local church and the denomination in a case by case basis. I would suggest that God is already raising up a variety of Deborahs and that we sin in preventing them from fulfilling the roles and operating fully with the gifts to which God has called them. This being said, I truly believe we can expect God’s judgment if we don’t change. May God lead us all in the coming days.

  14. Dale P. Cmbs
    July 26, 2008

    I am confused, I have advocated that women are very much involved in ministry today. In my congregation I have women who are used in the prophetic, I have women teachers, I even have a woman who is the Pastor (licensed) and preaches every Sunday to our Children’s staff (her calling). I recognize their gifts and calling, however the issue for me is placing them in the governing position (Elder, Bishop, Overseer etc). It seems that from your point of view that for you, the biblical view which you term patriarchal is now outdated and wrong, When did that happen? When did the qualification for an elder become the wife of one husband, and not just the husband of one wife? We have already, excused divorce for ministers as outdated (another topic) and now use the idea that one wife, simply meant; not more than one at a time. Now, we are just suppose to move to this new Egalitarian system. WOW! When I look around the church world, I see many women raising up to do ministry. PTL. But, I see that it is at the expense of their marriage and family (again another bolg subject). As a pastor and one who has to make a decision on this matter, I would rather err on the side of the New Testament. I disagree with you when you stated, “changing the language does not install women in these leadership positions. It only opens the door for to to lead the local church and the denomination in a case by case basis.” God does not need man to open doors. He does it well. It does open the door for this to take place, the Elder (pastor’s council) is the governing body of a local congregation (we already have provisions for certain circumstances). What this is, is a move to allow women to be ordained Bishops and eventually give them the right according to our by-laws, to sit as the International Administrative Bishop, who resides over the Ordained Bishops of the C of G. You may think this is a stretch. I beleive that once we pass this measure, it will become a reality within a few years. Personally I am not ready to follow in the footsteps of other denominations who have done this. No matter how good it seems to men.

    Please understand I am not a male chauvinist, and would that my sisters in the Lord would see that. I love our sisters and appreciate all they do for the body of Christ. They serve with dignity and honor.

    Hey, thanks for your insight and I appreciate your comments to me. I look forward to seeing you at the GA

  15. Tom Rosson
    July 26, 2008


    In looking through some other passages, I have found yet another strange formulation coming from Paul’s pen. And i’ll state from the beginning, I’m not quite sure what to make of the passage. Romans 16:1-2

    I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

    I must admit, succourer is not a part of my vocabulary. In most translations, it usually says “helper.” But this is a very questionable translation.

    The Greek word is prostatis – and this is the only occurance of it in the NT. The verb form is proistemi – literally to stand in front of – to lead, to rule.

    However, there is a related verb earlier in the verse, “assist her” uses the verb paristemi – “to stand beside of” or to help (very close to German ‘beistehen'”.)

    That Paul was fond of word plays is nothing new. Philemon is a prime example. And perhaps this was Paul’s intention here.

    As stated above, prostatis does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. However, it does appear often in the LXX (Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament that came out ca 250 BC) and has the meaning of stewards of the King’s property, chief officers over the people. Josephus uses the term to denote the leader of a tribe or region.

    If this translation were correct, then the Romans were to be at Pheobe’s disposal becasue she has been a leader over many and even over Paul!

    However, what we don’t know about the Roman passage is the context. Why was Pheobe there (besides to deliver the letter)? Was there a specific situation in mind? Would her “mandate” be limited to a specific task? Did Paul mean with these two short verses to say, in effect, “Oh, by the way, Phebe’s your new senior pastor” ? I doubt it.

    Nonetheless, Paul knew enough Greek to understand the difference between paristemi and proistemi.

  16. Dale P. Combs
    July 27, 2008

    Thanks again Tom. Your handle on the Greek is very helpful in this matter. According to what I have read on your references it would appear that Phebe was no doubt a pastor of a congregation. She was called by Paul to help in this church.

    There were many women in the Bible that could have sought position (Mary the mother of Christ, Sarah, Anna, etc) they chose rather to remain faithful to their Godly post until the end. I am not at all advocating that women not be used as you can read in past posts.

    Was Paul stating that he was under the authority of Phebe? If the Council at Jerusalem was still a governing body, did Phebe come under their authority? Was the order changed and it not became acceptable for the woman to take the role of covering the man?

    We are dealing with the local church and allowing women to serve in the highest governing body of the church. This opens a door to the Ordination of women as Bishops and then of course the highest seat of authority in the C of G.

    Are we now advocating that the way the N.T. church was structured be changed to accommodated us simply because it is outdated or no longer suits our culture? Time will tell the story. I do not think this one will have as happy an ending as Cinderella.


  17. jonathanstone
    July 28, 2008


    Sorry, I was out of town Friday and Saturday and could not respond. A lot has been said since the last questions you directed towards me, and Emily’s post reflects a lot of my feelings. I will add the following:

    You asked: “Are you saying that the patriarchal system found in scripture was simply social and not founded by our Creator?”

    My Answer: Yes!!!

    I do not see this blueprint for order in regards to gender that you keep mentioning. Of course, I believe in order. But I do not see a transcultural, universal blueprint of order in the bible that is connected in any way to gender. What I do see in restrictions for female leadership I understand to be 100% sociological.

    Yes, Paul addressed social issues in his day, just not all of them. I never said he “floundered” over the issue of slavery, as you suggested. He just simply decided to work within the system instead of confronting it. I believe he did the same on the issue of women in leadership.

    Hope that helps you understand my position.

  18. Emily Stone
    July 28, 2008


    I appreciate your willingness to dialogue on this issue. I admit that for whatever reason your comments have not brought up the intense feelings of rejection, pain, and offense that I have experienced in the past years. I credit that to your ability to be straight forward, respectful, and caring and, perhaps, to some growth that the Lord has so graciously cultivated in me to help me not get so easily offended.

    I think that the root of our disagreement is a philosophically different understanding of men, women, their relationship to one another, and the issue of order, which I do believe is important. I think that within these two different foundations of understandings scripture can be read through two different lenses and be understood in two different ways.

    I doubt that I will convince you to change your glasses and I doubt you will convince me to change mine! That doesn’t mean we cannot serve the same God through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    God bless you, and thank you for honoring me with your time, thought, and words. I feel blessed and respected. May God bless all of your endeavors for His glory.

    Emily Stone

  19. Tom Rosson
    July 28, 2008


    I’m also a bit puzzled by the ecclesiology. If we are using “elder” in the sense of the pastor’s council, then is the pastor subordinate to them? That is not my understanding of COG polity. After all, who appoints the pastor?

    How then are we to understand the General Assembly to be the highest body in the COG? Women are also allowed to be a part of the General Assembly?

    Or does one equate the pastor’s council with the C18 (along with the pastor as GO; congregation with the GA)?

  20. Dale P. Comb
    July 28, 2008

    Tom and Emily,
    Perhaps the issue is our structure. Could it finally be time for the C of G to get back to the N.T. structure of Elder and Deacon. If we are to maintain a centralized government then perhaps the whole structure issue needs to be looked at. What we have done in our denomination has brought about confusion as to the proper authority and structure. Therein lies the difficulty.

    I realize that we are living in different times and that perhaps the lens that I am looking through is Patriarchal instead of Egalitarian. History will prove out this whole scenario. Truthfully it has not faired well for most of those who have followed the Egalitarian view. You folks may feel that the C of G will be different. I am not sure that will be the case.

    God Bless.

  21. JD
    July 6, 2011

    Folks, I may be jumping in on this conversation long after it was conducted, but the Holy Spirit opened my eyes today and reminded me of His Words written down by John circa 90AD in Revelation 1:6, “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

    Jesus has made us (all believers) kings (rulers) and priests (one who offers sacrifice to a god) unto God and His Father. Thus, I would surmise to say that anyone who is a believer and meets the qualifications in 1 Tim and Titus (minus husband of one wife–why not wife of one husband) could and should be an elder, deacon, bishop or any other position of authority and/or leadership.

    Isn’t there neither male nor female in Christ? God is no respecter of persons? God looks on the heart not the outward appearance? Didn’t a queen rule Judah for 6 years in the Davidic order, “He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land” (2 Kings 11:3)?

    Deborah was a judge.

    Phoebe was a deaconess.

    Priscilla was an apostle.

    It’s up to God who rules and reigns, or do the words from Revelation 20:4, 6, “saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years….Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” mean nothing????

    Who rules and reigns with Christ? Those who were part of the first resurrection and those who gave their lives during the tribulation. Hmmmm.

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This entry was posted on July 22, 2008 by in crisis, issues, trends and tagged , , .
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